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.

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