TIME Careers & Workplace

11 Scientifically Proven Reasons Why Night Owls Get More Done

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The early bird doesn't always catch the worm

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Every time I hear all the benefits of being an early bird and how, in order to be truly successful, you have to rise with the sun (and the birds), it makes me cringe. I am a night owl–my best and most productive time begins when your typical early riser is nodding off.

Why fight nature? After all, studies have proven that us night owls were born this way–it’s genetic and biological. So for all you night owls out there like me, here are 11 great reasons to embrace your late night productivity habits, trust your internal clock, and ignore all those naysayers.

1. You find peace and tranquility

I get far more done at night than at any other time of my day, even on those days when I rise early. I am not bombarded with questions, emails, texts, phone calls, or social media and can actually concentrate without interruption for hours on end.

2. More than likely you are a workhorse

A study at the University of Liege in Belgium found that night owls remain mentally alert for a much longer period of time after waking than do their early bird counterparts.

3. You will always have time for happy hour

Night owls can and do say yes to a nighttime social life because they know that once they return home, they will still have several hours of productive time left before needing some sleep.

4. You are more likely to be entrepreneurial

According to the University of Chicago, night owls have a higher propensity for risk taking and have the makings for becoming a successful entrepreneur.

5. You are probably stronger

Studies prove that night owls show an increase in motor cortex and spinal cord excitability in the late evening hours. This is another good reason to buck tradition once again and exercise at night instead of in the morning. If you’re like me, mornings are not the time to bench press a crazy amount of weight over your head.

6. You’re as free as a bird

There are no appointments or meetings scheduled in the middle of the night so you are free to work and play and work some more–providing massive flexibility.

7. You are more likely to be creative

Researchers at a university in Milan have noted a spike in creativity among night owls noting that they are much more likely to come up with outside-the-box solutions than their early bird counterparts.

8. You tend to be much more relaxed

According to British researchers, early risers typically have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and these high levels stick around all day. This is not the case for night owls. They don’t receive that same level of early morning cortisol injection and stay relatively calm all day.

9. You just may have a higher IQ

Researcher Satoshi Kanazawa found that highly intelligent children tend to become nocturnal adults who prefer to stay up late at night and sleep-in seven days a week. Yet another study at the University of Madrid found that night owls tested higher in general intelligence and even earned higher incomes than early birds.

10. You can catch up on the worldwide web

If the early bird catches the worm, then night owls catch a quiet, peaceful Internet. You get a chance to catch up on all the latest news and articles without dozens of other updates happening simultaneously or having the need to check back periodically for additional updates.

11. You are able to adapt to a 9 to 5 (if you absolutely have to)

If night owls could always follow their biological desire to stay up late, all would be perfect in their world. The reality is a lot of night owls have a job that requires them to be at work during early bird hours. The good news is that night owls find it far easier to wake early and be productive compared to early risers who find it extremely difficult to pass their usual bedtime hour, staying up later.

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

TIME Careers & Workplace

6 Savvy Life Hacks From Mark Zuckerberg and Other Successful Leaders

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Here are some of the rituals that rule the days of the world's top executives

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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.

While it’s true that everyone works differently, the world’s most successful leaders often have one thing in common: Their days are marked by certain rituals.

After all, even Mark Zuckerberg needs a little bit of structure: That’s why his resolution for 2014 was to write handwritten thank-you notes every single day of the year. (He readily admits that it wasn’t easy.) The famed Facebook founder has developed quite the reputation when it comes to personal goal setting: In 2010, he vowed to learn Mandarin Chinese, and in 2011 he only ate meat that he slaughtered himself.

While some of these hacks err more on the side of weird–think Tony Hsieh’s penchant for calling his assistants his “Time Ninjas”–others are probably more familiar to you, like Branson’s affinity for tea and long, hot baths.

These are the top six life hacks from some of the biggest names in business:

1. Commit to getting shuteye.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is probably one of the best-connected executives in the world, so you might be surprised to learn that she also turns off her phone every night before bed. In a 2013 interview with USA Today, the acclaimed Lean In author explained that she needs to unplug completely in order to get a good night’s sleep.

Sandberg is probably onto something here: Studies show that using electronic devices before going to bed can have a detrimental impact on your sleep. Robert Rosenberg, a sleep medicine specialist at Sleep Disorders Center of Prescott Valley, recently told Yahoo News that the blue light given off by your phone screen prevents the production of melatonin in the body, which is the hormone that makes you feel drowsy.

2. Bake some humor into the daily grind.

Tony Hsieh, the founder and CEO of Zappos, may be seriously successful in the e-commerce industry, but he likes to keep things lighthearted around the office. He toldThe New York Times, for instance, that the top executives are referred to as “monkeys,” and they sit in what’s called “Monkey Row” at Zappos’s Las Vegas headquarters. He added that his favorite part of the workday is joking around with his “Time Ninjas”–or whom everyone else might mundanely call their executive assistants.

3. Switch it up.

Like Hsieh, Richard Branson is known for being a consummate optimist who’s also committed to having fun. To that end, the Virgin Group founder believes that the best routine is not to have one: Writing in his Live Mint column back in September of 2012, Branson advocated for making every single day unique. While he offers a few of his top tips for success–such as taking breaks throughout the day, drinking English tea, or enjoying a long, hot bath to unwind–he ultimately says that an entrepreneur’s most valuable trait is flexibility.

4. Channel your inner Jedi.

In perhaps one of the stranger displays of entrepreneurial zeal, fashion designer and investor Marc Ecko collects Star Wars memorabilia for good luck.

The habit has helped create an image of Ecko that he himself once described to The New York Times Magazine as “a pop-culture Willy Wonka, crossed with Richard Branson.”

Hey, whatever works.

5. Practice mindfulness.

Many have touted the practice of mindfulness meditation, but perhaps few so vehemently as Def Jam creator and business mogul Russell Simmons. Simmons, who meditates every Sunday morning with a transcendental meditation teacher whom he calls “the monk,” has also published a book about meditation called Success Through Stillness, in which he argues that meditating on a regular basis can help you reach your maximum potential.

6. Read voraciously.

Mark Zuckerberg announced in January that his resolution for 2015 would be to read a new book every other week–and not just books about business. The Facebook founder and top executive wants to learn more about different cultures and belief systems. His first selection was The End of Power by Moises Naim. You can follow Zuck’s book club on the Facebook page: A Year of Books.

TIME Careers & Workplace

14 Successful People That Prove Age Doesn’t Matter

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Because there's no age limit when it comes to success

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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.

How old is too old to do something new? If you want to launch a business, become a great leader, change careers, or just do something different with your life, at what point is it just too late to be successful? Short answer: never. In case you need a little inspiration to show you that it can be done no matter what age you’ve reached, here are 14 amazing people who never saw real success until well after age 40.

1. Martha Stewart

Stewart had worked on Wall Street and owned a Connecticut catering firm, but her real success came after age 41 with the publication of her first book, Entertaining, and the launch of Martha Stewart Living seven years later. (Of course, she weathered some pitfalls later, before rebounding once more.)

2. Joy Behar

Known today as a former co-host on The View, Behar was a high school English teacher who didn’t launch her show business career until after age 40.

3. Vera Wang

Wang was first known as an accomplished figure skater and a fashion editor before deciding before her 1989 wedding, at age 40, that she wanted to be a designer. She commissioned her own wedding dress for $10,000 and opened her first bridal boutique the following year.

4. Tim and Nina Zagat

This husband and wife team had each turned 42 before they gave up their legal careers to write their first restaurant guides. Their eponymous company is part of Google now.

5. Robin Chase

The founder and former CEO of Zipcar had left her 40th birthday in the rearview mirror and was taking time off from work to be with her children when she and a friend, Antje Danielson, came up with the idea for the car-sharing company in 2000.

6. Harland Sanders

Sanders was “a failure who got fired from a dozen jobs before starting his restaurant, and then failed at that when he went out of business and found himself broke at the age of 65,” according to one account. But then things worked out when he sold the first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise in 1952.

7. Rodney Dangerfield

The late, great comedic actor was best known for his roles in 1980s movies like Caddyshack and Back to School, but he was 46 before he got his first big break–on the Ed Sullivan Show.

8. Duncan Hines

At age 55, he wrote his first food and hotel guides (including one that mentionedSanders Court and Caf, the original restaurant owned by Harlan Sanders, above). At age 73, licensed the right to use his name to the company that developed Duncan Hines cake mixes; unfortunately he died six years later.

9. Charles Darwin

He was 50 years old before he published On the Origin of the Species in 1859, the book that espoused the theory for which he best known today. (The Darwin Awards came much later.)

10. Samuel Jackson

Jackson 46 years old (and in recovery from addiction to cocaine and heroin) before he starred alongside John Travolta in Pulp Fiction.

11. Donald Fisher

At age 41, after a series of entrepreneurial ventures, Fisher and his wife Doris Fisher founded The Gap. It’s now a $16 billion a year company with more than 3,200 locations worldwide.

12. Ray Kroc

Kroc had passed his 50th birthday before he bought the first McDonald’s in 1961, which he ultimately expanded into a worldwide conglomerate.

13. Sam Walton

Although he’d owned a small chain of discount stores, Walton opened the first true Wal-Mart in 1962, when he was 44.

14. Julia Child

Her first cookbook was published when she was 39; she made her television debut in The French Chef at age 51.

TIME Careers & Workplace

7 Truths About LinkedIn Everybody Needs to Know

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There is real power in Groups

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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.

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)

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It's a small move with a big difference

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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Different social media have different moods

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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.

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

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These skills will help you stay relevant to the industry

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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.

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

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Thou shalt remain optimistic

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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.

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

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Great people do not stay long in bad workplaces

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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.

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.

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