The One Factor that Ensures Your Kid’s College Success. And Now Yours.

In 1986, Harvard’s then-president, Derek Bok, wanted to know if there was a way to predict whether a kid would succeed or fail in college. What was different about those who kicked ass as undergrads? Bok wasn’t really interested in improving the school’s admissions process. Harvard, after all, already annually fielded a freshman class that was, according to just about every measurable metric, the nation’s best.

What Bok wanted to learn is whether the school could study those kids who transformed those early exceptional metrics into exceptional performance, making the most of their four years in college, and apply those lessons to changing how Harvard served all of its students. A large-scale study was conducted over the course of several years and one finding in particular surprised everyone. Continue reading

An Unlikely, and Enjoyable, Networking Guide

I am currently reading the book MWF Seeking BFF, by Rachel Bertsche. I originally picked it up because it was getting a great deal of buzz, and also because, as an aspiring blogger myself, I am intrigued by the 52 Something in a Year genre.

But as I began to read, it became clear that what I expected to be a fluffy retelling of 52 wine-soaked girl nights was actually chock full of the same kind of relationship research that we used to build myGreenlight.

Chicago-based Bertsche sets out to try every possible channel to make new adult friends. While her ultimate goal is to meet a new, geographically-appropriate BFF (“best friend forever”, for anyone unfamiliar with the lingo) to augment her college and childhood friends in New York, what she effectively does is build a broad and diverse network of friends, acquaintances, and possible future resources.

By the midpoint of the book, she has a social schedule to rival Keith Ferrazzi himself.

In the process, she meets many people who share her desire to connect with more friends, but who are unsure of how to make it happen.

For so much of our lives, we depend on fate to deliver friends to us. When you are in elementary school, the boy next door is your best friend because he’s most convenient. The girl who sits next to you in English class becomes your confidant because you are working on the same projects. Sororities and fraternities provide a steady pipeline of social comrades during our college years.

Once we get to “real” life we are so comfortable with taking the friends who happen across our paths, that taking explicit steps to meet the people we want to spend time with feels artificial and contrived. But through Bertsche’s experience, it is clear that relationships built from purposeful outreach are just as genuine, and significantly more abundant, than the ones that happen by accident.

One long, slow dinner, coffee date, and yoga class at a time, she builds true friendships with a significant number of her prospective girlfriends. And along the way she makes frequent reference to the research that backs up the key success factors in growing real relationships – self-disclosure, supportiveness, interaction, and positivity.

The key takeaway is that purposefully seeking out connection is an effective way to expand your social circle, and real relationships are worth investing some effort.

Have you ever had to start over with building your social circle? How did you do it?

From Renewable Energy in Ukraine to State-of-the-Art Airport Parking in Seattle

Last week I asked my Tip of the Week Community to tell me about yourself and the cool stuff you’re working on. You guys BOWLED US OVER with your answers to my question, “What’s the coolest thing you’re working on?

From renewable energy in Ukraine to state-of-the-art airport parking in Seattle, you guys are up to some amazing things. Below, see a cut of some of the most interesting. (If you’re not on it, it doesn’t mean your project isn’t great – this is just a quick sampling!)

I bet there’s things you’ll see on that list that will inspire you, as they did me – or things that you know you could help with. Now imagine being part of a learning community surrounded by people who feel just like you do – inspired and wanting to help. THAT is what I’m creating with myGreenlight, along with the program itself: an incredible action-based curriculum, tons of tools and resources, and a smart, knowledgeable staff.

Soon we’ll be announcing another limited-time special membership offer for the Tip of the Week list only. Please give it a read and consider the program for yourself. (If you’d like to join that list, subscribe at in the top right corner.)

If you see your project on the list below, and would like to identify yourself and add the URL in the comments, go for it! And if you’re not on the list, please comment to share the coolest thing YOU’RE working on! Continue reading

Enter-Prize 2.0

How much easier would it be if you had free-flowing information within your company?

In this article Andrew McAfee, principle researcher at MIT’s Center for Digital Business, sheds some light on the way business is evolving around us every day and tries to answer this question. In order to take advantage of the easy accessibility of knowledge, years ago he started investigating the ways in which to make businesses have a free flow of information and communication. “I wanted to think about what these tools and the communities and processes and philosophies that came along with these tools meant for good old-fashioned companies trying to get their widgets out the door every day. So I used the phrase “Enterprise 2.0″ as the shorthand for what the Web 2.0 tools and that world meant for enterprises.”

When asked about his elevator pitch, McAfee uses this impactful quote: “So I’ve had to come up with a different way to get at this knowledge challenge in the company. One useful trigger is to use a quote that I first heard a while back that is attributed to Lew Platt, who was the old CEO of Hewlett-Packard. He looked around his organization, which is a big, very well-run, hugely respected company in America for decades. This is not a poorly run company. He looked around Hewlett-Packard and said, ‘If only HP knew what HP knows, we’d be three times more productive.’ Whenever I say that to a room full of executives, you can see the heads nod.”

Although Enterprise 2.0 can be accurately described as social, McAfee avoids it. The reason he cites is “because it has primarily negative connotations, especially for a really hard-headed, pragmatic manager in a business, decision-maker in a business, who just wants to get more stuff done. When that person hears ‘social,’ he thinks of happy hours after work and the corporate softball league. I thought the word ‘social’ would be not just neutral, but actually a bad way to do that.”

Being able to find a way to communicate information that the individuals know to better serve and unify the company can be highly effective and have long term impact.

How do you circulate knowledge in your company? Are you using Yammer, Chatter, or some other Enterprise 2.0 tool?

Ritu Walia is myGreenlight’s Member Coordinator.

Mini Mission Monday

How many times each day do you click over to Google or Bing to answer a question or research a challenge?

What if every one of those clicks was an opportunity to give generously to someone in your network?

Your Mission:  Every time you search for a piece of information today, think of 2 people in your network who could benefit from what you uncover. Send them a quick email letting them know that you found something you think they would find valuable and include a link. Instant generous ping.

Relationship Roundup

This week, a few pick-me-ups for your bookshelf, skill set, and career planning.

Something I’m loving now – A cleverly repackaged comic strip version of Marshall Goldsmith’s classic What Got You Here Won’t Get You There that’s GenNext ready. Read it here

Reasons to read Think Fast & Slow – I’ve heard many wonderful things about Danny Kahneman’s book Thinking Fast and Slow, but principal research scientist at the Center for Digital Business in the MIT Sloan School of Management, Andrew McAfee, gives good reasons why this type of thinking can be good for your business. Read his HBR Blog here

Relating with social media – Social Media maven Mari Smith’s recently published book The New Relationship Marketing: How To Build A Large, Loyal, Profitable Network Using The Social Web, outlines a proven nine-step program for building a sizable, loyal network comprised of quality relationships that garner leads, publicity, sales, and more. Learn more here

Career transformation – The much anticipated tome by Reid Hoffman (co-founder of LinkedIn) is coming to a bookshelf or Amazon page near you on February 14th. Hoffman and author Ben Casnocha show how to accelerate your career in today’s competitive world by managing it as if it is the living, breathing, growing start-up of you. Pre-order it today

Kibibi Springs is myGreenlight’s Community Director.

Create Your Own Steve-Jobsian Reality Distortion Field

She has been a monk. She’s been a five-time CEO and venture capitalist, scoring Google as one of her investments. She wrote a well-received book, Rules for Renegades, and made it to the White House as an advisor in both the Clinton and Bush administrations.  And she did it all as a high school dropout.

Today, Christine Comaford is a highly sought-after executive coach and her remarkable life made for a remarkable Social Capitalist interview.

Comaford’s ideas are a refreshing integration of her days studying spiritual esoterica as a monk and her later investigations into neuroscience and behavior change, but always oriented by the guiding bottom line dictates of the business world.

Take, for example, her contention that presence – being able to “be here, now” – is the foundation of leadership. At first glance, touchy-feely. But think about leaders you may have encountered or read about. Think about people like Bill Clinton or Steve Jobs, each of whom were attributed with the ability to create a “reality distortion field,” a term coined by one of the early Apple software engineers to describe Jobs’ mix of charisma, charm, bravado, and persuasion, all employed to convince his employees that the impossible was possible. Continue reading

Create Meetings that People Don’t Want to Hide From

“Most inventors and engineers I’ve met are like me … they live in their heads. They’re almost like artists. In fact, the very best of them are artists. And artists work best alone …. I’m going to give you some advice that might be hard to take. That advice is: Work alone… Not on a committee. Not on a team.” – Steve Wozniak

I’m a natural introvert – a social introvert, but an introvert. And so the Steve Wozniak quote above and the article I pulled it from, “The Rise of the New Groupthink,” play right to my instinctive bias.

But I know the value of collaboration. In the past couple of years, my work has become more about orchestrating a team than sitting in the corner pounding a piano. If you’ve got a grand vision, at some point, you’re going to need a team to carry it out.

So as a manager, I’ve put some thought into how to make the most of a collaborative environment – and in particular, how to help meetings be a place where both introverts and extroverts can flourish. “Meetings” have become synonymous in many offices with “massive soul-deadening time suck,” which is really too bad, because they can be fun, social, creative, and productive. I wouldn’t say I’ve got the formula mastered, but our meetings have produced consistently useful, actionable results.

A great team that likes and respects each other and the work they do is probably the biggest prereq for great meetings, so we’ve got it easy at myG. But a little planning wizardry helps too.

Here’s a few things I like to do: Continue reading

Solutions for Six Common Networking Challenges for Introverts

Welcome Tip of the Week readers! I’m Kibibi Springs, myGreenlight’s Community Director.

Here’s the transcript of Nancy Ancowitz’s Social Capitalist Skills Session with Tahl Raz – enjoy!

Also, read Tahl’s blog about being an introvert here.

The Social Capitalist Skills Sessions are 30-minute recorded chats focused on helping listeners master specific skills and disciplines in the relational and social arts. myGreenlight members have access to our full, searchable library of previous calls.

While you’re here, we’d love suggestions for future Skills Sessions: What would you like to learn from myGreenlight? We are constantly developing new content to directly meet the needs of our members.