simplify (more is more, but less is better)

work smarter

“People tend to view simplicity and complexity as opposites. But this isn’t strictly true. The enemy of simplicity isn’t complexity, but disorder. And the enemy of complexity is also disorder. While complexity seeks order through addition, simplicity seeks it through subtraction.

A goal of design is to drive out disorder by maximizing both simplicity and complexity. In most designed products, what we respond to best is a rich, layered experience (complexity) combined with ease of use, ease of understanding, or ease of purchase (simplicity).

Most people have a built-in bias towards addition instead of subtraction. For some reason, the concept of “more” comes naturally to us. Yet the innovator knows that the value of any design doesn’t lie in how much is piled on, but how much is discarded. More is more, but less is better.

Here are seven ways to simplify your work:

1_Test elements by removing them one by one. A design should have no unnecessary parts or gratuitous elements. See if subtracting an element will hurt the overall design. If it doesn’t, remove it.

2_Discard needless features. More is not always better. Build your design around one or two main features and keep the others secondary.

3_Kill vampire elements. Make sure none of the elements is contradicting a more important one, or drawing attention from the main idea.

4_Place elements in a logical sequence. Try numbering the elements to give them a sense of order. Put them into a line, a series, or a timebased sequence.

5_Group items into buckets. If the purpose of the design calls for a large number of elements, group them by use, meaning, size, or other organizing principle.

6_Hide complexity behind a simple interface. Help people navigate complexity by giving them intuitive controls. For example, the electrical grid is complicated, but a light switch makes it easy to use.

7_Align elements behind a single purpose. When all the elements support a simple purpose, the whole design will appear simple.

Works of genius are rarely complicated on the surface. You can describe their greatness in a single sentence, and even embellish them slightly without destroying their simplicity. Such is the power of subtraction. As you learn to simplify, you’ll discover that the best design tool is a long eraser with a pencil at one end.”

Rule #24 from ‘The 46 Rules of Genius’ by Marty Neumeier director of transformation at Liquid Agency

schedule your life, too

improve yourself

“Looking for work-life balance?
Reserve personal time in your schedule for activities that allow you to recharge and that add value, such as daily exercise, a weekly date or social night, family activities and vacation. You will not only have something to look forward to, but by reserving personal time you will have extra motivation to manage your time well so you do not have to cancel on others —or yourself!”

Doug Bend Bend Law Group

9 strategies for becoming the best CEO you can be

work smarter

“Learning to be a better CEO is key for entrepreneurs who don’t set off to be managers and have fallen into the role by virtue of their own creation. Below are the top nine lessons from Xenios Thrasyvoulou, founder and CEO at PeoplePerHour.

1_Learn to ask what’s important. Learn to have three major priorities at any one time. Sure, you will always have a backlog of little things. But don’t become a victim of your to-do list. Develop daily amnesia — ask yourself what is most important every day.

2_Focus on stakeholder value. It’s easy to get too absorbed in your deep passion for what you do and lose sight of what you are there to do as CEO: drive stakeholder value. Create value for your customers, value for your team and value for your shareholders.

3_Tell stories. The best way to get your message across is through storytelling. Don’t use buzzwords, geek talk and heavy corporate language. Keep it human, light and humorous. You need to charm you team, your customers, your shareholders. People relate to stories, not buzzwords.

4_Have a deep sense of purpose. Ask yourself: if your business disappeared tomorrow, would it really matter? To whom? And why? Make a difference to the world.

5_Be the gatekeeper. Don’t confuse delegation with gatekeeping. You need to be the ultimate gatekeeper in your company — you are the one defining and setting the standard. People will push you to compromise your standards for the sake of moving faster or for more freedom. Don’t be tricked and stay true to yourself.

6_Set high goals. Don’t start small. Your team members will often tell you to to “start small.” If you start small you stay small! Start big and set big bold goals. If you set the goalpost low, you will be good at best. Stretch staff beyond their limits. They may complain that you expect too much, but in the end they will thank you for it. There is no greater reward then helping your employees achieve what they thought was unachievable.

7_Self-reflect and step up. Don’t confuse confidence with self-reflection. Great CEOs are very self-reflective and demanding of themselves. Don’t doubt yourself in front of your team. Doubt yourself when you go home and look in the mirror. Figure out what your team needs from you. If you’re not stepping up every day, you will remain stagnant.

8_Serve others. Your job as a CEO is to serve others more than they serve you. Stop thinking about what you need from people and ask them what they need from you. Figure out what your customers need, what your team needs, and what your shareholders need. Then help them make it happen.

9_Develop a thick skin. Being CEO of a business – especially if you are the founder – is an emotional roller coaster. You will have some very low moments. Don’t let the emotional pressure break you. People will read you better than you think, and if they smell vulnerability and weakness, you wield less power.”

Vía StartupCollective

 

10 tips for an awesome coffee meeting

work smarter

“The coffee meeting is the Swiss Army knife of networking. It’s a low-risk way to meet new people, swap advice, and lay the foundation for a more substantial relationship. You only have to remember one guiding principle: never, ever waste the other person’s time. Here’s how to be the best coffee meeting participant around.

1_Be clear when asking for the meeting
When you email your potential coffee meeting participant, don’t simply ask to “pick their brain” or “see if there’s any potential” in you getting to know each other. Those phrases usually show that you only have a vague idea of what you’d like to talk about. Instead, introduce yourself, show that you have specific knowledge of the person’s work, offer why you’d like to talk, and (most importantly) propose potential times.

2_Do your homework
When you meet someone, it’s normal to ask a series of biographical questions such as ‘What do you do? Where are you from?’ That’s fine for your friend’s birthday party. It has no place at the coffee meeting.
It’s likely the busy person you ask for coffee has some degree of notoriety and has articles, talks, and LinkedIn profile pages online that can offer more information about them. Coffee meetings are usually 30 minutes or less, so don’t waste your time talking about subjects you could easily Google. Additionally, a busy person has given their ‘elevator pitch’ many times to press, colleagues, and others. Stand out from the crowd by moving past this base level of interaction.

3_Never, ever, ever be late
Any meeting is about respecting the time of the other person. Leave early. Make time for traffic. Know where you are going. Being late for a meeting you asked for is the ultimate selfish act in business.

4_Offer to pay
Ask the other person what they’d like before placing your order. Then, pay for both. It was your idea to meet and grab coffee, it’s only fair that you cover the (admittedly minor) costs. If you’re a student, chances are they wont let you actually pay, but offer any way. If the person objects and wants to pay for their coffee, let them. Don’t spend more than five seconds on this interaction.

5_You don’t have to drink coffee
Meetings over beer are for open-ended discussion. Meetings over coffee are for getting things done.
But even if you meet at a coffee shop, you don’t have to get coffee. More important is that whatever drink should take the same amount of time to consume as a cup of coffee. As for snacks, it’s hard to have a short conversation with your mouth full of croissants.

6_Have one clear, specific ask
Let’s say you and I are deciding on where to go out to dinner. I say, ‘I don’t know, I’m up for anything, I guess’. Frustrating, right? But if I say ‘I’m really in the mood for the Mexican place down the street. If you don’t like that, let’s get Thai from downtown’. Now that you can work with.
The same goes for asking. There was a reason you wanted to get coffee with the busy person, so don’t be shy in telling them point-blank how they can help. They should have a general idea as to why you’d like to meet from your email, so don’t be afraid of being direct. By accepting the meeting, they have already agreed to provide assistance, so make it as easy as possible for them.

7_Take notes and follow up
When you sit down at the table, take out a pen and a notebook. If, at any point in the conversation you say something like ‘I’ll send you that video’.Or they mention the person they’d like to introduce you to, write it down. I like to create two columns on the paper with the headings ‘My Homework’ and ‘Their Homework’. On the top of the page I write the person’s name, company, and the date.
The moment you arrive back at your computer, make a note to follow up in a day or two. Doing it immediately can be a tad aggressive, but don’t let yourself forget. In the follow up, make good on anything you promised to send, as well as providing a gentle nudge on anything they offered.

8_Offer to add value
Throughout the conversation, keep your ears open for anything you can help out with. Many simply ask at the end of the conversation if there’s anything they can do. But the best way is to have this mindset ready during the actual conversation with anyone you speak with, coffee meeting or no. In Maximize Your Potential, master connector Sunny Bates shares the right way to approach:
“You want to do it in an authentic way. I always appreciate when people ask in a way that’s somehow embedded in the conversation rather than as an add-on at the very end. Like, ‘Oh you gave me this, and so I have to ask you.’ It’s always good to try and steer the exchange away from debt and obligation and more into the spirit of generosity.”

9_Offer to end on time
It’s likely you agreed to meet for 15 or 30 minutes. As those times approach, even if you are in the middle of a fruitful conversation, stop and ask the person if they have to go. If they agree to keep chatting, great. If your reminder kept them on schedule, even better. Be someone who respects the time of others.

10_Communicate any outcomes
After you send the follow up email (see #7) set a calendar alert 2-3 weeks in the future to follow up one final time. In this second follow up you should tell the person the results of anything the suggested.”

Sean Blanda managing editor and producer of 99U

5 things super lucky people do

improve yourself

“Follow these five tips and you can be as lucky as anyone, no four-leaf clover or rabbit’s foot required.

1_Play to your strengths. So much time and energy is wasted trying to do things you probably don’t do very well. Author and Inc. columnist Lewis Schiff learned from his survey of incredibly wealthy people that they got that way by focusing only on what they do best. Everything else you can delegate, or you could find a partner to compensate for your weaknesses. That way, you will shine where you excel and attract opportunity. Good things come to those who emanate success.

2_Prepare in advance. Unlucky people often get that way because they’re reactive and unprepared for whatever comes. People who have stored food and water in their basements aren’t lucky to find themselves prepared when disaster strikes, they used forethought to make sure they had what they might need just in case. I personally scoff at this horrible recent trend of disparaging business plans because things change constantly. The point of a business plan isn’t to follow it no matter what, it’s to establish a structure for smart decision making that allows you to succeed no matter what the future might bring.

3_Start early. Some people seem to have more hours in the day. I myself don’t need more than six hours of sleep and am constantly finding ways to be more efficient. I use that extra time to start my projects well in advance. My rewards aren’t dependent upon the time of day that I take action. (This column is being written at 3 a.m.) But it does matter that I’m beginning to explore projects I expect to complete months or years from now. So many people only want to put their energy into things that provide immediate gratification. The most fortunate people I know are the ones who planted seeds early and now reap that harvest of happiness.

4_Connect with as many people as possible. The key to success is access to opportunity. Access comes from influence. If you’re influential, people will come and bring opportunities to you. The bigger your following, the more powerful your influence. The only way to build a big following is to provide value to many people. You have to provide the sort of value that will cause people to spread your thoughts far and wide, attributing credit to you when they do. Are you creating that kind of value? If not, figure how you can.

5_Follow up. Opportunities often come and go because people don’t respond in a timely manner. I’m always amazed when people ask me for something and I respond only to never hear from them again. Three months ago, a young woman asked me if I hire interns or assistants. I replied immediately saying I’m always willing to consider hiring people who bring value to my work. I asked her how she thought she could enhance what I could do. I never heard from her again. Perhaps she now considers herself unlucky that opportunity doesn’t come her way. I believe that following up is often more powerful and impressive than the act of initiating.

May you be so lucky to have people in your life that follow up.”

Kevin Daum the best-selling author of ‘Video Marketing for Dummies’

 

to grow your business, serve before you sell

random thoughts

“The best way to get new customers is through referrals. People take a risk when they recommend a service to their friends, and we all understand this. So, when your friend or colleague tells you how much she liked dealing with a company, you tend to pay attention.

Before a customer can give you a referral, you have to serve that customer. Serving does not mean doing a good job of explaining your product. It means delivering something of meaningful value. It means identifying a need and satisfying it.

The same is true when you manage your own career. How many times have you asked someone else for a favor before you did anything for them? How many times did you only do something for another person at the moment you realized that you needed something from them? Neither one of these self-centered approaches works very well.

You might think of your career as a bank, in which you deposit goodwill. The sooner you start to help others in a meaningful way, the faster your savings will grow. The more you serve others, the more “interest” you will earn. This is true of individuals as well as companies.”

Bruce Kasanoff storyteller

social media

random thoughts

12 things you need to know about Social Media

1_it won’t save the world
2_is it a set of communication tools
3_it requires people with a talent for it (and time)
4_it needs a face (tweet as a person not as a organitzation: authenticity matters)
5_it requires a common-sense approach (be generous: retweet) and patience!
6_it resists measurement (you can’t measure, so don’t try it)
7_it allows us to be known (interesting mix of professional and personal)
8_it fosters relationship (face to face relationships at a distance, with consumers and also trade and journalists)
9_it creates a network of uncertain value (honesty and authenticity are critical in participating in online communities; your intention should not be to sell or promote)
10_it is rarely profound (but don’t plan, be of the moment, there are no rules, it depends on you, stand out of the crowd!)
11_it is a investment for the future (social media has been oversold, but this doesn’ mean it isn’t important; social media is increasingly vital skill)
12_it needn’t cost much to implement (don’t hire expensive consultants, if YOU can do it, do it!)

Jamie Goode wine blogger