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Best content from the best source handpicked by Shyam. The source include The Harvard University, MIT, Mckinsey & Co, Wharton, Stanford,and other top educational institutions. domains include Cybersecurity, Machine learning, Deep Learning, Bigdata, Education, Information Technology, Management, others.

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    52% of women have been bullied or harassed at work in the past three years

    A new survey from Opportunity Now discovered widespread discrimination against women in the workplace and a culture of silence that allows it to continue

    52% of women said they felt bullied or harassed at work
    52% of women said they felt bullied or harassed at work Photograph: Alamy
    52% of women have experienced bullying or harassment at work in the past three years, a new survey from Opportunity Now claims.
    The organisation spoke to more than 23,000 women and 2,000 men about their experiences at work and found that women routinely feel undermined and excluded by their colleagues. Women with disabilities, who were black or African-Caribbean, or LGBT suffered more bullying and harassment, with 71% of disabled women reporting instances of it.
    Helena Morrissey, chair of Opportunity Now and founder of the 30% Club said that high levels of bullying and harassment felt by women was backed up by the men who responded to the survey.
    "They corroborated the women's stories. They'd seen this happen," she said.
    The survey defined bullying and harassment as being blocked from training or promotion opportunities, being deliberately undermined, overbearing supervision, unfair treatment and exclusion or victimisation. One problem seems to be the lack of support for employees who find themselves in this position.
    Kathryn Nawrockyi, director of Opportunity Now, said there was a "culture of silence around bullying, with only 1% of people saying they'd reported it. Workplace culture encourages people to leave rather than report problems".
    A clear example of the sort of treatment women face on a daily basis came from one anonymous respondent, "I don't feel bullied but I do feel I'm treated differently ... male clients will talk to the leading male automatically regardless if I'm the actual lead on the job ... Another one [client] just assumes I'm the PA ... he always asks for a male colleague first".
    Despite preconceptions that women at board level should have gained the respect of their peers, 52% of them also felt they'd experienced some form of bullying or harassment. One suggestion for this is that the smaller number of women at this level make them a target for abuse.
    The report also showed discrimination against flexible workers. 64% of respondents felt that those who worked flexibly did not progress at the same rate as their peers, even if their input is similar. One reason for this lack of promotion might be a feeling that they're not as committed to the organisation as non-flexible workers.
    Even though 40% of those surveyed felt that flexible working was valued by their organisation, 46% also felt that those with the option of being flexible with their working hours were resented by their colleagues.

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    Be Consistently Good Instead Of Occasionally Great

    How many people do you know who consistently fail to make any progress because they are always trying to leap past all the folks who are actually working? I’m sad to say I know more than a few.
    Our business world is filled with aspirational mumbo-jumbo, from the posters put up by HR to the latest pep talk given by your newest boss. Everyone aspires to be the best of the best. Besides Avis, I can’t think of a business that advertised the fact it was number two.
    That having been said, I’d be thrilled to: have a book that’s number two on the New York Times bestseller list, help a client go from a startup to number two in their industry, or have one of my kids be number two in his or her class.
    (To make sure you get the point and don’t get hung up on the number two, I’d be thrilled to be number nine on the bestseller list.)
    I’m not suggesting you aim low; I’m suggesting you aim for consistent excellence rather than once-every-five-years brilliance. Try setting your sights on being trustworthy, reliable, persistent and expert. Instead of trying to be the superstar, be the person on whom others can consistently depend.
    Our world loves sports, and most sports are a zero-sum game; one team wins, and the other loses. But this is a horrible model for our increasingly interconnected world. We need to stop glorifying winners and teaching our young people to admire only the Olympic gold medalist or the World Champions. It is far better to encourage someone to embody the Olympic work ethic than to brainwash them that the only path to success is to beat everyone else.
    99.9% of us won’t beat everyone else. We won’t be great in the sense that we vanquish all others. But we still can be great in the sense that we consistently do our best and help others in a meaningful way.
    Give me 20 people who are consistently good and we can change the world. The same is true for you. Align yourself with people who care more about progress than pride, who have a bigger work ethic than ego. Get stuff done. Get excited by what you achieve, and share that excitement with others.
    While someone else is aiming for the stars, you will actually make a meaningful difference in our world and in the lives of people with whom you interact.

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    Leadership Is a Conversation

    Artwork: Adam Ekberg, Arrangement #1,2009, ink-jet print
    Listen to an interview with the authors of this article. 
    • Headset
    • Headset
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    The command-and-control approach to management has in recent years become less and less viable. Globalization, new technologies, and changes in how companies create value and interact with customers have sharply reduced the efficacy of a purely directive, top-down model of leadership. What will take the place of that model?

     Part of the answer lies in how leaders manage communication within their organizations—that is, how they handle the flow of information to, from, and among their employees. Traditional corporate communication must give way to a process that is more dynamic and more sophisticated. Most important, that process must be conversational.
    We arrived at that conclusion while conducting a recent research project that focused on the state of organizational communication in the 21st century. Over more than two years we interviewed professional communicators as well as top leaders at a variety of organizations—large and small, blue chip and start-up, for-profit and nonprofit, U.S. and international. 

    To date we have spoken with nearly 150 people at more than 100 companies. Both implicitly and explicitly, participants in our research mentioned their efforts to “have a conversation” with their people or their ambition to “advance the conversation” within their companies. Building upon the insights and examples gleaned from this research, we have developed a model of leadership that we call “organizational conversation.”
    Smart leaders today, we have found, engage with employees in a way that resembles an ordinary person-to-person conversation more than it does a series of commands from on high. Furthermore, they initiate practices and foster cultural norms that instill a conversational sensibility throughout their organizations. Chief among the benefits of this approach is that it allows a large or growing company to function like a small one. 

    By talking with employees, rather than simply issuing orders, leaders can retain or recapture some of the qualities—operational flexibility, high levels of employee engagement, tight strategic alignment—that enable start-ups to outperform better-established rivals.
    In developing our model, we have identified four elements of organizational conversation that reflect the essential attributes of interpersonal conversation: intimacy, interactivity, inclusion, and intentionality. Leaders who power their organizations through conversation-based practices need not (so to speak) dot all four of these i’s. However, as we’ve discovered in our research, these elements tend to reinforce one another. In the end, they coalesce to form a single integrated process.
    Intimacy: Getting Close

    Personal conversation flourishes to the degree that the participants stay close to each other, figuratively as well as literally. Organizational conversation, similarly, requires leaders to minimize the distances—institutional, attitudinal, and sometimes spatial—that typically separate them from their employees. 
    Where conversational intimacy prevails, those with decision-making authority seek and earn the trust (and hence the careful attention) of those who work under that authority. They do so by cultivating the art of listening to people at all levels of the organization and by learning to speak with employees directly and authentically. 
    Physical proximity between leaders and employees isn’t always feasible. Nor is it essential. What isessential is mental or emotional proximity. Conversationally adept leaders step down from their corporate perches and then step up to the challenge of communicating personally and transparently with their people.
    This intimacy distinguishes organizational conversation from long-standard forms of corporate communication. It shifts the focus from a top-down distribution of information to a bottom-up exchange of ideas. It’s less corporate in tone and more casual. And it’s less about issuing and taking orders than about asking and answering questions.
    Conversational intimacy can become manifest in various ways—among them gaining trust, listening well, and getting personal.
    Gaining trust.Where there is no trust, there can be no intimacy. For all practical purposes, the reverse is true as well. No one will dive into a heartfelt exchange of views with someone who seems to have a hidden agenda or a hostile manner, and any discussion that does unfold between two people will be rewarding and substantive only to the extent that each person can take the other at face value.

    But trust is hard to achieve. In organizations it has become especially difficult for employees to put trust in their leaders, who will earn it only if they are authentic and straightforward. That may mean addressing topics that feel off-limits, such as sensitive financial data.
    Athenahealth, a medical-records technology provider, has gone as far as to treat every last one of its employees as an “insider” under the strict legal meaning of the term. Insiders are defined as employees entrusted with strategic and financial information that could materially affect the company’s business prospects and hence its stock price—a status typically accorded only to top-tier officers. 
    Opening the books to such a degree was a risky move, discouraged by the company’s underwriters and frowned upon by the SEC. But Athenahealth’s leaders wanted employees to become insiders in more than just the regulatory sense; they wanted them to be thoroughly involved in the business.
    Listening well.Leaders who take organizational conversation seriously know when to stop talking and start listening. Few behaviors enhance conversational intimacy as much as attending to what people say. True attentiveness signals respect for people of all ranks and roles, a sense of curiosity, and even a degree of humility.
    Duke Energy’s president and CEO, James E. Rogers, instituted a series of what he called “listening sessions” when he was the CEO and chairman of Cinergy (which later merged with Duke). Meeting with groups of 90 to 100 managers in three-hour sessions, he invited participants to raise any pressing issues. Through these discussions he gleaned information that might otherwise have escaped his attention. 
    At one session, for example, he heard from a group of supervisors about a problem related to uneven compensation. “You know how long it would have taken for that to bubble up in the organization?” he asks. Having heard directly from those affected by the problem, he could instruct his HR department to find a solution right away.
    Getting personal.Rogers not only invited people to raise concerns about the company but also solicited feedback on his own performance. He asked employees at one session to grade him on a scale of A to F. The results, recorded anonymously, immediately appeared on a screen for all to see. The grades were generally good, but less than half of employees were willing to give him an A. He took the feedback seriously and began to conduct the exercise regularly. He also began asking open-ended questions about his performance. 
    Somewhat ironically, he found that “internal communication” was the area in which the highest number of participants believed he had room for improvement. Even as Rogers sought to get close to employees by way of organizational conversation, a fifth of his people were urging him to get closer still. True listening involves taking the bad with the good, absorbing criticism even when it is direct and personal—and even when those delivering it work for you.
    At Exelon, an energy provider headquartered in Chicago, a deeply personal form of organizational conversation emerged from a project aimed at bringing the company’s corporate values alive for its employees. Values statements typically do little to instill intimacy; they’re generally dismissed as just talk. So Exelon experimented in its communication about diversity, a core value: It used a series of short video clips—no fuss, no pretense, no high production values—of top leaders speaking unscripted, very personally, about what diversity meant to them. 
    They talked about race, sexual orientation, and other issues that rarely go on the table in a corporation. Ian McLean, then an Exelon finance executive, spoke of growing up in Manchester, England, the son of a working-class family, and feeling the sting of class prejudice. Responding to a question about a time when he felt “different,” he described going to work in a bank where most of his colleagues had upper-class backgrounds: “My accent was different....I wasn’t included, I wasn’t invited, and I was made to think I wasn’t quite as smart as they were....I never want anyone else to feel that [way] around me.” Such unadorned stories make a strong impression on employees.
    Interactivity: Promoting Dialogue

    A personal conversation, by definition, involves an exchange of comments and questions between two or more people. The sound of one person talking is not, obviously, a conversation. The same applies to organizational conversation, in which leaders talk withemployees and not just tothem. This interactivity makes the conversation open and fluid rather than closed and directive. It entails shunning the simplicity of monologue and embracing the unpredictable vitality of dialogue. The pursuit of interactivity reinforces, and builds upon, intimacy: Efforts to close gaps between employees and their leaders will founder if employees don’t have both the tools and the institutional support they need to speak up and (where appropriate) talk back.

    In part, a shift toward greater interactivity reflects a shift in the use of communication channels. For decades, technology made it difficult or impossible to support interaction within organizations of any appreciable size. The media that companies used to achieve scale and efficiency in their communications—print and broadcast, in particular—operated in one direction only. But new channels have disrupted that one-way structure. Social technology gives leaders and their employees the ability to invest an organizational setting with the style and spirit of personal conversation.
    Yet interactivity isn’t just a matter of finding and deploying the right technology. Equally if not more important is the need to buttress social media with social thinking. Too often, an organization’s prevailing culture works against any attempt to transform corporate communication into a two-way affair. For many executives and managers, the temptation to treat every medium at their disposal as if it were a megaphone has proved hard to resist. In some companies, however, leaders have fostered a genuinely interactive culture—values, norms, and behaviors that create a welcoming space for dialogue.
    To see how interactivity works, consider Cisco Systems. As it happens, Cisco makes and sells various products that fall under the social technology umbrella. In using them internally, its people have explored the benefits of enabling high-quality back-and-forth communication. One such product, TelePresence, simulates an in-person meeting by beaming video feeds between locations. Multiple large screens create a wraparound effect, and specially designed meeting tables (in an ideal configuration) mirror one another so that users feel as if they were seated at the same piece of furniture. 

    In one sense this is a more robust version of a web-based video chat, with none of the delays or hiccups that typically mar online video. More important, it masters the critical issue of visual scale. When Cisco engineers studied remote interactions, they found that if the on-screen image of a person is less than 80% of his or her true size, those who see the image are less engaged in talking with that person. TelePresence participants appear life-size and can look one another in the eye.
    TelePresence is a sophisticated technology tool, but what it enables is the recovery of immediate, spontaneous give-and-take. Randy Pond, Cisco’s executive vice president of operations, processes, and systems, thinks this type of interaction offers the benefit of the “whole” conversation—a concept he illustrated for us with an anecdote. 
    Sitting at his desk for a video conference one day, he could see video feeds of several colleagues on his computer screen when he made a comment to the group and a participant “just put his head in his hands”—presumably in dismay, and presumably not considering that Pond could see him. “I said, ‘I can see you,’” Pond told us. “‘If you disagree, tell me.’” Pond was then able to engage with his skeptical colleague to get the “whole story.” A less interactive form of communication might have produced such information eventually—but far less efficiently.
    At the crux of Cisco’s communication culture is its CEO, John Chambers, who holds various forums to keep in touch with employees. About every other month, for instance, he leads a “birthday chat,” open to any Cisco employee whose birthday falls in the relevant two-month period. Senior managers aren’t invited, lest their presence keep attendees from speaking openly. Chambers also records a video blog about once a month—a brief, improvisational message delivered by e-mail to all employees.
     The use of video allows him to speak to his people directly, informally, and without a script; it suggests immediacy and builds trust. And despite the inherently one-way nature of a video blog, Chambers and his team have made it interactive by inviting video messages as well as text comments from employees.
    Inclusion: Expanding Employees’ Roles
    At its best, personal conversation is an equal-opportunity endeavor. It enables participants to share ownership of the substance of their discussion. As a consequence, they can put their own ideas—and, indeed, their hearts and souls—into the conversational arena. Organizational conversation, by the same token, calls on employees to participate in generating the content that makes up a company’s story. Inclusive leaders, by counting employees among a company’s official or quasi-official communicators, turn those employees into full-fledged conversation partners. In the process, such leaders raise the level of emotional engagement that employees bring to company life in general.
    Inclusion adds a critical dimension to the elements of intimacy and interactivity. Whereas intimacy involves the efforts of leaders to get closer to employees, inclusion focuses on the role that employees play in that process. It also extends the practice of interactivity by enabling employees to provide their own ideas—often on official company channels—rather than simply parrying the ideas that others present. It enables them to serve as frontline content providers.
    In the standard corporate communication model, top executives and professional communicators monopolize the creation of content and keep a tight rein on what people write or say on official company channels. But when a spirit of inclusion takes hold, engaged employees can adopt important new roles, creating content themselves and acting as brand ambassadors, thought leaders, and storytellers.
    Brand ambassadors.When employees feel passionate about their company’s products and services, they become living representatives of the brand. This can and does happen organically—lots of people love what they do for a living and will talk it up on their own time. But some companies actively promote that kind of behavior. Coca-Cola, for instance, has created a formal ambassadorship program, aimed at encouraging employees to promote the Coke image and product line in speech and in practice. 
    The Coke intranet provides resources such as a tool that connects employees to company-sponsored volunteer activities. The centerpiece of the program is a list of nine ambassadorial behaviors, which include helping the company “win at the point of sale” (by taking it on themselves to tidy store displays in retail outlets, for example), relaying sales leads, and reporting instances in which a retailer has run out of a Coke product.

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    Turning science on its head

    Harvard neuroscientists have made a discovery that turns 160 years of neuroanatomy on its head.

    Myelin, the electrical insulating material in the body long known to be essential for the fast transmission of impulses along the axons of nerve cells, is not as ubiquitous as thought, according to new work led by Professor Paola Arlotta of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) and the University’sDepartment of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, in collaboration with Professor Jeff Lichtman of Harvard’s Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology.
    “Myelin is a relatively recent invention during evolution,” says Arlotta. “It’s thought that myelin allowed the brain to communicate really fast to the far reaches of the body, and that it has endowed the brain with the capacity to compute higher-level functions.”
    In fact, loss of myelin is a feature in a number of devastating diseases, includingmultiple sclerosis and schizophrenia.
    But the new research shows that despite myelin’s essential roles in the brain, “some of the most evolved, most complex neurons of the nervous system have less myelin than older, more ancestral ones,” said Arlotta, co-director of the HSCI neuroscience program.
    What this means, she said, is that the higher one looks in the cerebral cortex — closer to the top of the brain, which is its most evolved part — the less myelin one finds.  Not only that, but “neurons in this part of the brain display a brand-new way of positioning myelin along their axons that has not been previously seen. They have ‘intermittent myelin’ with long axon tracts that lack myelin interspersed among myelin-rich segments.”
    “Contrary to the common assumptions that neurons use a universal profile of myelin distribution on their axons, the work indicates that different neurons choose to myelinate their axons differently,” Arlotta said. “In classic neurobiology textbooks, myelin is represented on axons as a sequence of myelinated segments separated by very short nodes that lack myelin. This distribution of myelin was tacitly assumed to be always the same, on every neuron, from the beginning to the end of the axon. This new work finds this not to be the case.”
    The results of the research by Arlotta and postdoctoral fellow Giulio Srubek Tomassy, the first author on the report, are published in the latest edition of the journal Science.
    The paper is accompanied by a “perspective” by R. Douglas Fields of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health, who said that Arlotta and Tomassy’s findings raise important questions about the purpose of myelin, and “are likely to spark new concepts about how information is transmitted and integrated in the brain.”
    Arlotta and Tomassy collaborated closely on the new work with postdoctoral fellow Daniel Berger of the Lichtman lab, which generated one of the two massive electron microscopy databases that made the work possible.
    “The fact that it is the most evolved neurons, the ones that have expanded dramatically in humans, suggest that what we’re seeing might be the ‘future.’ As neuronal diversity increases and the brain needs to process more and more complex information, neurons change the way they use myelin to achieve more,” said Arlotta.
    Tomassy said it is possible that these profiles of myelination “may be giving neurons an opportunity to branch out and ‘talk’ to neighboring neurons.” For example, because axons cannot make synaptic contacts when they are myelinated, one possibility is that these long myelin gaps may be needed to increase neuronal communication and synchronize responses across different neurons. He and Arlotta postulate that the intermittent myelin may be intended to fine-tune the electrical impulses traveling along the axons, in order to allow the emergence of highly complex neuronal behaviors.

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    How Companies Can Leverage Global Trends to Drive Growth

    The business landscape for companies is changing as a result of global trends such as aging populations in the U.S. and other major economies, corruption, geo-political risks, and the potential of 3-D printing and robotics, among others. 
    Mauro Guillen, a Wharton management professor and director of Wharton’s Lauder Institute, spoke recently with Knowledge@Wharton about how companies can leverage these trends to come up with strategies to drive profitable growth. Guillen will also teach a free online course on this theme via Coursera starting May 5. 
    An edited transcript of the conversation appears below.
    Knowledge@Wharton: Let’s imagine that we have here with us a group of executives from multinational corporations. What are some of the most important global trends that they should be paying attention to?
    Mauro Guillen: Well, there are several of these trends. And, of course, all these trends can be seen as threats on some level. But they actually represent major opportunities. We’re seeing, for example, major trends in terms of population shifts around the world.
     The centers of gravity of the global economy are shifting away from Europe, the United States and Japan toward the emerging economies. That is where the markets of the future will be. That’s where the middle class of the future will be. And hence, consumer markets are going to be gravitating towards those parts of the world.
    We also see trends in terms of geo-politics where the risks are where the natural resources are in the world. And finally, we are seeing very important financial trends. We’re seeing that there are certain countries in the world that are accumulating more and more reserves.
     They are accumulating more and more firepower for the future. That’s going to bring about realignments in currencies around the world. As a result of those shifts, companies will need to change the structure of their operations.
    Knowledge@Wharton: These are a great group of topics that you’ve laid out. Why don’t we start with the demographics? In some other contexts, you have referred to the fact that this is probably the first time in history that you have more grandparents living in the world than grandchildren. What are the consequences of the aging population? How does this affect, say, banks or other companies’ products and services?
    Guillen: Well, you’re exactly right. Population aging is a very important phenomenon. It has been going on for the last 20 years but at this time and moving forward into the next five or 10 years, it’s going to reach critical levels. For banks, for example, what this means is that they are going to find it harder to attract deposits. 
    Deposits are the easiest and cheapest way for banks to get funding. So, banks will have to look for alternative sources of funding, precisely at a time when regulators are asking them to maintain higher capital ratios. Also, the kinds of products banks sell to customers are will have to change as a result of older populations around the world. They will need other kinds of savings and investment products.
    But companies in any industry will have to watch this trend towards population aging very carefully. And, once again, there are some threats. Some companies will see business lines shrink, [and] their markets disappear. But at the same time, these more graphic trends also create new opportunities that can be measured in the hundreds of billions of dollars.
    Knowledge@Wharton: What’s an example of a new opportunity that has been created either for a bank or some other company because of this aging population?
    Guillen: Well, for banks, new types of financial products such as reverse mortgages or investment products with downside protection are now so much more popular because we have more customers of banks that happen to be in their 60s, 70s or 80s. And for companies, [it would be] any type of product or service that has to do with the so-called leisure industries.
     People in their 60s or 70s or 80s, many of them retired, have more time. They would like to use that time productively. So, as a result, there are huge opportunities for launching new products and services that essentially keep people busy in retirement.
    Knowledge@Wharton: For example, would you say that industries like travel and tourism may see an increase [in business] because of what you just said?
    Guillen: Absolutely. And in particular, certain segments within the tourism industry are going to grow — for example, cultural tourism. Given that today, grandparents in the world are actually much better educated than say, 20 or 40 or 60 years ago, the tourism industry and the leisure industry need to move away from just beach and sun and toward cultural tourism, for example.
    Knowledge@Wharton: What about industries like health care or real estate? How can they come up with products and services aimed at an older demographic client base?
    Guillen: Health care obviously will go through very rapid growth in many parts of the world, especially in the American economies. Let’s not forget that population aging is not only taking place in Europe, Japan and the United States but it’s also a very important trend in China. 
    It’s also a very important trend in Russia. In other words, one should expect major investments in health care, in medical equipment, in health care personnel and so on and so forth in some of the American economies.
    Knowledge@Wharton: One of the things that sometimes concerns me is if everybody in the world sees this trend, that the population is aging, and they all rush to create reverse mortgages and products and services for the elderly, isn’t there likely to be a considerable oversupply and actually, people will be worse off because of that?
    Guillen: Eventually there will be a lot of companies and a lot of banks interested in providing goods and services for that segment of the population. But right now, way more than half of the current needs are still going unsatisfied in the marketplace. This is true in the United States. This is true, I think, in many countries around the world. 
    At the same time, just the sheer number of people in their 60s or their 70s or their 80s is going to grow very, very quickly. My sense right now is that supply, meaning the number  of companies that are offering these goods and services, is lagging seriously behind the demand. That will continue to be the case for the next five or 10 years.
    Knowledge@Wharton: Let us switch to global financial trends. Until now we have had the U.S. dollar almost solely as the reserve currency for the world because it’s accepted everywhere. But slowly, the Chinese renminbi seems to be becoming stronger. What do you think is likely to happen? How should companies factor that into their growth plans?
    Guillen: We are going through a transition phase in terms of the global financial architecture. As you pointed out, the dollar has played a dominant role in the global system for the last 60 years or so. But then that … post World War II period was a time when the U.S. economy was the biggest by a wide margin and when the U.S. was the biggest trading nation in the world. Right now, China is already the biggest trading nation. And the Chinese economy may, within five years or at most 10 years, become the largest economy in the world.
    So, the global economy needs the Chinese currency to play a role. And we’re starting to see the beginnings of that, especially in East Asia. Countries such as Thailand or Indonesia or the Philippines are starting to think about how to increasingly link their economies to China, not only in terms of trade flows but also in terms of financial flows and currencies. 
    This is going to change the landscape for all companies, even if they don’t operate in China because companies will need to do hedging, for example, in a different way. They will need to revisit their cash flows around the world. So, the treasury functions at major multinational firms are going to have to do a lot of homework in order to adapt to the new realities in the global financial architecture.
    Knowledge@Wharton: What are the implications for the world economy were the renminbi to become a dominant currency?
    Guillen: First of all, I don’t think it’s going to become a dominant currency in the sense that [it will] displace the dollar. We are moving into a kind of world in which the renminbi at some point will play a role alongside with the dollar and the euro and perhaps a couple of other currencies. The Indian rupee, at some point in the next 20 or 30 years, will also play a role if growth in India continues. 
    But the important thing to keep in mind is that multinational firms, because of the complexity of their operations, move money around the world because they generate revenue in one part of the world [and] get funds from another part of the world. They keep their money in certain parts of the world because maybe taxes are lower and so on.
    What I’m suggesting is that in the next five to 10 years, most of these companies will need to revisit the assumptions that they have been working with when it comes to making decisions [on] money flows inside of the firm.
     If they don’t, that’s going to have a big impact on their profitability and on the amount of money at the end of the year they’ll be able to offer their shareholders in return for the funds they have given the company to operate.
    Knowledge@Wharton: That’s clearly both an opportunity and a risk. What are some of the other major risks, especially on the geo-political front? How companies should hedge their risks — or are there opportunities in those risks?
    Guillen: The biggest risk now and looking down the road for the next five years or so has to do with a combination of factors. There are certain parts of the world where we see very young populations. The population is growing rapidly. At the same time, we see that corruption is a problem, [especially] government corruption. We also see political instability. On top of all of that, these are countries that happen to have a lot of natural resources — energy, minerals and so on.
    I’m referring to some parts of Latin America, but mostly to sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and some parts of South Asia. This so-called “long arc of instability in the world” that stretches from Latin America all the way to Southeast Asia and then reaches a climax in sub-Saharan Africa — [is] a major source of volatility and risk to the entire global economy. 
    One cannot understand, for example, nowadays, the fluctuations in commodity prices or in energy prices [and] the extreme volatility, without taking into account this combination of factors.
    Knowledge@Wharton: How do we hedge those risks? What do we do?
    Guillen: Well, companies on an individual basis certainly need to be very careful as to where they invest, but more importantly, how they invest. The issue is not, “Oh, are there a number of countries out there that I need to avoid?”
     No, I don’t think that’s the right way of thinking about the problem. The right way of thinking about the problem is, “If I want to be a multinational firm, a truly global company, I need to operate in a variety of markets. Based on that assumption, what is the best way of operating?”
    I would, in particular, recommend that companies think about staging their investments, [and] keep their options open. If unpredictable events happen, then they can quickly rearrange their operations in such a way that a crisis in a particular part of the world doesn’t affect their operations and their profitability on a worldwide basis.
    Knowledge@Wharton: One more risk that we hear about a lot these days is cyber terrorism. Part of the challenge seems to be that very often the threat may come either from some governments or from amorphous groups of hackers that don’t have a state. What is likely to happen as far as that is concerned?
    Guillen: Yes, cyber risks or risks related to our increasing reliance on information systems and telecommunications and the transfer of information all over the world are clearly going to be on the increase. We have obtained many advantages from the information and telecommunications revolutions.
     We have cut costs. We have enabled companies to essentially pursue opportunities in many different kinds of markets, to relate to their customers in different markets, to look for the lowest-cost platforms on which to manufacture their products and so on.
    There are many benefits to information and telecommunications technologies, both [for] the firm and [for] society as a whole. But there are also risks. Increasingly, over the last three to five years, we’ve seen an increase in precisely those kinds of risks that come in some cases from governments, but most likely from individuals who essentially want to make a dent.
     [They would] maybe spend a few years in jail and then leave and become consultants to major multinational firms or governments, which is what some of them do — which is a replay of “Catch Me If You Can,” the movie.
    The issue here is essentially, what should individual companies do? [They should] ensure that nothing that they view as a strategic asset or resource can be affected by a cyber-attack. Not all resources [or] assets inside of a corporation are equally vital. 
    The company needs to make sure that it understands where the five or six or seven things are that they don’t want anybody to lay their hands on. And they have to protect those things very carefully.
    Knowledge@Wharton: Fifteen years ago if you were to look at the Internet, it would have been very difficult for anyone to predict that social media would become a powerful force. Or that a company like Twitter may come into existence and its platform will have the power even to topple governments. Looking at the next 15 years, what do you see?
    Guillen: There are at least two very exciting and promising areas [where we will] see a lot of action. One is the intersection of information technologies and robotics. This is going to transform manufacturing. It is going to transform the way in which we consume goods and services. It is going to transform education.
     I wouldn’t be surprised if in five years from now I am redundant as a professor and we can have a robot in the classroom actually doing probably a much better job. This is going to transform the automobile industry, as we know. It’s already transforming surgical procedures at hospitals.
    This combination of informatics and robotics … [is where] we see a lot of activity, both in terms of startups and also established corporations that are making big investments.
    The other area is more broadly in the use of artificial intelligence. A third area [is] 3-D printing. Right now, most of the visionary applications one reads about strike one as being crazy or outlandish. But we are only at the beginnings of a major trend in terms of decentralizing manufacturing, especially of very specific parts and components. 
    So, 3-D printing has the potential of revolutionizing quite a few things. [It can also enable] poor and disadvantaged people and countries and communities to perhaps play a more important role in the global economy.

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    How Successful People Stay Calm

    The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a directlink to your performance. Talent Smart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control.
    If you’ve followed my work, you’ve read some startling research summaries that explore the havoc stress can wreak on one’s physical and mental health (such as the Yale study, which found that prolonged stress causes degeneration in the area of the brain responsible for self-control). The tricky thing about stress (and the anxiety that comes with it) is that it’s an absolutely necessary emotion. Our brains are wired such that it’s difficult to take action until we feel at least some level of this emotional state. In fact, performance peaks under the heightened activation that comes with moderate levels of stress. As long as the stress isn’t prolonged, it’s harmless.
    New research from the University of California, Berkeley, reveals an upside to experiencing moderate levels of stress. But it also reinforces how important it is to keep stress under control. The study, led by post-doctoral fellow Elizabeth Kirby, found that the onset of stress entices the brain into growing new cells responsible for improved memory. However, this effect is only seen when stress is intermittent. As soon as the stress continues beyond a few moments into a prolonged state, it suppresses the brain’s ability to develop new cells.
    “I think intermittent stressful events are probably what keeps the brain more alert, and you perform better when you are alert,” Kirby says. For animals, intermittent stress is the bulk of what they experience, in the form of physical threats in their immediate environment. Long ago, this was also the case for humans. As the human brain evolved and increased in complexity, we’ve developed the ability to worry and perseverate on events, which creates frequent experiences of prolonged stress.
    Besides increasing your risk of heart disease, depression, and obesity, stress decreases your cognitive performance. Fortunately, though, unless a lion is chasing you, the bulk of your stress is subjective and under your control. Top performers have well-honed coping strategies that they employ under stressful circumstances. This lowers their stress levels regardless of what’s happening in their environment, ensuring that the stress they experience is intermittent and not prolonged.
    While I’ve run across numerous effective strategies that successful people employ when faced with stress, what follows are ten of the best. Some of these strategies may seem obvious, but the real challenge lies in recognizing when you need to use them and having the wherewithal to actually do so in spite of your stress.
    They Appreciate What They Have
    Taking time to contemplate what you’re grateful for isn’t merely the “right” thing to do. It also improves your mood, because it reduces the stress hormone cortisol by 23%. Research conducted at the University of California, Davis found that people who worked daily to cultivate an attitude of gratitude experienced improved mood, energy, and physical well-being. It’s likely that lower levels of cortisol played a major role in this.
    They Avoid Asking “What If?”
    “What if?” statements throw fuel on the fire of stress and worry. Things can go in a million different directions, and the more time you spend worrying about the possibilities, the less time you’ll spend focusing on taking action that will calm you down and keep your stress under control. Calm people know that asking “what if? will only take them to a place they don’t want—or need—to go.
    They Stay Positive
    Positive thoughts help make stress intermittent by focusing your brain’s attention onto something that is completely stress-free. You have to give your wandering brain a little help by consciously selecting something positive to think about. Any positive thought will do to refocus your attention. When things are going well, and your mood is good, this is relatively easy. When things are going poorly, and your mind is flooded with negative thoughts, this can be a challenge. In these moments, think about your day and identify one positive thing that happened, no matter how small. If you can’t think of something from the current day, reflect on the previous day or even the previous week. Or perhaps you’re looking forward to an exciting event that you can focus your attention on. The point here is that you must have something positive that you’re ready to shift your attention to when your thoughts turn negative.
    They Disconnect
    Given the importance of keeping stress intermittent, it’s easy to see how taking regular time off the grid can help keep your stress under control. When you make yourself available to your work 24/7, you expose yourself to a constant barrage of stressors. Forcing yourself offline and even—gulp!—turning off your phone gives your body a break from a constant source of stress. Studies have shown that something as simple as an email break can lower stress levels.
    Technology enables constant communication and the expectation that you should be available 24/7. It is extremely difficult to enjoy a stress-free moment outside of work when an email that will change your train of thought and get you thinking (read: stressing) about work can drop onto your phone at any moment. If detaching yourself from work-related communication on weekday evenings is too big a challenge, then how about the weekend? Choose blocks of time where you cut the cord and go offline. You’ll be amazed at how refreshing these breaks are and how they reduce stress by putting a mental recharge into your weekly schedule. If you’re worried about the negative repercussions of taking this step, first try doing it at times when you’re unlikely to be contacted—maybe Sunday morning. As you grow more comfortable with it, and as your coworkers begin to accept the time you spend offline, gradually expand the amount of time you spend away from technology.
    They Limit Their Caffeine Intake
    Drinking caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline. Adrenaline is the source of the “fight-or-flight” response, a survival mechanism that forces you to stand up and fight or run for the hills when faced with a threat. The fight-or-flight mechanism sidesteps rational thinking in favor of a faster response. This is great when a bear is chasing you, but not so great when you’re responding to a curt email. When caffeine puts your brain and body into this hyperaroused state of stress, your emotions overrun your behavior. The stress that caffeine creates is far from intermittent, as its long half-life ensures that it takes its sweet time working its way out of your body.

    They Sleep
    I’ve beaten this one to death over the years and can’t say enough about the importance of sleep to increasing your emotional intelligence and managing your stress levels. When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, shuffling through the day’s memories and storing or discarding them (which causes dreams), so that you wake up alert and clear-headed. Your self-control, attention, and memory are all reduced when you don’t get enough—or the right kind—of sleep. Sleep deprivation raises stress hormone levels on its own, even without a stressor present. Stressful projects often make you feel as if you have no time to sleep, but taking the time to get a decent night’s sleep is often the one thing keeping you from getting things under control.
    They Squash Negative Self-Talk
    A big step in managing stress involves stopping negative self-talk in its tracks. The more you ruminate on negative thoughts, the more power you give them. Most of our negative thoughts are just that—thoughts, not facts. When you find yourself believing the negative and pessimistic things, your inner voice says, “It’s time to stop and write them down.” Literally stop what you’re doing and write down what you’re thinking. Once you’ve taken a moment to slow down the negative momentum of your thoughts, you will be more rational and clear-headed in evaluating their veracity.
    You can bet that your statements aren’t true any time you use words like “never,” “worst,” “ever,” etc. If your statements still look like facts once they’re on paper, take them to a friend or colleague you trust and see if he or she agrees with you. Then the truth will surely come out. When it feels like something always or never happens, this is just your brain’s natural threat tendency inflating the perceived frequency or severity of an event. Identifying and labeling your thoughts as thoughts by separating them from the facts will help you escape the cycle of negativity and move toward a positive new outlook.
    They Reframe Their Perspective
    Stress and worry are fueled by our own skewed perception of events. It’s easy to think that unrealistic deadlines, unforgiving bosses, and out-of-control traffic are the reasons we’re so stressed all the time. You can’t control your circumstances, but you can control how you respond to them. So before you spend too much time dwelling on something, take a minute to put the situation in perspective. If you aren’t sure when you need to do this, try looking for clues that your anxiety may not be proportional to the stressor. If you’re thinking in broad, sweeping statements such as “Everything is going wrong” or “Nothing will work out,” then you need to reframe the situation. A great way to correct this unproductive thought pattern is to list the specific things that actually are going wrong or not working out. Most likely you will come up with just some things—not everything—and the scope of these stressors will look much more limited than it initially appeared.
    They Breathe
    The easiest way to make stress intermittent lies in something that you have to do everyday anyway: breathing. The practice of being in the moment with your breathing will begin to train your brain to focus solely on the task at hand and get the stress monkey off your back. When you’re feeling stressed, take a couple of minutes to focus on your breathing. Close the door, put away all other distractions, and just sit in a chair and breathe. The goal is to spend the entire time focused only on your breathing, which will prevent your mind from wandering. Think about how it feels to breathe in and out. This sounds simple, but it’s hard to do for more than a minute or two. It’s all right if you get sidetracked by another thought; this is sure to happen at the beginning, and you just need to bring your focus back to your breathing. If staying focused on your breathing proves to be a real struggle, try counting each breath in and out until you get to 20, and then start again from 1. Don’t worry if you lose count; you can always just start over.
    This task may seem too easy or even a little silly, but you’ll be surprised by how calm you feel afterward and how much easier it is to let go of distracting thoughts that otherwise seem to have lodged permanently inside your brain.
    They Use Their Support System
    It’s tempting, yet entirely ineffective, to attempt tackling everything by yourself. To be calm and productive, you need to recognize your weaknesses and ask for help when you need it. This means tapping into your support system when a situation is challenging enough for you to feel overwhelmed. Everyone has someone at work and/or outside work who is on their team, rooting for them, and ready to help them get the best from a difficult situation. Identify these individuals in your life and make an effort to seek their insight and assistance when you need it. Something as simple as talking about your worries will provide an outlet for your anxiety and stress and supply you with a new perspective on the situation. Most of the time, other people can see a solution that you can’t because they are not as emotionally invested in the situation. Asking for help will mitigate your stress and strengthen your relationships with those you rely upon.

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    9 Things Emotionally Intelligent People Won't Do

    My last article, How Successful People Stay Calm, really struck a nerve (it has more than a million reads here on Forbes).
    The trick is that managing your emotions is as much about what you won’t do as it is about what you will do. My company, TalentSmart, has tested the emotional intelligence of more than a million people, so I went back to the data to uncover the kinds of things that emotionally intelligent people are careful to avoid in order to keep themselves calm, content, and in control. They consciously avoid these behaviors because they are tempting and easy to fall into if one isn’t careful.
    While the list that follows isn’t exhaustive, it presents nine key things that you can avoid in order to increase your emotional intelligence.
    They Won’t Let Anyone Limit Their Joy
    When your sense of pleasure and satisfaction are derived from comparing yourself to others, you are no longer the master of your own happiness. When emotionally intelligent people feel good about something that they’ve done, they won’t let anyone’s opinions or accomplishments take that away from them.
    While it’s impossible to turn off your reactions to what others think of you, you don’t have to compare yourself to others, and you can always take people’s opinions with a grain of salt. That way, no matter what other people are thinking or doing, your self-worth comes from within. Regardless of what people think of you at any particular moment, one thing is certain—you’re never as good or bad as they say you are.
    They Won’t Forget
    Emotionally intelligent people are quick to forgive, but that doesn’t mean that they forget. Forgiveness requires letting go of what’s happened so that you can move on. It doesn’t mean you’ll give a wrongdoer another chance. Emotionally intelligent people are unwilling to be bogged down unnecessarily by others’ mistakes, so they let them go quickly and are assertive in protecting themselves from future harm.
    They Won’t Die in the Fight
    Emotionally intelligent people know how important it is to live to fight another day. In conflict, unchecked emotion makes you dig your heels in and fight the kind of battle that can leave you severely damaged. When you read and respond to your emotions, you’re able to choose your battles wisely and only stand your ground when the time is right.
    They Won’t Prioritize Perfection
    Emotionally intelligent people won’t set perfection as their target because they know it doesn’t exist. Human beings, by our very nature, are fallible. When perfection is your goal, you’re always left with a nagging sense of failure, and you end up spending your time lamenting what you failed to accomplish and what you should have done differently instead of enjoying what you were able to achieve.
    They Won’t Live in the Past
    Failure can erode your self-confidence and make it hard to believe you’ll achieve a better outcome in the future. Most of the time, failure results from taking risks and trying to achieve something that isn’t easy. Emotionally intelligent people know that success lies in their ability to rise in the face of failure, and they can’t do this when they’re living in the past. Anything worth achieving is going to require you to take some risks, and you can’t allow failure to stop you from believing in your ability to succeed. When you live in the past, that is exactly what happens, and your past becomes your present, preventing you from moving forward.
    They Won’t Dwell on Problems
    Where you focus your attention determines your emotional state. When you fixate on the problems that you’re facing, you create and prolong negative emotions and stress, which hinders performance. When you focus on actions to better yourself and your circumstances, you create a sense of personal efficacy that produces positive emotions and improves performance. Emotionally intelligent people won’t dwell on problems because they know they’re most effective when they focus on solutions.
    They Won’t Hang Around Negative People
    Complainers are bad news because they wallow in their problems and fail to focus on solutions. They want people to join their pity party so that they can feel better about themselves. People often feel pressure to listen to complainers because they don’t want to be seen as callous or rude, but there’s a fine line between lending a sympathetic ear and getting sucked into their negative emotional spiral. You can avoid getting drawn in only by setting limits and distancing yourself when necessary. Think of it this way: if a person were smoking, would you sit there all afternoon inhaling the second-hand smoke? You’d distance yourself, and you should do the same with complainers. A great way to set limits is to ask complainers how they intend to fix a problem. The complainer will then either quiet down or redirect the conversation in a productive direction.
    They Won’t Hold Grudges
    The negative emotions that come with holding onto a grudge are actually a stress response. Just thinking about the event involved sends your body into fight-or-flight mode. When a threat is imminent, this reaction is essential to your survival, but when a threat is ancient history, holding onto that stress wreaks havoc on your body and can have devastating health consequences over time. In fact, researchers at Emory University have shown that holding onto stress contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease. Holding onto a grudge means you’re holding onto stress, and emotionally intelligent people know to avoid this at all costs. Learning to let go of a grudge will not only make you feel better now but can also improve your health.
    They Won’t Say Yes Unless They Really Want To
    Research conducted at the University of California in San Francisco shows that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression. Saying no is indeed a major challenge for most people. “No” is a powerful word that you should not be afraid to wield. When it’s time to say no, emotionally intelligent people avoid phrases like “I don’t think I can” or “I’m not certain.” Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to successfully fulfill them.

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    The amazing thing about IKEA

    IKEA should have failed. I recently went shopping at IKEA over the Easter weekend. It felt overcrowded and it seemed that the customers outnumbered the floor staff by 100 to 1. There was absolutely no customer service if I had a problem or question to ask.

    While shopping in the huge bedroom section of IKEA, I was reminded of a queen size bed that I tried to assemble on my own. With no prior carpentry experience and IKEA's sometimes cryptic instructions, I spent half a day of blood, sweat and tears (Ok, maybe no blood but definitely a backache from lifting the heavy bed frame) assembling that piece of furniture. It's hard to imagine that I actually paid for this once in a lifetime experience. 

    I'm pretty sure that this experience is repeated throughout the world over a thousand or maybe a million times over.
    By conventional business thinking, a retail organisation that has minimum in-store customer service, products that require you to figure out and assemble yourself, could hardly be a recipe for success.
    So IKEA should have failed.

    But we can see, this is not true. In fact, IKEA is growing from strength to strength. She is opening more stores globally and it's brand equity is getting stronger. Looking at IKEA's annual report, her sales has grown steadily from EUR 23.8 billion in 2010 to EUR 29.2 billion in 2013 (a 22% increase).

    So why is IKEA so amazing?

    My opinion is that IKEA has a clear marketing message and is religiously consistent about it. IKEA has a simple and clear message.
    We offer affordable furniture through customer self service.
    No matter where you are and no matter when, the message is consistently applied in all actions and marketing. The expectation has been set and it remains steadfast and consistent.

    The other secret is to never assume that you truly understand your customer. Give customers and the market, the luxury of choice. Through conventional wisdom of customer service, you wouldn't give your customers a choice to do something as difficult as assembling your own product for you. But IKEA did.
    Surprisingly there were quite a number of customers like me who choose to assemble their own furniture.
    Perhaps, it was difficult for some of us to assemble it. Perhaps, it was a piece of cake for others. But regardless how you felt making it, you almost always ended up feeling a sense of accomplishment on completing your own handiwork. It might be flawed, scratched or crooked but it was a labour of your love.

    Now let's turn back the clock to 1943 before the existence of IKEA. The founder of IKEA Ingvar Kamprad approaches you as an investor. He meets you for the first time as a 17 year old and draws out his vision.
    IKEA will offer the world's most affordable furniture. (Even though Sweden has one of the world's most expensive labour). He is going to deliver this revolutionary new cost model by eliminating most of the labour intensive activities such as in-store customer service staff. IKEA will have the customers assemble the furniture themselves without any training and experience. And to top it up, it will a 30 billion dollar business applicable to 42 countries globally.

    Would you invest?


    That is the amazing thing about IKEA.

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    How Challenge and Adversity Can Actually Help Your Career

    My grandfather, whose formal schooling never exceeded the third grade, was one of the wisest men I ever knew. Laboring from dark to dark on a Missouri farm as a boy and enduring the Great Depression as a young husband and father, he certainly had his share of hardship. But he knew how to keep tough times in perspective. He once told me “You don’t drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there.”
    That sage advice can apply to anyone in any station in life. And it certainly applies to people in leadership positions.
    Leadership, whether on the local school board or as head of a giant corporation, frequently has bumps and potholes in the road. Yet most of the “leadership literature” seems to glide past the hardship. And many leadersseem to prefer focusing on the triumphs, as though honest discussion of mistakes and misfortune would somehow make them look weak or lacking in confidence.
    Steven Snyder, whose own experience ranges from working with Bill Gates in the early years at Microsoft  to serving as CEO of a publicly held company, is not at all shy about discussing how leadership’s downsides can contribution to the upsides. 
    He’s author of Leadership and the Art of Struggle: How Great Leaders Grow Through Challenge and Adversity. The book is based on real-life stories drawn from extensive research into more than 150 diverse episodes of leadership struggle. The insights are relevant to any leader who’s determined to make lemonade out of a lemon.
    Rodger Dean Duncan: In Leadership and the Art of Struggle, you write that challenge and adversity provide the crucible for greatness. Give us a couple of quick examples.
    Steven Snyder: The true test of leadership is when things get really tough. Old strategies don’t work anymore, and you need to invent new ways to cope with the emerging realities.  We can only imagine what it must have been like to be Abraham Lincoln—the nation coming apart, brothers fighting brothers.  In the business world, the story of Anne Mulcahy stands out, when she took over leadership of XEROX as the company teetered on bankruptcy.
    As I interviewed top leaders in my research, I asked them to tell me about the times when they faced their most intense challenge. They told me of the harrowing moments when they weren’t sure how things would turn out. One example is Kathee Tesija, who took over as chief merchant of Target TGT +0.15% in 2008, just as the nation entered the worst financial crisis in decades. Customer buying patterns changed abruptly and every merchandising decision had to be re-evaluated in real time. Like Lincoln and Mulcahy, Tesija rose to the occasion. Showing remarkable courage, all of these leaders navigated through their ordeals, their achievements eclipsing what would have been possible during “ordinary times.”
    Duncan: Transforming pitfalls into possibilities is obviously more than just positive thinking. What’s the key?

    Snyder: Psychologists have discovered that a very simple “bit flip” in your brain can make all the difference. They call this the “growth mindset.”  People who transform their problems into learning opportunities perform better because they are constantly looking for ways to improve their capabilities, throwing out old dysfunctional patterns and replacing them with habits more adaptive and aligned with current circumstances.
    Duncan: What are the first couple of things a leader should do when confronted by a major problem or disappointment?
    Snyder: Disappointments often throw leaders off-balance, filling them with rage or depression, disrupting physical well-being, and potentially undermining the very relationships that are so critical to success. It’s essential to recognize that you are off-balance and take proactive and intentional steps to get back into flow, that state of optimal human performance. Pause. Slow down. Breathe. Consciously enter a “growth mindset.” Meditate or get some exercise. Seek support from others. Strive to untangle the chaotic swirl going on around you. All of these actions will help you gain a fresh perspective, leading you to new discoveries and alternatives that were previously hidden or obscure.
    Duncan: How can a leader learn to recognize and overcome counterproductive responses to adversity?
    Snyder: It’s so easy to let ourselves remain on autopilot, and not notice what’s really going on. That’s why it’s essential to establish a discipline of centering practices such as meditation, exercise, and social support. Once these habits are ingrained into your daily and weekly routine, they become easier to tap when things go south. For example, if you have a good social support system, like a regular True North Group, your fellow group members will be able to give you honest feedback, perhaps giving you insight into how your behaviors may contribute to the problem. Once you turn off autopilot and listen carefully and attentively to feedback, you can begin to take conscious actions leading to change.
    Duncan: How can the skills and behaviors you’ve described become part of an organization’s culture?
    Snyder: Recently I attended a lecture by the Dalai Lama. He was asked the following question—“The problems of the world are so intractable, how can just one person make a difference?” In his reply, he reminded us that change starts with a single act by a single individual. For example, when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white person, she became a catalyst for societal change that literally transformed racial attitudes in American society.
     It’s easy to sit back and let things continue the way they are. It takes courage and discipline to effect change, especially if you aren’t the one in charge. But when you do, people will notice, and your actions will have a cascading effect.

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    Shyam's reply.

    एक अनोखा नजरिया......  ,

    ना तख़्त रहे हैं ना रहें हैं ताज,
    न रहीं  विक्टोरिया,ना ही मुमताज़।
    जिस के साम्राज्य में सूरज कभी न ढलता था
    प्रकाश की भीख,वे ही मांग रहे हैं, मानो चन्द्रमा से आज।  

    Ashok Chakradhar's poem,

    सूरज जब एकदम नीचे जाकर
    समंदर में मिक्स हो जाएगा,
    चंद्रमा का बल्ब
    मुंबई की विक्टोरिया के लैंप में
    फिक्स हो जाएगा।

    (मुंबई में आज सायं सात बजे)
    Ashok Chakradhar's photo.
    Ashok Chakradhar's photo.101

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  • 04/21/14--19:59: Speedy Recovery wishes 04-22
  • Ashok Chakradhar's message after the successful operation.

    धन्यवाद डाॅ. यश गुलाटी!
    मुसीबत काटी!
    बाहर निकल आए तार,
    राहत अपार।
    धन्यवाद डाॅ. वलेछा, जिन्होंने दिया,
    जनरल एनैस्थीसिया।
    ओटी से कक्ष में लौटा,
    आपका ये चैतन्य चिरौटा!
    कष्ट बस दो चार दिन का,
    फिर वही रफ्तार-ए-दाना-तिनका।
    और मित्रो
    आप सबको शुभकामनाओं के लिए
    अब लिखता हूं
    चाचा-चंपू संवाद!
    धन्यवाद डाॅ. यश गुलाटी! मुसीबत काटी! बाहर निकल आए तार, राहत अपार।  धन्यवाद डाॅ. वलेछा, जिन्होंने दिया, जनरल एनैस्थीसिया।  ओटी से कक्ष में लौटा, आपका ये चैतन्य चिरौटा!  कष्ट बस दो चार दिन का, फिर वही रफ्तार-ए-दाना-तिनका।  और मित्रो आप सबको शुभकामनाओं के लिए  धन्यवाद, अब लिखता हूं चाचा-चंपू संवाद!

    Praying for the speedy recovery of the great poet, Ashok Chakradhar

    चंपू संवाद की प्रतीक्षा हो रही हैं।
    जल्दी ठीक हो जाइएगा अशोक भैया,
    सब्र का पुल नाजुक होता है,
    कही टूट न जाए।
    आपकी speedy recovery के लिए शुभकामनाएं।
    बस इतना एहसान करना अशोक भैया ,
    डॉक्टर को अपनी कविता न सुनाना,
    ऐसा न हो की डॉक्टर मंत्र मुग्द हो जाएँ
    और ऑपरेशन किसी और का हो जायें।
    शुभकमानों के साथ

    Ashok Chakradhar's photo.
    Ashok Chakradhar's photo.
    Ashok Chakradhar's photo.
    Ashok Chakradhar's photo.
    आज निकलना था
    क्षेत्रीय हिंदी सम्मेलन के लिए अमरीका,
    लेकिन मिजाज़ बिगड़ा हुआ है
    श्रीमान घुटने जी का!
    टूट चुके हैं अंदर पड़े तार,
    निकालने से ही होगा निस्तार!
    फंस गए बेकार के टंटे में,
    आॅपरेशन होना है
    आधे घंटे में!
    जिसे मेरी छोटी-छोटी तकलीफों पर
    होता था अवसाद,
    वो ऊपर गई नानी
    कर रही होगी याद!
    थैंकयू नानी,
    थैंक्यू बागेश्री रानी!
    आज आॅपरेशन के बाद,
    मूर्छना टूटने पर लिखूंगा
    चाचा चंपू संवाद।

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    The Surprising Benefits of Nonconformity

    New research finds that under certain circumstances, people wearing unconventional attire are perceived as having higher status and greater competence.

    Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and CEO, captured the attention of the media when he wore a hooded sweatshirt when meeting with investors before his company’s initial public offering. While his appearance before professionally dressed bankers and investors left some observers thinking the young entrepreneur’s nonconforming dress style was a sign of disrespect, it signaled confidence to others.
    When and why does nonconformity in appearance lead others to make positive rather than negative inferences about an individual? We examined this question and identified conditions under which observers attribute enhanced status and competence to a person whose appearance does not conform to the norm for a particular setting. Our studies explored various environments and populations, from business executives to shop assistants at high-end boutiques in Milan, Italy. (Detailed findings from our research will be published in a forthcoming article in the Journal of Consumer Research.)

    Our studies found that nonconformity leads to positive inferences of status and competence when it is associated with deliberateness and intentionality. In other words, observers attribute heightened status and competence to a nonconforming individual when they believe he or she is aware of an accepted, established norm and is able to conform to it, but instead deliberately decides not to. In Zuckerberg’s case, for example, many observers saw his decision to wear a hoodie on his tour of the most important Wall Street banks to be a deliberate choice.
    In contrast, when observers perceive a nonconforming behavior as unintentional, it does not result in enhanced perceptions of status and competence. When a nonconforming behavior appears to be dictated by lack of means, lack of better alternatives or lack of awareness of the dress code, it will not lead to positive inferences from others. Thus, to benefit from deviance from the norm, we should make sure that others perceive our nonconforming practices to be deliberate and intentional choices. From a psychological standpoint, intentional deviance from a norm can project heightened status and competence by signaling that one has the autonomy to act according to one’s own inclinations. Autonomous individuals tend to act independently and behave according to their own rules.
    In one study, we found that participants perceived an individual deliberately wearing a red bow tie at a black-tie party in a country club as a higher-status member of the club and a better golf player than a conforming individual wearing a black bow tie. In contrast, for participants in the experiment who were told that wearing the red bow tie was an unintentional deviation from the norm, the positive inferences associated with nonconformity dissipated, and the nonconforming conduct was no longer associated with enhanced status and competence.
    To act as a positive signal, nonconformity should be pursued in settings with strong rules, shared standards of appropriate conduct and expectations of social conformity; signaling status and competence through deviance from expectations works against a background of strong established norms. For example, while Zuckerberg has often been known to appear in casual dress at board meetings and interviews, his attire was especially striking in the context of Facebook’s high-stakes meetings for its IPO. Similarly, we found that shop assistants at luxury boutiques in Milan, Italy, perceive a client to be more likely to make a purchase and to be a celebrity if she is wearing gym clothes or a Swatch watch than if she is wearing an elegant dress or a Rolex. We would not expect to detect this effect in the context of ordinary stores or in situations that lack the expected norm of being elegantly dressed.
    We use the term “red sneakers effect” to signify the potential upside of nonconforming behaviors. The term was inspired by an experiment in which one of the authors taught a class to business executives at Harvard Business School while wearing nonconforming red Converse sneakers. We found that those executives thought that the professor teaching the class was a well-published scholar and high up in the hierarchy of her department, and that the positive status and competence inferences were particularly strong for executives who themselves owned an unusual pair of shoes. This result suggests that observers who typically engage in nonconforming consumption choices are more sensitive to nonconforming behaviors — and grant more status and competence to signals of nonconformity than do individuals who typically use more mainstream products. 
    Based on these results, should readers give away their suits and dress shoes and start wearing hoodies and bright red sneakers to work? Maybe not. A wiser path is to try to strike a balance between the benefits of adhering to social norms and the potential, though more risky, upsides of nonconforming practices. Conformity to rules and social norms in both professional and nonprofessional settings tends to generate social acceptance and avoids negative sanctions such as social disapproval, ridicule and exclusion. Signaling through nonconformity comes at the cost of abandoning this comfort zone and the benefits of following the crowd.
    Before engaging in daring nonconforming practices, you should assess whether you feel confident that you can afford to give up the social benefits of complying with norms — and tolerate the occasional odd looks that you will receive. For example, while a tenured professor happily volunteered to test our hypotheses on nonconformity by wearing red sneakers while teaching a class, a doctoral student might not dare engage in such conduct. Conformity to organizational norms might be a wise strategy for some, while others may find some surprising benefits in deviant behaviors.
    What degree of deviation from the norm is appropriate, and what kind of nonconforming behavior is most likely to elicit positive perceptions? Prior research has identified three main ways in which one can pursue nonconformity. First, one can deviate by being creative and seeking social distinction through original, novel or unique products (for example, wearing a colorful, unusual tie to a formal event). Second, one can establish differentness by disregarding a norm entirely (for example, not wearing a tie to a formal event). Finally, one can engage in behaviors that strongly violate and disrupt existing norms of proper conduct (for example, wearing a tie around one’s head at a formal event). In our studies, we investigate and we recommend pursuing the first two kinds of nonconformity. There is no need to be excessive and strongly violate the norm; a simple deviance from the expected behavioral standard should be sufficient. What’s more, nonconforming behavior can, of course, go beyond dress codes. In one study, we found that selecting a nonconforming PowerPoint presentation style — one that differed from the official template at a business plan competition — can foster positive perceptions of status and competence.
    Being perceived as having high status is important, since it can translate into having greater influence on teams and within organizations. Our research, somewhat surprisingly, demonstrates that deviating from a dress code or other norms in appearance may help project an enhanced image to those around us.
    Reproduced from MIT Sloan Management Review

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    Innovation Is an Attitude

    You might think that the business world is split between two camps: companies that innovate and those that don't. And you'd probably be right. However, is the divide between the successful behemoths and the barbarian entrepreneurs pounding at the gates? Not at all.

    Successful innovation is a matter of attitude and practice, not of size. 
    There is nothing sacred about being an entrepreneur--many will fumble around without hitting a spark of genius. Large companies? Some manage to keep churning out new products and technologies on a regular basis.
    Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, has an interesting view. In an interview with McKinsey & Company, he explains how tech startups successfully challenge incumbents. 

    Though some of the mechanics apply specifically to that industry, the places where incumbents fall down are a matter of attitude. They also aren't a simple matter of size.

    In other words, there's a chance that you're leading a dinosaur. A little baby dinosaur, to be sure, but one as doomed to extinction as its brethren. Here are the basic problems exhibited by companies that will ultimately lose, no matter their size.

    Are You Relying on the Old Answers?

    In high tech, it's now possible for a "kid with a credit card--with a $1,000 budget"--to create something that, to a consumer's eye, looks like the polished mature product of large competitors, notes Ries. That's an industry dynamic, to be sure, but it doesn't mean other industries escape the fate.

    Everything is running on computers. You can model problems and solve them on computers. Computers can run inbound sales and make a company look big and sophisticated. In addition, service providers run on computers. Want someone to provide fulfillment for your products? Amazon has it down pat, all riding on computation that helps make things affordable. Need to manage a more complicated sales process? There's Sales force.

    So, large technology companies not only face direct competition, but those in areas other than high tech might find competitors using sophisticated simulation, automation, and communications to grind down the barriers to competition.

    Now, realize that none of this is restricted to a large versus small view of the world. Ries said, "And so you're not dealing with one potential competitor but with thousands or millions." But the same is true for a small company. Are you up to the level of innovation necessary when everyone in the world is out to eat your lunch?

    Are Your Failures Productive?

    Business people, whether entrepreneurs or the heads of legacy corporations, don't like to fail. That's a shame, because you don't get anywhere without failure. Failing is the reconciling force in this great laboratory of life. You try something, it doesn't work, and you go on to something else.

    Only, as the great Samuel Beckett once wrote: "All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
    Failure is scary, but it's necessary because without it you can't progress. 

    Just make sure you--and the people who work for you--learn from all those mistakes. Your company's culture must welcome failure, even though it can be enormously scary. If a big company slips up, no one may notice it. If you lose a big gamble, it could be the end of your company.
    But there is no other approach that can work. Make productive failure part of your corporate culture, even making its smart existence one of the ways you judge employees (and yourself).

    Are You Keeping Your Head Above Ground?

    When it comes to competition and innovation, the absolutely worst thing to do is to bury your head in the sand. You might not want to hear about all the dangers, or consider the amount of hard work success will take, but it's the only way.

    Be ready to face reality, and make sure your employees understand that it's the only thing you want to hear. Any size company can be willfully blind. Make sure it doesn't happen to you.

    View at the original source

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    Shyam's comment,

    All the world continues to be a stage even after 450 years.

    "All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages."
    How can any of us find the words to wish a happy 450th birthday to the single 

    most significant, elegant, funny, wise and human writer ever to use the English 

    language? That's what I, and countless others, have thought and think of 


    The Sanders Portrait of Shakespeare, 1603 (Canadian Conservation Institute).
    How can any of us find the words to wish a happy 450th birthday to the single most significant, elegant, funny, wise and human writer ever to use the English language? That's what I, and countless others, have thought and think of Shakespeare.
    Festivities honoring his birth -- ironically celebrated on the day of his death, too -- are galloping apace this week, at The Globe and all around the globe. He was baptised atHoly Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon, where he is now buried, on April 26, 1564. Chances are the 23rd was indeed his birthday, but as it's also his deathday, and the saint's day of England's national saint, George, the popular choice to call it Shakespeare's birthday was easy. Like so much of Shakespeare's life, his birthday remains flexible, mysterious, open to interpretation as well as celebration.
    Shakespeare's Globe full of birthday partiers, via Shakespeare's Globe on Twitter
    The Shakespeare Schools Festival has been helping schoolchildren to stage Shakespeare's plays throughout England all year. Other organizations have been preparing for, and eagerly anticipating, the birthday itself. On Easter Monday, April 21, Shakespeare's Globe in London had an all-day birthday party for their parent and original. Built near the site of his own Globe theatre, which burned down during a performance of Shakespeare's Henry VIII in 1613, Shakespeare's (new) Globe is a magical place to see a play -- even when one stands outdoors, exposed to the rain and audience participation in the show, as a groundling. 

    Their free Family Open Day drew huge crowds to the south bank of the Thames, where people enjoyed scenes from Shakespeare, played Pin the Ruff on the Bard, laughed at a Punch and Judy show, and, of course, ate cake. In Stratford, the Royal Shakespeare Company are currently putting on 1 Henry IV. This week, they do so to the accompaniment of fireworks, workshops from stage fighting to Shakespearean speaking, and, of course, cake. The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. celebrated earlier in the month with quill pen writing, Elizabethan crafts, a scavenger hunt, sonnet recitations -- and cake, cut by Queen Elizabeth I. 
    via; photo by Claire Duggan
    Theaters in New York are celebrating, from Elements Theatre's Shakespeare weekend to the WorkShop Theater Company's annual Will-A-Thon. In Paris, go to Shakespeare 450, where performances, film screenings, and historic tours fill the week and coming weekend. In May, the Asian Shakespeare Association holds its inaugural conference in Taipei.
    See a play by Shakespeare tomorrow. That's the happiest way to celebrate -- with, as Hamlet says, words, words, words. If you're not in a town where one of his plays is on, read a scene or a sonnet. You can also enjoy one of the thousands of filmed versions of his plays, in its entirety, or choosing a scene -- or performer -- you want to see. In honor of Bardday, here are a few suggestions.
    Complete films:
    Laurence Olivier, Othello (1965), for the National Theatre/Warner Brothers. With Maggie Smith, Derek Jacobi, Frank Findlay, and Joyce Redman. Full film of production (with Russian subtitles!).
    Kenneth Branagh (producer), Twelfth Night, or What You Will (1988), With Frances Barber as Viola.
    Twelfth Night (1969). With Alec Guinness, Ralph Richardson, and Joan Plowright. ATV/Midlands.
    The Tempest (2010). With Helen Mirren as Prospera.
    Selected scenes:
    Ben Kingsley as Feste concludes the glorious Trevor Nunn film version of Twelfth Night (1996). With Toby Stephens Imogen Stubbs, Richard E. Grant, Nigel Hawthorne.

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    अशोक चक्रधर भैया ने क्रोध अहंकार और गन्ने के जूस को आधारित कर एक कविता लिखी हमने भी उसका जवाब अपने दिवानिया स्टाइल में दिया। जो नीचे प्रस्तुत हैं।

    श्याम का जवाब ,

    मन्ने भी दे दो  भैया,
    झटपट गन्ने का जूस।

    पीलिया को भी पिलिओ भैया ,

    ये ठंडा गन्ने का जूस।

    उदा दे ये भैया अहंकार ,

    और क्रोध का भी फ्यूज।

    मन्ने भी दे दो भैया  ,

    झटपट गन्ने का जूस।

    अशोक चक्रधर जी की कविता

    अहंकार में आकर बढ़ता है,
    क्रोध सबसे जल्दी सीढ़ी चढ़ता है।
    चढ़ता ही जाए
    बढ़ता ही जाए
    तो लाल से हो जाता है
    ज़हरीला नीला,
    नीचे उतरे तो लाल से पीला।
    उस पीली आग को नहीं चाहिए
    ज़रा सी भी फूस,
    पीलिया को चाहिए
    गन्ने का जूस!


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    In my humble 23+ years of Global experience across 50+ countries, I had interacted with many CIOs. Some are very powerful people like in Banking, Insurance, Telco, Auto etc and some quite less powerful but solid technocrats mostly involved in solution companies patching various technologies into one creating some of the most complex solutions which actually can be designed in most simplified manner.

    For example in Short term Insurance sector, to manage and dig out fraud we use various analytical tools costing millions but no one would like to implement a simple solution like virtual eye which actually filter out the fraud in very first place of origin. So to invest $50 million to investigate $100 million fraud is better or Invest $2 million for prevent $100 million is better. But unfortunately most companies choose the first one because its lobbied, pushed and a nice future picture is presented by some of the most expensive sales people.
    So either way what comes into the end user space is a patchwork of rocket science. The most unfortunate part is that 80% of these CIOs don’t want to take risk of innovation and are just internal brokers for big IT Vendors. For example, we say X client is I shop, Y client is O shop, Z client is S shop and so on.
    In last 5 years all big IT vendors are trying to say how good and innovative they are building Cloud as if they invented Cloud for the first time. The fact is, when I opened my first Yahoo account almost 20+ years back, what was it? A Cloud based email??
    In another joke, today everyone is racing for Big Data. Yes the amount of data what is generated today is much more then what was there before smart phones and would be far greater in another 10 years. The requirement is Quality Data and this requirement is today and was 10 years back too and will be in future. What is required is a robust simple analytical tool to dig out the right stuff. Even if we get 40% quality data, which is available in current data, the business can jump by almost 250%.
    One simple example is “single view of current customer”. Most of customer centric organization like retail, banks, insurance, airline, telco don’t have this in place. They don’t even analysis the user trend with current customers, what they will do with so called BIG DATA?? But still our so called brilliant CIO ask for millions to get it because the big IT vendors have pumped him so much that they believe it will solve all problems.
    The fact is that moon will remain where it is and no one can bring it to you weather it’s a big IT vendor or your lover.
    We CIOs have to understand that IT is a business enabler and not a business.
    The new CIO is not an alien coming from outer space but a person who has the ability of multi tasking and highly business savvy person. This person has to be one who can stand on rooftop and look around. He should be able to understand the effects of other industries on it’s organization and can plan 5 years down the line along with the cultural factor both local and international.
    It is well proven that if you have a CIO who understand business and its surrounding well, is the most successful. Unless you look for someone who is either “yes sir” or “file pusher”.
    I have seen many customers especially in South African banking and Insurance sectors where the big IT vendors and consulting houses like the I’s, O’s, S’s, A’s, D’s etc have put in their employees as Sector CIOs. I fail to understand how can they bring in innovation since they have vested interest in pushing business to core employer.
    Hence in my view based on hand-on practical experience, A CIO is a multi tasking person with business mind set.
    Chief Information Officer : In today fast moving space, Chief Information Officer is a combination of 4 core I’s.
    • Chief Integration Officer : The integration officer will connect various IT systems. One important task will be bridging legacy and cloud services.
    • Chief Infrastructure Officer : Top priorities for infrastructure officers will include eliminating "shelfware," adoptingvirtualisation and cloud technologies, and renegotiating contracts in the best interest of current & 5 years of organization requirement.
    • Chief Intelligence Officer : The intelligence officer will be tasked with getting the right data to the right people on the right devices. This includes generating quality data, data mining & analysis.
    • Chief Innovation Officer : Innovation officers will focus on identifying disruptive technologies and finding ways to apply them in the enterprise in an innovative manner then just buying what is sold by vendors.
    Few years back, the job was quite simple. You have a need, call few vendors, understand their offerings, and discuss cost and award. If it exceeds timeline, blame it on business and get extra time and money.
    Today the new requirement is not once in 6 months or year but almost every week at the least and the biggest challenge, how to deliver the solution to business in the least possible time and money.
    These new challenges are not limited to solution but governance, standards and to keep the team together motivated all the time. The world has moved toward 24x7x365 and time wasted is nothing but advantage to competition.
    Some of the core challenges where I personal work and experience are listed below. I am sure more can be added and that means one need to learn all the time.
    1. Technology Strategic Plan
    2. The Projects for Business
    3. The Projects for IT
    4. The PMO Office and Approved Process
    5. The Technology SWOT
    6. The Vision / Strategic Choices
    7. The Strategic Alignment between IT and Business
    8. Super Strategic Issues
    9. The Technology Structure
    10. The Balanced Scorecard
    11. The CIO Performance Scorecard
    12. The IT Risk Universe
    13. Risk and Compliance Challenge
    14. King III Scorecard
    15. Asset Health Assessments
    16. Innovation, Cloud and Mobility
    17. Customer Satisfaction Survey
    18. Deployment Calendar
    19. Application Landscape
    Till 10 years back, the business had a choice between local operation and global. Today globalization is need and that means changing business expectations. This new dynamics to business has created bigger challenges to The CIO in modern times. The CIO has to change and change very fast. Now its no more a choice but necessity. Either you change or vanish, and till the CIO change, business can’t change.
    Hence the new CIO role should have following core skill set / ability.
    • Innovator : Cannot buy source of competitive advantage out of a box
    • Architect : To mould disparate and isolated non-integrated IT worlds into one
    • Personal, Hybrid Skill Set : Ability to blend business and technology experience and knowledge
    • Skills Management : Build Broader IT skills to meet business expectations
    • Strategist as well as a tactical player : Great involvement and focus on activities of a strategic nature
    • Information Broker : Make information and appropriate skills available across the business enterprise
    • New Leadership Style : From command-and-control to lead by example; good people motivator with positive relationships
    • Project Delivery excellence : CIO’s need to make this a key focus area, in alignment with business strategies
    • Build Business Credibility : The CIO needs to build interpersonal relationships with business executives. Get business results from available scarce resources
    • Making a Difference : Continue delivering operations excellence, but now additionally become a business partner in delivering competitive advantage via distinctive project solutions
    • Collaborator : Improving integration and collaboration across boundaries
    • Center of Excellence : Built internal center of excellence for natural learning both on business and IT for continuous team development and reduce dependency on external contractors.
    • Social Media : Today’s CIO should be an active participant on Social Media.
    With above explanation of desired skills of Future CIO, the most relevant question is “How The CIO remain relevant for the future”. In my experience and practice following are some of the more relevant steps one need to follow.
    • Simplify the operating environment, governance, work processes and task priorities that form the context for IT work.
    • Move toward a simpler organisational structure for IT, centralising infrastructure responsibilities and decentralising application development and implementation responsibilities wherever possible.
    • Focus some of your time and energy outside the functional IT organisation. Spend time with external Customers, Internal Customers, Suppliers and social media
    • Establish clear, explicit goals for shortening IT decision and development cycles. Focus the entire IT organisation on accelerating all of its core business processes.
    • Manage your own time and personal agenda carefully-and explicitly. Be sure to reserve enough time for reflection, learning, and peer-to-peer networking.
    • Adapt your leadership style to match the needs of your organisation, combining collaborative problem solving with task-focused direction setting to produce a cohesive, committed organisation.
    • Focus your time and attention on strategic issues, on external relationships, and on the future.
    • Develop an open door policy within your organization but definitely your department and motivate people to think out of box ideas.
    Greatness in a CIO is not a function of the company they work for, the salary they earn, the size of their title or other factors. There are great CIOs at small companies and not so great CIOs at big companies.
    In today’s changing IT World where a CIO’s role is very much in flux. Following are some of the top 10 qualities of a good, resulted oriented, visionary CIO.
    • Good supply management capability
    • A solid understanding of financials
    • Ability to think strategically to support the business’s goals and objectives
    • Managing expectations effectively
    • Tech savvy
    • Selecting a good team
    • Ability to rally the troops
    • Visionary outlook
    • Politically savvy without being political
    • Skilled communicator
    It is not wrong to say that in this new world of mobility, A CIO should actually be termed as CTM (Chief Technology Marketer)

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    Career Curveballs: Embrace Change or Become 

    This post is part of a series in which LinkedIn Influencers share how they turned setbacks into success.
    If you are running a successful company, one of the most terrifying things you can ask your business partners is: “What do you think about starting an airline?” When your successful company features The Sex Pistols, The Rolling Stones and Culture Club, the idea of going into aviation sounds even more shocking.
    To be a real entrepreneur you always have to be looking forward. The moment you rest on your laurels is the moment your competition overtakes you. Out of frustration at poor service and cancelled flights, I ended up chartering the first Virgin flight. It was only natural that out of that frustration – and subsequent fun and excitement! – I began seriously considering the idea of a whole airline.
    However, to my colleagues at Virgin Records who lived and breathed music 24 hours a day, aviation was completely alien. While I was no expert, I could see how having an airline would expand the brand, create jobs and provide new adventure and opportunities. Nevertheless, when I told my partner Simon “I’ve got a proposal here,” it should have been no surprise when he called me mad. “For God’s sake!” he shouted. “You’re crazy. Come off it.” Still, entrepreneurs have to take calculated risks. After protecting the downside by keeping the two companies separate, and agreeing a deal with Boeing, whereby we could hand the plane back after 12 months if the airline wasn’t working out, we started Virgin Atlantic.
    I’ve often joked about the best way to become a millionaire – start out as a billionaire and launch an airline! While moving from the music industry withVirgin Records to aviation with Virgin Atlantic was a huge career curveball for me personally, it was an even bigger jump for the rest of Virgin, not to mention my friends and family. We went from taking on rival labels in the charts and in the clubs to challenging global airlines in the air – and eventually in the courts!
    Despite being independent companies, Records and Atlantic were intrinsically linked (a model that has worked well across the Virgin Group ever since). However, when British Airways’ Dirty Tricks campaign put a huge strain on the future of Virgin Atlantic, we had to make the decision to sell Virgin Records in order to give the airline the financial muscle to compete. It was the right decision, but an incredibly tough curveball moment. I found myself running down Ladbroke Grove in London with tears streaming down my face and a $1 billion cheque in my pocket.
    Companies are simply groups of people working together to make a difference – so by selling a company it feels like you are losing a part of your family. It certainly felt like that for me, and for all of the Virgin Records team. However, decades on, Virgin Atlantic has been joined by Virgin America and Virgin Australia (not to mention Virgin Galactic) in the skies, and Virgin Records celebrated its 40th anniversary last year with a new generation of disruptive artists flying up the charts, from Emeli Sandé to Bastille.
    If we hadn’t embraced change, we would have become stagnant – and you probably wouldn’t be reading this article.

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    Getting Real about Denial

    When contrary to ALL evidence, the eternal optimist in us (of which I am a proud member!) can become a severe handicap.   

    • When does that occur?  
    • When we keep thinking that things aren’t as bad as they seem or they will get better soon.   And as we deny our paralyzed stand in a field of quick sand, it will inevitably swallow us.
    • We keep poor performers on too long.

    • We fail to let people go when the numbers aren’t there to support them.
    • We fail to act on an opportunity presented.

    • We think our customers will never leave us and so we cut back in R&D and new services.

    • We think we know everything about out industry and fail to seek others that can bring a new or fresh perspective.

    • We stand (and sink) in place – and the world keeps advancing.

    • Denial is a death trap for many businesses.

    Question:  What truths are you not adequately addressing?
    It is time to get real – face the uncomfortable facts and take appropriate action.   Are you losing market share while competitors are advancing?   Are your margins getting hit?   Are you not advancing your operational efficiencies/capabilities?  If you surveyed your employees, what would they say?  Time to bring real focus and transparent accountability to the things that are holding you back.
    Question:  Who have you brought in to your company that has a unique perspective?
    Disruptive companies rarely emerge from within the industry they serve.  Who thought 10 years ago that phones would replace cameras?   It is the outsider that thinks differently and brings new approaches.  Who are you meeting with regularly that gives you another perspective?   What industries, other than your own, are you tracking and following to learn about advances that could apply to your business?
    Question:   Who or what are you holding on to that you need to let go?
    Sometimes there are things/people/processes that have served us well but will not serve us well going forward.   The ability to recognize the time to let go is the challenge of  leadership.   Sometimes it can be hiring a senior team.   The people and skills that are necessary for a Start Up to succeed in times of chaos are not necessarily the same people that will advance a company when it grows and requires structure, process and formal communications.
    Are there things that you should ‘get real’ about? 
     Don’t let denial deny you, your business and your employees of success.

    0 0

    Entrepreneurship. Difficult to spell. Harder to live.

    I’ve often thought that the biggest hurdle to becoming an entrepreneur is because the word is so frigging difficult to spell. It genuinely took a few months before I could finally spell it without autocorrect.
    2 years ago I decided to go out on my own. Cast myself into the frenetic feeding frenzy of freelance (and alliteration) or, its more formal title, entrepreneurship. All joking aside, close friends ask me “How’s it going?”, “Do you think you’ll do this forever?”, “Do you miss a steady job/income/office?” so I thought I’d take this opportunity to get some initial thoughts down.
    Let’s get this part out of the way quickly....It is a stereotype
    All the blog posts and magazine articles are right. It is feast & famine. Looking at your email and iPhone every 5 minutes willing it to ring with your next gig. It’s a hundred conversations for 5 bona-fide opportunities. It’s a million cups of coffee – and a new caffeine threshold. It’s a Bedouin lifestyle humping your laptop from Starbucks to Starbucks finding that elusive free wifi. Most importantly,it’s a massive rush....
    So, Dear Reader, here is what I’ve learnt;
    Network or Die: Pretty obvious but if you aint drumming up new leads and prospects you’ll fail. Get over the aversion of asking friends and colleagues for projects. Get over your shyness and look for ways to find new avenues to work. Hank Blank writes a very practical (and prolific) blog on Networking. His tips are crisp, astute and, importantly, highly actionable.
    Determine your value: A prospect asked me recently “so what can you do for me?” My answer was so long-winded I think I only missed offering up “Bar Mitzvahs and children’s parties” That’s not a value proposition, that’s value delusion. Yes, I can do many things (including parties) but what is it I do well. Ideally what do I do better than others. Your prospects shouldn’t have to work that out for themselves. That’s your job.
    Never say No. Don’t always say Yes: Be mindful of the projects you sign up for. Securing projects you can do “okay” means no bandwidth for projects you can be spectacular at – and build equity/reputation behind. When presented an opportunity always evaluate it against your value proposition – not just your bank balance. Taking a lucrative but ill-positioned assignment could hurt you immeasurably.
    Build your partner ecosystem: Business basics. A single person can’t scale. You need partners for numerous reasons. Access to prospects. Differing POV and ability to challenge your ideas. Companionship. Complementary skills. Pretty obvious right. Two things I’ve learnt. Always seek out truth-tellers because that’s invaluable input when you’re on your own. Two, expand your view of partners. Complementary ones are obvious. I’ve find it never hurts to have a few supplementary ones too. Folks who do what you do. Folks you can throw a project to when you’re too busy and who will pay you back in kind later. Remember your clients come looking for a solution, seldom a person, so being able to provide a solution – even if it’s another person – carries weight.
    Bond physically, scale virtually: People do business with people they’ve met or feel they know. Your initial gigs will be people you’ve had coffee with. However, use virtual settings to amplify what you’re unable to do in person. Be highly visible online. Write blogs. Contribute to discussions. Build a virtual presence that deepens and amplifies what you physically could never do as a single person. While I may not personally hold much stock in Klout, it is imperative that prospects – and partners – can gauge what you’re all about and whether you’re someone they wanna work with. The default place for gauging that is Google, not Starbucks.
    With the zealotry of a reformed smoker I’m a huge proponent of going solo. The harsh reality is that more companies are looking for resources they can turn on-and-off rather than absorbing overhead and benefits. Let’s face it, marketing is also inherently a young person’s game so unless Sir Martin or Mr Levy are buying your agency and writing you a huge cheque, you’d better have a plan for “life after marketing” – going solo is one way to build your Plan B.
    These are my initial observations. What have been yours? What landmines have you stepped on that I’ve not addressed? How have you remained committed to the entrepreneur’s life?

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