TIME

10 Habits of Remarkably Polite People

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Go beyond good manners to make an incredible first—and lasting—impression

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This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

Occasionally, we meet a person who stands out in the best possible way. He might be remarkably charismatic. She might think remarkable thoughts. And remarkably giving people–they are impossible to ignore.

If you develop those traits, you won’t just be likable; those traits will make people want to work with you and do business with you.

That’s also why we love being around genuinely polite people. (Not fake polite–sincere polite.) They make us feel comfortable. They make us feel respected and valuable. We would love to be more like them.

And we love doing business with them.

Here’s how remarkably polite people do it:

1. They always step forward.

You’re at a party. A friend gestures to someone several steps away and says, “Let me introduce you to Bob.” Bob sees you coming.

And he stands there, waiting for you to come to him in some weird power move.

Remarkably polite people, no matter how great their perceived status, step forward, smile, tilt their head slightly downward (a sign of respect in every culture), and act as if they are the one honored by the introduction, not you.

(When I met Mark Cuban, that is exactly what he did. He heard I wanted to meet him and immediately walked across the room–where I was waiting to see if it would be OK–to say hello. The fact I remember how gracious he was tells you everything you need to know about the impression he made.)

In short, polite people never big-time you; instead, they always make you feel big time.

2. They keep using the name you used to introduce yourself.

You’re at an event. You introduce yourself to me as Jonathan. We talk. Within minutes, I’m calling you John. Or Johnny. Or Jack. Or the J-man.

Maybe your friends call you J-man, but we’re not friends (yet), and you definitely haven’t given me permission to go full diminutive on you, much less full nickname.

Remarkably polite people wait to be asked to use a different, more familiar name. They call you what you asked–or later ask–to be called because it’s your right to be addressed in the way you wish to be addressed.

Anything less would be uncivilized.

3. They don’t touch unless they are touched first.

(Handshakes excluded, of course.)

Polite people wait for the other person to establish the nonsexual touch guidelines.

While I know that sounds like no one will ever hug or pat a shoulder or forearm because no one can ever go first, don’t worry. Huggers hug. Patters pat. Backslappers slap. That’s what they do.

Remarkably polite people go a step further: They never pat or squeeze or slap (in a good way), even if they are patted or squeezed or slapped. Sure, they hug back, but they don’t reciprocate other forms of touch.

Why? Some people don’t even realize they’re touching you, but they definitely notice when you touch them. That makes them feel uncomfortable, and discomfort is the last way polite people want other people to feel.

4. They never let on they know more than they should.

Some people share incessantly on social media. And maybe you occasionally see what they’ve been up to.

But polite people don’t bring those things up. They talk about sports, they talk about the weather, they talk about how The Walking Dead is a metaphor for life in corporate America, but they only talk about personal subjects the other person actually discloses in person.

Maybe it seems like the person wants everyone to know about a personal subject, but in fact that’s rarely the case. So unless his or her social media broadcasts were specifically directed to you, always wait.

5. They never ignore the elephants.

An acquaintance’s mom died a few weeks ago. You see him, and you’re not sure whether to bring it up.

Remarkably polite people always bring it up. They keep it simple, like, “I was sorry to hear about your mother. I’ve been thinking about you and am hoping you’re doing OK.”

Awkward? Absolutely not. You’ve expressed your condolences (which you should), and now you can both move on: Your friend is no longer wondering if and when you might mention it, and you are no longer wondering whether you should.

Where relationships are concerned, the best elephant is a dead elephant.

6. They never gossip–or listen to gossip.

It’s hard to resist the inside scoop. Finding out the reasons behind someone’s decisions, the motivations behind someone’s actions, the skinny behind someone’s hidden agenda–much less whether Liam is really dating Jeannette from marketing–those conversations are hard to resist.

Remarkably polite people know gossiping about other people makes you wonder what they’re saying about you. In fact, when someone starts to talk about someone else, polite people excuse themselves and walk away. They don’t worry that they will lose a gossiper’s respect; anyone willing to gossip doesn’t respect other people anyway.

If you want to share the inside scoop, talk openly about your own thoughts or feelings–then you’re not gossiping, you’re being genuine. That’s what polite people do. But at the same time…

7. They never speak just to share the greater glory of themselves.

How can you tell? If you’re talking about something just because it feels really good to share it, and there’s no place for the other person to add value, you’re just patting yourself on the back.

When remarkably polite people want to talk about themselves, they ask for advice–but not humblebrag advice like, “I notice you keep your car really clean; what wax do you recommend for a Porsche?”

Ask a question that shows you truly value the other person’s expertise or knowledge. The person will feel good, because you implicitly show you trust his or her opinion; you actually get input you can use. Win-win.

And totally polite.

8. They never push their opinions.

We all know things. Cool things. Great things.

Just make sure you share those things in the right settings. If you’re a mentor, share away. If you’re a coach or a leader, share away. If you’re the guy who just started a paleo diet, don’t tell us all what to order unless we ask.

Remarkably polite people know that what is right for them might not be right for others–and even if it is right, it is not their place to decide that for you.

Like most things in life, offering helpful advice is all about picking the right spot–and polite people know the right spot is always after you are asked.

They never judge.

They don’t judge the person they are speaking to. They don’t judge other people. They don’t judge other cultures or countries or, well, anything.

Why? Remarkably polite people realize they aren’t perfect either.

9. They’re masters of the art of social jiujitsu.

You meet someone, talk for 30 minutes, and walk away thinking, “Wow, we just had a great conversation. She is awesome.”

Of course, when you think about it later, you realize you didn’t learn a thing about the other person.

Remarkably polite people are masters at social jiujitsu, the ancient art of getting you to talk about yourself without you ever knowing it happened. SJ masters are fascinated by your every career step, your every journey of personal transformation, your every clever maneuver on your climb to the top of your social ladder…

They find you fascinating–and that gives you permission to find yourself fascinating. (That’s an authorization we all enjoy.)

Social jiujitsu is easy. Just ask the right questions. Stay open-ended, and allow room for description and introspection. Ask how or why or who.

As soon as you learn a little about someone, ask how she did it. Or why she did it. Or what she liked about it, or what she learned from it, or what you should do if you’re in a similar situation.

And don’t think you’re being manipulative, because you’re not. Showing a sincere interest in people isn’t manipulative. It’s fun–for you and for them. They get to talk about things they’re passionate about, and you get to enjoy their enthusiasm and excitement and passion.

And if that’s not enough, think of it this way: No one receives too much respect. Asking other people about themselves implicitly shows you respect them.

Respect is the mother of polite.

10. They never stop being polite.

They don’t just turn on the charm the first time you meet. They don’t use it and lose it.

Remarkably polite people keep on being polite: partly because they know no other way to be, but also because they know there is no other way to be.

TIME Careers & Workplace

5 Reasons CEOs Should Offer Unlimited Vacation in 2015

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The results could build a better company

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This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

As a CEO, do the words “unlimited vacation” cause cold sweats and an overwhelming urge to hide all your employees’ passports? If so, you aren’t alone–most CEOs have some discomfort around the concept of unlimited vacation, which explains why only 1 percent of U.S. companies offer this program.

Among these 1-percenters is Netflix, an unlimited-vacation pioneer and the company that inspired Richard Branson to recently announce a similar policy for Virgin. As Reed Hastings explains in the 2009 Netflix “Freedom and Responsibility” practices, his company exercises a “trust policy” when it comes to scheduling their vacation days. It’s a policy that puts control in employees’ hands.

Unbridled PTO power is what makes some CEOs worry that their staff will shirk work responsibilities and opt for a four-day work week every week. As it turns out, employees do just the opposite. This vacation policy is not about giving employees the go-ahead to be lazy or unreliable. It’s about trust. It empowers them to best meet organizational and individual goals in the hours that make sense for both parties–and it works. Let’s face it, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. hours are not the hours of the digital age.

At SmartRecruiters, we’ve seen fantastic results from offering unlimited vacation and flex hours. It has driven employees to take greater ownership of their roles, collaborate better with their teams and work smarter while in the office. Success is measured not by how much time everyone spends in the office, but rather by “have I achieved my goals?”

Growing an organization-wide sense of trust has been the biggest benefit of an unlimited vacation culture at our company. Here are five more benefits you could see at yours:

1. It creates better connected teams and an agile workforce.

According to a 2014 Glassdoor survey, three out of five employees admit to doing work while on vacation. According to the survey, the main reason is that they are afraid of getting behind. This speaks volumes about the existence of unsupported team members. An open vacation culture encourages your employees to pitch in and cover one another’s work load, which then builds stronger, more versatile teams.

2. It shows you think of employees as adults which, in turn, makes them more responsible and valuable.

Empowering employees to define their schedule shows that they are valued and trusted peers. Say an impassioned employee works 40 hours in a week, yet they want to keep plugging away on a project. Without the ability to “get back the hours” at a later date, that employee will either have to push their work to the following week or forever lose their personal time to meet goals. This can lead to resentment and reduced eagerness to go the extra mile in future projects.

3. It boosts employee morale, happiness and productivity.

Studies have shown that employees perform better when they take time off to rejuvenate and have less stress in their daily lives. Unlimited vacation gives them the flex hours they need to harmonize work with other aspects of their lives. Besides, committed employees are always “on,” even during their time-off. They might come up with the next great idea for your company while relaxing on the beach or driving to their kid’s Little League game.

4. It can save your company money.

An unlimited vacation policy saves the cost of tracking and managing your organization’s PTO schedule. It also eliminates the liability and unexpected expense of paying out accrued and unused vacation days when employees leave (if you’re among the companies that follow this practice).

5. It will help recruit and retain the best candidates.

An open vacation culture can be a strong competitive differentiator for recruitment. Candidates, especially millennial job seekers, look favorably on unlimited days vs. the 16 days most U.S. companies provide. The impact can last long after recruitment. Netflix, for instance, saw an increase in employee engagement and retention after introducing its unlimited vacation policy.

Let me be clear, I don’t think there is a magic number of vacation days that businesses should all adopt. What I am advocating for is more freedom for employees to integrate their careers with the other pillars of their lives, such as getting to know their kids, discovering new perspectives through travel, and fueling creative thinking through passion projects –all things that lead to happier, more innovative and more committed employees.

In 2015, I hope unlimited vacation policies catch fire and more CEOs think of it not as merely a benefit or perk, but as part of crafting a high performance company culture built on trust and respect. The question to ask yourself isn’t “how many days off do my employees deserve?” but “how do I empower smarter, more responsible employees in 2015?”

Go ahead, take some time off to think about it.

TIME Careers & Workplace

10 Books That Will Make You a Better Person

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And tips from each one to get you started right away

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This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

Leadership is not about who you know, or why you know it, or how much you are paid to lead. It’s often about what you know and how you apply that knowledge. That’s why I’ve decided to scour the best books on leadership that were published this year and distill the information down to the most useful tip with a quote from the book (in my opinion).

1. Resilience is critical to success in leadership

“A few years ago, two former business school professors of mine, Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer, author of Power, and Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, did an informal study of my Stanford MBA classmates to discern what factors were the most influential in determining which students would “make it” and which would not. (As I recall, they were not looking for those who had made it as measured by dollars earned, but those who are most successful all around in achieving their goals and dreams.) After eliminating many different factors, they landed on resilience as the one defining skill and behavior that allowed some to stand out from the rest. After all it wasn’t that none of us face that adversity–we all did. But some were able to pick themselves up and brush themselves off and move on, while others were not.”

Denise Brosseau in her book Ready to Be a Thought Leader: How to Increase Your Influence, Impact, and Success

2. You must bridge the communication gap created by leadership

“Most successful people have little interest in listening to those individuals who cannot add value to a situation or topic but force themselves into a conversation just to hear themselves speak. Good communicators address both the what and how aspects of messaging so they don’t fall prey to becoming the smooth talker who leaves people with the impression of form over substance.”

Mike Myatt in his book Hacking Leadership: The 11 Gaps Every Business Needs to Close and the Secrets to Closing Them Quickly

3. Leadership is, at its core, about the mobilization of ideas

“Leadership is about setting a direction. It’s about creating a vision, empowering and inspiring people to want to achieve the vision, and enabling them to do so with energy and speed through an effective strategy. In its most basic sense, leadership is about mobilizing a group of people to jump into a better future.”

John P. Kotter in his book Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World

4. Good leaders are highly aware of their own vulnerabilities

“The role played by blindspots is to meditate between the poles of self-confidence and self-doubt. A leader with too many blindspots can be overconfident, even blindly arrogant, and exposed to a range of risks.”

Robert Bruce Shaw in his book Leadership Blindspots: How Successful Leaders Identify and Overcome the Weaknesses That Matter

5. Leaders equip people for success beyond their own purview

“Entrepreneurial leaders foster in people the feeling that they are personally successful–the hallmark of leadership.”

Derek Lidow in his book Startup Leadership: How Savvy Entrepreneurs Turn Their Ideas Into Successful Enterprises

6. The role of a leader is primarily to care for others

“And when a leader embraces their responsibility to care for people instead of caring for numbers, then people will follow, solve problems and see to it that that leader’s vision comes to life the right way, a stable way and not the expedient way.”

Simon Sinek in his book Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t

7. Take time to reflect and lead in the moment without stopping only to focus on problems

“Most leaders can barely breathe through the blur of activity, much less reflect on and register the best of what is happening in the present moment. And on the rare occasions when they do step back to assess the situation at hand, they focus on the problems, ignoring the opportunities.”

Kathryn D. Cramer in her book Lead Positive: What Highly Effective Leaders See, Say, and Do

8. Trust in leadership can be distilled down to four basic elements

“Trust in others (and their trust in us) depends on four elements: reliability, congruence, acceptance, and openness.”

Joanna Barsh and Johanne Lavoie in their book Centered Leadership: Leading with Purpose, Clarity, and Impact

9. Body language trumps spoken instruction

“Remember, every communication is two conversations, the spoken content and the body language. The body language always trumps the content when the two are in conflict. So in planning your content and failing to think much about your emotions, which drive your body language, you’re leaving that to chance–the more important of the two conversations.”

Nick Morgan in his book Power Cues: The Subtle Science of Leading Groups, Persuading Others, and Maximizing Your Personal Impact

10. Hope in leadership comes from analyzing success and feedback

“To increase your chances of moving toward your ideal self, challenge any self-defeating thoughts. Keep in mind your past accomplishments, candidly assess what has stopped you from achieving goals, as well as your personal beliefs about your abilities. Consider relevant feedback from others about what you have achieved and what your potential is. This helps increase your sense of hopefulness, which research has shown is critical in imagining and realizing the ideal self.”

Stewart D. Friedman in his book Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life

TIME Careers & Workplace

15 Tips for Being Happy at Work

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Want to be happier at work? Try taking time out for these proven techniques

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This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

Breaking news. In 2013, unhappy employees outnumbered happy ones by two to one worldwide, according to Gallup. Based on studies that took place in 142 countries and contained approximately 180 million employees, only “13 percent of employees worldwide are happily engaged at work.”

Of course, you probably didn’t need statistics to know that. Being miserable at work has just become a way of life. Or, has it?

I’ve been trying to be happier each and every day. With 2014 coming to an end, it’s time to turn over that new leaf and start actually being happy at work. But how can you accomplish such a seemingly hopeless task?

Try these 15 proven tactics that will make you happy at workplace.

1. Have a Sense of Meaning

In 1983 Steve Jobs convinced future Apple CEO John Sculley to leave his job at PepsiCo by asking him one question: “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?”

Why was this so effective? Besides sparking his curiosity and imagination, it gave Scully the chance to do meaningful work. This has been backed by research from Wharton management professor Adam Grant, who has found that “employees who know how their work has a meaningful, positive impact on others are not just happier than those who don’t; they are vastly more productive, too.” Additional research from Harvard professor Teresa Amabile has discovered that no matter the size of a goal–whether curing cancer or helping a colleague–having a sense of meaning can contribute to happiness in the workplace.

2. Create an ‘Office Nest’

Jennifer Star, a founding partner of the Balance Team, notes on Monster that since you spend so much time at work, if you want to improve your happiness there you should “make your space your own, decorate your area as much as your company policy permits, and make yourself as comfortable and relaxed as you can be in your office.”

3. Find a Work Best Friend

Research from my free hosting startup Hostt has found “that having a best friend at work can turn a moderately engaged worker into a highly engaged worker.” When I hire people, I try and really pay attention to referrals of workers. When workers are engaged in friendships they contribute more to the bottom line.

Christine Riordan states in the Harvard Business Review that employees who “have friends at work perceive their job as more fun, enjoyable, worthwhile, and satisfying.” Furthermore, having friends at work can create a support system, comradery and a sense of loyalty.

4. Smile

Something as simple as smiling can improve your happiness at work because it tells your brain to be more happy–thanks to the release of neuropeptides. Smiling is also contagious and will make your co-workers smile as well.

5. Leave Personal Problems at Home

Julie Morgenstern, author of Time Management From the Inside Out, informs CBS News that “when your personal life is in tumult, a lot of emotional hijacking goes on. Emotions consume you and stress exhausts you.” When it happens that you have an inordinate amount of stress, it will seem like your work is never ending, you will watch the clock, and you will be distracted from being more productive.

While it’s easy for your personal life to carry over into your professional life, make sure that you attend to personal matters before heading out for the workday.

6. Be Future Oriented

According to experts like Geoffrey James, “you’ll make better decisions and be more satisfied with your results if you know that most of what you’re doing in your work at this time still fits into your long-term plans and goals. That’s only possible if you keep those plans and goals in the forefront.”

7. Say ‘Thank You’

Based on experiments from Professor Francesca Gino of the Harvard Business School and Professor Adam Grant of the Wharton School, “receiving expressions of gratitude makes us feel a heightened sense of self-worth, and that in turn triggers other helpful behaviors toward both the person we are helping and other people that are around us, too.”

In fact, their experiments have discovered that 66% of students helped a fellow student named “Eric” because he thanked them in advance for reviewing his cover letter.

Instead of just saying “thank you” to your peers–and even receptionists and maintenance–you can be proactive and ask for feedback to receive some much-deserved gratitude. Definitely don’t ask again if a person you have previously asked is determined to make you feel unappreciated, or if they are continually condemning you or your team.

8. Take a Breather

It’s incredibly easy to get burned out during the workday. That’s why you need to take a minute and breath before moving on to your next task. Sharon Salzberg, author of Real Happiness at Work, informs Business Insider that “without some breathing space in the face of constant demands, we won’t be creative, competent, or cheerful.” She also adds that by not taking a break, “we won’t get along with others as well, and we won’t take criticism without the possibility of imploding. It is a must to control the level of our daily stress.”

My friend and marketing expert Liv Longley states that employees also need to take time off to recharge from the stress of work. In fact, taking a vacation not only relieves stress and recharges us, it can also improve our overall health and make us more productive at work.

9. Eat Healthy and Stay Hydrated

According to Shirly Weiss, a certified holistic health and nutritional counselor and consulting expert for the Balance Team, “maintaining a good diet and keeping yourself properly hydrated throughout your workday can really make a big difference in your energy level and attitude.”

Instead of hitting the vending machine for lunch, have meals that involve yogurt, asparagus, honey, cherry tomatoes. Eating foods that keep your blood sugar within a normal range will stop headaches and fatigue, as well as help you concentrate better.

10. Get Organized

Chrystal Doucette suggests on Chron.com that having an organized workplace will help you be better prepared and work more efficiently. It can also improve your happiness since a “clean desk makes the work environment seem less hectic and stressful.” In short, you have enough stress with work, so avoid the additional stress that clutter and scrambling for lost items will cause.

11. Don’t Multitask

Despite the myth, multitasking isn’t effective. Clifford Nass, a psychology professor at Stanford University claims that multitasking “wastes more time than it saves.” He also states that it decreases concentration and creativity.

Instead of getting overwhelmed by the amount of work you’re trying to juggle through multitasking, focus on one task at a time. Many do well with a simple checklist to accomplish this.

12. Accept People for Who They Are

You can’t change who people are. Instead of letting their personalities or actions affect you, take a step back. You could try techniques like counting to 10 before responding to them, avoiding finger-pointing, and maintaining a professional attitude. There are many fantastic books on this subject as well.

13. Move Around

Whether it’s finding the time to take a walk outside, run up and down the stairs on your break, stretch, or do a 10-minute exercise, moving around throughout the workday has a number of beneficial effects–even if you already exercise and eat healthy.

As Lifehacker points out, sitting all day and working on a computer can lead to health concerns like weight gain, heart disease, eye strain, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

In short, when you feel better, you’ll be in a better place mood-wise as well.

14. Reward Yourself

Whether it’s by going out to dinner with your significant other, purchasing a new gadget, enjoying a piece of candy, or giving yourself a pat on the back, (the politician applause), find the time to reward yourself after you’ve completed a project or had a fruitful day.

You can even take that a step further and prime yourself to be happy. Research has found that doctors who prepared themselves to be happy were able to reach a diagnosis twice as fast as their colleagues.

15. Reflect on the Day

Why are you working so hard? You can answer that question by reflecting on the day and recalling something that was positive. When you record these moments in your notebook, smartphone, tablet, etc., you’ll have a reminder of why your work matters to you. You can refer to these statements of positive reflection whenever you need a boost.

TIME Careers & Workplace

These Are the 10 Best Business Books of 2014

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These 10 business books were the real eye-openers for entrepreneurs in the year 2014

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This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

Every year, I select 10 books that, IMHO, provided the most value to their readers. Some of these may already be on your radar, but others you might have missed. Enjoy!

1. How to Be a Power Connector

Author: Judy Robinett

Subtitle: The 5 50 100 Rule for Turning Your Business Network Into Profits

Why I like it: As somebody who is often overwhelmed by people who want to “connect” with me, Robinett’s system of differentiating between levels of contact was truly a revelation. It’s one of those books I wish I’d been able to read two decades ago.

Best quote: “For you to become a master of strategic relationship, you need to do more than just connect, care, and add value (although those elements are the most basic requirements of any relationship). You need to 1) pinpoint the relationships you will pursue and nurture; 2) reach beyond just friends, family, and profession and build a wide network of connections; 3) use a system for adding value to those contacts regularly; and 3) become the connector between connections–the person who can help people reach a resource they would never know about and could never reach if it weren’t for you.”

2. The Ambitious Woman

Author: Esther Spina

Subtitle: What It Takes and Why You Want to Be One

Why I like it: Unlike last year’s Lean In, this book is written from the viewpoint of a successful woman who didn’t ride the fast track to high-tech riches. Spina is a self-made woman who succeeded at commissioned sales, which is probably the world’s most difficult job.

Best quote: “If you want to be successful, then you must choose to do what ambitious people do. How about the stay-at-home mom who knows how to handle her kids and keeps her home running smoothly–she’s successful. What about the woman who can balance her career and family–she’s successful. The woman who is determined to earn her degree, the woman who is a visionary and is making her dream a reality, the woman who is consistent in character and the way she lives life–they are all successful. Why? Because they are Ambitious Women.”

3. Money: Master the Game

Author: Anthony Robbins

Subtitle: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom

Why I like it: I’ve been a fan of Robbin’s for many years, since it was during one of his seminars that I decided to quit my corporate job and become a full-time writer. I’ve had the opportunity to meet him personally and discovered that, unlike his slightly scary stage persona, in person he’s actually low key and easy to talk to. In any case, it’s been a while since Robbins has written a new book, and this one is particularly relevant for people struggling through today’s difficult economic times.

Best quote: “The secret to wealth is simple: Find a way to do more for others than anyone else does. Become more valuable. Do more. Give more. Be more. Serve more. And you will have the opportunity to earn more–whether you own the best food truck in Austin, Texas, or you’re the top salesperson at your company or even the founder of Instagram.”

4. The Gen Z Effect

Authors: Tom Koulopoulos and Dan Keldsen

Subtitle: The Six Forces Shaping the Future of Business

Why I like it: This book’s thesis is that technology, rather than separating the generations, actually brings them closer and that this is part of a larger shift in how people think about business and life. It’s an easy read but has depth, so that you learn a great deal and, more important, start seeing things in a different way.

Best quote: “The generational divides have stood in our way for so long, undermining our ability to innovate in what is quickly becoming a post-generational world. Post-generational thinking requires that we not only change our individual perceptions of the boundaries between generations, but also build organizations that can do the same.”

5. Scrum

Author: Jeff Sutherland

Subtitle: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time

Why I like it: I get really tired of people insisting that to get more done you have to spend more hours doing it. That’s simply not true. You want to work smarter rather than harder, and this book gives you some real-world techniques for making this happen.

Best quote: “Traditionally, management wants two things on any project: control and predictability. This leads to vast numbers of documents and graphs and charts … Months of effort go into planning every detail, so there will be no mistakes, no cost overruns, and things will be delivered on schedule. The problem is that the rosy scenario never actually unfolds … Every project involves discovery of problems and bursts of inspiration. Trying to restrict any human endeavor of any scope to color-coded charts and graphs is foolish and doomed to failure. It’s not how people work, and it’s not how projects progress. It’s not how ideas reach fruition or how great things are made.”

6. The Soft Edge

Author: Rich Karlgaard

Subtitle: Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success

Why I like it: In my view, companies spend far too much time worrying about the “hard” stuff, like finances and technology, and not enough about the “soft” stuff, like how people feel about what they’re doing and where they’re working. This book shows how that “soft edge” is not only as important as the “hard” edges but arguably more important.

Best quote: “Innovation in companies is very much like a healthy immune response in living organisms. People who enjoy long-term health don’t have episodic bursts of health. They are healthy nearly all the time. Their immune systems routinely fight off most threats. Can the same be true of companies? The analogy fits. In great companies, innovation is a natural response to threats.”

7. The Carpenter

Author: Jon Gordon

Subtitle: A Story About the Greatest Success Strategies of All

Why I like it: Unless you’ve had your head stuck in the sand, you’ve probably run across the numerous best-selling books by Gordon. I like all of his work, and his new book, The Carpenter, is truly a must-read. It is an engaging parable of a high-powered entrepreneur who recaptures his sense of purpose through working with (and learning from) a blue-collar artisan.

Best Quote:

  • I vow to stay positive in the face of negativity;
  • When I am surrounded by pessimism, I will choose optimism;
  • When I feel fear, I will choose faith;
  • When I want to hate, I will choose love;
  • When I want to be bitter, I will choose to get better;
  • When I experience a challenge, I will look for an opportunity to learn and grow;
  • When I experience a setback, I will be resilient;
  • When I meet failure, I will fail forward, toward future success;
  • With vision, hope, and faith, I will never give up and will always move forward toward my destiny;
  • I believe my best days are ahead of me, not behind me;
  • I believe I’m here for a reason and my purpose is greater than my challenges;
  • I believe that being positive not only makes me better, it make everyone around me better;
  • So today and every day I will be positive and strive to make a positive impact on the world.

8. Scaling Up Excellence

Authors: Robert Sutton and Huggy Rao

Subtitle: Getting to More Without Settling for Less

Why I like it: Entrepreneurs naturally want their company to grow and be more successful. However, many of them discover that once they’re successful as a startup, it’s very difficult to “level up” into a larger company. This book explains the specific challenges that entrepreneurs face, and therefore should be required reading.

Best quote: “Savvy leaders know that just bombarding employees with a quick PowerPoint presentation, a few days of training, or an inspirational speech won’t cut it if they want to spread some goodness from the few to the many. Certainly, there are junctures in every scaling effort when it is wise to choose the easier path or secure a quick victory. Yet as we dug into case after case, and study after study, we saw that every allegedly easy and speedy scaling success turned out to be one we just hadn’t understood very well. Scaling requires grinding it out, and pressing each person, team, group, division, or organization to make one small change after another in what they believe, feel, or do.”

9. Creativity, Inc.

Authors: Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace

Subtitle: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

Why I like it: By examining Pixar and its relationship to Steve Jobs and the team of people he recruited, this book makes clear that creativity must be built into the corporate culture and is not an attribute of its leadership alone.

Best quote: “The best managers acknowledge and make room for what they do not know–not just because humility is a virtue but because until one adopts that mindset, the most striking breakthroughs cannot occur. I believe that managers must loosen the controls, not tighten them. They must accept risk; they must trust the people they work with and strive to clear the path for them; and always, they must pay attention to and engage with anything that creates fear. Moreover, successful leaders embrace the reality that their models may be wrong or incomplete. Only when we admit what we don’t know can we ever hope to learn it.”

10. Business Without the Bullsh*t

Author: Me (plus the readers of this blog)

Subtitle: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know

Why I like it: Readers kept telling me they needed a “survival guide” to the corporate world, so I wrote this book. Many of the readers of my blog contributed to the writing by reviewing early chapters. Since I’m obviously biased, here’s what some others have said about this book.

Best quote: “Conventional wisdom is that business is complicated and its principles difficult to master. However, while every industry and every profession requires specific expertise, the business of business tends to be rather simple. However, the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of management consultants, industry analysts, and corporate trainers depends on keeping things complex–because, after all, once you realize the business is simple, why would you hire them? Beyond your own area of expertise, all you need to be truly successful in the business world is a handful of secrets and shortcuts. And that’s what Business Without the Bullsh*t is all about.”

TIME Careers & Workplace

You’ll Never Guess the Most Affordable City for Young People

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Mexico City, Mumbai and Rome are all contenders

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This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

You’re a young person with big entrepreneurial dreams and plans to change the world. Good for you! But you need to pay the rent while you build up your skills or get your fledgling enterprise off the ground. So where should you move?

There’s no shortage of advice for young people on which cities make the best launching pads for post-collegiate life. One recent study looked at which metro areas were more popular with mobile well-educated young people to indicate the best destination for your U-Haul, for example. Other sources of advice have crowdsourced community opinion to rank the best locales for digital nomads.

But another recent index of possible new homes for recent grads takes a different approach. Rather than just solicit the opinions of the group or look at standard cost of living measures, the Youthful Cities Index from consultancy Decode takes into account not only how much you spend on essentials like rent and food (though that’s weighed too) but also how much entry-level workers will bring home if they make minimum wage, as well as other less-often-used but more youth-relevant indicators of a city’s costs like the price of attending a live gig, going to a movie, and taking public transit.

So what was the result of the global ranking after all these unusual numbers were crunched. Here are the results (bet you didn’t see number one coming):

  1. Paris
  2. Toronto
  3. Los Angeles
  4. Chicago
  5. Berlin
  6. Dallas
  7. Rome
  8. New York
  9. Tokyo
  10. London
  11. Seoul
  12. Buenos Aires
  13. Istanbul
  14. Cairo
  15. Johannesburg
  16. Bogota
  17. Lima
  18. Mumbai
  19. Lagos
  20. Sao Paulo
  21. Manila
  22. Shanghai
  23. Mexico City
  24. Nairobi
  25. Kinshasa

Of course, as Quartz writer Zainab Mudallal points out in her writeup of the index, affordability and opportunity are two totally separate things. “France has also recently been called a “sick” economy by its own economy minister, with its high unemployment rate and reputation for worker inefficiency. The high cost of doing business in France means that some employers consider it a risk to take on young people. So it may not be easy to find a job,” she notes.

It’s a valid point. No matter how affordable a city is theoretically, if you can’t get even one of those relatively well-paid minimum wage gigs, a promising budget on paper isn’t going to mean a thing. So take the results with a grain of salt before you rush off to brush up on your French. The rankings, however, do serve as a reminder that a lot more goes into making a city attractive to young people than sensible-sounding basics and cheap housing.

TIME Careers & Workplace

You Don’t Get What You Don’t Ask For

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How simply asking for things in the right way can get you almost anything you want in life

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This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

90% of people are afraid to ask for things. Is that a real statistic? Nope. But I believe it to be a true statistic, if not higher than that.

We, as humans, are afraid to ask for things. We’re afraid to ask people to buy our products. We’re afraid to ask someone out on a date. We’re afraid to ask for more money at our jobs. We’re afraid to ask the tough questions in our relationships.

We’re afraid to ask because we fear rejection.

Rejection is this unbelievably strong thing that keeps us from getting so much in life. If you experience rejection one time, it is likely to derail you from ever asking for that thing again. Most of us have had the unpleasant experience of asking someone on a date and getting rejected. Unfortunately, that horrible empty feeling sticks with us for years to come (and for some people, the rest of their lives).

But why is rejection so strong? Why is it so hard to overcome the feeling that the tiny two-letter word “no” gives us?

Much like rejection, negativity is incredibly powerful. 100 people could tell you how freaking amazing you look today, but if one person says you look like crap, those 100 positive messages won’t matter.

See, on some level, we all just want to fit in. The reason we fixate on things like rejection and negativity is because they make us feel alienated from the rest of the world. Experiencing those things on any scale cuts us to our most basic human core.

Think about the last time you asked for something out of your comfort zone? Or even something in your comfort zone. You probably felt hesitation. You probably had 20 scenes play out in your mind, all disasters and worst-case scenarios. You might have even delayed your ask until you finally built up enough courage.

Over the years, I’ve had success in business for two reasons:

  1. I wasn’t afraid to ask for things most people wouldn’t dare ask for.
  2. I was willing to work my ass off to get the thing I wanted, because it was something I was really passionate about.

When people hear that I’ve made over $1,000,000 and worked with over 2,000 companies since 2009, I’m sure it comes off like a nice shiny success story. But what they don’t hear is that I sent more than 15,000 emails to make those deals happen (75% of those emails were most likely follow ups).

Writing that many emails wasn’t easy and on many occasions I was afraid to make “the ask.” One thing that always helped me overcome my own fear of asking was that I believed in myself and the thing I was asking for. If you don’t believe in what you’re asking for, you’re never going to overcome your initial fear.

Everyone wants to make good money, but most people are afraid to put in the hard work to make it happen. There were many times when I got discouraged when people said “no” to me. There were many times when I wanted to give up and thought my ideas weren’t good when I got negative criticism. But I believed in what I was selling and wanted it more than the feeling of rejection could dissuade me.

The simple magic to getting anything you want in life is just to ask.

The only caveat to simply asking for what you want is this: make sure you do it with creativity, confidence and effort.

When it comes to selling something online, your product or service most likely has competition. Someone else is already asking people to buy, so that alone should give you the validation and confidence to ask. But, you should also think about a unique or creative way you can package your ask so it stands out from the crowd.

When it comes to relationships, confidence is key. No one wants to talk to, let alone go on a date with, someone who has zero confidence. But just like asking for things, the more you work to build your confidence and the more practice you put in, the more results you’ll see. No one becomes confident overnight or by reading a few self-help books. You have to put in the work and not give up at the first sign of rejection.

The four-time Olympic gold medalist Jesse Owens put it perfectly: “We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.”

Effort is truly a secret to success. No one has ever put in an insane amount of effort for something and not gotten some value out of it. The more you ask for things, in the right ways, the better you’ll get at it. And the better you get at asking, the amount of times you hear “yes” will increase.

You’re going to hear “no.” You’re going to feel rejected. You’re going to encounter negativity. But if you truly want whatever you’re asking for, you won’t and shouldn’t give up at the first sign or thought of adversity.

Start repeating these words to yourself every time you’re feeling hesitation: You don’t get what you don’t ask for.

If you enjoyed this article and want to read more of my writing, subscribe to my weekly newsletter (feel free to say “no” I certainly won’t mind).

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For a Better Life, Do This Simple Thing Every Week

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A better you isn't that hard to achieve

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This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

In recent years, walking has gone from a generally healthful mode of transport to a public health crusade. Why? Lately, science has shown sitting all day to be the newest public health menace, right behind Big Macs and cigarettes on the list of things that will shorten your life and damage your body. The silver lining to this evolving line of research is that fighting back seems to be as simple as getting up and wandering around for a few minutes every hour or so (standing desks are another option).

An occasional stroll, therefore, has become akin to a morning vitamin or regular cancer screening–something you know you really ought to do. There’s no denying the truth of the necessity of adding a bare minimum of movement to our days, but there’s another side to walking that may be getting lost in the rush to remind people of its salutary effects.

Walking might save your life, but that’s far from all a good wander has to offer.

Traveling by foot isn’t just medicinal. It’s also a meditative pursuit with a long and storied pedigree that can lift your mood, improve your creativity, and give you the space you need for life-changing self-reflection.

Less Anxious, More Creative

The first couple of items on this list are the simplest to prove. Again we can turn to recent studies that reveal being outside in natural settings is powerful anti-anxiety medicine. Blog Wise Bread summed up the new findings this way: “The sounds of birds chirping, rain falling, and bees buzzing are proven to lower stress and evoke a feeling of calm.”

Similarly, science attests that getting out for a walk can spur creative thinking. Stanford News, for example, reports on studies out of the university showing that “the overwhelming majority of the participants in these three experiments were more creative while walking than sitting … creative output increased by an average of 60 percent when the person was walking.”

Walking to Find Yourself

It’s clear, then, that walking has short-term utilitarian uses–if you need an idea to finish that work project, a spin around your local park might help shake one loose. But there’s also lots of anecdotal evidence that longer walks can yield a deeper sort of creativity. The mental space created by long rambles offers the stressed and scattered the time and brain real estate needed not only to solve specific problems, but also to gain perspective on their own lives and rebalance out-of-whack lifestyles.

When blogger David Roberts decided to fight his profound burnout with a year-long digital detox, for example, he soon settled into a daily rhythm of long hikes. “Reliably, after about a half-hour of walking, ideas start bubbling up,” he reports in a fascinating writeup of the experience for Outdoor magazine. The wandering had other effects, too. “I spent hours at a time absorbed in a single activity. My mind felt quieter, less jumpy,” he says.

Roberts is far from the only thinker to notice these deeper effects of longer walks. On Medium recently, writer Craig Mod composed an ode to long walks, unearthing a treasure trove of historical figures and great thinkers who celebrated and dissected the benefits of walking. The common thread running through these accounts isn’t just that experiencing a place on foot offers a unique perspective and plenty of unexpected details to delight the walker, but also that “walking moves or settles the mind–allowing for self discovery.”

If you’ve lost touch with the art of the long ramble, it’s a must-read piece. And it begs the question:

Will you take time for a long walk this week?

TIME Careers & Workplace

The One Word You Should Basically Never, Ever Say

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Anyone aiming for great success should quit using it immediately

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This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

Language is powerful. Using the right words can signal you’re part of the group, convey difficult decisions without ruffling feathers, and demonstrate power. Meanwhile, sloppy word choices are often a red flag for sloppy thinking or a company culture with something to hide.

That’s true of firms with impenetrable or pretentious job ads and mission statements, and it’s also true of individuals. How we speak says a lot about our values. That being true, there’s one word you really, really should stay away from if you want to be successful in business, according to Aha! co-founder Brian de Haaff on LinkedIn recently.

What word does he think ambitious entrepreneurs should ban from their vocabulary? The innocuous sounding adverb “honestly.”

What about the rest of the time?

What’s wrong with signaling your intention to be entirely straightforward? That’s a quality that you shouldn’t need to signal, de Haaff insists, because it should be fundamental to your communication style all the time. If you have to highlight that you’re speaking honestly by saying “honestly,” you need to take a hard look at why you’re being less than forthcoming or authentic the rest of the time. Other people are already wondering, he warns.

“A VP of sales who I worked closely with before I co-founded Aha! always said ‘honestly’ when he really wanted something. He thought that it was a way to make a hard point, but we all questioned whether he was lying to us at all other times,” de Haaff writes.

But calling your credibility into question isn’t the only problem with using “honestly” for emphasis, according to de Haaff. In the full post, he also explains how the expression can highlight your frustration in an unhelpful, passive-aggressive way, and push people away in conversation.

He’s not the only one out there with a very strong and specific verbal pet peeve. Here on Inc.com, we recently rounded up expressions that even well-educated folks use without thinking that make them sound dumb or inconsiderate, for example. Business jargon and inflated diction are another continuous source of complaint as well. No doubt there are lots of other verbal pitfalls out there.

TIME Careers & Workplace

7 Things You Can Learn From the Greatest Businessman of All Time

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett speaks at an event on Sept. 18, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan.
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett speaks at an event on Sept. 18, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. Bill Pugliano—Getty Images

Warren Buffett shares words of wisdom from decades of experience, success, and failure

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This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

The “most successful investor of the 20th century” has a thing or two to teach you about being a great leader. Warren Buffett is a famed philanthropist, business magnate, and sharklike investor. As the CEO and biggest shareholder of Berkshire Hathaway and someone who consistently ranks among the richest people in the world, he’s smart, business savvy, and slick, even into his 80s.

However, the “Oracle of Omaha” is also a notoriously frugal spender and reveres value investing. Having pledged to donate 99 percent of his wealth, he’s proof that sometimes old-school techniques work. If you’re an up-and-coming leader (or just want to be), check out what Buffett can teach you about leadership, wise moves, and humility.

1. On Risk

“Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing,” says Buffett, which means you can do one of two things. Either you can be a big risk taker and gambler, or you can learn what you need to do, play it a little slower, and minimize your risks. Obviously the latter approach is best, but it doesn’t lead to instant gratification. Put those multimillion-dollar fantasies on the back burner long enough to get in control of your risk factor.

2. On Reputations

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” This is especially true in the digital era, when, if something’s in writing or on video, it’s forever. You can even take a screencap of a Snapchat, so be diligent when building your reputationonline and off. Remember Congressman Anthony Weiner tweeting pictures of his genitalia? Yeah, don’t be that guy. His reputation is toast.

3. On Who You Surround Yourself With

“It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours, and you’ll drift in that direction.” Birds of a feather flock together, and you’re probably not in the position to be anyone’s mentor yet. If you surround yourself with better people, they’ll inspire you to do better yourself.

As I tell my children, “If you want to soar like an eagle in life, you can’t be flocking with the turkeys.”

4. On Hindsight

“In the business world, the rearview mirror is always clearer than the windshield,” quips Buffett. Of course, this is true in every other aspect of your life, too. Stop focusing on that rearview mirror, though, after you’ve gleaned the necessary lessons from it. Move forward, even if that direction isn’t quite as streak-free.

5. On Stupid Mistakes

“I bought a company in the mid-’90s called Dexter Shoe and paid $400 million for it. And it went to zero. And I gave away about $400 million worth of Berkshire stock, which is probably now worth $400 billion. But I’ve made lots of dumb decisions. It’s part of the game.”

No successful person is mistake-free, and that’s a good thing. Each stumble is a chance to learn and a warning when you’re tempted to do something similar in the future.

6. On Knowing When to Quit

“Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.” In other words, ditch the stubbornness and know when to call it quits. Not every project is worth saving.

7. On Frugality

Buffett is legendarily frugal. He lives in the same house in Omaha, Nebraska, that he purchased in 1958 for $31,500. He is well known for his frugality, which includes enjoying McDonald’s hamburgers and cherry Coke, and his disdain for technology, such as computers and luxury cars. Despite a net worth measured in billions, Buffett earns a base salary of $100,000 a year at Berkshire Hathaway. It’s a salary that has not changed in 25 years.

Today, many top leaders take as much as they can and live as extravagantly as possible. More leaders should take a page from the book of Buffett.

Listen to the Wisdom of the Oracle of Omaha

These words of wisdom come from decades of experience, success, and failure. Why make the same mistakes somebody else has already made all over again if you don’t have to? With the likes of Buffett doling out advice by the shovelful, take advantage of it–then spend that saved time putting his words into practice.

It’s certainly worked for Buffett.

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