the hardest thing to do

What is the one thing you would not like to do?

At work, at home, what is it?

When I think about this question many boring things come to mind. Cleaning for example is one of them.
But none of these answer is the correct one.

The hardest thing to do is to do a thing well when you don’t want to do it. 
Is to show up, do your work in the best possible way in your worst possible day.

That is the hardest thing to do. It might happen during work, during life, during a night out.
In those moments everything leads you to surrender, to give up, to stop, and it’s only when you do your best work anyway that you’ll discover the value of persistence, of doing the thing each and every day.

That is what I call Being Professional.
It means thinking rationally even when you are in bad mood, it means working even when you don’t want to, it means creating value even at your lowest energy.
It means exceeding the standard, because what you provide cannot be easily obtained elsewhere.

life in a glass

When I was a child my mother would often remind of a saying “If walls were made of glass, you’d see what families do for real”She meant that we change our behaviour based on the fact that “nobody is watching us”, that if people were watching us it would show all the bad things we do or we would stop doing them because of that kind of transparency.

In the internet era this is so true. Everything is made of glass, each and every word you write can become something that will be available to everyone in the world.

This means that what we write and say is important and thus we should do our best to say it like the whole world is reading that email to our boss or our coworker. 

It’ll change everything. You’ll see that if you think about “having more people reading what you write” it’ll change the tone, the message.

Everything will be different. 
Part is because we tend to protect ourselves from backfire, and that’s what we should avoid.

Having glass walls doesn’t mean you should lie, fake emotions or intentions. No. You have to be true to what you think, but expose it more kindly, with more thought and empathy so that if it “leaks out” it’ll still be fine.

I think it could be summarized with: Be honest, be kind.

lead the way

How many times did you felt like this isn’t the right way to manage a project, to let people work with you, to talk, to express your opinion, to discuss complex topic?

There is no shortcut, no way around, and it’s the same old song: We can’t change the world. 
It’s absurdly hard to change the behavior of the people around us.
We can try but they’ll get difensive, they’ll start protecting their own positions.

So what to do? Lead the way.
Be impeccable, show _your_ way of doing things, your way of approaching a problem, your way of sharing bad news.

Lead the way and do it at your maximum. Don’t try it, do it. Do it like if you are on television and everyone is watching you, do it like if this is the way of your life.

Because, afterall, if you believe in your preachings, then why not practice them as much as possible? Do it in the places you can, express them, show the way to the people that can embrace a different course of action.

It’s only by leading, by showing the way, that you can encourage people to do the same.
Think about when you’re in a course and the teacher asks “What’s the reason for this?” and it’s not a clear answer, right? Maybe we’re talking about politics, the universe, money, whatever.

You feel like you got a good answer, but you’re afraid.
You’re afraid to be wrong, to be shamed in public, to be that stupid guy that says stupid things.
So what do you do?
You wait until someone puts one hand up to share an answer and after that many hands come up too.

That single person _enabled_ everyone to do the same. He/Her gave you the courage to do the same.

Be that one, be the one that puts the hand up first.
Take the leap, lead the way.

how to listen

Listening is such a hard thing to do. It’s underestimated how beneficial it is for everyone and at the same time we are rarely able to do it right.

Why? Because true listening starts with setting aside ego, leaving it out of the room so that you can listen freely and with no prejudice.

If you really want to listen to something the first rule would be to not talk.

If you need to talk the only way to continue listening is by asking question that dig deeper into the topic.
Avoid questions whose goal is to expose the limits of the presentation of your collegue or the errors.
Instead, ask question about the subject, if something isn’t quite clear, ask why is that, what’s the difference.

But the less you talk, the more you listen.
Then if the goal of this entire discussion is for you to learn something or to show that you understood the problem, or even that it’s clear what was your mistake, then repeat with your own words what has been said to you.

Much like a summary or a movie trailer, try to list all the information you grasped. 
This will produce two effects:
* It’ll allow you to be sure of what you learned and check if you listened and understood
* It’ll allow the other person to see that you were actively listening, you were participating.

Too often we listen only to say “I got it”. Which shows only our ego, our “I’m the best” type of behaviour.

To show if you truly grasped a concept there’s no better way than repeating it and this will always make the other person happy if you can put it using your own words in a truly sincere way.

the learning tide

A nice concept I discovered is how we do learn.

Did you ever go to a friend to give him/her some great advice in the hope that it’ll change his/her life only to find out they won’t listen?

It’s frustrating. You feel powerless.
Well, this happens for many reasons.

  • We might not be in the mood.
  • We might not like how you’re saying it
  • We might not understand it
  • We might hate showing vulnerabilities.

And even though you remove all these roadblocks, the message might not get through and that’s because of _timing_.

Timing is everything, as it is in shopping, in life. You wouldn’t try to go to the bathroom if you don’t need to, you wouldn’t try to sell things to a poor man, you would wait until you have the conditions to do it.

Learning works the same way. You need to have the appropriate timing and context otherwise you’re wasting your time.

How to get the right timing varies from person to person but we all do have one thing in common: The tide.

There are some moments in life when we are more open to change, to new information. Those moments are when we all are riding the Tide. We’re on the top of it.

That’s when we should give advice, share information. If the person is on the lower part of the Tide then leave them alone. Nobody would ever hear your advices. Wait for the tide to get back up, because it’ll get there eventually.

who to blame

Your team just screwed it up.
They made something entirely different, or left a gigantic bug.

You’re the higher in command aside from your boss, then you have a chain of people under you, and the last person in the chain made the mistake.

Whenever I think about this a story comes to mind. It’s a story of a small company making videogames on facebook. They somewhat became famous and got a big money cashflow, so they hired a new junior developer.

The work there was very fast, and one day the junior developer did delete the entire production database. Destroying months, if not years of work.

Who’s to blame then? What would you do?
The company blamed it on the junior developer and fired it.

Seems legit right? You break everything, you should pay for it.
But if you think about it, who did gave that power to the junior developer? Maybe his superior, without explaining enough to be careful.
And who _didn’t_ put in place regular backups? Maybe his superior.
And why the backups weren’t put in place? Maybe because the boss didn’t want them to spend time on such topics because they had a business to run and they’d lose money.

So, who’s to blame?
Whenever such big mistake comes out it’s easy to point directly to the final error. But what _led_ there, was a chain of command.
The reason why your boss gets more money than you is that he/she have more responsibilities, and is holds true also for your superior.

Is the junior guy responsible? Yes, but also are his superior and the boss. All of them are and all of them should pay _based on their responsibilities_.
The more you have, the more it’s your fault.

Therefore in most of the cases the answer to “Who’s to blame” should be “Me”.

the hard thing about work

If you’re already skilled and get paid to work, what’s so hard?

In your daily work, did you ever thought about “How hard it is to program?” or to “Make a marketing plan” or “Make a cappuccino” or to “Make a pizza”?

Did you ever thought your basic requirements for working were too high for you? I doubt it. It’s not that. 
What’s hard is communication, is managing people, is finding agreements between the various parts.

But no, working doesn’t belong to this complexity, working is the easy part. Once you learned how to do the basic job, that’s easy. The hard thing is to communicate, to be empathic, to get things moving.

It’s absurd to think that in a world made of people you can leave out people from the equations. They are not numbers they are part of the system and as such you have to learn how to deal with them. How to communicate so that each and every person will feel special in a meaningful way, so that they can contribute.

Your work is 35% work, 65% communication.
Think about it when you want to learn something new.

yes, no, and world of taking time

What happens when your boss comes to you and ask you if you can finish this -superbig project- in 10 days?

You might be tempted to say yes, to please the boss even though you know it’s impossible and it’ll require you to do some extra work.

What would happen then is that one day your boss might come for _another_ job on the same level, and another one, and another one.

That lie will build up until it won’t be sustainable. You’ll be overwhelmed unless you change something in the equation.

This is a common situation if you think about marketing and selling. We’re used to think that to sell you have to lie. To sell things you can’t have because it’s more important to get the client and then “who cares”. Right?

It’s a short term benefit, but not a long term strategy. 
It can’t be a long term strategy because it’s not sustainable. What’s the right answer then if your boss comes over with such complex questions?

Take time. 
Say “Give me 30 minutes to think about it”.
Or maybe it a day, one week, whatever seems enough to get a hold of what you need.
You might not get a perfect answer, but at least you will know that your answer is based on actual information and not because you want to be nice to the boss.

After all it all boils down to say more No’s in life. 
It’s like when your friend come over and tells you a great idea, would you want to partecipate in it?
If you say yes to all your friends you would probably end up doing nothing and be overwhelmed again.

As you see this applies to each part of life.
We have _finite_ time, mind and resources.
Our goal is to make our best with what we have and play for the long run, not the short run.

I know, the short term benefit is appealing, but the long term strategy always outshine any short term benefit as long as you’re going for it.

Think about razors. When they were first invented nobody would ever thought that the money wouldn’t have come from selling the razor. In fact, you could even sell the razor for a lower price because what would be the n°1 moneymaker would be razor blades.

Razor blades, yes, because you would pay them each month, each year, forever.
With one razor you would have a recurring revenue that would last forever. That’s a long term strategy.

But if you played it short term maybe you would have sold the razor at a higher price, lowering the adoption and thus losing the race.

To get that though you have to learn to say no and yes to the right things, taking into account what’s most precious: Your time.

honesty is gold

We live in a world filled with people who sell things.
Most of these things aren’t real, some of these things are simply lies.

What are you going to offer to the world? Let’s say you made a mistake in your daily work.
Are you planning to cover it up?
Will you find some excuse to be sure you’re not responsible?
Will you blame someone else?

Or consider this: You did your job. 
Will you pump it up even though it’s not completed?
Will you try to make it look much more valuable even though you’re selling air?

_Anyone_ can do this. 
Anyone can lie, some people can do it better than others. But it’s something the world already knows.

We see it each and every day, when the call center calls you to sell you the new offer for your home electricity and we no there are rarely such good offer.

Would you say these lies improved your life? I bet no.

So be honest.
It’s hard, I know. It’s hard to be judged and not judging. 
To not have a way out.

But if you did a mistake, then accept it. It’s life. The mistake will still be there anytime, but you’ll have an opportunity to learn how to build trust with the people you know.

Lying, on the other hand, is both risky and useless.

Many people in this world tried selling things they didn’t have.
In the short term they get rich, and they seem to get fame, power, whatever.
But it’s not _common_ for them to sustain that in the long term.

Honesty might not be appreciated, and it might require to learn how to share your honesty, which shouldn’t be a radical change, nor a violent one.
But in the end, honesty is a long term choice while lying is always a short term strategy.

So, in case of a big mistake, how can you share the truth without feeling a shit?
First of all: Say you’re sorry. Say it like you mean it.

Then explain the situation, be vulnerable, share what were your goals, expectations, and what you _didn’t_ foresee.

Then tell them you’re going to be sure this won’t happen again and share a plan, a real plan not a fake one, to prevent it or at least limit the damage.

That’s it. Honesty requires courage but no skills.

making the most out of meetings

  1. Don’t do meetings.
  2. If meetings are required ask yourself “Can I contribute to it?” If not, get out of the meeting.
  3. Keep meetings short.
  4. If meetings can’t be short split the topics. Unless you’re creating the next Coca Cola you won’t need a long meeting.
  5. Arrive prepared. Do your homework, read mails, papers, etc. 
  6. Don’t ask for a recap at the beginning of the meeting of what you should know. Arrive prepared or else you’re useless.
  7. Don’t ask for a recap at the end of the meeting.
  8. No smartphone.
  9. At least one person should do the meeting recap via mail, listing all that’s been decided. (If no action will followup the meeting, then the meeting is useless and could’ve been discarded).
  10. If no person is defined, be the one. Take responsability and ownership.
  11. Let people talk.
  12. Respect the time. If a meeting last 30 minutes, 10 minutes before the end a timer should ring and the recapper should both replay for the presents what’s been decided and prepare the email. If the meeting last 1hr do it 15 min before the end. If the meeting last more than 1hr refer to rule number 4.
  13. No small talk at the beginning of the meeting. Take coffe together before if you really need it.
  14. Arrive prepared (yes, it’s written twice because it’s _that_ important).
  15. If you can’t arrive prepared skip the meeting.
  16. Be on time or everyone will lose time. Your time is not more important than others, whatever your position.
  17. Ask people _beforehand_ if the meeting time is ok. A meeting on a calendar is not a way to block people time.
  18. Arrive prepared.
  19. Arrive on time.
  20. Don’t be a jerk.
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