TIME Careers & Workplace

7 Truths About LinkedIn Everybody Needs to Know

LinkedIn
Bloomberg—Getty Images

There is real power in Groups

Inc. logo

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.

LinkedIn has evolved to become one the most important and most prevalent resources for professional networking available. Used by more than 313 million people on an international scale, it’s no wonder why the social network has, for many professional networkers, replaced traditional forms of meeting and socializing.

Whether you network for job opportunities, sales prospects, or just overall experience, it’s true that LinkedIn can enhance your efforts–but it’s important to acknowledge a few considerations about the platform before you get too deep in your strategy.

1. Not everyone on LinkedIn wants to network.

This is a basic rule you’ll need to follow if you want to stay in the good graces of your current and potential connections. New LinkedIn users sometimes get excited about the notion of making new connections, and start reaching out to people they haven’t met before. While some users also love the idea of meeting new people and connecting with strangers, others are offended by it, and may feel as if their privacy has been disrespected if they receive such a request.

Obviously, you want to avoid such a scenario, as it could irritate a potential connection. Instead, focus on connecting with people you’ve already met, or connections of people you’ve already met. Make sure to let each potential connection know how you found them, and why you want to connect with them.

2. People will judge you based on your profile.

Your profile is the first thing your new connection will look at, and if you haven’t met in person before, it’s going to form their first impression of you. I don’t need to tell you how important first impressions are. Building out your profile is the best way to leave your new (and potential) connections with positive thoughts of you.

What exactly makes a good profile? There are dozens of rules and hundreds of nitpicky options you can look at, but the fundamentals are mostly intuitive:

  • Customize your profile URL so it’s not just a series of random letters and numbers.
  • Make sure your profile photo is a professional-looking headshot where you look your best.
  • Fill out your profile with as much detailed information as you can without becoming long-winded and boastful.
  • Include personal recommendations from others, if possible.

3. Your personal brand should be treated like a brand.

A brand is a created identity, and while yours should be based on your real personality, it should also be refined and treated like a professional company brand. As you network more on LinkedIn and engage in different discussions with different people, your audience and your network should all receive a consistent experience. That means your image, your personality, and even your language need to be in sync with each other.

Developing your personal brand will give people the consistent, desirable experience they want, and eventually, they’ll want to come back to you to repeat that experience. Connect your LinkedIn profile with your other social media profiles, and widen your audience while keeping your personal brand uniform. It’s good to show some of your unique personality, but do remember that LinkedIn isn’t a place to make emotional or personal updates–it’s a professional network, first and foremost. For more information on building a personal brand, see my article, “5 Steps to Building a Personal Brand (and Why You Need One).”

4. People will notice spam and advertising.

Most connections, and most people in general, hate the idea of being advertised to. The second they understand that a message was specifically constructed to sell them on something, the authority and credibility of the message are immediately destroyed. If any of your messages or connection attempts are seen as spammy or as attempts to advertise your company or personal brand, your audience will immediately turn away from you.

Write specialized messages for your audience–in your profile, in your connection attempts, and in your discussion comments. Make sure people know that you aren’t just trying to reach out to them for artificial connection building or a blind attempt to get more business. Be yourself, and write unique messages with unique content to avoid seeming robotic or impersonal. No matter how good you think you are at subtly advertising, people will be able to detect it, and you’ll lose credibility when they do.

5. A personal touch goes a long way.

Just like in real life, people on LinkedIn crave personal acknowledgement, and if you give it to them, you’ll wind up in their good graces. You’ll want to start each possible connection on a note of personal interaction; when you request to connect with a new person, write them a message about why that connection is important to you, and include personal details so the other person knows you’re being sincere. Sending the default “Hi, I’d like to connect” message will make you seem distant and unapproachable.

Then, follow up with your connections on a regular basis. If you see it’s someone’s birthday, someone’s work anniversary, or someone’s new job or promotion, send them a congratulatory letter. Take every opportunity you can to build your relationship with tiny personal touches. Over time, your connection will grow much stronger.

6. There is real power in Groups.

Don’t just stick to personal profile updates and private messages with your connections. Use the power of Groups to boost your potential network and reach people you’ve never met in a familiar setting. Sign up to be a part of as many Groups as you deem appropriate. Learn the intentions and etiquette of each group, and get involved by starting discussions and responding to comment threads that are already in progress.

The real opportunity in Groups is getting the chance to introduce yourself to new people without the breach of etiquette that comes in blindly reaching out to new connections. In a Group setting, people will become familiar with your personality and authority, and it’s highly likely that you’ll attract new connections without any outbound effort. For more on using LinkedIn Groups for marketing, see my article, “The Definitive Guide to LinkedIn Groups for Marketing.”

7. Face to face meetings are still important.

Interpersonal connections can’t thrive exclusively on social media. While the digital environment gives us a great platform to start new connections, and easily follow up with ones we’ve already made, face-to-face meetings are still important to build camaraderie and deepen those relationships. It’s not always possible due to geographical limitations and schedule restrictions, but whenever you can, try to schedule a lunch meeting or a cup of coffee with your most important–or your newest–connections.

You’d be surprised how much a face-to-face meeting can mean to a person, even in the digital age. It’s not a mandatory requirement for LinkedIn participation, of course, but LinkedIn members who do connect outside the platform tend to be more successful than members who operate exclusively in the online world.

Conclusion

Don’t let these truths scare you away from LinkedIn; when used correctly, it’s a great tool with few, if any, major drawbacks. But the availability of such a powerful social network also warrants a new set of rules of etiquette. Once you become more familiar with the way LinkedIn works and the best ways to reach out to more connections, you’ll be able to build your network of professional relationships and take advantage of everything the platform has to offer. For more information on how to use LinkedIn in your marketing initiative, grab my eBook, “The Definitive Guide to Social Media Marketing.”

 

TIME Careers & Workplace

Why a Personal Website Is Your Best Asset (and How to Make It Good)

woman-working-laptop
Getty Images

It's a small move with a big difference

Inc. logo

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.

I see a lot of résumés—from friends, prospective FinePoint collaborators, and associates. A résumé is great, but it’s static—it signifies only one page of who you are as a person.

Nobody can or should be reduced to a page, especially in this age of multiple careers and diverse interests. Showcasing yourself on an 8 1/2 x 11 inch piece of paper is increasingly difficult. And it shouldn’t be how it’s done anyway.

Being in the business of helping founders and leaders with their personal brands, voice, visibility, and profiles, one of the things I nearly always recommend is a personal website. But this isn’t true just for clients; it’s true for everyone. You need your own site no matter what the level of your career. Having a personal page should be considered by everyone. So whether you’re in college or a CEO, not having a personal website is a missed opportunity.

Control

There is only so much you can control online, particularly when it comes to your name and profile. There are things you can barely control (like a person whose name is close to yours who happens to have great SEO), and some you can, like LinkedIn. However, with platforms like LinkedIn, you’re still limited to their layout, their buttons, their prompts. You can’t edit the code on your Facebook page, and so, by having your own website, you are in 100 percent control of the conversation surrounding you. And that’s nearly the only time that happens.

Not only are you in control but you are able to show your personality, character, color, animation, video, audio–not to mention accolades–and they’re all displayed, in a way that is unique to you. Think about your professional goals–and then about what you can put on your page to highlight why and how you can get there.

Personal websites get people jobs. I hired someone flat out because of her website (it was a play on Beyonce’s, so I just had to).

The technicalities

There are a ton of easy-to-use platforms–such as Wix, Weebly, or WordPress–for creating a personal site. All of these services are free (at least at the basic level), and make producing your website a lot easier than it looks. This is the biggest reason, clients tell me, that they don’t have their own websites–fear of the technical aspects. But it’s just not that hard. You can also hire great designers, but for the first version you can always play with looks and layouts on your own with one of these programs.

Ten years ago I interviewed for an internship at a PR firm, and I remember the CEO saying, “If you don’t remember anything else, at least buy the domain of your name.” (I guess I didn’t remember much else, but I did remember that.) Buy every iteration–.co, .org, .me. You never know what will happen: Someone with a name similar to yours could become famous (for good or bad), or someone could potentially harm your online reputation by using your name in a URL.

Keeping track

Having a personal website means you can also use it for your own purposes, not just to show others who you are. A personal website can house and track interesting projects you’re working on and media mentions of you or your company, or it can keep all of your writing in one place. I use my site as a database for everything I’ve written in the past nine years, as well as everything that has been written about me. This is easy for business development emails, but it also allows you to really take a look over the work that you’ve done. All in one spot. Whenever I write something new, I immediately put it on the site. By making that a common practice, I don’t have to try to remember pieces I wrote five years ago.

Show, don’t tell

You can talk yourself blue in the face about a work experience, but nothing proves in an interview or meeting that you know how to produce a great video like one you created that someone can link to, send around, or watch to see what your skillset is like. A personal website isn’t restricted to pieces written and accolades, but can also display your side interests, hobbies, photos, and more.

It’s all about creating the conversation, versus having to control and change the discussion. A personal website is the easiest way to assert who you are, and to display it.

TIME Careers & Workplace

Success Is Controlling How You Spend Your Time

clock
Getty Images

Successful people control how they spend their time—and the money is just a nice thing that comes along with that

Inc. logo

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.

I blew the mind of one of my Babson College students this morning.

Like most people, he believes that success is measured by how much money you have and how much money you make. By that measure, there is no single individual who is the world’s most successful.

After all, Bill Gates—whose net worth totaled $79.6 billion according to Forbes‘s January 29, 2015, tally—probably has the most money, but I sincerely doubt he makes the most money every year.

That title probably goes to a hedge fund manager. For example, Ray Dalio—who runs $120 billion (assets under management) Bridgewater Associates—pulled in a cool $3 billion in personal earnings last year, according to Forbes.

But if you believe that success means both having the highest net worth and getting paid the most every year, then neither Gates nor Dalio is successful.

That’s because the pursuit of the most wealth or the highest annual income is success only if you keep winning every year. Otherwise, you are going to spend time trying to figure out how you can get to be number one—rather than taking pleasure in what you have achieved.

Simply put, unless you’re top dog, the unpleasant view never changes.

It is for this reason that somewhere along the way, I figured out a different definition of success–success is controlling how you spend your time–that blew the mind of my student this morning.

Just to be clear: I am not declaring a vow of poverty. In fact, I believe that for many people, controlling how you spend your time is the kind of success they can achieve only after they have earned enough money that they no longer have to worry about paying their bills.

Many people never achieve that level of financial security. But I do not believe that a net worth of $80 billion is necessary to get to the point where you can cover your likely future obligations.

If you get there by doing what you want to be doing and it makes you happy, then I consider you successful.

But if you get there by working a grinding job that pays well but makes you miserable, then you need to stop and ask yourself whether you should get off the hamster wheel and figure out what you really want to be doing with your life.

My advice to the student was to think about what he has enjoyed doing in the past and what has been less interesting to him. Based on that self-assessment, I suggested that he should make some guesses about what he would like to do.

He should then apply three tests to those hypotheses:

  • Am I passionate about the work?
  • Am I one of the world’s best at doing this work?
  • Will the market compensate me well enough for it?

Generally, people do not know whether, say, investment banking, consulting, running a startup, or asset management will satisfy all these tests.

Therefore, I advise students to seek out informational interviews with people in those fields. The networking practice they get in trying to set up these interviews will be inherently valuable.

Once they set up such interviews, I advise them to ask people how they would answer the three above questions.

For example, in the informational interviews, students might ask the following:

  • In your company, are there people who are really passionate about their work? What do they do differently than those who are mostly there to pay their bills?
  • In your field, what are the key things that the most talented people do that differ from the ones who are merely competent?
  • Is the compensation that people receive in this field satisfying or frustrating? What is the difference between people in your company who feel fairly compensated and the rest?

If students conduct 10 to 15 such interviews, they should be able to assess whether they would be happy working with people in that field.

And it would be even better for them if those informational interviews led to internships that would allow them to immerse themselves more fully in those fields.

To my mind, my students will achieve success only when they are happy in their work—and to do that, they must be passionate about it, excel in their field, and receive positive recognition from the market.

I don’t know Gates or Dalio but it seems to me that they control how they spend their time—and the money is just a nice thing that comes along with that.

TIME Careers & Workplace

5 Tips to Increase Clicks and Shares on Your Social Media Posts

social-media-symbols
Getty Images

Different social media have different moods

Inc. logo

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.

Have you ever tried to unravel the mysteries of what makes a blog post or article go viral, capturing readers’ interest so that they share it again and again across social media platforms?

To explore this question, the content marketing company Fractl teamed up with content analyzer Buzzsumo. They reviewed shares of 1 million articles from 190 top publishers (including this one) across five social media platforms over six months–2.7 billion shares in all. The findings were thought-provoking (check out the full report at the bottom of this post):

1. Different social media have different moods.

It turns out 70 percent of the 500 most-shared items on LinkedIn were positive in sentiment. Similarly, 65 percent of the top shares on Pinterest were positive. That contrasts with Twitter, where only 40 percent of the top 500 shares were positive, 46 percent were negative, and 14 percent were neutral. Google+ was only slightly more upbeat, with 45 percent positive stories, 38 percent negative stories, and 17 percent neutral.

On Facebook, negative stories were much more successful, making up 47 percent of the top 500 most-shared, with 36 percent positive, and 17 percent neutral. Correct for the relatively uplifting effects of Buzzfeed, Upworthy, and ViralNova, and you have an even darker mood: Only 30 percent of the most-shared stories are positive, and 57 percent are negative.

Does this mean that LinkedIn users are happy-go-lucky souls and Facebook users are incorrigible curmudgeons? Not necessarily, the study’s authors warn. “The emotional landscape of each network may be more a reflection of the publishers who are succeeding best at sharing on a particular platform,” they note. Still, it seems likely that matching the emotional mood of your content to the prevailing mood of shares on each platform may help you get more attention and more page views.

2. Surprise and mystery always appeal.

Wondering just what sorts of stories or posts will appeal most to readers? Analyzing the pieces’ headlines only, the researchers discovered what many readers already know: Pieces that make you go “huh!” as in “I didn’t know that,” or “huh?” as in “I want to know more,” are always the most popular. “Headlines that incorporated surprise and built on the reader’s feelings of curiosity dominated the Top 10 regardless of topic or content format,” the study’s authors report.

But if you’re tempted to write clickbait headlines whose stories don’t deliver the goods–don’t. Keep in mind that we’re looking for shares here, and not just fooling people into clicking a headline and then regretting it. You’ll get nowhere unless readers find your content compelling enough to read through and pass on to their friends.

3. No surprise–Facebook dominates shares.

Well, of course it does. With 1.3 billion active users, there are so many more people on Facebook than any other social platform that it can’t help but have many more shares than the others. Still, although Facebook has about 62 percent of the total users of the five social media platforms, it gets about 82 percent of the shares, indicating that users are either more engaged with Facebook, likelier to share content there, or both.

On the other hand, Twitter appears to be punching above its weight. Though the Pew Research Institute recently named it the smallest of the major social networks, Twitter saw four times as many shares as similarly sized LinkedIn.

4. It’s tough to get huge amounts of attention.

Even among top publishers, getting a lot of attention for content can be tough slogging. Ninety-three percent of the publishers in the study averaged fewer than 5,000 shares per article. and only two, BuzzFeed and ViralNova, averaged more than 25,000 each. But those two had impressive share rankings with more than 60,000 shares on average per article.

Why? Probably because they put a lot of thought into the science of garnering shares. This analysis of Buzzfeed and Upworthy by study author Kelsey Libert provides some clues as to what they’re doing right.

5. You can stop feeling guilty.

If you’re like most people (including me) you’re in a constant state of guilt over the many social media platforms you’re ignoring. I, for instance, have a Pinterest account that I never use, even though I’ve written about Pinterest.

I’ve been feeling bad about this, but it turns out there’s no need. Even for large publishers, it’s tough to get significant traction on more than one platform at once. Though the study’s authors set out to name the five best publishers at getting shared on multiple social media platforms at once, there weren’t enough to fill up the roster. My interpretation: It’s fine to limit your attention to one or two platforms.

TIME Careers & Workplace

These Are the Top 6 Tech Skills to Know in 2015

hands-typing-keyboard
Getty Images

These skills will help you stay relevant to the industry

Inc. logo

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.

We’re not big on setting resolutions only in January at Pluralsight. We believe it’s important to strive for excellence year-round, rather than just once a year. That said, there’s value in using the year’s starter months to reassess your current skill sets and identify areas for improvement, growth, and learning.

Technology is one area that no one in any industry can afford to grow complacent about–tech is changing so quickly that skills you mastered last year may already be outdated. In such a quickly evolving industry, information decays at a rate of 30 percent a year, according to Research in Labor Economics, rendering nearly a third of last year’s tech-related knowledge irrelevant.

But don’t panic–there’s a solution. Staying up-to-date with emergent technologies and trends–as well as the skills needed to master them–will help you offset the lightning-fast pace of skills disruption and keep you ahead of the curve. Continuous learning is the key to maintaining an ongoing competitive advantage, both for individuals and organizations.

On that note, here are the top six tech skills that Pluralsight has identified as not just “nice-to-know,” but “need to know,” in 2015:

1. Coding.

As I’ve written recently, coding is the number-one skill in demand today worldwide. Although coding and computer science are still marginalized in the K-12 education system, it’s clear that the ability to code has become as important as other basic forms of literacy like reading and math. Fortunately, no matter what your age or current comfort level with technology, there are ways to pick up intro coding skills–and many of them are free. Start with Code School, which provides interactive learn-to-code challenges along with entertaining video instruction, or Hour of Code, which offers a free one-hour coding tutorial that’s available in over 30 languages.

2. Big data.

According to Forbes, big data will continue to grow in 2015, due in part to the rise of the Internet of Things, which has the power to embed technology in practically anything. As ever-larger volumes of data are created, it’s vital to know how to collect and analyze that data–particularly when it’s related to customer preferences and business processes. No matter what industry you’re in, you’ll miss out on key marketing and decision-making opportunities by ignoring big data. You can brush up on big data concepts, technologies, and vendors with these courses.

3. Cloud computing.

TechRadar reported this month that 2015 will be the year that the cloud becomes the “new normal.” The reason, writes Mark Barrenechea, CEO of OpenText, is that costs can be slashed as much as 90 percent through digitization of information-intensive processes. Barrenechea predicts that by year-end, we’ll see “a world of hybrid deployments in which some information and applications reside in the cloud and the remainder resides on-premise.” Learning to utilize the cloud’s flexible power can improve everything from your data security to your collaboration ability. Learn cloud-computing basics with this hour-long online course, which you can view in full with afree trial from Pluralsight, or try this free intro course on the topic from ALISON.

4. Mobile.

As Six Dimensions states, “If you don’t have a mobile strategy, you don’t have a future strategy.” This has never been truer than in 2015, the year in which The Guardianpredicts an increasing number of companies will learn how to mobilize their revenue-generating processes, like making purchases and depositing checks. This is also the year that we’ll hit critical mass with the fusion of mobile and cloud computing, according to Forbes. That means many more centrally coordinated apps will be usable on multiple devices. Here’s a list of beginner-level courses related to mobile technology from Pluralsight, as well as options for mobile apps courses from Lynda.com.

5. Data visualization.

Data keeps multiplying, which means whatever message you hope to communicate online must find increasingly creative ways to break through the noise. That’s where data visualization comes in, which involves using a visual representation of the data to discover new information and breakthroughs. Creative Bloq notes that this technique can reveal details that poring through dry data can’t. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a web designer or developer to create compelling infographics. Here’s a list of 10 free tools you can use to visually enhance your data.

6. UX design skills.

User experience (UX) designers consider the end user’s ease of use, efficiency, and general experience of interfacing with a system (such as a website or application).Smashing Magazine notes that while user experience has long been important, it has become more so recently in relation to the diverse ways that users can now access websites, including mobile and apps. “The more complex the system, the more involved will the planning and architecture have to be for it,” writes Jacob Gube. But it’s not just professional designers who can benefit from understanding UX design–anyone can. Check out this animated video from UXmastery on “How to Get Started in UX Design.”

These six tech trends are reshaping the way businesses in every industry function internally and connect with their customers. Get smart in these areas, and you won’t have to worry about being left behind–at least not this year.

TIME Careers & Workplace

The 10 Commandments of Leadership

business-meeting
Getty Images

Thou shalt remain optimistic

Inc. logo

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.

A group of archeologists digging through ancient corporate archives recently uncovered two mysterious tablets (aka “wall plaques”) engraved with the following laws:

I. Thou shalt remain optimistic.

Since thy employees look to thee for leadership, thou must not let thy worries and concerns cast a black cloud over everyone else, for that way lies certain failure.

II. Thou shalt set a clear direction.

If thou wouldst be a leader, thou must create a vision in the minds of your followers whence and whither thou art leading them. Fail at this, and thy organization will wander into the wilderness.

III. Thou shalt create a workable plan.

While no plan should be engraved in stone and plans should be amended when conditions change, if thou hast failed to plan, then verily thou hast also planned to fail.

IV. Thou shalt secure sufficient resources.

While it is written truly that faith can move mountains, that faith must be accompanied by bulldozers, dump trucks, and paid employees who know how to use them.

V. Thou shalt listen more than talk.

Leadership doth not consist of giving lectures and then issuing orders. Leadership consists of understand what others desire and harnessing that desire to serve the common good.

VI. Thou shalt not hold meetings without agendas.

Before each meeting send out a decree defining what will be discussed and for how long. Then adhere to thy own decree as if the productivity of the entire team depended on it. For verily it doth.

VII. Thou shalt not criticize in public.

Though thy staff and colleagues consist of fools and rogues, public shaming creates resentment. Should a follower deserve a reprimand, provide it in the privacy of thy office.

VIII. Thou shalt not ask an employee to do something that thou wouldst not do thyself.

Truly great leaders, should they perceive a scrap of litter on the floor of a hallway, will bend down, pick it up and throw it into the trash.

IX. Thou shalt not make of thyself a bottleneck.

If thou insist upon making every final decision, the progress of thy organization will grind to a halt. If thou canst not delegate, thou hast no business pretending to be a leader.

X. Thou shalt give thy team the credit.

True leaders accept the blame when things go awry and take no credit when things go right. Thy rightful reward will the love and commitment of those who continue to work for thee.

TIME Careers & Workplace

8 Behaviors to Avoid to Keep You Motivated

businesswoman-standing-empty-chairs
Getty Images

Great people do not stay long in bad workplaces

Inc. logo

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.

If you want to make sure you’re providing your employees with an environment in which they can thrive, check your workplace for these motivation killers.

1. Toxic people.

If you’ve ever spent time with truly toxic people, you know how destructive and exhausting they can be. Toxic people spread negativity and suffocate the positive. Let them find a new home—or, if that’s not possible, make sure policies and supervision are in place to minimize their damage.

2. No professional development.

Everyone needs to know that they are learning and growing. Without that, the workplace grows static and dull. Professional development for each of your employees allows them grow in their careers and also to know that both the organization and you have an investment in their success.

3. Lack of vision.

A clearly communicated vision sets direction and lets people know where to focus. Without it, even the best employees are less effective, because it’s hard to excel if you don’t understand the big picture.

4. Wasted time.

If you have the kind of workplace where meetings are called for no real reason and emails are sent to everyone with irrelevant information, it’s likely that your workers are deeply frustrated. Show people you value them by showing them you value their time.

5. Inadequate communication.

When communication is poor, people spend half their time second-guessing what they’re doing, critical tasks are missed, nonessential jobs are duplicated, information is locked into silos, and destructive rumors thrive. A clear flow of communication benefits everyone.

6. Vertical management.

If you can remember being in a situation where your ideas and input weren’t valued or even heard, where it was “keep quiet and do what I say,” you know how hard it is to do anything more than a grudging minimum. The more collaboration, the more investment and the more motivation.

7. Lack of appreciation.

When hard work or extraordinary results go unrecognized, when even everyday thanks are unexpressed, people grow uninspired and apathetic. You can reward your employees without spending a dime; it can be as simple as saying “thank you.”

8. Bad leadership.

Bad leaders harm every member of their team and their entire organization. Even the best employees need effective leadership to excel. Start with developing your own leadership, then hire and grow the best leaders at every level. It’s the best thing you can do to improve your workplace for everyone.

If you recognize any of these deathly killers in your workplace, it’s up to you to do everything in your power to become part of the solution. Remember, great people do not stay long in bad workplaces.

TIME Careers & Workplace

8 Lessons You Can Learn From Watching Young Steve Jobs Run a Meeting

Steve Jobs speaks at an Apple Special Event in San Francisco on Sept. 1, 2010.
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Steve Jobs speaks at an Apple Special Event in San Francisco on Sept. 1, 2010.

An inside look at a company meeting can teach you how Jobs did it, and did it well

Inc. logo

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.

Brilliant. Passionate. Overbearing. Impatient.

Steve Jobs’s management style has been described in many ways, both positive and negative. Love him or hate him, there’s no denying what he accomplished: Within a short time, he built the most successful company on the planet.

Before that, though, Jobs was actually forced out of Apple (in 1985). A few months later, he founded another company. This startup, appropriately named NeXT, focused on producing high-powered computers for the higher education industry. A talented team left secure positions at Apple and followed Jobs to his new endeavor—evidence of how much people believed in him.

The following video shows excerpts of a company retreat that Jobs orchestrated during the first three months of the company. And it’s fascinating.

The lessons for entrepreneurs are plentiful. I’ve picked out eight that I feel are noteworthy. (I’ve also included the time frame from the video in parentheses.)

Here they are:

1. Show your passion (3:46)

Jobs was well known as an excellent presenter, and his skills are on full display in his introductory speech. He uses repetition well. He’s enthusiastic. He’s natural. But most important, he believes what he’s saying, and he’s not afraid to put himself out there.

If you don’t get passionate about your idea, no one else will.

2. Focus on creating value (4:50)

Jobs: “We’re doing this because we have a passion about it…because we really care about the higher educational process. Not because we want to make a buck.

As an entrepreneur, there’s no greater feeling than providing a product or service that people feel will make their life better.

3. Challenge your team (6:15)

Throughout the video, Jobs probes and challenges his people. He doesn’t accept anything at face value. He wants to know why people feel the way they do. And often, he lets them know exactly why he disagrees.

Yes, Jobs could be overbearing. But as Guy Kawasaki (who worked for Steve Jobs twice) put it: “If you ask an employee of Apple why they put up with the challenges of working there, they will tell you: because Apple enables you to do the best work of your career.”

4. Keep everyone on course (6:53)

Jobs: “There needs to be someone who is the keeper and reiterator of the vision…. A lot of times, when you have to walk a thousand miles and you take the first step, it looks like a long way, and it really helps if there’s someone there saying ‘Well we’re one step closer…. The goal definitely exists; it’s not just a mirage out there.'”

As your company evolves, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important. Culture shift is a danger.

But it’s your company. Don’t compromise on things you believe in. It’s what got Jobs kicked out of Apple in 1985, but it’s also why they brought him back–and what made Apple such a success.

5. Define the right priorities (7:26)

As the NeXT team discusses its priorities, you can witness Jobs’s remarkable ability to focus on what’s most important, and even more critical, to defend why it’s important.

When team members challenge priority No. 1 (keeping the price of the computer at $3,000), Jobs vehemently defends it:

“They didn’t say if you made it go three times faster we’d pay $4,000…. They said, ‘Go to $3,000 [or] forget it.’ That’s their magic number…. Nobody else says that they can do that…. Whether it is or not, in reality, who knows. Whether it is or not in terms of their commitment to push us, we’ve established that.”

The team followed his lead, and price stayed priority No. 1.

You know what’s important, but can you prove why it’s important? If so, then your team will follow.

6. Know when to interrupt (9:52)

A member of the team proceeds to goes on a rant. She goes on and on, and Jobs remains patient…at first. But as she continues, his patience runs out. He interrupts to refocus.

Many years ago, I sat in on a meeting where a senior member of the team talked for 20 minutes without interruption. We were all thinking the same thing, but nobody had the courage to speak up.

Finally, another manager (who was new to the company) respectfully put an end to the speech, to everyone else’s relief. I learned a lot from that episode.

Be a good listener. Be patient. But know when you need to step in, and you’ll save a lot of time and resources.

7. Learn from the past, but don’t let it own you (11:11)

As one team member laments past failures, Jobs speaks up:

I don’t want to hear ‘Just because we blew it last time, we’re going to blow it this time….’ This is a window we’ve got…it’s a wonderful window.

Any great entrepreneur knows that failure is part of the process. The more you try, the more you fail–but success is out there. You’ve just got to find it.

8. Focus on the positive (12:22)

At the end of the weekend retreat, Jobs said the following:

I find myself making lists of things we don’t know, and then I remember that our company’s 90 days old. And I look back to all the things we do know. And it’s really phenomenal how far we’ve come in 90 days.

When you have a long road ahead of you, it can be intimidating to focus on what’s left. There will always be plenty to do.

Remember to look back at what you’ve already accomplished, and that can give you the motivation you need to move forward.

TIME Careers & Workplace

This Is Why Great CEOs Are Lazy

businessman-sitting
Getty Images

The power of delegation

Inc. logo

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.

When most CEOs find their company getting into some kind of bind, they jump in to personally help resolve the issue. We call this going into “Player Mode.” “I’m just helping out for now,” these CEOs tell themselves, “and later on I’ll bring in someone else.”

But the great CEOs out there rarely enter into Player Mode. Rather, his or her first move is to find someone else to do the work. They are very intentional about engaging the organization. That’s why great CEOs are lazy.

Before you jump through the screen and strangle me, hear me out. Of course great CEOs work hard–but the hard work they do is in finding, recruiting, and engaging the best people to get the task at hand done as well as it can be.

Think back to your high school reading list and recall the story of Tom Sawyer and how he found a way to recruit his friends to help him paint a fence for his aunt. Tom found a way to make the job sound so exciting, he even got his friends to pay him for the privilege of doing it!

Now I’m not advocating using sleight of hand in tackling the issues at your workplace. What I am emphasizing is that as soon as you, as CEO, engage in Player Mode, you lose your ability to recruit other people to get the work done, because you are busy.

This notion is very counterintuitive. Many of us began our working lives at the age of 14 or 16, cutting lawns or busing tables or the like. We have worked our whole lives. The idea of not working is somehow offensive to our sense of an internal work ethic.

But being “lazy” in this case this is all about working smarter, not harder.

Case in point: I recently met up with the CEO of a professional services company. The top priority for his firm this year is growing its client base. In fact, they planned to double it. And when I talked to this CEO, he mentioned how he planned to work harder to help the firm meet its goals.

That’s when I stopped him and asked what he meant by that. After all, he couldn’t realistically work twice as hard as he was already, right? And how feasible was it that he could help the company literally double the rate at which it closed new deals? The only option on the table that might work, I explained, was to get more people involved in the process. What you need to do, I explained, is to get lazy. He needed to do less customer and sales work himself and do more recruiting of people who could handle that work for the company instead.

I will acknowledge that there will always be times where, when the stuff really hits the proverbial fan, you as CEO might have to step in to do some actual “work.” But the great CEOs will make that their fourth or fifth option. In fact, I’ve known some CEOs who, the worse things get, get “lazier” still: They work harder to get the right people involved in solving the problem, while personally detaching themselves as much from it as they can to remain objective. Not only is that a great way to ensure the right person is doing the job, it’s also a great empowerment and team-building approach. Rather than you as CEO parachuting in to save the day, your team will begin to learn that they are the ones who are trusted to save things for themselves. No one is coming to save them. That’s powerful stuff.

The point is that unless you are really good at what needs to be done, or truly enjoy it, you’re better off with the lazy solution. Heck, even Steve Jobs, who in some ways has become the epitome of the micromanager, really stuck with just a few things he cared about, like the design and look-and-feel of the products. You don’t hear about him getting wrapped up in solving operational issues or things dealing with production and manufacturing. He wasn’t designing circuit boards. He let the people who were pros at those tasks solve their own issues.

So the moral of the story, as you might have guessed by now, is that being lazy pays off for the best CEOs out there. You might ask yourself how your business might benefit if you started doing less and just got lazy.

TIME Careers & Workplace

39 Commonly Misused Words and How to Use Them Correctly

speech-bubbles-blackboard
Getty Images

Easy to get wrong. Fortunately, not that hard to get right

Inc. logo

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.

Where the mechanics of writing are concerned, I’m far from perfect. One example: I always struggle with who and whom. (Sometimes I’ll even rewrite a sentence just so I won’t have to worry about which is correct.)

And that’s a real problem. The same way one misspelled word can get your résumé tossed onto the reject pile, one misused word can negatively impact your entire message.

Fair or unfair, it happens all the time–so let’s make sure it doesn’t happen to you.

My post 30 Incorrectly Used Words That Can Make You Look Bad resulted in readers providing a number of other examples of misused words, and here are some of them. Once again I’ve picked words that are typically used in business settings, with special emphasis on words that spell checker won’t correct.

Here we go:

Advise and advice

Aside from the two words being pronounced differently (the s in advise sounds like az), advise is a verb while advice is a noun. Advice is what you give (whether or not the recipient is interested in that gift is a different issue altogether) when you advise someone.

So, “Thank you for the advise” is incorrect, while “I advise you not to bore me with your advice in the future” is correct if pretentious.

If you run into trouble, just say each word out loud and you’ll instantly know which makes sense; there’s no way you’d ever say, “I advice you to…”

Ultimate and penultimate

Recently I received a pitch from a PR professional that read, “(Acme Industries) provides the penultimate value-added services for discerning professionals.”

As Inigo would say, “I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Ultimate means the best, or final, or last. Penultimate means the last but one, or second to last. (Or, as a Monty Python-inspired Michelangelo would say, “the Penultimate Supper!”)

But penultimate doesn’t mean second-best. Plus, I don’t think my PR friend meant to say her client offered second-class services. (I think she just thought the word sounded cool.)

Also, keep in mind that using ultimate is fraught with hyperbolic peril. Are you–or is what you provide–really the absolute best imaginable? That’s a tough standard to meet.

Well and good

Anyone who has children uses good more often than he or she should. Since kids pretty quickly learn what good means, “You did good, honey” is much more convenient and meaningful than “You did well, honey.”

But that doesn’t mean good is the correct word choice.

Good is an adjective that describes something; if you did a good job, then you do good work. Well is an adverb that describes how something was done; you can do your job well.

Where it gets tricky is when you describe, say, your health or emotional state. “I don’t feel well” is grammatically correct, even though many people (including me) often say, “I don’t feel too good.” On the other hand, “I don’t feel good about how he treated me” is correct; no one says, “I don’t feel well about how I’m treated.”

Confused? If you’re praising an employee and referring to the outcome say, “You did a good job.” If you’re referring to how the employee performed say, “You did incredibly well.”

And while you’re at it, stop saying good to your kids and use great instead, because no one–especially a kid–ever receives too much praise.

If and whether

If and whether are often interchangeable. If a yes/no condition is involved, then feel free to use either: “I wonder whether Jim will finish the project on time” or “I wonder if Jim will finish the project on time.” (Whether sounds a little more formal in this case, so consider your audience and how you wish to be perceived.)

What’s trickier is when a condition is not involved. “Let me know whether Marcia needs a projector for the meeting” isn’t conditional, because you want to be informed either way. “Let me know if Marcia needs a projector for the meeting” is conditional, because you only want to be told if she needs one.

And always use if when you introduce a condition. “If you hit your monthly target, I’ll increase your bonus” is correct; the condition is hitting the target and the bonus is the result. “Whether you are able to hit your monthly target is totally up to you” does not introduce a condition (unless you want the employee to infer that your thinly veiled threat is a condition of ongoing employment).

Stationary and stationery

You write on stationery. You get business stationery, such as letterhead and envelopes, printed.

But that box of envelopes is not stationary unless it’s not moving–and even then it’s still stationery.

Award and reward

An award is a prize. Musicians win Grammy Awards. Car companies win J.D. Power awards. Employees win Employee of the Month awards. Think of an award as the result of a contest or competition.

A reward is something given in return for effort, achievement, hard work, merit, etc. A sales commission is a reward. A bonus is a reward. A free trip for landing the most new customers is a reward.

Be happy when your employees win industry or civic awards, and reward them for the hard work and sacrifices they make to help your business grow.

Sympathy and empathy

Sympathy is acknowledging another person’s feelings. “I am sorry for your loss” means you understand the other person is grieving and want to recognize that fact.

Empathy is having the ability to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and relate to how the person feels, at least in part because you’ve experienced those feelings yourself.

The difference is huge. Sympathy is passive; empathy is active. (Here’s a short video by Brené Brown that does a great job of describing the difference–and how empathy fuels connection while sympathy drives disconnection.)

Know the difference between sympathy and empathy, live the difference, and you’ll make a bigger difference in other people’s lives.

Criterion and criteria

A criterion is a principle or standard. If you have more than one criterion, those are referred to as criteria.

But if you want to be safe and you only have one issue to consider, just say standardor rule or benchmark. Then use criteria for all the times there are multiple specifications or multiple criterion (OK, standards) involved.

Mute and moot

Think of mute like the button on your remote; it means unspoken or unable to speak. In the U.S., moot refers to something that is of no practical importance; a moot point is one that could be hypothetical or even (gasp!) academic. In British English, mootcan also mean debatable or open to debate.

So if you were planning an IPO, but your sales have plummeted, the idea of going public could be moot. And if you decide not to talk about it anymore, you will have gone mute on the subject.

Peak and peek

A peak is the highest point; climbers try to reach the peak of Mount Everest. Peekmeans quick glance, as in giving major customers a sneak peek at a new product before it’s officially unveiled, which hopefully helps sales peak at an unimaginable height.

Occasionally a marketer will try to “peak your interest” or “peek your interest,” but in that case the right word is pique, which means “to excite.” (Pique can also mean “to upset,” but hopefully that’s not what marketers intend.)

Aggressive and enthusiastic

Aggressive is a very popular business adjective: aggressive sales force, aggressive revenue projections, aggressive product rollout. But unfortunately, aggressive means ready to attack, or pursuing aims forcefully, possibly unduly so.

So do you really want an “aggressive” sales force?

Of course, most people have seen aggressive used that way for so long they don’t think of it negatively; to them it just means hard-charging, results-oriented, driven, etc., none of which are bad things.

But some people may not see it that way. So consider using words like enthusiastic,eager, committed, dedicated, or even (although it pains me to say it) passionate.

Then and than

Then refers in some way to time. “Let’s close this deal, and then we’ll celebrate!” Since the celebration comes after the sale, then is correct.

Then is also often used with if. Think in terms of if-then statements: “If we don’t get to the office on time, then we won’t be able to close the deal today.”

Than involves a comparison. “Landing Customer A will result in higher revenue than landing Customer B,” or “Our sales team is more committed to building customer relationships than the competition is.”

Evoke and invoke

To evoke is to call to mind; an unusual smell might evoke a long-lost memory. To invoke is to call upon some thing: help, aid, or maybe a higher power.

So hopefully all your branding and messaging efforts evoke specific emotions in potential customers. But if they don’t, you might consider invoking the gods of commerce to aid you in your quest for profitability.

Or something like that.

Continuously and continually

Both words come from the root continue, but they mean very different things.Continuously means never ending. Hopefully your efforts to develop your employees are continuous, because you never want to stop improving their skills and their future.

Continual means whatever you’re referring to stops and starts. You might have frequent disagreements with your co-founder, but unless those discussions never end (which is unlikely, even though it might feel otherwise), then those disagreements are continual.

That’s why you should focus on continuous improvement but only plan to have continual meetings with your accountant: The former should never, ever stop, and the other (mercifully) should.

Systemic and systematic

If you’re in doubt, systematic is almost always the right word to use. Systematic means arranged or carried out according to a plan, method, or system. That’s why you can take a systematic approach to continuous improvement, or do a systematic evaluation of customer revenue or a systematic assessment of market conditions.

Systemic means belonging to or affecting the system as a whole. Poor morale could be systemic to your organization. Or bias against employee diversity could be systemic.

So if your organization is facing a pervasive problem, take a systematic approach to dealing with it—that’s probably the only way you’ll overcome it.

Impact and affect (and effect)

Many people (including until recently me) use impact when they should use affect. Impact doesn’t mean to influence; impact means to strike, collide, or pack firmly.

Affect means to influence: “Impatient investors affected our rollout date.”

And to make it more confusing, effect means to accomplish something: “The board effected a sweeping policy change.”

How you correctly use effect or affect can be tricky. For example, a board can affect changes by influencing them and can effect changes by directly implementing them. Bottom line, use effect if you’re making it happen, and affect if you’re having an impact on something that someone else is trying to make happen.

As for nouns, effect is almost always correct: “Employee morale has had a negative effect on productivity.” Affect refers to an emotional state, so unless you’re a psychologist, you probably have little reason to use it.

So stop saying you’ll “impact sales” or “impact the bottom line.” Use affect.

(And feel free to remind me when I screw that up, because I feel sure I’ll backslide.)

Between and among

Use between when you name separate and individual items. “The team will decide between Mary, Marcia, and Steve when we fill the open customer service position.” Mary, Marcia, and Steve are separate and distinct, so between is correct.

Use among when there are three or more items but they are not named separately. “The team will decide among a number of candidates when we fill the open customer service position.” Who are the candidates? You haven’t named them separately, s oamong is correct.

And we’re assuming there are more than two candidates; otherwise you’d say between. If there are two candidates you could say, “I just can’t decide between them.”

Everyday and every day

Every day means, yep, every day—each and every day. If you ate a bagel for breakfast each day this week, you had a bagel every day.

Everyday means commonplace or normal. Decide to wear your “everyday shoes” and that means you’ve chosen to wear the shoes you normally wear. That doesn’t mean you have to wear them every single day; it just means wearing them is a usual occurrence.

Another example is along and a long: Along means moving in a constant direction or a line, or in the company of others, while a long means of great distance or duration. You wouldn’t stand in “along line,” but you might stand in a long line for a long time, along with a number of other people.

A couple more examples: a while and awhile, and any way and anyway.

If you’re in doubt, read what you write out loud. It’s unlikely you’ll think “Is there anyway you can help me?” sounds right.

Read next: These Are the 2 Most Important Words in a Job Interview

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com