Career & Business Book Haul (Summer 2017)

This post is part of our Summer Scale Up series. We’re helping you scale yourself and accomplish more.

career and business book haul

One way to start giving yourself regular Brain Boost (like the ones we publish every Friday) is to commit to making reading a regular part of your week (and your life!).

Reading is an essential part of being a well rounded person and achieving the success that you want. Big readers are more intelligent, better writers, and have a more robust toolbox for dealing with challenges and difficult situations.

We recently took a trip to Myopic Books in Chicago -a FANTASTIC book store to check out if you are ever in the city- and came back with a HUGE HAUL of books to inspire our work with Eazl.

Myopic doesn’t have a large business book section but you’d be surprised at what kind of inspiration and guidance you can find from literature that isn’t technically in the business category. At Eazl, we look to philosophy, history, sociology, and a slew of other topics for guidance in our business, our lives, and our personal career trajectories.

Here are the treasures we came back with (we spent an average of about $10 per book).

Status Anxiety by Alain de Botton

status anxiety by alain de botton
Summary: de Botton takes a look at history, philosophy, economics, art, and politics as they relate to growing status anxiety in the modern world.

Significance: This kind of topic and inspection on why people (aka consumers) behave the way they do is insightful on a career level and on a skills-of-life level. Imagine being able to better tap into what motivates humans in order to either be persuasive or create more positive interactions with others.

How I’ll apply it: There’s no doubt that what I’m learning from this book will show up in Eazl content somewhere. We’ve created content on similar topics before (like The Science of Happiness and Social Status). I’m also using it as research for an independent project that I’m working on.

The Division of Labor in Society by Emile Durkheim

the division of labor in society by emile dirkheim

Summary: Originally published in 1893, Durkheim wrote a lot about how societies could maintain their integrity the modern era; a time in which the Industrial Revolution was changing the landscape of society.

Durkheim presents a new vision of the social structures and the issues caused by capitalism (still relevant today). He argued that uncontrolled state power could lead to the end of individuality and believed that only a free society that promotes voluntary bonds between its members will result in the prosperity of individuals.

Significance: Concerning the current political and economic climate, this book is 100% relevant for our content on the future of work and for our own careers.

How I’ll apply it: I haven’t started on this one yet, but I’m guessing it could lead to a blog post at minimum.

Good Work by Gardener, Csikszentmihayli, and Damon

good work

Summary: Co-written by three renowned psychologists, Good Work provides strategies for creating a work life that is both expert and socially responsible based on real life stories from real professionals. They set out to prove that ethical success -in a world where market forces drive all- is possible.

Significance: This topic comes up a lot when we work with our students and clients on their career planning. There is always the question, “Is it possible to be both values driven and wildly successful?”

How I’ll apply it: I’m not sure about the level of sophistication in how the information is presented. I’ve been on the business ethics train for a while. Maybe I’ll learn something new or discover some tips for increasing profits in an ethical way. Not sure what to expect.

 

A Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi

a book of five rings

Summary: Written by the great swordsman, Miyamoto Musashi in 1645, the five books are the stories Musashi taught to his own students in his dojo. The teachings have been used and applied to business strategies in Japan all throughout the 20th century.

Significance:It is common to view business as a military operation and that mindset is pervasive throughout the business world. Whether or not you agree or opt into this kind of thinking, it is important to understand the approach that many other business owners and C-suite professionals are taking if you are going to operate alongside them.

How I’ll apply it: Not sure if I’ll apply this knowledge to my own career at all because, honestly, my approach to business and success is far more feminine and I don’t really know where military/warrior techniques fit into my life. It’s good to know how other entrepreneurs -in Japan in particular- are approaching business.

 

The Work of Nations by Robert Reich

the work of nations

Summary: Reich explores the effects of globalism has on the economy and job market today. How can normal Americans compete? What skills are the most valuable? And how can we ensure that all can benefit from the global economy. This book is well informed, ahead of its time and published in the 90s. A lot of the issues he covers may be familiar to you today but the masses weren’t attuned to this thinking 20 years ago.

Significance: So obviously relevant today politically and economically, the writer makes some interesting observations and warnings that may put some things in perspective for American workers.

How I’ll apply it: What Reich writes about in The Work of Nations is significant for all of us in America. We create a ton of content on the future of work (like How Blockchain will Revolutionize the World’s Data, There are Big Opportunities in Craft Products, Get e-Citizenship in Estonia) and will definitely continue keeping our community informed about the future of the labor market.

 

The Essential Essays of Reinhold Neibuhr

the essential reinhold niebuhr

Summary: Reinhold Niebuhr was a Theologian, ethicist, and political analyst and one of the primary figures of twentieth-century religious thought.  In these essays Nieburh, a liberal Protestant theologian, examines the catastrophes of the 20th century with “optimistic pessimism”.

Significance: Whether you are religious or not, you’ll find value in Neibuhr’s approach to examining human behavior and ethics.

How I’ll apply it: I’m not sure if the learnings in this book will show up in anything formally or if it will be used just for personal study. Regardless, if it does have a significant enough of an impact on the way I think, you’ll be seeing some version of it in some form or another, whether it’s in a blog post, a vlog, or the way I interact with the Eazl community. I would consider my (short) life’s work thus far to be related to ethics and values so I find what Neibuhr has to say incredibly invaluable.

Fun to note: Barack Obama views Nieburh’s work as instrumental in his own development.

 Other Books at My Bedside

Productivity: Why You Should Work in Clusters

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In the mid 1970s, two American researchers used people’s reactions to words to discover something that we can all apply to using our brains. Your brain is better when it works in clusters. See the research here.

Better Comprehension
The two researchers found that when they showed people words that had similar meanings people were able to actually read the words more quickly than if the words they were shown had no relation to each other.

The takeaway here is that we will be able to understand something and make connections on some topic if our brains are warmed up to thinking about that topic.

Our brains won’t be as capable if we use them to flip between topics every few seconds. Our brains like to think in patterns.

Better Judgement
The researchers also found that our brains can identify falsehoods better when we think in clusters. For example, if we hear a 5 sentences on the same topic, we’ll easily spot the sentence that is untrue but if we hear 5 sentences that all pertain to different topics, we’re less capable of identifying which sentence is false.

So, try to work in clusters. For example, if you need to create one piece of marketing collateral each week, next time try to create all four pieces of marketing collateral for the month on the same day. You’ll likely feel like it’s faster, easier, and more efficient.

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From HubSpot: Are Notifications Driving Us Crazy?

This shared post is part of our Summer Scale Up series. We’re helping you accomplish more, the smart way!

notifications

“As it turns out, there could be a downside to all of the benefits mobile technology provides. We might be able to work from anywhere on our smartphones or tablets, but such mobility and accessibility come at a cost — and too much technology could actually be making us less productive.

In this post, we’ll explore how notifications impact your brain and your mental and physical health, and what you can do with your devices to help minimize the negative impacts of the little red dot.”

notifications

How to Use Your Brain (According to Neuroscience)

This post is part of our Summer Scale Up series. We’re helping you accomplish more.

What do neuroscientists have to say about how we should use our brains? Let’s dive in!

The OG Power Processor
Currently, the top-of-the line Mac Pro (not a MacBook–Apple’s $4,000 desktop machine) tops out at around 7teraflops per second in processing power. The human brain is estimated to be able to process almost 350x faster–closer to 1 Petaflop per second. Our brains are great at evaluating information. See how the Harvard researcher came up with this estimate.

Storage Problems
Our brains aren’t so good at storing information–especially short-term storage. Researcher George Miller showed that when we have more than 7 items in our short-term memories, our ability to make good decisions drops significantly. See his findings and learn about Miller’s Law.

So what does this mean for you and how you use your brain? First, try to delegate memory and project-management like duties to software. Take pressure off yourself to remember everything you’re working on. Instead, spend your brain power processing information and using logic to find pathways forward. You’ll be much better at that than a machine will be.

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Bandwidth Allocation (Productivity) in Theory and Practice

This free video is part of our Summer Scale Up series. We’re helping you accomplish more with a month of helpful content on scaling yourself in July.

In this video, you’re going to learn about why maximum productivity is important.

This video is an excerpt from the Maximizing Your Personal Productivity section of our Advanced Management Training.

Advanced Management Training is an MBA in a box! You’ll learn hiring, mentorship, communication & persuasion, productivity hacks, negotiation & leadership skills, + more.

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From GOTO: Scott Hanselman on Scaling Yourself

This is a shared video from GOTO as a part of our series, Summer Scale Up. We’re helping you scale yourself and accomplish more. 

Scott Hanselman is the Principal Program Manager at Microsoft in Portland, Oregon.

Created for developers, by developers, GOTO Conferences are focused on bringing the best minds in the software community and the most interesting topics to light.

As information workers, we are asked to absorb even more information than ever before. More blogs, more documentation, more patterns, more layers of abstraction. Now Twitter and Facebook compete with Email and Texts for our attention, keeping us up-to-date on our friends dietary details and movie attendance second-by-second.

Does all this information take a toll on your psyche or sharpen the saw? Is it a matter of finding the right tools and filters to capture what you need, or do you just need to unplug. Is ZEB (zero email bounce) a myth or are there substantive techniques for prioritizing your life on the web?

Come see Scott’s famous “Scaling Yourself” talk, adapted to take only 15 minutes of your time!

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Productivity: MIT’s Research on Being More Productive

This weekly Brain Boost is part of our Summer Scale Up series.

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What do the best researchers in the world have to say about productivity? Funny you ask… we found out! Here’s what a team of 3 MIT economists learned will help you be productive:

Increase Your Betweenness Centrality
Betweenness Centrality is a fancy way of saying that you benefit from being in the middle of many discussions. For example, knowing a little bit about a lot of projects benefits you. It also benefits you to have one foot in many different social groups rather than knowing everyone from one social group. Learn more about betweenness centrality here.

Learn to Use People Databases
People who can use people databases like LinkedIn are much more productive. For example, learning how to use Boolean search techniques to navigate your LinkedIn network is a high-value skill that we teach in our Career Hacking course.

Learn to Signal
The MIT research also shows that learning to digitally signal other people about your work enables you to be much more productive. For example, sending automated emails, chat notifications, or social network updates about your work are digital signals. Three great automated signaling tools are: –
BufferApp
MailButler
Yet Another Mail Merge

Here’s a discounted link to Eazl’s Advanced Management Training Program: http://bit.ly/eazlss15yt

Here’s the original research from MIT’s team.

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How to Make a Good Hire on Upwork

This post is part of our series, Summer Scale Up. We’re helping you scale yourself and accomplish more.

working virtually upwork

Outsourcing parts of your business is something that has the potential to completely change your company or freelance practice. It can accelerate your growth and free up your own time for tasks that use your talents if it’s done right.

I’ve found Upwork to be a quality source for freelancers and it’s worth learning how to make a good hire there. A couple of our virtual assistants and project team members were found there and we now have a process for making sure we hire the best person for the job.

  1. Don’t write a crap job description
    The first step to making a good hire on Upwork is making sure your job description reflects exactly what you need well. You’ll attract better candidates that way.

What qualifies as a “crap” job description:

  • Copying and pasting another company’s job posting just because the title of the position is the same. There is NO WAY that you are looking exactly for what another company is looking for. Do the work and really put the time and effort into communicating what YOU need because bringing someone else on, virtual or not, is a big decision.
  • Not putting in the time and neglecting to include enough information. If you only provide a few sentences about what you need and don’t include enough context, you’re going to attract candidates who will submit the same kind of low quality work.
  • Only focusing on personality/work style or skills. You need both hard and soft skills to make this important partnership work.
  • Sounding like a jerk who is looking for a subservient person. Actually, scratch that. If you sound that way, you probably are that way and it’s better for everyone that you don’t take the good candidates’ time so they can work for someone else who is a better manager/human being. Good work relationships are about mutual respect. Get in the mindset that you are looking for a team member.

A good job description includes:

  • A list of the top skills required to perform the job, including any technical skills
  • The length of the engagement
  • Performance expectations
  • Information about your company and/or product
  • How and when you will make your decision
  • What the work dynamic will be (communication via email or phone, teamwork required, whether you prefer someone who can work during the work week*, how you like to work, when the work needs to be completed, weekly time budget, etc.)

*There are a lot of freelancers who have full time jobs during the week and make extra money on the weekends with Upwork. Keep in mind that these candidates won’t send deliverables until the weekend. In many situations, this could work. Just keep in mind that a full time freelancer is quite different than someone who hasn’t yet made the move to quit their day job. Personally, I prefer someone who can make progress WITH me during the normal work week and I don’t turn my email off on the weekends so I’d rather not see updates from a VA on Saturdays and Sundays.

  1. Use your interactions with the candidate as measurement
    Don’t stop at their portfolio or reviews. Take advantage of the messaging capabilities of the platform and get a little back and forth going before you make a decision to hire or hop on Skype for a short interview. You’ll be surprised on what you can pick up from a texted conversation if you just pay attention.

Ongoing messaging is a great way to assess:

  • Timeliness– If it takes a while for the candidate to get back and you are moving forward with other potential team members, they might not be the most reliable. You need someone who is reasonably responsive and candidates will be the most anxious to get back when they are looking for new work. Not a good sign if they lag in these early stages. I usually look for an Upwork freelancer to get back to me within 24 hours and that’s what I expect once I’ve hired them as well. 
  • Intelligence– Blatant misspellings, sentence structure, and grammar mistakes will help you initially weed out the less talented. It doesn’t matter if what you need them to do doesn’t involve writing. Smart people read and develop writing skills from reading so a person with poor writing skills might not be that interested in learning and that is not a good hire, especially in the virtual world when they will be working independently and will have to figure some things out on their own.
  • Personality– Do they anticipate what you need to make your hiring decision by including details? Do they seem equally concerned about finding a good fit? Are they humble? Does their level of formality fit what you are looking for? Or simply, did you enjoy interacting with them?
  1. Don’t settle for the first applicant
    You’re going to find a better fit for you if you use a pool of applicants, first weeding out the ones you can tell you don’t want to hire based on their initial message to you, their portfolio and/or resume, and their reviews.

Then, after messaging back and forth with the remaining candidates, pick two or three that you 1) feel are the most capable for the job, 2) enjoyed interacting with the most, and 3) were the most timely.

  1. Take advantage of Skype
    Especially if the job will involve some interaction via phone or Skype, schedule a quick Skype call with your top two or three picks. There is a lot you can tell about a candidate in even just ten minutes.

Tip: Even if you will only require correspondence via email or text for the actual, it could also be a good idea to get your candidates on a video call. Once you make that personal connection, your hire will feel like they actually know you and will feel more accountable.

Do you have any tips for hiring freelancers? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!