Class of 2013: Master These 15 Simple Skills

College graduates: Congratulations on your degrees! I got mine 15 years ago this month at Boston University, and so I thought that, today, I’d share with you 15 simple things I’ve learned to do since college. Some of them are more serious than others, and some come with more stories and experiences than others, but I hope you’ll find them all to be worth your time. In an increasingly complex world, I, for one, prefer simplicity in my life – I like knowing what to do and not to do. So, without further ado… click here to read rest of story. – written by Dave Kerpin, CEO of Likeable Local and NY Times best-selling author

The article offers some good, practical advice. I particularly liked his recommendations to WRITE (a book, a blog, an email, it doesn’t really matter – just write) and READ (including his list of nine business books that will change your life.)

The 10 Most Valuable Brands in the World

In spite of struggling stock prices and loud public uncertainty over Tim Cook’s innovative capabilities, Apple is once again the most valuable brand in the world, for the year 2013.
Every year, BrandZ and Millward Brown Optimor calculate and rank brands based on their global value. And even though Apple’s growth rate decreased by 95%, the tech giant’s brand value still increased by 1% from 2012 to a a whopping $185 billion.
Millward Brown VP Oscar Yuan told Business Insider that this is because the company ranks brands based not only on publicly available financial information, but “the second half, which is the unique part, is that we take in the consumer sentiment.” Millward Brown polls more than 200 million consumers from 43 countries annually. In spite of everything, “Apple, in the eyes of consumers, is the gold standard.” The brands that really won this year were those tied to emerging mobile capabilities — be it AT&T for servicing tablets and smartphones or Visa for dominating online payment methods.

Click here for the complete list of the top brands.

Career Advice For College Grads From LinkedIn’s Billionaire Founder

from Business Insider, May 12, 2013: Reid Hoffman says it took him 15 years after graduating from Stanford in 1990 to figure out what he was really doing with his life. Figure it out, he did! Hoffman is now the billionaire co-founder of LinkedIn, a $19 billion public company. During those 15 years, Hoffman first thought he wanted to become an academic. Then he abandoned that idea to start some companies. Mostly, they flopped. How’d he figure his path out? What lessons can today’s graduates learn from Hoffman’s journey? To answer those questions Hoffman and Ben Casnocha first co-authored a book called “The Start-up of You.” Then, expanding on ideas from that book, they created a slideshow presentation for college grads called “The 3 Secrets Of Highly Successful Graduates”. Here is the link to the slide show. Note that there are 113 slides; while I found the slides interesting and entertaining, if you just want to see the three “secrets”, they are summarized on slides 109-111.


4 Reasons Why Bill Bennett’s Book on College Costs Is Wrong

4 Reasons Why Bill Bennett’s Book on College Costs Is Wrong
by Yahoo! Finance, May 10, 2013

Former Secretary of Education William J. Bennett is out with a provocatively-titled new book: “Is College Worth It?: A Former United States Secretary of Education and a Liberal Arts Graduate Expose the Broken Promise of Higher Education.”

Bennett and his co-author, an associate producer on Bennett’s radio show, purport to offer new, fresh, well-researched information and perspective. But this is really just the latest product in the fast-growing “College is Overrated!” menagerie, and the argument is familiar: too many people are going to college, they’re picking the wrong majors, borrowing too much, and emerging from the experience worse off than if they hadn’t gone at all. Bennett put together this slim hardcover with the stories of callers on his radio show, commenters on blogs, non-peer reviewed studies based on self-reported data from PayScale Inc., and too many sentences that end with phrases like, “as he told an Associated Press reporter.”

So what should students do?

First, go to college if you performed well enough in high school to have a good chance of graduating. For most students, the best advice on picking a school will be, to quote Ben Stein quoting the economist Frank Knight: “Take advantage of all subsidies.” If you can find a private college willing to give you a ton of financial aid—and those packages generally come from the best-endowed, most selective schools—go there. Otherwise, opt for a lower cost in-state public college. When picking a college, minimizing debt should be your first concern. Major in a subject you find interesting, do well in your classes, and make connections.


Social Media

Better Leadership Through Social Media (WSJ, April 2, 2012): While blogging, Twitter and Facebook have brought new opportunities for conversation, knowledge gathering and relationship building, those opportunities may feel more daunting than dazzling to overloaded executives. The solution is to stop looking at social media as another platform you have to learn—yet another responsibility—and start seeing it for what it can be instead: a personal toolbox for improving your practice of leadership. Each tool and activity described below requires a certain investment of time to set up. But once it’s part of your routine, it will repay you with insights into work and leadership, and with freed-up time. Start with one, so you can see the payoff before adding more setup jobs to your busy agenda. But do start. Here are six ways you can use social media to enhance your leadership. Read more…

Social Networking Heads to the Office (WSJ, April 2, 2012): Facebook Inc. has changed the way people socialize on the Web. Now the same concept is changing the way people interact at work. New social-networking applications aimed at the workplace borrow from Facebook in that they enable workers to set up profiles, form groups and “follow” each other’s status updates. But the purpose isn’t just social connection; rather, it is to increase productivity by making it easier for employees to identify who does what within an organization and to share their knowledge. Read more…

Performance Measurement

Employees, Measure Yourselves (WSJ, April 2, 2012): Imagine how much better workers could do their jobs if they knew exactly how they spend their day. Suppose they could get a breakdown of how much time they spend actually working on their computer, as opposed to surfing the Web. Suppose they could tell how much an afternoon workout boosts their productivity, or how much a stressful meeting raises their heart rate. Thanks to a new wave of technologies called auto-analytics, they can do just that. These devices—from computer software and smartphone apps to gadgets that you wear—let users gather data about what they do at work, analyze that information and use it to do their job better. They give workers a fascinating window into the unseen, unconscious little things that can make such a big difference in their daily work lives. And by encouraging workers to start tracking their own activities—something many already are doing on their own—companies can end up with big improvements in job performance, satisfaction and possibly even well-being. The key word here is encouragement. It is not the same as insistence. Bosses should be careful to stay out of workers’ way, letting employees experiment at their own pace and find their own solutions. They should offer them plenty of privacy safeguards along the way. Too much managerial interference could make the programs seem like Big Brother and dissuade workers from signing on. There’s a big difference between employees wanting to measure themselves, and bosses demanding it. Read more…

Creativity and Innovation

Better Ideas Through Failure (WSJ, September 27, 2011): Amid worries that we are becoming less innovative, some companies are rewarding employees for their mistakes or questionable risks. The tactic is rooted in research showing that innovations are often accompanied by a high rate of failure. “Failure, and how companies deal with failure, is a very big part of innovation,” says Judy Estrin of Menlo Park, Calif., a founder of seven high-tech companies and author of a book on innovation. Failures caused by sloppiness or laziness are bad. But “if employees try something that was worth trying and fail, and if they are open about it, and if they learn from that failure, that is a good thing.”
Read more…

Tributes to Steve Jobs

The Power of Taking the Big Chance (New York Times, October 9, 2011): STEVE JOBS, technologist and tastemaker of modern digital culture, described himself as a captain of product design, inspiring his teams of workers, as he once said, to go “beyond what anyone thought possible” and to do “some great work, really great work that will go down in history.” And he did, time and again. Mr. Jobs did not make the technology himself; he led the teams that did, prodding, cajoling and inspiring. His track record as a business team leader is unique — as Apple’s Macintosh, iPod,iPhone and iPad testify. In two stints at Apple, he made computers into coveted consumer goods and transformed not only product categories, like music players and cellphones, but also entire industries, like music and mobile communications. Mr. Jobs even failed well.
Read more…

The Wizard and the Mortal: Two Sides of Genius (New York Times, October 9, 2011): IN August 1931, Thomas Alva Edison, age 84, became gravely ill with kidney problems. He recovered a little, then suffered a setback and was confined to bed at home, drifting in and out of consciousness. Newspapers issued multiple bulletins each day, reporting on signs of improvement or decline. The end came in the early morning of Oct. 18, 1931, with his family at his bedside. That day, The New York Times ran nearly two-dozen articles on Edison’s life and death. Newspapers worldwide were filled with eulogies and remembrances for many days afterward. Words alone were not enough to express the nation’s grief. Heeding President Herbert Hoover’s request, many Americans briefly turned off their electric lights at 10 o’clock Eastern time on the night of Edison’s funeral. The broad outpouring that has followed the death of Steve Jobs reminds me of the display of grief following Edison’s death. In both cases, their passing evoked an extraordinary public response, tributes that were greater and broader than those paid to many a head of state. Why is that? Read more…

12 Minutes To Create a Mind-Changing Presentation

Here are some useful presentation tips from Andreas von der Heydt, country manager of Amazon BuyVIP in Germany. You can read the full article here.

  • Use multimedia wisely.
  • Include short stories to explain your main points.
  • Respect your audience.
  • Limit your ideas to one main idea per slide.
  • Move away from the podium.
  • Take it slowly.
  • Keep the lights on.
  • Keep it simple.
  • Talk “to” the audience.

5 Ways Money Makes You Happy

Your paycheck has more power than meets the eye. While it can help us to afford life’s necessities, it’s also a key source of happiness. In fact, studies show that how much you earn, how you earn it and how you spend your hard-earned dollars can make you happy.

Farnoosh Torabi at Yahoo Finance looks at five links between money and happiness:

  • Earn Enough: Researchers at Princeton University say the magic number is actually $75,000 a year. The study concluded that people at that income level make enough for life’s necessities with a little extra left over. This results in high levels of emotional well-being. But making more than $75k doesn’t necessarily mean more happiness, even in more expensive cities.
  • Hit the Gym: A recent study from Cleveland State University reports exercising three times a week can lead to 6% higher pay for men and 10% higher pay for women, on average.
  • Invest in a Passion: Another way to hit that $75,000 marker could be by becoming your own boss. A recent Gallup poll found even stressed-out entrepreneurs are happier than 9-to-5 corporate employees.
  • Invest in Leisure: In a 2011 paper published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, 57% reported the greatest happiness from spending money on experiences, compared with just 34% who derived happiness from buying material things.
  • Offer Assistance: Finally, the easiest way money can make you happy is to be generous. Researchers from Harvard Business School and the University of British Columbia surveyed more than 600 volunteers and found that spending as little as $5 a day on someone else makes people happier than spending that money on themselves.

Read more here…