You Are What You Think

“Improve your golf game by thinking powerful thoughts,” was the title of a recent Harvard Business Review “Stat of the Day.”

Think of the technique as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Forty-four percent more golf puts at 150 centimeters were sank by people who think of themselves as powerful than their not-as-positive counterparts.  In another study, people presented with authoritative words such as “influence” scored 29 percent higher in a game of darts than people who saw words such as “serve.”

The research suggests that thinking you possess power “induces better perception of information that is relevant to goals, leading to improved motor performance in pursuit of these goals.”

This idea can be extended to all areas of our lives. The next time you’re going into a big meeting, envision how you want the meeting to go. Think confident and your body will follow.

Do powerful thoughts give you power? Have you ever had an experience where it worked?

Ritu Walia is an FG Analyst.

Leaders Rise: Real Life Lessons from Batman

Superheroes represent everything we want to be. We read comic books, watch television, and go to the movies as children wanting to believe in the best of the world, where good always triumphs over evil, where heroes believe people are still worth sacrificing everything for.

The Christopher Nolan Batman Trilogy touched those chords while providing a deep meditation on the nature of society and some very important lessons for our own organizations.  Five were explored in a recent Forbes article.

  1. Organizations need to be built around ideas, not people. The downfall of District Attorney Harvey Dent makes clear why over-identification with a single individual is a bad idea. Part of the reason Bruce Wayne is so insistent on being Batman is because he wants to be a beacon of hope that cannot be torn down by one man’s indiscretions. Although we sometimes think of Keith Ferrazzi as our Batman, it’s the ideas he co-creates with the rest of the organization that really matter.
  2. Actions matter more than intentions. You are what you do. Bruce Wayne protests that he’s not the playboy he seems to be upon running into childhood friend Rachel Dawes in Batman Begins, and she replies: “But it’s not who you are underneath, it’s what you do that defines you.”  So act on your best intentions now. Fund R&D before that great engineering talent walks out the door. Promote that awesome but overqualified clerk you hired before he’s stolen away.
  3. Trust people with the truth. “Leaders often trick themselves into thinking that people can’t be trusted with the truth. ” That’s a bad idea, particularly when things aren’t going well with your organization. Trust your team, and you’ll find they redouble their efforts to solve the problem at hand, just as Gotham does when the city learns the truth about Harvey Dent.
  4. You need to risk failure in order to succeed. (Dark Knight Rises SPOILER) When discussing what seems to be an impossible jump required to escape prison in the Dark Knight Rises, Wayne says he doesn’t fear death. A fellow prisoner chastises him, pointing out that it’s the fear of death that will drive you to “move faster than possible, fight longer than possible.” Don’t focus on not losing what you have.  You’re just as likely to lose it by not risking it. Encourage your team to take risks when they’re required in order to succeed.
  5. When you do fail, don’t let it destroy you. Fighting harder after failing defines true greatness and courage. (Dark Knight Rises SPOILER) Batman rises above his defeat by Bane in the Dark Knight Rises and fights for Gotham that much harder. Forbes blogger, Alex Knapp concludes his post by pointing  out that great business leaders do the same. “In other words, Steve Jobs learned to pick himself back up. So did Bruce Wayne. And so can you.”

Can you think of any other Batman lessons? What would you add?

Ritu Walia is an FG Analyst.

Presidential Email Strategies

There’s no avoiding the fact that it’s an election year. You get bombarded just flipping through the channels, stopping by a newsstand, or even checking your email and favorite sites. In every way possible, election year is upon us.

Personally, I get emails from candidates straight into my inbox. It’s one way of keeping up with important national events and getting news from the campaign trail. It’s interesting to see how many myGreenlight values play into the communication strategies of the presidential candidates. Continue reading

The Kind of People You Want in Your Life

For the most part, the people that you surround yourself with are your choice. A recent Forbes article makes the argument that you should make those choices carefully and include certain types of people. Here’s the list:

  1. The instigator. This is the person you call when you want to get things done because they always say: “Let’s do it.”
  2. The cheerleader. Someone who gets you pumped up and believes in you no matter what, sort of like Donna Reed in It’s a Wonderful Life.
  3. The doubter. You always need someone to challenge you and make sure you’re really giving it your best shot.
  4. The taskmaster. The project manager type you need in your corner to make sure you’re not dropping any balls.
  5. The connector. As we always say at myGreenlight, it helps to have a great relationship with the kind of person who can connect you to the right people to make things happen.
  6. The example. This is usually your mentor, the person who has the experience and knowledge to help you get where you want to go, because they’ve already been there.

Do you agree with this list? What types would you add?

Ritu Walia is an FG Analyst.

Check Negative Emotions at the Office Door

Smiling is contagious! And that’s just one example of how our environment and the people we surround ourselves with have a profound impact on our mood. That’s why it’s so important to maintain a healthy work environment. As a recent HBR article points out: “emotional contagion can take down your whole team.”

Author Tony Schwartz makes clear just how much emotions matter in the workplace. Remember the feeling of dreariness that envelops you when you’re at the DMV? Compare that to the level of energy and happiness that charge your experience at the Apple Store.

Emotional contagions can make or break your team. The author enumerates five takeaways on emotions in the workplace: Continue reading

Fixing Your Gmail Autofill So You’re Not Emailing People at Old Addresses

Have you sent an important email to an associate and realized three days or three weeks later that they never got it because it was an ancient address that Gmail decided to autofill in without you noticing? And once you realized it, you picked apart Gmail but couldn’t figure out how to solve the problem?

Help is here: Complete instructions on how to change the auto-complete addresses in Gmail so that you don’t keep emailing a contact at his or her old address!

(It actually took me a good amount of time and help from a coworker to figure this out.)

  1. First you have to click on the Gmail tab under the Google header on the left side of the page and select contacts.
  2. Once you’re in the contacts section, you can search for the contact you wish to edit in the search field.
  3. Once you’re on the contact page, you can make edits.

Viola! These two minutes of work can save you from emailing the wrong address over and over again once and for all. Get to it immediately when you learn a contact has a new address.

Another idea: Next time you update your own email, send these instructions with your announcement to make it easy on your Gmail-using friends.

Ritu Walia is an FG Analyst.

A Simple Exercise to Overcome Shyness

If social interactions stress you out, you might be interested in this Psychology Today piece offering some simple exercises to overcome shyness and social anxiety.

The author suggests some group improvisational exercises that are worth checking out. But for those who want something they can do on their own, there’s this one:

“…go to a mall at a busy time of day. Take off your watch. Ask twenty people for the time of day. Use three minutes between requests. You log the results of each encounter. You later look at your findings. Here is what you are likely to find. Most will give you the time of day. Some will walk past you as though you didn’t exist. A few may engage you in a brief and pleasant conversation.”

The idea is to approach enough people that it starts to feel natural.

Anyone else have ideas for “safe” ways to practice interacting with strangers?

Ritu Walia is an FG Analyst.

Five Ways to Maximize Your Influence as the Most Junior Person on a Team

Last week I went on my first business trip. As could be expected, I was a little scared but mostly just excited. I was the most junior person on the team, and realized quickly that I could make a difference even with my limited experience. Here’s what I learned:

  1. Over prepare. If there’s even the smallest possibility that you might need that digital recorder, take it. You never know!
  2. Be prepared to be flexible. You’re probably not going to know where you’re needed in the next 15 minutes, let alone the next hour. Take cues from your environment and find a way to be useful even if things aren’t going exactly according to plan. Believe me, usually they don’t. Continue reading

Networking Takeaways from “Madmen”

“Madmen” fans: Have you ever found yourself at work asking, “What would Don Draper do?” (Hopefully you’re not asking yourself that when it comes to his personal life…)

My favorite professional takeaway from “Madmen” so far is actually a networking tip you can learn from Don or from Peggy: They both recognized early on that even though they were hyper-talented, they needed relationships to advance their careers, and did a great job developing them.

Don pushed his way into the world of advertising by stalking the well-connected Roger Sterling. This is interesting, since if anything their lasting relationship dynamic is as peers. They each know they bring something important to the table—Don, his talent, and Roger, his upper-crust network. Roger isn’t so much a mentor as a connector, although he does still sometimes school Don on the finer points of business relationship savvy. Continue reading

The Workplace Drone and How to Silence It

Your work environment can have a profound impact on your workday and the quality of your work. The current trend is to steer away from isolation, making offices tear down the walls, both literal and figurative. The problem is, it’s hard to concentrate when you can constantly hear the conversations of your coworkers. A recent New York Times article sheds some light on this particular issue.

To some people, it is very difficult to work through the constant chatter that comes with an office space. So if there are no walls, we make our own. Headphones. Giant filing cabinets. Books. You name it, we do it.  “After surveying 65,000 people over the past decade in North America, Europe, Africa and Australia, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, report that more than half of office workers are dissatisfied with the level of ‘speech privacy,’ making it the leading complaint in offices everywhere,” according to the Times. Continue reading