Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Barbara Kellerman: A great leader knows when to step back

Barbara Kellerman’s latest book, “The End of Leadership,” was selected for the longlist of the 2012 Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award.
In an interview with Today’s Zaman, she underlines the power transition from leaders to followers.
In your book “The End of Leadership,” you mention that the balance between leadership and followership has changed. Can you elaborate?

“The End of Leadership” tells two tales. The first is about change -- about how and why leadership and followership have changed over time, especially in the last 40 years. As a result of cultural evolution and technological revolution, the balance of power between leaders and followers has shifted, with leaders becoming weaker and followers stronger.

In the 1960s all figures of authority were in decline. So had I been teaching at Harvard 30, 40 years ago, references to me would be “Professor Kellerman” as opposed to “Barbara.” Today they call me by my first name. Becoming a leader has become a mantra. The explosive growth of the “leadership industry” is based on the belief that leading is a path to power and money, a medium for achievement and a mechanism for creating change. But there are other parallel truths: That leaders of every stripe are in disrepute; the tireless and often superficial teaching of leadership has brought us no closer to nirvana; and followers nearly everywhere have become, on the one hand, disappointed and disillusioned, and on the other, entitled and emboldened.

What is the importance of context in leadership?

It’s impossible to exaggerate, and I wonder why leadership education and development training programs largely omitted the complexities of context that impinge on the dynamic of the leader-follower relationship.

So if you and I try to have a conversation about how effective the president of Harvard University is, what are the contextual factors? Her name is Drew Faust, she is the president now. What would be the contextual factors that would be relevant to that conversation? They would be that it’s Harvard, which is different from many other universities in many ways. It’s not irrelevant that it’s in Cambridge in the state of Massachusetts. It’s not irrelevant that it is an American university in the year 2013. Her predecessor’s name was Larry Summers; the way that he was pushed out by the board is not irrelevant. So you cannot understand Drew Faust, president of Harvard -- that whole dynamic -- without taking a somewhat broader look beginning with the inner context and going further and further out to really have a clear sense of where, the time and the place this particular leader-followership dynamic is taking place.
If we’re talking about leadership in the public sector -- leadership in Turkey, leadership in Syria, leadership in the United States. ... How do you understand what’s happening in Syria now? Can you understand it?

You obviously have to contextualize it -- in history, in the context of the so-called Arab Spring, in the context of the Middle East, in the context of the collapse of the Soviet Union. In other words, these movements generally, for many years now -- you can again go back wherever how far you want to go back -- but these freedom movements, these throwing out the dictators, that is a gradually unfolding process that has gone on for many years, and in order to understand what’s happening in Syria in July of 2012, to really understand it, you need to take little bit of time to put it in context -- historical context and contemporaneous context.

You talk about the Internet and social media and their influence on leadership. Can you elaborate on this?

Probably the Internet and social media are the most revolutionary communication technologies since the printing press. It’s the first technology that allows communication and connection in every possible direction: top down, bottom up and peer connections. ... The impact of the extreme connectivity is not only technological -- it is psychological and emotional.

These communication technologies have an impact on a simple experience of purchasing an item or spending money for a meal or whatever it is. So that’s what I mean by the balance and power shifting. ... The technology and culture are combining to give ordinary people capacities that they have never had before in human history.

How can we teach good followership? What are the cornerstones of followership?

The followers of 500 or even 5,000 years ago were as important as today. The case I used in my book “Followership” is the case of Nazi Germany. If you want to understand what happened in Nazi Germany, you can’t just focus on Hitler; you have to look at what the German people did or didn’t do.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Harvard professor: Don’t teach more, teach deeper!

Harvard developmental psychologist Howard Gardner is a leading figure in the world of education. 
His theory of multiple intelligences changed conventional wisdom regarding IQ.
He fundamentally transformed the way intelligence is understood. In his groundbreaking book “The Frames of Mind,” he divided intelligence into the categories of linguistic, mathematical, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, an understanding of the natural world and spatial reasoning. Before Howard Gardner, psychologists only used IQ to measure intelligence and the entire school system was based on classical IQ theory. Today in most of the modern schools in the world, Multiple Intelligence Theory is in use. In an interview, he shared his vision about the issues of education in the 21st century.

Today classroom teaching is very complicated for teachers. Students nowadays can access information more freely and also be distracted more easily. What are the new ways or methods to encourage student engagement in classes, especially in middle and high schools?
There are three major factors that are affecting education today: the emergence and prominence of the new digital media, the power of globalization and the critical, relativistic spirit entailed in much postmodern thought. Any educator who ignores these factors is likely to be alienated from his students and vice versa.

What is the use of technology in education? Do we need computers, projectors, smart boards? Does technology interrupt students’ concentration?

We have to decide what to teach, what is truly important, in terms of skills, knowledge, values. Then we should decide when, and if so how, to make use of technology. I am completely in favor of technology if it helps us to achieve our educational goals. So if we want students to learn to work collaboratively, we certainly should make use of social networks. But of course any technology can be used poorly. If students flit from one thing to another, their concentration cannot be developed. And if they only use social media to gossip, rather than to circulate and react to interesting and important articles and videos, then of course the technology is wasted. But any good educator can and should mobilize technology for positive educational goals.

Do we need to make a fundamental change in curriculum?

Before the university level, students should focus on four curricular areas; science, mathematics, history and the arts. I see no reason to change this emphasis. Probably interdisciplinary work is more important than it was in earlier times, but that is best undertaken after the major disciplines have been acquired.

I think that the big changes will take place in pedagogy. The Internet makes it possible to teach many things at a distance, for much less money and perhaps as efficiently or even more efficiently. Teachers will need to demonstrate what they can achieve that cannot be achieved by distance learning. Residential learning is important, in my view, but it needs to focus on those kinds of learning that require group interaction, mentoring, scaffolding and other pedagogical aids that do not lend themselves to web posting and distribution.

Harvard University claims to be number one in producing leaders of the future. Can leadership be taught? If so, how?

Leadership can and should be modeled. I doubt that anyone becomes an effective leader unless he or she has seen examples of effective or ineffective leadership and has sought to draw lessons from these examples. The military has been effective in training leadership, as well as some companies and some educational institutions. But while reading and lectures can be helpful, human examples and counterexamples are crucial. Practice at leadership, including how to recover from mistakes, is also crucial.

It has been a long time since the introduction of multiple intelligences. What is the best way to practice this theory in schools? Can you give an example?

After 30 years of study, reflection and experimentation, I can say that Multiple Intelligences Theory (MI theory) has two primary educational implications. The first is individuation. We should know as much about each learner as possible; and to the extent possible, we should teach that child in ways that the child can learn, and assess the child in ways that are comfortable to the child. For the first time in human history, technology makes this dream possible. We can now teach and assess algebra and geography in many ways.

The second implication is pluralization. Anything worth teaching should be taught in multiple ways. In that way, one reaches more students, and one shows what it is like to really understand something (if you can only think about something in one way, you don’t really understand it). There is only one cost to pluralization -- you need to teach fewer things and do so in more depth. And this runs against the belief that more is always better -- I like to say “less is sometimes more.”

In your book “The Unschooled Mind,” you mention that we learn more before we go to school than we learn in school. So how can we improve our education system to teach more?

So my goal is not to teach more, but to teach better and deeper. All the information we need is now available in a small, smart phone. What is not available there is how to think critically, how to debate, how to be creative, and most important, how to be moral and ethical. This is the topic of my book “Five Minds for the Future.”

We do learn much before we go to school and some of it is valuable. But lots of it is wrong. The academic disciplines, like science and history, often violate common sense, and you cannot learn to think like a physicist, or a biologist, or an economist, or a philosopher, unless you have a good education. Also, with few exceptions, individuals cannot learn to read, write and do simple mathematics unless they attend school. And so there is lots to do in school -- and one of the things that we have to do is to correct inaccurate or misleading ways of thinking, to which human beings are prone.

What is your interpretation of student-directed learning?

We know that no one learns anything unless they are actively involved in the process, think that it is important and practice that learning. In that sense, student-involved learning is essential. But there are many things that knowledgeable people (usually adults) know that most children don’t know, and it is foolish to think that students can always figure things out for themselves. It is a romantic notion which does not stand up to scrutiny. What adults should do is to provide some guidance and some modeling, but then remove the supports, the scaffolding, as quickly as possible.

How should we assess students in schools?

The best assessment is informal, regular, just in time feedback on what has been learned, and what needs more attention. Teachers and students should share this knowledge and figure out what are the best next steps. Any good professional relies on this kind of feedback. Frequent, high-stake testing is counterproductive. It’s like thinking that a sick patient will get better if you take his or her temperature a lot.

You have visited Turkey before. What can you suggest to Turkey in terms of its education system?
Having made only two brief trips to Turkey, I certainly don’t think that I am in a position to make suggestions that are specific for Turkey particularly. But I strongly recommend the book “Finnish Lessons” by Pasi Sahlberg. Finland is universally seen as a very effective educational system. Sahlberg does not say that one should copy Finland. But he issues a warning not simply to copy the systems in the United States and Britain. They make a lot of noise and carry their weight around ostentatiously, but they have not been particularly effective. And in many ways, Finland, which has done the opposite of the US and Britain has been very successful. So I would say -- try to learn from many positive models around the world, while at the same time decide what is most needed, and most specific, for Turkey in the second decade of the 21st century.

Monday, May 28, 2012

I, Steve

“I, Steve: Steve Jobs In His Own Words” is a book edited by George Beahm. The book consists of quotations from Steve Jobs’ speeches and interviews. I chose a few of them that I found important.
I will start with one of them that is sort of funny: “You don’t need to take notes. If it is important, you’ll remember it.” Some people take note of everything. I find it valuable; it is something like making a double entry in the brain. However, I follow the advice of Jobs.
Jobs describes Apple in his own words: “All we are is our ideas, our people.” In general, Apple is assumed to be a technology company; but, it is a company of ideas, the ideas of creative, imaginative people. It is a company of people who turn dreams into reality. So, the most important asset of every company is people. Steve Jobs says that recruiting the right people is the heart and soul of what he does. Steve Jobs uses very interesting metaphors: “…. I think death is the most wonderful invention of life. It purges the system of these old models that are obsolete.” In terms of social transformation, the systems can only change if people change. And sometimes if people do not change systems by themselves, other people start to wait for their death.
Steve says: “If the hardware is the brain and sinew of our products, the software in them is their soul.” This phrase is a compliment to Apple products and software; but at the same time, it makes you think about your brain and soul. The health and capacity of our brains are important; at the same time, the soul is important. We have to pay attention to protect both of them.
Steve Jobs never believed that art and science are ever separate. “Leonardo Da Vinci was a great artist and a great scientist. Michelangelo knew a tremendous amount about how to cut stone at the quarry.” Several times Steve Jobs says, “We want to make great products.” The word “great,” I think includes both art and science.
Steve Jobs doesn’t like Microsoft’s performance. He thinks that they have no taste. He thinks they succeed with third rate products. Their products are not admired. Steve Jobs always believes all businesses should have passion. He uses extraordinary metaphors to say it: “It is better to be a pirate than to join a navy.” He believes only passionate people can break the rules and create something new. Others can only obey the rules. “If you don’t have passion in what you’re doing, it’s really hard. So if you don’t love it, if you’re not having fun doing it, you really don’t love it, you’re going to give up.” Steve Jobs’ philosophy is always based on performance: “I get 50 cents a year for showing up … and the other 50 cents is based on my performance.” In his interviews, he always claims, payment should be based on performance and output. Steve Jobs always believed in simplicity: There’s very strong DNA within Apple and that’s about making it easy for people … people who don’t want to read manuals, people who live very busy lives. “I, Steve” is a book full of insights and any business person should read it.

Business Lessons from the Edge

 “Business Lessons from the Edge: Learn How Extreme Athletes Use Intelligent Risk-Taking to Succeed in Business” is an extraordinary business book by Jim McCormick and Maryann Karinch.
The book examines the approach of people who are both extreme athletes and business executives. The athlete-executives featured in this book push the normal limits of human performance and in the process face unpredictable circumstances. In both athletic and business realms, having the courage to face these challenges has brought them opportunities to achieve things that most people find impossible. According to the authors, the athlete-executives achieve success in ways that demonstrate universally applicable lessons.
The authors believe there is an increased potential for self-discovery when pushing your limits. A compelling reason to move out of your comfort zone on a regular basis is that you will always learn about yourself in new settings. It is a route to gaining self-insight and discovering how well you respond to adversity.
One of the athlete-executives examined in the book is Bob Gordon, who said he never met a mountain climber he didn’t like. Extreme sports like this bring extraordinary people together. The people who share this common interest also share mental assets and an emotional drive that bond them psychologically. Most of them are graduates of top business schools. So doing these extreme sports also provides good networking opportunities.
The ability to perform well under high stress provides an advantage in any environment. The dangerous activities and challenges pursued by the people featured in this book require quick decision making. By pushing themselves to the edge of endurance again and again, they force themselves to think under stress -- a skill that is quite useful when a great opportunity rises on your horizon or a problem develops in your company.
Most of these executives have been able to improve their self-control in intense situations. Regularly testing their limits provides frequent challenges to these athlete-executives and they become proficient in self-discipline.
These limit-testers do not, however, have completely identical personality types and analogous backgrounds, although they do share common traits. A desire to push one’s self may explain why someone gravitates to a particular athletic endeavor. This experience is also the reason why their businesses grow with unusual energy.
There is another ingredient to their success: a sense of purpose. These people tend to think they have a reason for being on this Earth.
According to the authors, “daredevil” and “extreme athlete” are not interchangeable terms. These athlete-executives are skilled in intelligent risk-taking. They are not simply adventurous; they are adventurers who control risk.
The lessons from the Edge fall into three primary categories: personal excellence, team leadership and team excellence. In conclusion, the authors call to their readers: “Climb your mountain. Sail across your sea. Run your race. Ride your bull. Aspire to be great in business and sport. The decision is yours.”

The E-Myth

“The E-Myth Revisited, Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It” is a revised version of the famous book “The E-Myth” by Michael Gerber.
 It is one of the best books in the field of entrepreneurship. I’ve just read the revised edition and think it is still valid and vital for entrepreneurs.
Gerber says entrepreneurs should work on their business, not in it. When an entrepreneur works in their business, they become a technician, a doer, a problem solver, but they also become a slave of that small business. They cannot change results radically. Instead of doing the daily tasks of whatever the business may be, such as cooking pies in a pastry shop, designing a project in the office or selling goods on the street, an entrepreneur should be working on the business model.
There are certain rules to be followed when working on a business model. The first rule: The model must provide consistent value to your customers, suppliers and lenders, beyond what they expect. The value is what people perceive it to be. The definition of value is different in each person’s mind. So, whoever the person is, the business model should provide value to that person, whether it is perfection, time, discount, easiness, speed or help.
The second rule: The model must be operated by people with the lowest possible skill level. This is against common belief. Gerber says that if your business model depends on highly skilled people, it will be very difficult to find new employees quickly that are capable of producing the kinds of goods or services your company makes without lowering their quality. Highly skilled people are highly sought after in the job market. By the lowest possible level of skill, Gerber is referring to the lowest possible level necessary to fulfill the function of the work. Gerber draws attention to the business model of McDonald’s, which sells its model just like it sells hamburgers worldwide. At McDonald’s all of the roles are very simple and even a primary school leaver can handle such work. So McDonald’s franchises can easily recruit people, it is an easy job; everybody can learn how to do it in a very short period of time.
The third rule: The model must stand out as being of impeccable order. In a world of chaos, most people crave order. People look for order. A business that looks orderly tells its customers that its people know what they are doing. A business that looks orderly says to its customers that they can trust in the results delivered and assures its people that they can trust in their future with the company.
The fourth rule: All work in the model must be documented in an operations manual. Documentation means “we know what and how we do it here.” Documentation provides your people with the structure they need and with a written account of how to “get the job done” in the most efficient and effective way.
The fifth rule: The model must provide a uniformly predictable service to the customer. While a business may look orderly, this is not sufficient. The business must also act orderly. It must do business in a predictable and uniform way. People look for consistency, and if the business is not consistent, it will result in disappointment.
The final rule: The model must have a uniform color, dress and facilities code. There are colors that work and colors that don’t. The colors must be scientifically determined and then used throughout the business model -- on the walls, the floors, the ceiling, the vehicles, the invoices, employee’s clothes, the displays and the signs. This is important because there needs to be consistency to form a corporate identity.
My final remarks are taken from the introduction of Gerber’s book. Gerber thinks that any business reflects who the entrepreneur is. If the entrepreneur is disorganized, the business will be disorganized. If the entrepreneur is greedy, the employees will be greedy. Therefore, if the entrepreneur’s business needs to change in order to thrive -- the entrepreneur must change first.

Born Entrepreneurs, Born Leaders

For years, I tended to deny or ignore the effect of genes in human behavior. I had an environmentalist view that said our behaviors were shaped by our experiences.
Today I still believe this, but with a slight change. Genes provide the starting points of behavior, create tendencies and increase the odds. “Born Entrepreneurs, Born Leaders: How Your Genes Affect Your Work Life” is a book by Scott Shane. Shane received a Ph.D. from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. His previous faculty appointments include the University of Maryland, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

In this book Shane argues that our DNA affects pretty much all aspects of behavior, from educational performance to job satisfaction to entrepreneurship. For example, numerous studies reported in his book have shown that genes account for a big portion of the difference between people in both intelligence and personality. More than half of the variance between people's scores on both IQ assessments and the OCEAN model of personality are genetic. The OCEAN model is also known as the Big Five model of personality. It is made up of the dimensions of openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism, which spell the acronym OCEAN.
The most straightforward way your genes influence your behavior is through direct physiological effects. For instance, you might be more likely than other people to be good at interior design because you have the variants of genes that control the production of brain cells responsible for spatial recognition. Another example is that serotonin levels influence how people feel physically in response to taking chances. As a result, some people might take riskier decisions than others, such as quitting a job without having another one lined up or buying speculative stocks, because they have a particular version of the genes that influence the amount of serotonin that their brains produce.
Genes that control the production of hormones such as testosterone also matter. Testosterone levels affect how much we want to dominate others; some of us might be less willing to work cooperatively as part of a project team because we have versions of genes that cause our bodies to produce higher levels of testosterone than other people who don't have those genetic variants.
Leadership is a good example of a genetic endowment that influences our behavior through its impacts on personality. Researchers have shown that self-confidence affects our chances of becoming a leader because leaders need to stick to their positions. But where does this self-confidence come from? While some of it comes from life experiences and parental upbringing, some of it comes from having a certain genetic composition.
One could easily think of parallels to this type of interaction between genetic variants and external factors in the business world. Some researchers, including Shane, believe that the most important way our genes affect our work life is in our interactions with environmental forces.
Suppose you were born with versions of certain genes that made you better than others at math. Your genetic gift would lead you to gravitate toward mathematics at school because you enjoyed the positive feedback that your parents and teachers provided when you did well in math. Your quantitative skills made you a good student and you went to college. At college you majored in finance, which you found easy. After graduation you started to work as a finance specialist for a multinational company. Twenty years later you became chief financial officer. Your overall business success was dependent on your genetic inheritance.
“Born Entrepreneurs, Born Leaders: How Your Genes Affect Your Work Life” is a book full of surprises about business life and the influences that genes have on it.

Six Degrees

In “Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age,” Associate Professor Duncan J. Watts from Columbia University explores the idea that everyone is on average approximately six steps away from any other person on earth.
In other words, we can easily reach a prime minister, an employer or a famous singer in six easy steps. In the last century, this concept became popular, along with other network theories. Even if everybody knows that the right people in our networks can solve every kind of problem, people have difficulty in reaching the right people in their lives. Watts, in his book, tries to uncover the rules by which networks grow, the patterns they form, and the way in which they drive collective behavior.
There are lessons for a connected age, Watts explains. First, the science of networks has shown that distance can be deceiving; two individuals on the opposite sides of the world, even with little in common, can be connected through a network in six steps. The explanation derives from the existence of social connections that span long distances, and from the fact that only a few such ties can have a big impact on the connectedness of the world. How viable are those “six degrees”? From the point of view of getting a job, information on location, or getting yourself invited to a party, anyone more distant than a friend of a friend is, for all intents and purposes, a stranger. We may be connected, but that doesn't make us any less foreign to each other. And this might be good, because we all have our own burdens to bear, and to deal with the burdens of distant others would be terrible. On the other hand, according to Duncan, we may all have our own burdens, but like it or not, we must bear each other's burdens as well because as it is almost inevitable that we do, at some point. An economic crisis or epidemic starts in one part of the network and proceeds through other parts and finally spreads throughout and affects the entire network. So the problem of a distant foreigner becomes our problem.
The second major lesson is that in connected systems, cause and effect are related in a complicated and often quite misleading way. Sometimes small shocks can have major implications and on other occasions even major shocks can be observed with remarkably little disruption. Duncan gives the example of the first Harry Potter book. Several publishers rejected J.K. Rowling's original manuscript. This is a simple cause and effect analysis. History, therefore, is an unreliable guide for predicting the future. We rely on it anyway because it seems like we have no other option. Duncan, on the other hand, says we might have another option -- not in predicting specific outcomes but for understanding the structure and mechanisms of these connected systems.
Today's social networks help people share resources and distribute loads, but they also transmit failure. They are, in short, both good and bad. Finally, Duncan claims the science of networks is really a new science, not one that belongs to a subset of any traditional scientific endeavor but one that crosses intellectual boundaries and draws on many disciplines at once.

The How to Happiness

Sonja Lyubomirsky from Stanford University wrote “The How of Happiness: A scientific approach to getting the life you want,” a book in which she refers to extraordinary research about happiness that was done in the early 2000s.
The research found two very surprising things. First, it discovered that happiness is heritable and extremely stable over the course of people’s lives, and second, that people have a remarkable capacity to become inured to positive changes in their lives. According to this research, while circumstances and intentional activities play a role in determining happiness, everyone has a set point for happiness, which is the main factor in determining how happy they are throughout their lives.
The set point for happiness is similar to the set point for weight. Some people are blessed with fast metabolisms and they easily maintain their weight even when they are not trying. By contrast, others have to work extraordinarily hard to keep their weight at a desirable level and the kilos creep back the moment they slack off even a bit. This finding about happiness implies that, like genes for intelligence or cholesterol, it is the magnitude of our innate set points -- that is, high (a six on a seven-point scale) or low (a two) or in between (a four) -- that governs to a large extent (about 50 percent, according to the study) how happy we will be over the course of our lives. This set point is determined by our genes.
The most counterintuitive finding is that about 10 percent of the variance in our happiness level is explained by differences in life circumstances or situations -- that is, whether we are rich or poor, healthy or unhealthy, beautiful or plain, married or divorced, and so on. If we could put all people into the same set of circumstances (the same house, the same spouse, the same place of birth, the same face, the same aches and pains), the differences in their happiness levels would be a mere 10 percent.
Besides our genes and the situations that we confront, there is one critical thing left: our behavior, which accounts for 40 percent of our happiness. Thus the key to happiness lies not in changing our genetic make up (which is impossible) or our circumstances (seeking wealth or attractiveness), but in our daily intentional activities. Our untapped potential for increasing our happiness is hidden in our intentional activities. Lyubomirsky systematically observed, compared and experimented on very happy and unhappy people. The thinking and behavior patterns of the happiest participants in her research are below:
The happiest participants in the studies devote a great amount of time to their family and friends, nurturing and enjoying those relationships. They are comfortable expressing gratitude for all they have. They are often the first to offer a helping hand to coworkers and passersby. They practice optimism when imagining their futures. They savor life’s pleasures and try to live in the present moment. They exercise weekly or even daily. They are deeply committed to lifelong goals and ambitions (such as fighting poverty or teaching their children their values).
Additionally, the happiest people do have their share of stresses, crises and even tragedies. They may become just as distressed and emotional in such circumstances as everybody else, but their secret weapon is the poise and strength they show in coping in the face of challenge.
Why be happy? According to a growing corpus of literature on psychology, becoming happier does not only make you feel good. It turns out that happiness brings with it multiple fringe benefits. Compared with their less happy peers, happier people are more sociable and energetic, more charitable and cooperative, and better liked by others. Not surprisingly then, happier people are more likely to get married and have richer networks of friends and social support. Furthermore, they show more flexibility and ingenuity in their thinking and more productivity in their jobs. They are more resilient in the face of hardship, have stronger immune systems and are physically healthier. Happy people even live longer.
Reading books about happiness or self-help makes people focus on the good things in life. This book does the same thing, so I suggest reading it.

The Time Paradox

Philip Zimbardo is a psychology professor who is famous for a prison experiment at Stanford University in 1971 in which he randomly assigned students in roles of either prisoners or guards in a mock prison.
He then observed the changes in their behaviors as ordinary college students increasingly transformed into cruel guards during the experiment. Zimbardo recently published his latest book about time and our reactions about time with one of his old research partners, John Boyd. “The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time that will Change Your Life” is not only a book about time, but it is a road map to revise our approaches to time.
There are three paradoxes about time: First, time is one of the most powerful influences on our thoughts, feelings and actions, yet we are usually totally unaware of the effect of time in our lives. Second, each specific attitude toward time -- time perspective -- is associated with numerous benefits, yet in excess each is associated with even greater costs. Third, individual attitudes toward time are learned through personal experience, yet collectively attitudes toward time influence national destinies.
Social psychologists John Darley and Dan Batson investigated how individual Princeton seminary students behaved in preparation for giving a speech on the parable of the good Samaritan. The students were told they needed to present a speech at studio across campus and would be evaluated by their supervisors. They were also told that either, (a) He was already late for speech, or (b) he had plenty of time to get to the studio before the speech. Each student while walking to presentation studio encountered a person slumped and coughing in an alleyway, obviously in need of help. Unknown to the student, this person was an accomplice of the experimenters. As there were no other people nearby, the students are faced with a choice between helping a stranger in distress or passing him by to fulfill the obligation to give a speech. Note that the speech is about the importance of being a good Samaritan. The majority of students who believe they had plenty of time stopped and helped. Remarkably, 90 percent of students who are late passed him by. Darley and Batson’s seminal research demonstrates that time perspective changes people’s behavior.
In another study, Robert Levine and his research teams visited cities and measured walking speeds, clock accuracy and the tempo of basic business transactions, such as buying stamps at the post office. Using these metrics, Levine calculated the pace of life in dozens of cities around the world. Western European countries lead the world in the rapid pace of life, with Switzerland at the top of the list. Japan is also high on the index. Second world countries are found predominantly at the bottom of the list. Of the 31 countries measured, Mexico has the slowest pace of life. As this research shows, time perception might be a nationalistic or a regional characteristic.
Zimbardo and Boyd, in their book, say that people tend to develop and overuse a particular time perspective -- for example, focusing on the future, the present or the past. Future oriented people tend to be more successful professionally and academically, eat well, exercise regularly and schedule preventive doctor’s exams. Individuals such as the late seminarians in the Darley and Batson study and individuals who live in fast-paced communities are likely to be future oriented and so are less willing to devote their time to altruistic pursuits.
In contrast, people who are predominantly present-oriented tend to be willing to help others but appear less willing or able to help themselves. In general present-oriented people are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior, gamble and use drugs and alcohol than future-oriented people.
For some of the people whose primary time perspective is past, the past is filled with positive memories of family rituals, successes and pleasures. For others, the past is filled with negative memories, a museum of torments, failures and regrets.
These divergent attitudes toward time play dramatic roles in daily decisions because they become binding frames of reference.
This book is a must-read, a book that will help self-discovery.

Change Anything

“Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success” by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler is a self-help book.
Most of the self-help books have a similar structure; “Have a vision,” “Be positive,” “Work a lot” and “Be Successful.” This one does not. It is practical and pragmatic.
The main theme of the book is personal change. The authors researched the people who have realized a change in their lives. In this book, the authors formulate the secrets to that change. Before the formula, however, they underline that there is no off-the-shelf answers to our one-of-a-kind challenges. We are unique. Together with this, the plan for change should be unique or, in other words, the plan should be personalized.
The authors describe their formula as the six sources of influence.
The first one is “Love what you hate.” A change is usually difficult because there is always something that people don’t like to do, studying, for example. A lot of students want to be able to study to improve their grades in school. However, they do things irrelevant to school. Studying is simply boring for them. If they don’t change this mental map, they cannot study. It is the same for losing weight. A lot of people prefer to consume more meat and carbohydrates, which are high in calories, and consume fewer vegetables. This way they cannot lose weight. They have to love vegetables.
The second source of influence is “Do what you can’t.” We may not be able to do something; however, it is not because of our character, but because we lack a certain skill. We can develop a skill in order to do what we were unable to do in the past.
The third and fourth sources of influence are the same: “Make friends out of your accomplices.” The authors make a very good point here. Good and bad habits are a team effort -- they require lots of accomplices to get started and to be sustained. If you love fast food, you surely have friends who love fast food just like you do. If you don’t like to study, you surely have friends who don’t like to study as well. We have to change our friends. Our new friends should be the kind of people who actually practice what we want to do. And we have to limit the time we share with our old friends who support our old ways and bad habits.
The fifth source of influence is “Invert the economy.” A lot of people do not think about the consequences of bad habits. Take fast food, for instance. It is the cheapest food available in most countries. Consuming fast food may look like it is a form of saving; however, in the long run, if you consider the health expenditures of fast food, it is quite costly. Because of high cholesterol and fat you may have plenty of health problems that cannot be easily overcome. Not studying does not cost the individual money right away, but academic success as a result of studying might generate a lot of money. A Harvard graduate can start at $200,000 a year.
The sixth source of influence is “Control the space.” Our environment controls us. If you are surrounded by bad food, you will definitely consume bad food. Too many snacks available in your office means you eat them. If there is a TV, game console or a DVD player around, you will surely use all these technological devices and thus spend your valuable time in doing so. However, if the only foods available are fruits and vegetables, you eat them. There is a simple cause and effect relationship. If you want to control your life, you have to take control of your surroundings. Your environment may be an ally rather than an enemy. This book might help anyone learn to have an effective plan for change in order to achieve success in his/her career, in losing weight, recovering from an addiction or in making a new start in a relationship.


Luke Williams’ first book “Disrupt: Think the Unthinkable to Spark Transformation in Your Business” disrupts its readers. He starts with a criticism. “The old mantra, ‘differentiate, or die,’ is no longer relevant.” He means a lot of companies try to differentiate; however what they do is only superficial novelty.

As a consultant and professor of innovation, Williams has broad experience in the field of creativity and innovation. In his book, he provides a roadmap for creative innovation that really disrupts. The concept of “disruption and disruptive technologies” was first introduced by Clayton Christensen in his book “Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book that will Change the Way You Do Business.” He talked about disruptive technologies that make radical change. Williams says not only in the field of technology but in every field organizations have to do something radical. There are five stages of disruptive thinking.
The first stage is crafting a disruptive hypothesis. He simply says: “Be wrong at the start to be right at the end.” In my seminars, I used to tell that creativity is doing something irrational and then making it rational. Williams suggests using a hypothesis. In simple terms a hypothesis is the fill in the blanks part of a question, “I wonder what would happen if we ……………………. .” For example, “What would happen if we sold socks in sets of three where none of them match?” This question is answered by Little Miss Match. In the video rental business, the question changes: “What would happen if we didn’t charge late fees?” The answer is given by American video rental company: Netflix. A disruptive hypothesis is an intentionally unreasonable statement that gets your thinking flowing in a different direction. The people should find out the clichés of one field and disrupt them. In video game industry, the introduction “kinect” a special device that senses your motions, you play the game, no joysticks, no cables, nothing is between you and the game.
The second stage is discovering a disruptive opportunity. It is about exploring the least obvious. In corporate world, the consumer research is usual, but when it is about discovering a hidden opportunity it is not very functional. People do not give realistic answers about non-existing products. If you ask people, do you buy three single socks none of which match, they answer “Are you crazy?” Apple company, instead of doing customer research use its stores as a laboratory. In traditional computer stores, everything is in a box and you can’t touch anything. But in Apple Store’s hundreds of iPads or Macbooks are on table and you can experience the product freely. Apple marketing staff can easily watch the customers in stores what they do, what they use, and how they use. Some of the customers are like me, who become addicted to Apple products and have lots of things to say about nonexisting features or products.
The third stage is generating a disruptive idea. Opportunity is not the idea; it is an empty space you can use; but you have to find out what you are going to put into this space; and that is the idea. The cars are traditionally for transportation. The disruptive opportunity about the cars is for entertainment of families. The idea is integrated DVD players especially in back seats for children.
The fourth stage is shaping a disruptive solution. This stage needs a practical and feasible solution. There are millions of good ideas; but a few solutions. Because solutions are always feasible, practical and applicable. The prototypes are good for this stage. The prototypes are like dresses of ideas. You can see if one idea works or not. You can easily understand if it is ergonomic, functional, desirable, elegant or not.
The fifth stage is making a disruptive pitch. Disruptive solutions are big problems to sell. Because they are disruptive. Before the customers the people in one company will be against a disruptive solution. Because as the disruptive solution means it is against tradition and clichés in one business. The author suggests preparing a nine minute pitch that take audience to a thought phase “Hey, this is a great idea! How do we implement it?” Williams’ book is one with which you can embrace different disruptive ideas.

Poke the Box

Seth Godin, a man with an interesting mind who wrote several books, including “Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable”, “The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)” and “Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers” has just published a new book: “Poke the Box”.

When I saw the title, the author’s name, and read a few comments about the book, I knew I wanted to read it. I was not sure if I could find this book in a bookstore because it has no title on the cover -- just a drawing of a man in a hurry -- so I decided to purchase it from Amazon.com. When you see the cover it sparks your curiosity, prompting you to open it or “poke the box”.
Children and adults exhibit different behaviors. When children see a closed box, they poke it and play with it until it opens or shows some function. In comparison, adults will leave the box untouched. Ordinary people only follow the orders; they don’t take initiative in their businesses or their own lives.
Godin categorizes investment capital into six types. Financial capital is the money itself that can be put into a project. Network capital is the people you know and business connections you make with others. Intellectual capital describes the smart, talented people, the software, the expertise, and the systems belonging to a company. Physical capital can be the plant and machinery, trucks, or other tools of a business. Prestige capital is the reputation of the founders. These are the first five types of capital, but the last one is the most important. Instigation capital is the desire to move forward, the marching power that makes the other five types of capital work in harmony. The founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama, once said, “There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth: not going all the way, and not starting.” Godin, in his book, emphasizes two things about instigation capital.
The first point is starting. We have to start something new in our personal or professional lives. We should not be afraid of risks, because in a constantly changing world, doing nothing is a bigger risk than doing something. We will never know our possibilities if we do nothing. Take for example the successful company Google: they are always trying. They have experimented with many different products, with only a few being successful. They tried “google.docs”; some people use it, but not many. If you search Wikipedia for a full list of Google projects, you will be shocked when it seems to never end. From this we can understand one thing. As Godin mentions, the successful ones are not the people who nap but those who struggle all the time.
The second part to instigation capital is to keep it up. In the case of rejection, most people give up. This is not so with children; no matter what, they keep on poking. Godin says people should make planned attempts. So, if you plan to send 100 job application letters, receiving 20 rejections should not stop you. You should continue applying.
Godin left us with an excellent metaphor about juggling: “Juggling is about throwing, not catching. That’s why it’s so difficult to learn how to juggle. We’re conditioned to make the catch, to hurdle whatever is in our way to save the day, to -- no matter what -- not drop the ball.” Paradoxically, if you get better at throwing, the catches take care of themselves. So, throw the ball. Poke the box. Take action in your life, for your company, and for the world.


Guy Kawasaki is one of the most interesting figures in entrepreneurship literature. His first books were “How to Drive Your Competition Crazy” and “Rules for Revolutionaries.”

These books contain very unusual business stories and examples as well as great insights for readers. His latest book, “Enchantment,” is about “influence management,” or the concept of personal marketing, which is becoming more popular of late. Kawasaki claims that personal marketing isn’t manipulative, but rather “transforms” situations and relationships. It changes skeptics and cynics into believers and the undecided into loyal customers, while converting hostility into civility and civility into affinity. Below is an example from the book.
Karin Muller, a filmmaker and author, served in the Peace Corps from 1987 to 1989, digging wells and building schools in a village in the Philippines. One night, seventeen members of the New People’s Army came to her hut to interrogate her. Earlier that day, villagers had warned her that this was going to happen, so she collected two things that were precious commodities in the village: sugar and coffee.
When the soldiers arrived; she exclaimed, “Thank God you’re here! I’ve been waiting all day. Please have some coffee. Leave your guns at the door.” Her reaction baffled the leader of the group, but he took off his gun and sat down for a cup of coffee. She thus avoided a serious interrogation or worse because, according to Muller, “You can’t interrogate someone you’re having coffee with.” Muller did not react with anger, indignation, or panic. Instead, she touched the emotions of the group’s leader and transformed the situation from one of potential brute force and intimidation to conversation and communication. She delighted him with her unexpected hospitality and changed his heart, his mind, and his actions. In short, she enchanted him.
Throughout his book Kawasaki gives examples of how to influence people in many different ways. From personal communication to performance on the stage, from slogans to twitter messages, he gives many useful tips. For years, I have been talking and writing about how to successfully apply for a job. In order to be noticed, a job applicant should find an original way to introduce him- or herself. It might be a resumé in a bottle, resumé as a video recording on YouTube, or a resumé printed on a cake. More important than having an extraordinary way of introducing yourself, however, is being a truly extraordinary person. In the case of Karin Muller, she found an extraordinary way of communicating with the soldiers who come to interrogate her, but don’t forget that to begin with she was a person who had volunteered to dig wells and build schools in the Phillipines. So, in order to “enchant” people, you should have a great product or idea.
Luckily for readers, not only tips for success in communication, but also a formula for ensuring a great product, service or business idea is provided in “Enchantment.” According to Kawasaki, a product, service or idea should be “deep, intelligent, complete, empowering, and elegant”. A business idea should be deep as Google is. From Gmail to AdWords, Google is a one-stop source for the online needs of its users. An idea should be intelligent as a piece of computer software, website, which recognizes the user and employs their personal settings automatically without asking them to fill in a redundant form. It should be complete like an Apple iPad. With an iPad you don’t need a separate computer, e-book reader and virus program, the iPad completely solves your information needs. An idea should be as empowering as Google Maps. With Google Maps, everybody becomes an expert in local cities and roads without the old-fashioned investment of time in learning them first-hand: anyone can find anything. An idea should be as elegant as a traditional book. It is light, its organization makes it easy to find information, it doesn’t require electricity and you can take notes on it. It is elegant and beautiful.
I would love to quote some of Kawasaki’s tips from “Enchantment,” but it would be better for you to read the book. It makes you think about what you can do to create your own “enchanting” effect on the world around you. At least, it did for me.

What's Mine is Yours

“What’s Mine is Yours / The Rise of Collaborative Consumption” is a groundbreaking book by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers. People around the world now do much more sharing, bartering, lending, trading, gifting and swapping than they used in the past.

One sharing system is in place at laundromats. Instead of owning a washing machine, people use a common washing machine. Today we have much and more complex sharing systems. People sell stuff on craigslist and eBay, swap books, DVDs and games on such shopping portals as Swaptree and Ourswaps, and give unwanted items away on Freecycle and ReUseIt.
People in Paris, Brussels and Vienna ride bicycles provided by the local government. People upload content to Slideshare, Flickr, Facebook and Youtube. They share what they produce or what they find important or funny. Limewire (music sharing) is another example of collaborative exchange and consumption.
In this book the authors have organized the thousands of examples of collaborative consumption into three systems: product service systems, redistribution markets and collaborative lifestyles. The new ways of collaborative exchange and consumption are shaking up the outdated modes of business and changing not only what we consume but how we consume. Collaborative consumption also certain goods, for example books, to be used more than once. By swapping, a book can be read by an unlimited number of people, a car can be used by several people, a song can be listened to unlimited times.
The most familiar system is the product service systems. The typical examples are a laundromat or a rental car. Without owning the product, we get the benefit of it. In individual private ownership, we own only one model, but in a product service system, we have many options of cars, houses or washing machines.
The second system is redistribution markets. Social networks enable used goods to be redistributed from where they are not needed to somewhere or someone where they are.
The second type of collaborative consumption is redistribution markets. In some instances, the marketplace is based on entirely free exchanges (freecycles, kashless, around again).
Collaborative lifestyle is the third system. It is not only physical goods such as cars, bikes and used goods that can be shared, swapped and bartered. People with similar interests are banding together to share and exchange less tangible assets such as time and skills, what the authors call collaborative lifestyles. These exchanges are happening on a local level and include shared systems for working spaces (Citizen Space, Hub Culture), goods, (Neighborrow), tasks, time and errands (DaveZillion, Ithaca HOURs), gardens (Urban Gardenshare, Landshare) and skills (Brooklyn Skillshare).
There are four principles of collaborative consumption. The first principle is that there should be critical mass. There must be enough choice that the consumer feels satisfied with what is available. For a bike-sharing system, there should be a minimum of 3,000 bikes to make the system work. The second principle is social proof. People should see the 3,000 bikes and realize that there is a bike-sharing system. The third principle is the belief in commons. People should believe that using and protecting common goods is good. The Internet is the most common resource we use. Nobody owns the Internet, but everybody shares it. The fourth principle is trust between strangers. The collaborative systems are only possible when people trust strangers. In order to sublet your house, you have to trust the people who want to rent your house.
“What’s Mine is Yours” is an interesting book that may help social entrepreneurs, NGOs and local governments.

Borrowing Brilliance

“Borrowing Brilliance: The Six Steps to Business Innovation by Building on the Ideas of Others” is an extraordinary book about innovation, because its author, Dave Murray, claims that brilliance is borrowed.
He believes that ideas are constructed out of other ideas and there are no truly original thoughts. According to him you cannot make something out of nothing so you have to make it out of something else. That is why Murray says brilliance is borrowed.
For Murray, there are six steps in the process of innovation. He calls the first three of those steps the “origin of a creative idea,” because, he says, we find an idea through those three first steps. Step one is defining a problem. Murray thinks that the definition of a problem is the most important phase, because defining something provides a view of it. You may describe mountain climbing as being either a difficult task or limitless fun. According to Murray, some people define some problems very narrowly, whereas some others may define the problem from a very broad perspective. According to the author, we have to identify as many problems as possible using tools like observation and then sort problems from “high level” to “low level.”
Step two is borrowing. This is the step for which the book is named. Murray suggests that it is good to borrow ideas from individuals or organizations that have a problem similar to yours. If your company has a distribution problem in an undeveloped country, some other companies may be suffering from the same problem as well. So, you can evaluate their solutions and borrow some of their ideas. Murray places an emphasis on the importance of similar cases. Your competitors can in fact offer the insight you may need when seeking solutions to your own problems. If you cannot find ideas in this way, then Murray suggests examining another industry, and finally looking outside business, to the sciences, arts or entertainment, to see how similar or analogous problems may have been solved in those fields.
Murray’s third step is combining. This is the creative stage. According to Murray, making combinations is the essence of creativity. So, using borrowed materials from the last step, find an appropriate metaphor to structure the model of your new idea. This is an important process. For example, you could borrow a check-in procedure from the airline industry to improve your university registration process. Registration could be done online or in person, but since the specific considerations are different, e.g. luggage is not a concern in the university registration process, you will need to adapt it. Where it is convenient, some parts of the metaphor should be extended or discarded.
The author calls the final three steps “the evolution of a creative idea,” because in these steps, the original idea becomes something different that fits the specific organization using it. Step four is incubation. Incubation is one of the strongest tools of creativity. The effort of combining ideas opens space for incubation. Creativity based on incubation is a process over which one doesn’t have any control, because much of the work is done by the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is in no hurry, and it always requires surface (conscious) hard work, before it starts to speak. Techniques like sleeping on an idea, putting it on pause, putting it away for a while, and listening for misunderstandings may help. In other words, often the most effective thinking is not thinking at all or letting the mind flow.
Step five is judging. In creative processes, more than one possible solution may arise. So one important step is to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the solutions. Judgment is the result of viewpoint. Anything which you find good or bad depends on your point of view. Intuition is the result of judgment. This judgment process leads to creative intuition: an idea that has positive traits and a minimum of negative traits. The final step is enhancing. In the enhancement process, the author suggests eliminating the weak points while enhancing the strong ones. Ideas evolve through trial and error adjustments. The rule of “survival of the fittest” holds sway. The author believes in refining every idea. So in the end, we have to re-define, re-borrow, re-combine, re-incubate and re-judge it all.

Join the Club

Tina Rosenberg’s “Join the Club: How Peer Pressure Can Transform the World” is an interesting book.
No one would dispute the power of peer pressure to modify behavior. Along with genetics, peer pressure is probably the most important influence on who we are. Smoking, drugs and some other addictions mostly start with peer pressure. The conventional wisdom used to be that the way parents raise their children is what is key. Certainly parents like to think so. However, once parents have passed along the genes, they have very little influence over their children, except to choose their child’s peer group. That peer group is what shapes us.
What is surprising is not the importance of peers, but how little we use this extremely significant fact. The term peer pressure usually carries negative connotations. People associate it with teens trying drugs and seemingly grown-up families falling into dept to keep up with their neighbors. The purpose of the book “Join the Club” is to argue that peer pressure can be equally powerful when used for good, and to show how it is done.
Identification with a new peer group can change people’s behavior. The social cure does this in a wide variety of situations. It works well with teenagers -- the group most likely to be taking these kinds of behavioral risks and, not coincidentally, the group most responsive to peer pressure. But it also works with adults. It is applicable in many different spheres of life, at all different levels of class and economic development. The social cure is a natural solution to help people take care of their own health, to encourage them to accomplish the difficult task of abstaining from cigarettes, alcohol and drugs as well as losing weight, doing exercise and following doctor’s orders. But it also has been successfully applied to problems in fields as diverse as political change, university education, organized religion, criminal justice, economic development in poor countries and the art of war.
While many of the stories in the book are relatively recent, emerging even in the past decade, the phenomenon is hardly new. The best-known example of the social cure is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), which works by regularly gathering a small number of people with the common goal of sobriety. They reinforce in each other a new pattern of behavior and a new identity. AA was born in the 1930s, but the social cure as an idea is much older. It has existed as long as war has. Armies run on cohesion. For a young man with his life before him, leaving the relative safety of the foxhole to run into enemy fire -- often in the service of an impersonal cause -- is unnatural behavior. He does it for his buddies and because his buddies’ esteem reinforces his own identity as a brave soldier. Every good military commander exploits this phenomenon.
For centuries, organized religions have relied on the idea that your relationship with God is deepened when you are also in a relationship with others. Hence, Jesus’ fellowship with his disciples and the Jewish law that at least 10 men are needed for public worship are an example of such a relationship.
The social cure has been employed by big organizations purposefully searching for a new way to solve a chronic problem. “loveLife” is South Africa’s largest national HIV prevention initiative for young people committed to reducing the prevalence of HIV/AIDS through youth development. The methods of peer pressure were employed in loveLife as well.
These stories, which form the basis of the book, show how the social cure’s various creators invented it and fought for it, how they applied it and defended it against challenges, and how the social cure might work with other problems.

Self-Promotion for Introverts

“Self-Promotion for Introverts: The Quiet Guide to Getting Ahead” by Nancy Ancowitz is a practical book dealing with a common problem.
Throughout my life, I have observed that unqualified people with good marketing skills are assigned to higher positions. In general, people who are better at self promotion get promoted. Ancowitz brings a distinctive approach to the issue. According to her, extroverted people are more comfortable with self-promotion; introverts, however, are silent marketers who cannot speak aloud. Ancowitz wrote this book specifically for introverts, but anyone, including extroverts, can benefit from it.
According to the author, self-promotion is a way of connecting with others, building your network, offering your knowledge and creating an opportunity for recognition.
In the first chapter, she examines the effects of negative self-talk. She believes that most introverts focus on their deficiencies and naturally reflect these deficiencies back into their relationships. Perfectionism is another problem for introverts. With their high standards, they always think they are not performing highly enough, and they perceive themselves to be poor performers. This mindset keeps them behind the scenes; they can never find power to get on the stage.
In the following chapter, she focuses on people’s strengths. An introvert, in general, does not know much about his/her strengths because of the focus on his/her weaknesses. She suggests that an introvert should discover his/her strengths, and the best way to discover these is through asking other people.
In chapter three, Ancowitz says she believes it is much better to set goals and targets, but with an achievable plan. Introverts should break their plan down into smaller steps. This plan should include a marketing mix or a combination of self-promotional activities like blogs, newsletters and letters to editors of publications. Public-speaking events are also important. Creating training programs for adults is a great tool for self-promotion. All of these tools may help to reflect the individual’s strengths.
In the fourth chapter, Ancowitz tries to put reader in the shoes of his/her boss, prospective clients or other partners. Empathy is so important; a person who empathizes can really understand how another person gives value and interact accordingly. Being aware of what does and doesn’t work with your boss is a starting point in self-promotion.
In the fifth chapter, she explores the theme of promoting oneself in the spirit of helping others. Social networks are bridges for exchanging help, support, information and opportunities. Creating and sustaining a relationship is very important in self-promotion.
Ancowitz, a consultant by profession, writes about the importance of giving presentations. If networking is one-to-one marketing, public speaking is mass marketing. First one polishes one’s brand vertically and then horizontally. Giving presentations helps an individual reach many people at a time.
Ancowitz believes that everyone is gifted. Everyone has something they can do better than the rest of pack.

The Flight of the Creative Class

Richard Florida’s “The Flight of the Creative Class: The New Global Competition for Talent” is a thought-provoking book.
Florida discusses global competition, which was once a contest between countries, and now belongs to cities. In today’s world cities are in competition in terms innovation and creativity.
A similar article titled “The World is Spiky” presents Florida’s understanding of global competition with four world maps that help to show a new perspective regarding the production of ideas. The first map shows the distribution of populations; nothing is new on this map. Most of us already know that people live in coastal areas and the most crowded countries are China and India. The second map is much more interesting, it shows artificial light emissions as a proxy for economic activity. Certain parts of the world are full of light and other parts are pitch black. When we compare the first two maps, the distributions of populations and lights have little in common. Some cities in the US, Japan, Korea and Europe are full of light, but the remaining lands are generally dark. Cities with 24 hours of production and consumption are bright with light, as in New York and Boston.
The third map shows the distribution of patent filings. This map is different; we can see that most of the patents were filed in cities such as New York, Boston, Stanford, London, Berlin, Tokyo and Seoul. Florida argues that patent filings directly correlate with the level of creativity and innovation in a city. The final map shows the locations that produce the scientific articles which are most frequently cited in the indices of academic journals. Florida explains that “the world is spiky,” meaning that the most important aspects of competition are not diffused, but concentrated in the major cities of the world. Florida has reflected this concentration in a new type of graphic illustration, which is spiky.
Using a sort of topographical map, Florida divides the world into three categories. Peaks are the cities that generate innovations, hills are “the industrial and service centers that produce mature products and support innovation centers” and valleys are “places with little connection to the global economy and few immediate prospects.”
The map showing citations of scientific articles displays a dramatic disparity between the centers of innovation and the regions of stagnation. Florida explains that when it comes to economic output, the 10 largest US metropolitan areas combined are third on the list, behind only the United States as a whole and Japan. New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston have a bigger economy than all of China. If American metropolitan areas were countries, they would make up 47 of the biggest 100 economies in the world.
So today’s world cities, not countries, are in competition. Magnet cities -- such as New York, Boston, London, Tokyo and others -- attract talented people. In “The Future of Management” Gary Hamel explains the free-form structure of these cities: “In progressive cities, aptitude counts for more than provenance, and today’s dropouts, misfits, and goofballs may well be tomorrow’s media mavens, property kingpins, and cultural icons. Cities are filled with people on the make, scrambling up and skidding down the slippery slope of fame and fortune. …. In cities, elastic social conventions and permeable hierarchies create space for personal growth and reinvention.”
Robert Parck, a pioneer in the field of sociology, said in the 1920s: “In a small community, it is the normal man, the without eccentricity or genius, who seems most likely to succeed. The small community often tolerates eccentricity. The city, on the contrary, rewards it.”
There are some cities like New York, Boston and İstanbul that provide space for creativity, eccentricity and innovation. In tomorrow’s world the cities that are supportive of creative and talented people will be the winners.

The Wisdom of Crowds

 “The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations” is a book by James Surowiecki.
He is a staff writer at The New Yorker, where he writes a business column. His articles are also published in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
The book starts with an extraordinary case. In 1906 famous statistics specialist Professor Francis Galton visited the Annual West of England Stock and Poultry Exhibition. In this fair there was a weight judging contest. A fat ox had been selected and placed on display and members of a crowd were lining up to place wagers on the weight of the ox. Eight hundred people tried their luck. All the guesses were averaged at the end of the contest, and the total came to 543 kilograms. After the ox had been slaughtered, it weighted 543 kilograms. This was really surprising because 800 different people from different backgrounds had made guesses and none of them were successful in making an exact guess. Thus, their collective mind was much better than their individual minds.
The second case is much more impressive. In May 1968, the US Submarine Scorpion disappeared after a tour in the North Atlantic. Although the navy knew the last reported location, it did not know its current location. The experts worked on the problem, but each of them calculated a different spot. The naval officer John Craven had a different plan. Instead of scanning the suggested spots, Craven calculated the geometric average of suggested spots, in other words, the middle of seven different suggested spots. In the end, the submarine was found at the spot that was the geometric average. Again the collective mind of specialists was much better than their individual minds.
In the popular TV show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” experts offered the right answer under pressure almost 65 percent of the time, but the random crowds of people picked the right answer 91 percent of the time.
On Jan. 28, 1986 the space shuttle Challenger exploded 74 seconds after take-off. Within minutes the shares of four contractors began to drop on the stock exchange. These contractors were Morton Thiokol, Lockheed Martin, Marietta and Rockwell. No one knew who was responsible for the disaster, but investors started to punish the contractors. The shuttle was so badly damaged that it was next to impossible to find out the real reason behind the explosion. In a few days, the share prices of three of the contractors returned to normal, but Morton Thiokol’s stock was hit hard for months. After a long investigation, one defective mechanical piece manufactured by Morton Thiokol was listed as the cause of the explosion.
What we understand from these examples is that crowds are wiser than individuals. However, there is a problem; our decision-making systems are generally based on individuals. The CEOs, the prime ministers, medical doctors and specialists generally make their decisions individually. But we need the wisdom of the crowds; and somehow we have to put the minds of the crowds into the decision-making process. According to Surowiecki, there are four characteristics of wise crowds: diversity of opinion, independence, decentralization and aggregation. First, each person should have some private information. When the input is the same, the output will be the same. Second, people’s opinions are not to be dominated by the opinions of others. Otherwise there will be no independent opinions. Third, decentralization is important; people should be able to specialize and draw on local knowledge, as this will provide diversity in opinions. Finally, aggregation is necessary. Like the stock exchange, some mechanisms are necessary to turn private judgments into a collective decision.
Under the right circumstances, groups are remarkably intelligent, and are often smarter than the smartest people in them. Groups do not need to be dominated by exceptionally intelligent people in order to be smart. Even if most of the people within a group are not especially well-informed or rational, the group can still reach a collectively wise decision.