Entitlement for Progress? Ask Gen Y HR

At this year’s Canada’s Top 100 Employers summit, one of the speakers made a comment that stuck with me in the weeks since. A senior executive, laughing like we’re all think the same thing, stated how “interesting” it is that Gen Y employees expect their employers to take some responsibility for their health and well-being – and yet they’re the generation known for not staying long in one place! He all but said the word I hear all too often regarding my generation: entitled.

Continue reading

Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals (Book Summary)

I read this book by Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson, a social psychologist, because, well, I want to be more successful at reaching my goals – don’t we all? The research discussed here-within supports my objective because willpower is not an innate strength – it a muscle of self-control and perseverance – and therefore it can be improved through exercise and rest, and compensated for with customized incentives.

The cherry on top is that developing self-control in one area improves it in many other areas of your life – cleaning more regularly, for instance, when you get in the habit of exercising regularly – without conscious intention. Resting, by the way, can be as simple as thinking of something uplifting or someone you know with self-control (as long as you don’t imagine simulating it, which exercises self-control when you need to rest). The point is that anyone can succeed, you and me included.

Get Ready

Know thyself. I tend to think in more abstract terms, describing the why of my behaviour, because big-picture and long-term give me a sense of purpose. But thinking in concrete terms is more useful when the behaviour is unfamiliar and complex, or when you need to evaluate feasibility for the near future and take action.

I also tend to believe if I have to work hard at something, I must not be very good at it, and therefore prefer to do things that come naturally to me. This approach can cost me enriching life experiences. At the same time, I’ve always been a fan of self-improvement, secretly practicing basketball for hours and hours because it was something I wanted even while I recognized it was never going to be my forte. Following this incremental theory keeps me improving despite mistakes.

  • Set specific, difficult (but possible) goals so you don’t settle for “good enough” and instead enjoy your accomplishment.
  • Be confident you will succeed but recognize the process will be challenging so you’re prepared to put in the effort required.
  • Just about anything can trigger goal pursuit unconsciously, including cues we set up for ourselves. Simply befriending academically ambitious students, for instance, led me to pursue my desires more directly without realizing the effect at the time.

Get Set

Different outlooks impact many aspects of how we attain goals. For instance, due to my tendency toward conservative preservation (see prevention-focused goals below), I can pick a path and stick to it without procrastinating. But when I have a promotion goal (see below), I’m more exploratory, abstract, creative, and risk-taking. The trick is to set the right goal for the person and situation. If I need speed now, I go for promotion – if I need accuracy and maintenance, I go for prevention.

Continue reading

Gender Intelligence (Book Summary)

Differences between men and women are naturally designed to complement one another. As a result of differences in hormones and brain structures, women generally gather more information and consider more variations, while men focus and quickly move forward in a linear fashion. Also, “woman’s intuition” leads to picking up small hints more quickly, which, along with richer emotional memories, may also cause greater sensitivity and anxiety in calculating more risk than the average man. Where men compete, women collaborate. Where men demonstrate authority, women demonstrate relationship. Where men are objective or assign blame, women take it personally. Working together, men and women can create more efficient and effective solutions more appropriate for the given problem. Interestingly, research suggests 20% of one sex is hardwired more similarly to the opposite sex.

Balanced, gender-blended teams benefit organizations in many ways beyond expanding the talent pool:

  • Richer collection of perspectives leads to innovation, better decisions, and better results.
  • The more a company represents its customers’ demographics, the better it can respond to their needs.
  • With men and women on opposing ends of continuums, men and women together get the best of both worlds and bring the best leadership traits.

Many studies back this up. For instance, a 19-year study of 215 Fortune 500 companies showed a balance of men and women in leadership correlated with a 34% higher profit margin, 18% higher asset value, and 69% greater stockholder equity. When there are 3+ women on a team, especially, they balance and broaden the conversation rather than simply representing “the woman’s point of view.” In fact, the contribution of women directly correlates with a group’s cooperation, which then accounts for 40% of that group’s collective intelligence – much more so than individual IQ scores.

Men and women alike often cite work-life balance as the primary reason women are underrepresented in senior leadership. This shows up in employee surveys, performance reviews, and exit interviews – either because they fit the male paradigm or are afraid to question it. The real reason, Barbara Annis and Keith Merron posit, is most organizational cultures do not appreciate women’s contributions and self-expression because they are different than the way men tend to think and behave. It’s a culture problem.

Based on surveys of 240,000 leaders, there are many assumptions preventing the blending of male and female input in the workplace:

  • We misunderstand each other when we assume equality means sameness.
  • We blame the victim when we assume women need to fit the man-created work model of speed, efficiency, and clear hierarchy.
  • When we assume men are intentionally excluding women, we miss the opportunity to learn about how we’re perceived by one another.

Continue reading

100% of Overwhelmed in 1% the Time (Book Summary)

In the Middle Ages, the sin of sloth could mean two things: the laziness we picture now and the sense that “There’s no real place I’m going, but by God, I’m making great time getting there.”

It seems we have contradictory information. John Robinson’s studies show people work the same amount of time, or less, as 40 years ago. He believes “Saying, ‘I don’t have time,’ is just another way of saying, ‘I’d rather do something else.'” Meanwhile, a Health Canada report shows more and more experience role overload, leading to mental and physical ails, suggesting “these workloads re not sustainable over the long term.” Any leisure time is scattered and fragmented by multi-tasking.

Busyness serves many purposes, making people feel important with purpose. Many feel guilty for any leisure. But the chronic stress of busyness actually shrinks the prefrontal cortex (while mindfulness grows the prefrontal cortex), which is responsible for our highest cognitive executive functions. It also impairs the immune system, increasing vulnerability to inflammation and a host of ails. And, it can literally alter the DNA in children. How you feel about stress in your life is the best predictor of your general health.

Overwork is also harmful to work performance. Face time for the sake of face time, for instance, impedes creativity and good thinking. When employees have a full personal life, though, they are more engaged, productive, and innovative in their professional life. This is why France, Germany, and the Netherlands established rights to flexible or short work hours. This is why the Dutch government promotes a program that allows parents to work overlapping 4-day weeks so childcare is only needed for three days.

Danish mothers have on average 1.5 hours of child-less leisure time daily – more than any other country studied. They belong to sports clubs, take courses of interest, and build lasting friendships at mothers groups. They tend to value achievement and possessions less – instead prioritizing a good life and finding status in leisure activities. At work, they focus on efficiency. Denmark is one of the most productive countries with one of the highest standard of living, and the smallest gap between rich and poor.

Strategies

The ability to choose what really interests you and follow through on the leisure plans, without letting them become more work, may need to be re-learned. Part of it has to do with developing self-efficacy to put yourself first by (1) doing things you do well to remind yourself you can, (2) finding role models or mentors, and (3) accepting and believing positive feedback. When you worry you’re not enough, you set unrealistic expectations for yourself to try proving that worry wrong, but it backfires because you set yourself up to fall short. The other part is priority. Plan weekly the important stuff in the calendar, including a small chunk of time to complete the unimportant stuff, and everything else will flow around it.

Continue reading

Tony Robbins’ 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom (100% in 1% Book Summary)

Money: Master the Game by Tony Robbins

Concept

  • The promise is to create an income for life without having to work again.
  • The idea is to create an extraordinary quality of life on your own terms.
  • Start rich with gratitude.
  • Achieve your dreams by (1) unleashing your desire or focus; (2) taking massive and effective action; and, (3) good luck!
  • With the strategies summarized below, the only thing that could hold you back is a defeated story based on beliefs you will fail.

Strategies

  1. Establish an automated plan for savings and investments. Spend at least 10-15% of your income on yourself, before any day-to-day expenses, to benefit from compound savings. Every time you get a raise, put a portion toward a higher percentage of income invested.
  2. Protect yourself from marketing myths. Analyze your current portfolio at StrongholdFinancial.com. Choose low-cost index funds over mutual funds. The (likely tax-deductible) cost of a large fee-only independent registered investment advisor (through a third-party custodian) plus the cost of the investments should be under 1.25%. Risk a little to make a lot with structured notes, market-linked certificates of deposit, and fixed indexed annuities.
  3. Set realistic goals to achieve financial dreams at masterthegame.tonyrobbins.com. The calculator will guide you on how much you need to save (and how long it will take) for five levels of financial freedom. For instance, a moderate outlook shows me never having to work another day starting 13 years from now – much better than the standard age of 65+. To get there even sooner: (1) Save, i.e. minimize fees, pay next month’s mortgage principal this month; (2) Earn, i.e. add more value in your job or business; (3) Reduce taxes, i.e. run a not-for-profit, defer, invest in a Roth; (4) Find investments with a risk:reward ratio of 1:5, i.e. real estate investment trusts; or, (5) consider moving cities for greater purchase power.
  4. Make investment decisions with proven asset allocations. Decide what portion you will invest in growth (i.e. high risk, high yield) and what portion (i.e. 60%) in security. Divide a big win from growth investments to reinvest in both growth and security, and save some for a luxury. Diversify across markets, classes, and time with dollar-cost averaging: making equal contributions to all investments monthly or quarterly. Rebalance your portfolio annually. Tax-loss harvesting uses losses to lower taxes.
  5. Develop a guaranteed lifetime income plan. Balance your portfolio in terms of risk rather than by amount of money. “Every investment has an ideal environment in which it flourishes,” so have 25% of your risk in each season: (1) high inflation (commodities/gold, TIPS i.e. inflation-linked bonds); (2) deflation (treasury bonds, stocks); (3) high growth (stocks, corporate bonds, commodities/gold); and (4) low growth (treasury bonds, TIPS). This translates to 30% in stock indexes, 15% in 7-10 year Treasuries, 40% in 20-25 year Treasuries, 7.5% in commodities, and 7.5% in gold. Upon retirement, invest in deferred fixed indexed lifetime income annuities with a guaranteed lifetime income rider. Private placement life insurance protects from growth tax, allows loans, and death benefits are tax-free too. Also consider a living revocable trust.
  6. Learn how billionaires invest. The book details the expert interviews with Carl Icahn, David Swensen, John C. Bogle, Warren Buffett, Paul Tudor Jones, Ray Dalio, Mary Callahan Erdoes, T. Boone Pickens, Kyle Bass, Marc Faber, Charles Schwab, and Sir John Templeton. Here, I’ll summarize: anticipated and diversify; high achievers are never done.
  7. Follow an action plan. Decide to focus on what you can control and find empowering meaning in what you see. This creates the emotional state to take action, to grow, and to contribute. Increase happiness by investing in experiences, buying time for yourself, and investing in others. Most of the billionaires interviewed give most of their money away. You can donate a fraction of a dollar every time you use your credit card to end hunger, slavery, and disease through SwipeOut.

Clearly, there is a huge amount of detail you’d get from reading the full book (and all proceeds go to charity), but above are all the main points as I see them.