TIME Business

2 Simple Rules for Naming a Successful Product

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Successful naming demands focus, linguistic alchemy, and midnight oil

When I tell people at parties what I do, they’re always curious. “You’re a namer-of-things? That sounds like fun. Tell me more,” they say, seemingly surprised that it’s an actual job.

In fact, the profession has grown in the last 15 years or so with the explosion of entrepreneurs and startups that need to name everything from products and services to websites and apps. “Verbal identity” is at the core of every product launch and includes not just names but slogans and taglines.

I’m a naming consultant hired by branding agencies to tackle projects for clients that have included a faith-based financial institution, an online investment service, and wine marketed to women. I’ve coined quite a few cute names. For example, City Block™ is a note cube with a city map printed on its side. Then there’s HandJive™—fashion gloves designed for cyclists.

When I get hired to name a product, the branding agency provides me with a briefing document that outlines the client’s business strategy, identifies the competition, and suggests preferred directions, themes or language. Then I go to town. I get into a naming zone. I start with a walk for fresh air and ideas. I stop at the neighborhood newsstand and scan the magazine covers. I window-shop and note clever taglines (like the Gap’s “Fall into our sale.”)

I’m often one of several namers working on a tight deadline—anywhere from just 24 hours to a few days—to generate as many as 200 names. With luck and persistence, a short list of top contenders is presented to the client.

The tools of my trade go beyond Roget’s Thesaurus. I peruse foreign-language dictionaries, as well as a rhyming dictionary, Visual Thesaurus, and the Oxford English Dictionary to study a word’s historical origins. If I’m looking for a three-letter word, I can search ScrabbleFinder.com.

Successful naming demands focus, linguistic alchemy, and midnight oil. The creative process of naming is always tempered by legal scrutiny to ensure that a name doesn’t already exist. My clients—mostly small businesses and startups—hire trademark attorneys to register and protect the names that I’ve come up with for them.

Research is easier than when I started thanks to companies that allow you to search and register domain names. But it can be difficult to find a name that hasn’t already been claimed. One common solution to this problem is to leave out a letter: See Flickr or Tumblr.

My parents tell me I was born for this occupation. As a little kid, I was verbal, inquisitive, and imaginative. Even then, I paid attention to the names of beauty products. I blushed when my mom revealed she was wearing Revlon’s “Naked Pink” nail polish to a PTA meeting. Today, nail polish manufacturer OPI has cornered the market with its quirky, clever names. My top pick for a pedicure is their “I’m Not Really a Waitress” red. Rule #1 of my profession: A name should be memorable.

In 1990, I jumped at the chance to tap into my inner-child and took a job as packaging copywriter for toy manufacturer Mattel. Over more than 15 years, I produced countless descriptions and taglines, and hundreds of names, for toys.

I worked at Mattel in a team with a graphic designer and a structural engineer. We met with product designers who made preliminary drawings, engineers who created prototypes, and marketing mavens who called the business shots. In our brainstorms—or as we called them “name-storms”—we entertained dozens of ideas. The work wasn’t always fun and games and required many levels of approval. But the rewards were big: What could be more exciting than to hear a little one ask for Baby Ah-Choo™ at Toys “R” Us?

Rule #2: A name must be easy to pronounce. Some of my favorites: Stack-tivity™: a set of building blocks, each with a playful activity on it. A child could draw on the blank face of the What’s Her Face™ doll. There were plenty of names that I loved that were nixed by a higher authority. For example, Paw-Pets was the perfect name for a set of animal finger puppets. Rule #3: Never fall in love with a name—and never take rejection personally.

In so many words, a good name is memorable, meaningful, and distinctive. You know it when you see it. Even more importantly, you know it when you hear it.

I recently bought a pair of men’s cashmere socks, despite the hefty price tag, because the name blended playfulness and luxury. I knew that the recipient of my gift would appreciate it, too: Ovadafut. The spelling may look exotic, but say it out loud.

If you say it out loud and you smile: bingo. That’s the game of the name.

Ellen Lutwak wrote this piece for Zocalo Public Square, a not-for-profit Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Business

Let’s Fix It: Shattering the Perfection Myth

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Courtesy of Prezi

Peter Arvai is the CEO and Co-Founder of Prezi.

I have come to realize that revealing my imperfections actually empowers my team

This Influencer post originally appeared on LinkedIn. Peter Arvai shares his thoughts as part of LinkedIn’s Influencer series, “Let’s Fix It” in which the brightest minds in business blog on LinkedIn about how they would fix what’s broken in this world. LinkedIn Editor Amy Chen provides an overview of the 60+ Influencers that tackled this subject as part of the package. Follow Peter Arvai and insights from other top minds in business on LinkedIn.

Until recently, I never realized the power of making a mistake in a meeting. Of course, there’s always that initial moment of dread, followed by the internal dialogue—“Did I really just say that?” or “Did everyone see that?”

Even though they may be embarrassing at first, however, mistakes offer an opportunity to use one of the most under-appreciated leadership tools: vulnerability.

I’ve often felt the expectation that I need to be perfect to be accepted as a leader, but I have come to realize that revealing my imperfections actually empowers my team. Being vulnerable changes the conversation from one where team members feel they have to prove themselves to one where they are free to think big and take risks.

Our society is facing huge challenges, from poverty to disease to climate change— these are challenges that are in need of creative leadership to find solutions. If we want our teams to tackle these issues efficiently, we need to ditch the traditional model of leadership. Let’s support vulnerability instead of fixed structures in order to fuel the creative engines that business requires to thrive at today’s breakneck pace; here are some tangible examples I’ve seen work:

Reduce judgment by getting personal.

Fear of judgment is an instant killer of creativity and risk-taking—when people are worried that others will judge them for their ideas or flaws, they shut down. We can create a safe space for free thinking by being completely open. Sheryl Sandberg is an example of a leader who shows vulnerability by being open.

During her 2010 TED Talk, Sandberg recounted a story that many parents can relate to: her 3-year-old daughter clung to her leg before she left for a conference, begging her not to get on the plane. Sandberg’s openness about her personal struggle with managing time between work and family sends a clear message—there’s no room for judgment in the auditorium. What’s more, Sandberg’s presentation opened up space for working parents around the world to be open about their own struggles, which in turn resulted in real changes, like daycare programs at offices in increasing numbers. That’s the power of vulnerability in action.

Share your mistakes.

Another obstacle in the way of big thinking and creativity is fear of failure. By openly promoting that mistakes are an important part of adapting and growing, leaders can empower those around them to let go of the stifling need to be perfect, so they can risk more to achieve more.

A.G. Lafley, the CEO of Proctor & Gamble, openly talks about his company’s failure in the 1980s to enter the bleach market — what was a spectacular flop at first actually taught the brand how to defend existing franchises and helped to contribute to the massive success of Tide, P&G’s laundry detergent.

At Prezi, we encourage open discussions about our failures in an effort to learn from our mistakes. For example, we celebrate “hero teams” (which we recognize at the end of a quarter), or those who fell below their original goal but who might have worked harder and applied creativity to solve unexpected problems along the way. By recognizing such work even when it leads to failure, we encourage our teams to take risks, which often leads to some of our best ideas.

Build a candid culture.

It isn’t always easy to be completely honest, especially when talking about personal flaws. Candor, however, is fundamental to building a culture of creativity. When people spend less time thinking about what they should or shouldn’t say, they can spend more time thinking about the stuff that really matters: their ideas.

There is tremendous value in having an open culture. I have a tradition of taking colleagues out for one-on-one “dream dinners,” where I ask them to tell me about their goals and aspirations. By asking them to be completely honest, I enable us to be vulnerable both ways. They might tell me something I don’t want to hear—like the fact that our senior engineer wants to start a company of his own—but in exchange, we build more authentic and rewarding relationships.

Two years later, that senior engineer is still with us, and now we can talk entrepreneurship when he has questions or ideas. Authentic relationships foster better collaboration and bigger thinking, both of which are essential to creative success.

Encouraging and supporting vulnerability may seem idealistic, but it’s critical to success. When it comes to tackling the biggest problems in business and society, creativity is necessary to find better solutions. But for creative ideas to emerge we also need vulnerable leaders who are comfortable with looking at themselves and their organizations from unexpected perspectives.

Let’s embrace the imperfect and let it inspire us.

In this series of posts, Influencers explain what they wish they could fix — and how. Read all the stories here and write your own (please include the hashtag #FixIt in the body of your post).

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Business

Let’s Fix It: Blame Unemployment on the Color Blue

Google Senior Vice President of People Operations Laszlo Bock attends The New York Times Next New World Conference on June 12, 2014 in San Francisco, California.
Google Senior Vice President of People Operations Laszlo Bock attends The New York Times Next New World Conference on June 12, 2014 in San Francisco, California. Neilson Barnard—Getty Images

Laszlo Bock is the Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google.

An employer has no way of knowing if most companies on a resume are good or bad, if a title means anything, or even what my words mean

This Influencer post originally appeared on LinkedIn. Laszlo Bock shares his thoughts as part of LinkedIn’s Influencer series, “Let’s Fix It” in which the brightest minds in business blog on LinkedIn about how they would fix what’s broken in this world. LinkedIn Editor Amy Chen provides an overview of the 60+ Influencers that tackled this subject as part of the package. Follow Laszlo Bock and insights from other top minds in business on LinkedIn.

I know myself, and employers know what they want to hire, but how do we explain that to each other efficiently and accurately? The marketplace for people and jobs is broken, especially for the small businesses that create the bulk of jobs in the United States. And it’s part of why so many people are out of work while simultaneously so many jobs are unfilled. Unemployment is an information asymmetry problem.

And it’s the one thing I’d fix if I could.

Information asymmetry is when one party has better information than another party. Let’s say I’m selling my car and I know the passenger door rattles when I drive over 65 mph. You are buying my car, and have no idea. That’s information asymmetry.

Job-matching efforts also suffer from information asymmetry, or what I call the Color Blue Problem. How do I know that when I see the color blue, it’s the same as when you see it? How do I know that when I describe myself to an employer, they know what I mean? And that when a hiring manager describes what she wants in a job posting, how do I know what she means?

In practice, it looks* like this:

Diane Labombarbe / Getty Images

Resumes stink. They’re a simply awful way of marketing yourself for a job. Some of that is our fault as job-seekers and can be fixed, as I wrote here and here. But an employer has no way of knowing if most companies on a resume are good or bad (is working at “LaszloCo” a good sign?), if a title means anything (VP is a senior title in tech, but not in banking, and even in tech some companies have one VP for every 20 people and some have one per 300), or even what my words mean (is a “superb programmer” the co-inventor of Google or just really, really good at Logo?). And employers are completely blind to the indefinable things that make you “you,” such as generosity, curiosity, or playfulness.

It’s just as bad on the job-posting side. Job descriptions are often written from generic templates, don’t give you a sense of what the job truly requires or what would make you successful in it, and are just plain boring. Here’s an insider’s view of what the process feels like from the other side:

Diane Labombarbe / Getty Images

Resume screeners and interviewers deliver the coup de grace: We all think we are great at assessing candidates. We’re not. We are biased, ask bad interview questions, rarely go back and check if our predictions were correct, and so on. We only hire the best, right? Then how did all those slackers in Sam’s department get hired? More to come on this in a future post, but the point is that the job-matching process is fragile and error-prone.

The root cause is that we can’t convey perfect information about our own skills, nor can employers convey perfect information about what they need. We both say the job is a “Color Blue” job, but we have no way of knowing for sure if we both mean the same thing when we say “Color Blue.” Information asymmetry.

The enormous opportunity to solve unemployment

But what if you could perfectly convey the real you? Not just your training and feats, but in what kind of workplace you would thrive. Whether you like to work alone or in groups. Whether you are a specialist or a utility player. Exactly how good you are at your disciplines. And what if sending this message was believable? If a prospective employer could know with certainty that they can see the real you.

Now, what if you had the same insight into jobs? Is my prospective manager a control freak or checked out? Is this job a stretch, just right, or completely out of reach? Do I have the general attributes that will set me up for rapid promotion, or will I be stuck in the same job for a decade? Do givers or takers thrive in this company?

In the short-term, much unemployment could be eliminated by doing a better job of matching people and jobs. By solving the Color Blue Problem.

There has been a visible revolution in the ability to analyze lots of data. Less noticed are advances in organizational science and behavioral economics, ranging from Amy Wrzesniewski’s pioneering jobcrafting work, to Evolv’s work on matching people to jobs, to Googler Brian Welle’s work on unconscious bias. (Disclosure: I was until recently a board member of Evolv and of course work at Google.)

Mapping the reality of what you have to offer against the reality of what organizations need — and who will thrive in that specific context – is a hard problem. But it is solvable. It becomes possible to move beyond “four years of public accounting experience” to “ability to learn quantitative methods combined with a zeal for catching and correcting the smallest of errors, persuade with data, and thrive in social settings” as job criteria, and to then identify people based on who they really are. For individuals, it becomes possible to find roles where they will excel regardless of where they went to college, or even if they went to college.

Now, imagine this works. If you’re a welder in Detroit, you can find out what skills are increasingly or decreasingly in demand. Then you can make some informed choices: Should I move to Atlanta where there will be more welding jobs, or stay put and go to nursing school since I know there will be demand for those jobs at home? If I go back to school, which schools’ graduates are most likely to end up in the jobs that I want?

Slowly we’d become able to not just match people today, but also to tell people where to invest to be ready for tomorrow’s jobs.

Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent each year on recruiting, so there’s a lot of incentive to figure this out. The trick is you can’t do this by conducting exhaustive (and exhausting surveys) coupled with anthropological dissections of every group inside every organization. Not practical.

The most efficient way is by looking at large sets of data and inferring relationships, similarities, and predictors of success and failure. And the only way to do that is with permission, appropriate privacy safeguards, and enough value delivered to the individuals and organizations to make them want to take part.

From a business perspective, the promise of solving unemployment is enormous. From a social perspective, it’s exhilarating. And from a computer and organizational science perspective, it’s coming into reach.

*Original fresco entitled “Ecce Homo” by Elias Garcia Martinez, as reported by Heraldo on August 21, 2012.

In this series of posts, Influencers explain what they wish they could fix — and how. Read all the stories here and write your own (please include the hashtag #FixIt in the body of your post).

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Business

10 Things to Know Before Starting Your First Job

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Take performance reviews with a grain of salt

Answer by Michael Chen on Quora.

My first job was at a management consulting firm. Though I did not particularly enjoy these two years, I learned a lot of things that have been helpful as my career has progressed.

  1. Early on, attitude matters as much or more than actual output. No one likes working with a jerk, even if they are good. Sure, if you are extraordinary you can get away with it, but most of us aren’t THAT good at any one thing (like Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, or Alex Rodriguez.)
  2. Until you are the CEO, regardless of your job title or job description, your actual job is to make your boss/supervisor’s life easier. The sooner you realize it’s about them, and not you, the smoother things will be.
  3. Take performance reviews with a grain of salt. They will never be perfectly accurate — as with all things, there is human bias and irrationality built into the system. You are not as good or as bad as whatever your review explicitly says. Use whatever you get as feedback, then you can process and choose whether or not you want to make those changes.
  4. Attention to detail matters a lot, so learn to be detail oriented, even if that’s not your normal mode of operation. Because in groups of humans, it’s all about building trust. Having checked everything twice and being really on top of your game is the easiest way to built that trust over time with people you don’t know that well.
  5. Be a net adder of energy to a room, not a net remover of energy. It almost always pays to be positive, even when disagreeing.
  6. No amount of money is worth being bored. If you aren’t engaged with what you do, switch it up unless you have some family obligations you can’t get out of.
  7. When you start off, your work will mostly consist of 100% stuff you don’t necessarily want to do. As you get more senior and earn more trust, you earn the right to take on work/jobs that have a higher percent stuff you like doing/enjoy and a lower percent stuff you don’t like doing but have to do.
  8. Culture fit/match is a big deal, you can be a total stud in one setting and a total dud in another, even while acting exactly the same. Be honest to yourself when looking for a culture in which you would enjoy working. For those of you that are very anti-doing things anyone else’s way, start something yourself!
  9. If you don’t tell your coworkers or boss what you want, they have no way of knowing. By just accepting all status quo, you are implicitly saying you are ok with the way things are. But be respectful and thoughtful when you do it, not entitled or greedy.
  10. You won’t figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life from your first job. (Some people do, but it’s rare.) Instead focus on A/B testing in your own life — try to absorb all the things you experience and figure out what you enjoy, what you don’t enjoy, what type of people you like working with, etc. Use the first job to get exposed to as many variations as possible, so you can make better choices going forward.

This question originally appeared on Quora: What were the best things you learned in your first job?

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Media

CBS Launches On-Demand Digital Subscription Service

Premiere Of CBS Films' "Extant' - Arrivals
President and CEO of CBS Corporation Leslie Moonves Jeffrey Mayer—WireImage

One day after HBO announced it will begin offering standalone web subscriptions in 2015

Your laptop binge-watching options are about to expand.

CBS announced the launch of a new digital service on Thursday that allows subscribers to access thousands of on-demand video options — including classic shows (like Cheers and Star Trek), past and current seasons of on-air series and live-streaming capabilities in 14 of the largest U.S. markets. CBS All Access will cost $5.99 per month and cater to who CBS President and CEO Leslie Moonves calls “our biggest fans.”

The news hits one day after HBO announced it will begin offering standalone web subscriptions in 2015, banking on the many millennials whose eyes have moved from television screens to their computer screens. Still, Nielsen recently released a report that found 24% of 18-to-34-year-olds don’t shell out for subscription television.

Moonves also signaled that Showtime is planning to go down a similar route like HBO, Re/code reports.

Read next: Young Americans Won’t Pay for TV. Will They Ever?

TIME Business

4 Guidelines for Voluntarily Leaving Your Job

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Even if you don't have another one lined up

Answer by Gretchen Andrew on Quora.

I recently decided to leave my job at Google to pursue a career in visual arts. I fit your mold; I cannot afford to be long term unemployed. In fact, I have a year of conservative living without income before I will be compelled to go back into the formal work force. That is unless this all works out which, of course, is the plan.

That’s the first step.

  1. Figure out how long you can be unemployed. In doing this, make sure you consider grossly expensive new costs of health insurance and the cell phone bill your employer is probably currently paying. I did a serious reevaluation of my current expenses and implemented life style shifts before I left.
  2. Determine if this is enough time. Enough time for what? If you don’t know then it might not be time to leave. It was important to me that I would be learning more, taking more risks, meeting more people, and failing more out of work than in work, a high bar leaving a place like Google. Ultimately I believe I am making myself more valuable to potential employers by doing what I am doing now. What do you want to accomplish with leaving? Maybe you know that where you are currently working it is too comfortable or too soul-sucking to really ever find your vocation. If you need to leave to put yourself in a place to be more open to that calling, then leave. But make a plan for discovery as well.
  3. Treat unemployment like a job. I learned this one from a good friend of mine who left her job at Mathworks to get a Ph.D. If you are leaving to “do something” then make sure you do it by getting up every morning, getting dressed, and holding hours. Don’t let your days fill up with errands. I suggest picking one afternoon a week to deal with the life errands and keep the rest of the time sacred. Create value when you are unemployed. Write that book. Make that movie. Have something to point to for if you are planning on returning to industry.
  4. Don’t hedge with your life. Read Seth Godin’s The Dip. I know too many people who arbitrary calculate chances of success before making a career change. If you are leaving “for” instead of “because of” something, you will feel the difference when you get up in the morning. If you leave “for” something, are willing to change your life until you get there, and follow through on it, you have the best things in the world to worry about.

Good luck!

This question originally appeared on Quora: What is it like to voluntarily leave a job without having another one lined up?

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Careers & Workplace

Meet the 12-Year-Old CEO Who Runs a $150,000 Business

ABC's "Shark Tank" - Season Five
Michael Ansell—ABC/Getty Images

We could all learn a lot about business and life from Moziah Bridges

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

In the past three years, while his classmates were doing homework and playing sports, Moziah Bridges built himself a $150,000 business.

That’s right–he started his business when he was 9 years old. Not yet a teenager, Bridges now has five staff members and has received a ton of media attention, from an appearance on the TV show Shark Tank to features in O magazine and Vogue.

“I like to wear bow ties, because they make me look good and feel good,” Bridges writes on his website. “Designing a colorful bow tie is just part of my vision to make the world a fun and happier place.”

Ever the fashionista, he’s reveled in style from a young age. At four years old, Bridges wore a suit and tie whenever possible and insisted on dressing himself.

His business, Mo’s Bows, was born of his love for bow ties and his dissatisfaction with the selection available for kids his age. Even worse than the poor color selection, they were all clip-ons–Bridges believed real men should tie their own ties. His grandmother taught him to sew by hand and to use a sewing machine, using scraps to create his favorite neckwear.

Within a few months, he had created his own collection of more than two dozen bow ties. Friends and family fell in love with his creations. Bridges upped his production, fashioning tidy bow ties from his grandmother’s vintage fabrics in an array of floral and African prints, and even scraps of old taffeta dresses.

Word of mouth worked its magic, and soon Bridges was taking orders through Facebook and selling on his own Etsy store. As demand increased, his mother, grandmother, and other family members came on board to help with production.

Today, each bow tie is still sewn from scratch, though Bridges has expanded from vintage materials to tweeds and ginghams, with a formal line of satins and silk. His bow ties are available in his own webstore, on Etsy, and in boutiques throughout Texas, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

When asked who his role models are, he said he looks up to Daymond John, who became his mentor as a result of the Shark Tank appearance.

As if his early success in business weren’t enough, Bridges has also become something of a young philanthropist. This summer, he donated $1,600 to send 10 children from his hometown of Memphis to Glenview Summer Camp.

In a post on his blog, Bridges wrote, “Memphis is ranked the highest of child hunger; most kids only get a meal when school is in session. At the community center, the kids get a meal and play time. Giving back to my community really helped me feel humble. It also makes me smile because I see other kids smiling and enjoying the camp.”

What’s next for this inspirational kidpreneur? In a recent interview, Bridges said he wants to go college and start a full clothing line by the time he’s 20.

He’s got it all figured out, folks; Moziah Bridges has a happy, colorful life filled with business successes, social good, work-school-life balance, and solid goals for the future. And he still gets to bed at 8:30 every night!

TIME Careers & Workplace

9 Essential Habits of Remarkably Effective People

Business person
Monty Rakusen—Getty Images/Cultura RF

You don't have to be born able to execute at a high level. Here's how you can develop that vital skill

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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.

There’s a huge biggest difference between being efficient and being effective. (Just ask Stephen Covey.)

Efficient people are well organized and competent. They check things off their to-do list. They complete projects. They get stuff done.

Effective people do all that … but they check the right things off their to-do list. They complete the right projects. They get the right stuff done.

They execute and produce what makes the biggest difference for their business … and for themselves.

Here are some of the traits of remarkably effective people, and why they’re so successful:

1. They always start with goals.

Effort without a genuine purpose is just effort. Effective people don’t just know what to do–they know why. They have a long-term goal. They have short-term goals that support their long-term goals.

In short, they have purpose–and that purpose informs everything they do. That’s why remarkable people appear so dedicated and organized and consistently on-task. They’re not slaves to a routine; they’re simply driven to reach their goals and quick to eliminate roadblocks and put aside distractions that stand in their way.

Remarkably effective people set their goals first. So decide what success means to you. (Your definition of success is and should be different from everyone else’s.)

You’ll find it’s easy to stay focused and be effective when you truly care about what you hope to achieve.

Even so, once they establish a goal, remarkably effective people don’t focus solely on that goal; instead …

2. Then they create systems.

If you’re an entrepreneur, your goal is to build a successful business. Your system consists of your processes for sales, marketing, fulfillment, operations, etc.

A goal is great for planning and mapping out what success looks like; a system is great for actually making progress toward that goal.

Remarkably effective people know a goal can provide direction and even push them forward in the short term, but eventually a well-designed system will always win.

Everyone has goals; committing to a system makes all the difference in achieving that goal.

3. They believe in themselves.

Diligence isn’t easy. Hard work is hard. Pushing forward when successes are few and far between takes optimism and self-belief.

That’s why busy people quickly give up and effective people keep going.

Remarkably effective people embrace the fact (and it is a fact) that the only way to get to where they want to go is to try … and keep on trying. They know that eventually they will succeed, because …

4. They believe they are in control of their lives.

Many people feel luck–or outside forces–has a lot to do with success or failure. If they succeed, luck favored them; if they fail, luck was against them.

Luck certainly does play a part, but effective people don’t hope for good luck or worry about bad luck. They assume success is totally within their control. If they succeed, they caused it; if they fail, they caused that, too.

Remarkably effective people waste zero mental energy worrying about what might happen to them–they put all their effort into making things happen.

They know they can never control luck … but they can always control themselves.

5. And yet they also embrace “random.”

When your nose is to the grindstone, all you can see is the grindstone. And that means you miss opportunities to spot something new, try something different, or go off on a fruitful tangent.

Effective people stay almost totally on-task. Remarkably effective people build in time and opportunity to experience new things, try new methods, and benefit from happy accidents.

They’re not always trying to reinvent the wheel. But they’re more than happy to adopt someone else’s perfectly functioning wheel.

6. They find happiness in the success of others.

Great teams win because their most talented members are willing to sacrifice to help others succeed.

That’s why great companies are made up of employees who help each other, know their roles, set aside their personal goals, and value team success over everything else.

Where does that attitude come from?


Focus only on yourself and ultimately you’ll be by yourself. To be remarkably effective, find fulfillment in helping other people succeed. In the process you will succeed, too–in more ways than one.

7. They use their goals to make decisions automatic.

In a podcast, Tim Ferriss described how Herb Kelleher, the CEO of Southwest Airlines, makes so many decisions every day. Kelleher applies a simple framework to every issue: Will this help Southwest be the low-cost provider? If so, the answer is yes. If not, no.

Remarkably effective people apply the same framework to the decisions they make. “Will this help me reach my goal? If not, I won’t do it.”

If you feel like you’re constantly struggling to make decisions, take a step back. Think about your goals; your goals will help you make decisions.

That’s why remarkably effective people are so decisive. Indecision is born of a lack of purpose: When you know what you truly want, most of your decisions can–and should–be almost automatic.

8. They don’t multitask.

Plenty of research says multitasking doesn’t work. (Some research says multitasking actually makes you stupid.)

Maybe you don’t agree.

Maybe you’re wrong. Try to do two things at once and you’ll do both half-assed.

Remarkably effective people focus on one thing at a time. They do that one thing incredibly well … and then they move on to whatever is next. And they do that incredibly well.

9. They freely ask for help.

Busy people ask for help getting something done. Remarkably effective people ask for help not just because they need help but also because by asking they show respect for the other person and trust his or her experience, skill, or insight.

Mutual respect is the foundation of every solid relationship–and the best way to create mutual respect is to first show respect.

Want to be remarkably effective? Surround yourself with people who trust and motivate and inspire you–and in turn are inspired by you.

Even if you don’t achieve all your goals, your life will be infinitely richer.

TIME Markets

Stock Markets Are Waking Up to Economic Reality

An investor holds a child in front of an electronic screen showing stock information at a brokerage house in Shenyang
An investor holds a child in front of an electronic screen showing stock information at a brokerage house in Shenyang, Liaoning province, Oct. 16, 2014. Sheng Li—Reuters

Misguided policy is undermining growth and creating new risks

Stock markets are supposed to be indicators of where economies are headed. The recent sell-off in global equities, however, shows investors are just catching up with the headlines. Wall Street had powered through the gloomy news emanating from much of the global economy for most of the year, with indices scoring one record after the next. But now investors seem to have finally woken up to the world’s woes, causing the bulls to stampede. On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged by as much as 2.8%, and even though it later recovered, it has still fallen by 5% in five days. That followed a terrible day on European bourses, with the German and French markets suffering large losses. The trouble continued Thursday in Asia, with losses in Tokyo and Hong Kong.

Financial markets are reacting to what should have been obvious to investors for some time — growth is stumbling in just about every corner of the planet. And we can blame some pretty gutless policymaking for it. From Beijing to Brussels to Brasilia, governments are failing to implement the reforms we need to finally lift the global economy out of the protracted slump tipped off by the 2008 financial crisis.

The situation is most infuriating in Europe. The International Monetary Fund recently cut its forecast for euro zone GDP growth to a mere 0.8% this year. Germany, the largest and supposedly strongest economy in the zone, is projected to expand only 1.4%, while Italy, the zone’s third-largest economy, will likely contract again in 2014. Unemployment remains stubbornly high at 11.5%. Meanwhile, the leaders of Europe seem unconcerned and have done little to encourage growth or job creation. At a European level, the process of forging greater integration and bringing down remaining barriers to cross-border business has stalled, while the record of individual governments in liberalizing markets and fixing broken labor systems is at best mixed. Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, has fallen behind the curve in preventing prices from falling to dangerously low levels, raising fears of deflation, which would suppress consumption and investment even further. No wonder more analysts are worried Europe is facing “Japanification” — a potentially destructive, long-term malaise similar to what has been experienced in Japan.

Speaking of Japan, the program of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — dubbed “Abenomics” — is being exposed as a failure. Massive monetary stimulus from the Bank of Japan has not jumpstarted growth, while Abe, with government finances increasingly under strain, has had to hike taxes, dampening consumption and denting growth even further. The promised structural reforms that could raise the economy’s potential, from loosening up labor markets to opening protected sectors, have barely gotten off the ground. The IMF sees Japan’s GDP expanding a meager 0.9% in 2014.

The story in emerging markets isn’t much better. Once high fliers have crashed down to earth. Brazil’s economy will likely grow a pathetic 0.3% this year, while Russia, plagued by sanctions, will be lucky to avoid a recession. Even China is struggling. Though growth remains above 7% — at least officially — economists are just now starting to realize such rates are probably the country’s “new normal.” Facing a property slump and excessive debt, the economy will continue to slow down in coming years. Beijing’s policymakers have promised a lot of the liberalizing reforms that could fix China’s growth model, but they have implemented almost none of that program. A free-trade zone that was to be a critical experiment in more open capital flows, launched with great fanfare in Shanghai a year ago, has languished as policymakers drag their feet on implementation.

There are occasional bright spots, though. It looks like India is rebounding, while growth in some other developing nations, such as the Philippines, remains healthy. But that won’t be enough to stir prospects globally. And while the U.S. is better off than most other advanced economies, the inability of Washington to confront problems like income inequality or sagging infrastructure is holding the economy back.

What we are witnessing around the world is a slowdown created to a large degree by bad policymaking and political inaction. In fact, you could make the argument that what steps have been taken have only made matters worse. The long-running easy money policies of the Federal Reserve probably helped to propel the prices of stocks and other assets upward, detaching them from the underlying fundamentals of the global economy and making them vulnerable to sudden shocks and shifts in sentiment.

Perhaps what we’re seeing in global stock markets is a temporary correction or short-term adjustment. Or perhaps markets are telling us things will be much worse than we expect in coming quarters. Either way, it seems like investors are finally swallowing a dose of economic reality.

TIME Tourism

China Sets a Course for the Cruise-Ship Industry With Its First Luxury Liner

Employees stand in front of nearly completed ship at China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) Longxue shipbuilding ,in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou
Employees stand in front of nearly completed ship at China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) Longxue shipbuilding, in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou November 13, 2011. © Siu Chiu / Reuters—REUTERS

The world's largest shipbuilder does not have a cruise ship — at least, not yet

China is planning to build its first cruise ship, targeting the nation’s huge aspirational middle class as it looks for new ways of spending its money and vacation time.

To venture into new waters, Chinese shipping officials have secured the help of Carnival Corp., the world’s largest cruise-ship operator. The Miami-based juggernaut of cruising said on Wednesday it had signed a memorandum of understanding with the China State Shipbuilding Corporation to help design its maiden cruise vessel.

Carnival said the joint venture — which will also involve a major Italian shipping yard — would support “the Chinese government’s plans to grow the cruising industry in China and meet escalating demand for cruises from Chinese travelers.”

The Chinese Ministry of Transport has said it expects the Chinese cruise industry to number 4.5 million passengers by 2020 and to be the second largest global cruise market, after the U.S., by 2017. Some 530,000 Chinese tourists boarded cruise ships last year, more than double the previous year, Forbes reports.

Global cruise operators, beleaguered by accidents and on-board illness in other waters, have been keen on cashing in on the Asian market and wooing Chinese consumers to their bunks and buffets, reports Reuters. Carnival already ports three cruise ships in China and is set to add a fourth liner to its China-based fleet in 2015. Other companies, including Royal Caribbean, have claimed a smaller chuck of the market’s burgeoning appetite for cruises.

China built 25,903 tons of ships last year, surpassing South Korea’s output by about 1,000 tons.

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