Being Likable

If you bring together two of my current favourite writers for a discussion, you’re going to have my immediate attention.

Adam Grant, Wharton Professor, came to my attention first for articles and a subsequent book on the personal benefits of being a ‘go-giver’. He’s followed up with work related to creativity, success and most recently has published a book with Sheryl Sandberg about how to bounce back when things go wrong. She, of course, was uniquely placed to co-write that particular book having lost her husband very suddenly and publicly, leaving her with young children and a high pressure silicon valley career to manage. That book sits on my shelf as a recent acquisition waiting to be read.

Like many people, I first came across Simon Sinek because of his famous TED talk (still well worth a view, whether you’ve seen it before or not). Then I followed his work talking about millennials, especially how best to lead them, manage them in the workplace and even inspire them to be engaged, committed and passionate employees who do meaningful work. As far as his books, I’ve gone the wrong way round. I’ve recently finished reading ‘Leaders Eat last’ – his most recent book and have waiting on the shelf still to be read his earlier – Start With Why.

The discussion went on for about an hour, led by Katie Couric, the international journalist. It took place at the Aspen Ideas Festival – and it’s a real gem. You could just read the article, but i’d really recommend the video embedded on the page as worth an hour of anyone’s time.

During the discussion there are some interesting insights in to types of popularity and the risks of ‘the wrong type’. They talk about the perils of device and social media addiction and the need for occasional detoxes. There’s an interesting discussion of the skills needed to be likable and the risks in society because people are not getting as many opportunities to practice those skills. The comments about how willpower is an inadequate tool to overcome addiction, or addictive behaviour was a useful reminder.

So, here’s the link:

Heleo – Conversation – How to be likable – no Facebook Required

If you open the page, you’ll see the video some way down the page. I really recommend that it’s worth the time to listen to the whole thing. For educators, or parents, there’s much to ponder on here about how we work most effectively with young people today.

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Be a Go-Giver

I believe in 10 years from now, people are going to look back and reflect that the work of Adam Grant had a profound impact on our organisations, and even on the wider society. His work is associated with research in to what makes people productive and successful.

What I’ve particularly liked about his work and what has motivated me to continue to follow his ideas is the inclination and motivation he exhibits to promote thinking that enables us to create better organisations – ones in which good people flourish and the less good mend their ways or lose.

I’ve written here in the blog in the past about Grant’s books;

Pursue Meaning, Not Happiness
Being an Original

I’ve also been fond of giving his books as gifts.

So, I was pleased to come across this a few days ago – a video of a recent TED talk given by Grant that brings up to date some of his thinking on giving. In it, he makes some particularly valuable points about how to identify ‘agreeable takers’ who are perhaps some of the most dangerous people in the workplace. He also highlights how givers tend to both be the biggest strugglers and the biggest winners in organisations – there are no half measures with the givers. I also took away his thoughts about how to identify at the time of interviewing prospective employees, who is a taker, a giver or a matcher.

Being An Original

I mentioned a few weeks ago in a blog entry that Adam Grant’s new book ‘Originals’ was high up on my reading list. Well, in the last few days his TED presentation on the topic came out – and it’s increased my enthusiasm for reading the book.

In it he shares some great research based findings on what marks out the most original and creative people. He shares some refreshing and interesting ideas on the value (within reason) of procrastination and the willingness to fail many times in order to get great ideas.

I believe his ideas merit particular attention and study by educators for the implications in terms of how we teach children, how they spend their time in school. Especially, we need to take a cold hard look at the issue of failure, seeing as most children see avoiding failures as one of their most vital and important tasks in school.

Introvert and Extrovert Brains

To some extent, we can understand when a parent of a ‘shy child’ (for which, more often than not, they mean introvert, though in reality they’re not really the same thing) asks their school teachers to ‘do something about it’. i.e. they want their introvert child to become an extrovert, fearing that lack of this change may blight their lives.

It is the case that we live in a world that favours extroverts, that the cult of the celebrity and the personality has tended to mean that extroverts are put on pedestals whilst introverts are considered somehow deficient.

As I’ve written before, this is a shame when you consider the enormous contributions made historically to the world by introverts. I’ve also written in the past about the potential risks that would exist if we finished up with a world of only extroverts, or extroverts plus introverts frantically pretending to be extroverts!

There are lots of misunderstandings around about what it means/ doesn’t mean to be an extrovert or an introvert. So, I was very interested to come across this informative article that explores some of the science to debug some of those myths:

Attn.com – How Introverts and Extroverts are Different

Here’s another interesting article that goes a bit deeper in to the science aspects that explain the differences:

Introvertdear.com – Introverts and Extroverts Brains Really Are Different

For parents and educators I believe it’s vitally important to understand these differences and to figure out what’s important in how we enable these ‘differently wired’ children to excel, to fulfill their potential and to live the best lives possible. We need to help the children understand these differences, so as to understand themselves and each other better. We need to think about these things in our teaching practices, even in how we design and lay out schools.

Better understanding is likely to lead to better maximising on the positives of both extremes, less denigration of the values of introversion and a more balanced and harmonious society.

Another Book List

More high quality reading – another great list of business books to enhance personal and professional growth.

Agenda – 30 Business Books Every Professional Should Read Before turning 30

I might be a little past that age right now, but I still think there’s a lot of quality in this list. Personally, I’ve read 13 out of the list so far and have a further 9 of them on my ‘To Read’ list.

Pursue Meaning, Not Happiness

Quite a few years ago, a trainer on a programme i was attending suggested a book I might like to read. When I found it, it was small, blue and didn’t look very exciting. However, it has become the most prized in my ever burgeoning book collection (even over the books that i’ve been fortunate enough to have signed by their authors.

That book was, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” by Viktor Frankl. To be honest, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read that book and my copy now looks even less attractive to anyone who doesn’t know what they’re looking at. To me, it is quite simply, one of the most inspiring and moving books ever written.

Here’s a great article I came across a little while ago, that sets out what’s important about this book:

Business Insider – Article – A Lesson About Happiness

The article also cross-references another of my favourite books (certainly Top 30!) – Roy Baumeister’s “Willpower”. Reading the article again, I’m also reminded of the work of Adam Grant on giving and his great book “Give and Take” (also Top 30).

So, there you go, three of my top 30 books referenced in one place!

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