It’s Harder to be Kind than Clever: 10 Things I Learned Reading Brad Stone’s — The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

10 Things I Learned Reading Brad Stone’s — The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

by SHANE PARRISH on OCTOBER 24, 2013

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I really enjoyed Brad Stone’s The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon. Anyone who wants to better understand the dynamics of disruption or just gain a better understanding of the website we’ve come to love, must read this book. Here are ten things I found interesting. Read more of this post

The writing life requires courage, patience, persistence, empathy, openness, and the ability to deal with rejection. To look at the world without blinders on. To observe and withstand what one sees. To be disciplined and take risks

Dani Shapiro on the Pleasures and Perils of Writing and the Creative Life

“At its best, the sensation of writing is that of any unmerited grace,” Annie Dillard famously observed, adding the quintessential caveat, “It is handed to you, but only if you look for it. You search, you break your heart, your back, your brain, and then – and only then – it is handed to you.” And yet, Zadie Smith admonished in her 10 rules of writing, it’s perilous to romanticize the “vocation of writing”: “There is no ‘writer’s lifestyle.’ All that matters is what you leave on the page.”

Still, surely there must be more to it than that – whole worlds rise and fall, entire universes blossom and die daily in that enchanted space between the writer’s sensation of writing and the word’s destiny of being written on a page. For all that’s been mulled about the writing life and its perpetual osmosis of everyday triumphs and tragedies, its existential feats and failures, at its heart remains an immutable mystery – how can a calling be at once so transcendent and so soul-crushing, and what is it that enthralls so many souls into its paradoxical grip, into feeling compelled to write “not because they can but because they have to”? That, and oh so much more, is what Dani Shapiro explores in Still Writing: The Pleasures and Perils of a Creative Life (public library) – her magnificent memoir of the writing life, at once disarmingly personal and brimming with widely resonant wisdom on the most universal challenges and joys of writing. Read more of this post

Emotional Agility: How effective leaders manage their negative thoughts and feelings

Emotional Agility

by Susan David and Christina Congleton

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Sixteen thousand—that’s how many words we speak, on average, each day. So imagine how many unspoken ones course through our minds. Most of them are not facts but evaluations and judgments entwined with emotions—some positive and helpful (I’ve worked hard and I can ace this presentation; This issue is worth speaking up about; The new VP seems approachable), others negative and less so (He’s purposely ignoring me; I’m going to make a fool of myself; I’m a fake).

The prevailing wisdom says that difficult thoughts and feelings have no place at the office: Executives, and particularly leaders, should be either stoic or cheerful; they must project confidence and damp down any negativity bubbling up inside them. But that goes against basic biology. All healthy human beings have an inner stream of thoughts and feelings that include criticism, doubt, and fear. That’s just our minds doing the job they were designed to do: trying to anticipate and solve problems and avoid potential pitfalls. Read more of this post

You Can’t Be a Wimp—Make the Tough Calls; To make timely, high-quality decisions, you need to develop three key traits

You Can’t Be a Wimp—Make the Tough Calls

An Interview with Ram Charan by Melinda Merino

As one of the world’s preeminent advisers to CEOs and boards, Ram Charan has spent the past 35 years on the road, watching hundreds of executives deal with their toughest challenges. He regularly shares the insights from his experiences in speeches and the classroom and is the author of several best-selling books. (His latest books are Boards That Lead, which he cowrote with Dennis Carey and Michael Useem, and Global Tilt.) He has also published many popular articles, including the HBR classic“Conquering a Culture of Indecision” (April 2001), in which he addresses the problem of organizational paralysis. In this edited interview with HBR senior editor Melinda Merino, he returns to the topic of decisions and talks about what he’s learned in three decades of helping executives make them. Read more of this post

Make the Most of a Polarizing Brand; Having a group of customers who hate your brand can be a good thing

Make the Most of a Polarizing Brand

by Xueming Luo, Michael Wiles, and Sascha Raithel

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As conversation starters go, “What do you think of Miracle Whip?” probably seems unlikely—you wouldn’t think many people have strong opinions about the slightly-sweeter-than-mayonnaise sandwich spread. But when marketers at Kraft began researching shoppers’ attitudes toward the dressing, they found surprisingly deep emotions. It turns out that a substantial number of people love Miracle Whip, and many others detest it. In 2011 Kraft launched ads that sought to make a virtue of the schism. The campaign used love-’em-or-hate-’em celebrities, including Pauly D from Jersey Shore and the political pundit James Carville. Some people in the ads praised Miracle Whip’s yumminess, but one character said he’d break up with his girlfriend if he learned that she liked the dressing. Another said, “I’d rather lick your shoe” than try it. “Miracle Whip is a polarizing product,” the brand director, Sara Braun, explained at the time. “We’re trying to own up to this fact.” The strategy worked: During the campaign Miracle Whip experienced a 631% surge in social media postings and a 14% increase in sales. Read more of this post

Leaving a legacy: ‘You only die when you are forgotten’; Canadian billionaire Seymour Schulich has given away $350-million in his lifetime, partly, he acknowledges, to keep his memory alive

Leaving a legacy: ‘You only die when you are forgotten’

Garry Marr | 25/10/13 | Last Updated: 26/10/13 3:24 PM ET

 How We Die Now: “Death renders all equal,” wrote Claudian. How each one of us relates to death, however, is individual, and always changing — as we mature; as we contemplate life, and death, around us; and as society changes. In this special series in the National Post, we present stories and columns looking at the different ways we see, and prepare for, the Great Equalizer. To read the complete series, click here.

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Seymour Schulich: I have two major objectives now. Number one is to be counted among the greatest Canadian philanthropists of my era and two to encourage other wealthy folks to step up He may have given away more money than anybody else in Canada, so Seymour Schulich probably has some insight into what drives the desire to have your name live on. “There are people out there who think their legacy is their company. Your company is not your legacy. Companies have a mortality rate,” says Mr. Schulich, 73, a billionaire who made his money in the gold sector. “Business is a means to an end. I don’t need to get any richer, thank you. I have two major objectives now. Number one is to be counted among the greatest Canadian philanthropists of my era and two to encourage other wealthy folks to step up.” Read more of this post

The bright side of sadness: Bad moods can have unappreciated mental upsides

The bright side of sadness: Bad moods can have unappreciated mental upsides

BY BRUCE BOWER

1:45PM, OCTOBER 18, 2013

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Thomas Jefferson defended the right to pursue happiness in the Declaration of Independence. But that’s so 237 years ago. Many modern societies champion everyone’s right to be happy pretty much all the time. Good luck with that, says psychologist Joseph Forgas of the University of New South Wales in Sydney. A lack of close friends, unfulfilled financial dreams and other harsh realities leave many people feeling lonely and forlorn a lot of the time. But there’s a mental and social upside to occasional downers that often goes unappreciated. “Bad moods are seen in our happiness-focused culture as representing a problem, but we need to be aware that temporary, mild negative feelings have important benefits,” Forgas says. Read more of this post

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