Feedback is Even More Important for Freelancers

Freelancers and freelancing is often misunderstood.

For example, “freelancers do it so that they can wake up at noon” and “freelancing is just like being in a bigger company, only solo.” …and one of the biggest misconceptions that freelancers themselves make is that, now that we’re our own bosses, we’re done getting performance reviews. Not exactly.

In this Brain Boost, we’re going to look at the changing world of feedback and performance improvement. It’s changing in larger organizations as the good ones abandon aging practices like performance reviews in favor of people analytics and continuous improvement practices. It’s also changing in the broader workforce as many of us become remote workers, freelancers, entrepreneurs, and contract workers.

In a work environment where you have few colleagues you also have relatively few opportunities to receive feedback. This makes people who work in these situations weaker because they have fewer opportunities to improve.

Now that I have been collaborating with people and working in distributed workforce situations for a while, I realize how important feedback is.

At minimum, after each project or freelance engagement you should proactively exchange feedback with your counterparts on three things:

1) What could be better about the workflow?
2) Were the communication channels, were the timing of the communications, and was the nature of the communications done well?
3) What could have been better about the work product?

Remember my freelancer, entrepreneur, and contract worker friends–feedback makes us stronger and, when we’re working in small teams, it’s up to us to manage our own improvement!

If you’re interested in getting better at exchanging feedback, here’s a link to Eazl’s award-winning Feedback course.

Interact with the Eazl community:
Facebook
Twitter 
Instagram

 

From Jessika Jake: Dealing With Difficult People in the Workplace

This is an excerpt from an original post by Jessika Jake.

jessika-jake

bullying-aggressive-behavior-workplace-764x430

“It’s interesting to track the legal precedents that have been set (though also, in my case, promptly forget them and not bookmark them), but I will tell you this: Any good (and law-abiding) company will have a policy against bullying and aggressive behavior. If you are bringing up a complaint and get patted on the head with “Now, now, it’s just a personality clash,” change the topic to the inarguable, observable behaviors that are being demonstrated. Below is a partial list from ChangingMinds.org’s list of aggressive body language.

  • Facial signals – frowns, pursed lips, sneers, snarls, and stares
  • Stiffness – tensing up, clenching fists
  • Invasion – Invading personal space, false friendships
  • Insulting gestures, large gestures – chin tilts, arm thrusts, exaggerated movements, banging on tables, etc

In addition to aggressive body language, there is also verbal aggression. For an overview, read this Wikipedia entry, which notably highlights:

Workplace aggression can have devastating effects on an organization’s employees.[5] For example, it has been found that targets of workplace aggression report lower levels of well-being.[5] Other studies have shown that aggression in the workplace can cause the victims of such behaviors to suffer from health problems.[26]Bjorkqvist, Osterman, and Hjelt-Back even found that targets exhibited symptoms similar to those of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), such as anxiety and depression.[6]

aggressive behavior

How to Use the Myers-Briggs (MBTI) Personality Test

Having trouble with someone at work? Working on a team that’s not working well together? Check out one of our most popular modules: how to use the Myers-Briggs (or MBTI) personality test to understand diverse personality types.

The MBTI test is used as a formal exercise to diagnose, understand, and better work with people with different personality preferences and ways of perceiving the world. It’s based on the psychological theories of Carl Jung and is used by 89% of Fortune 100 companies to promote a healthy approach to working with people who are unique and have different ways of interacting in the world.

You also have access to a great free tool as a gift from our team at Eazl–a step-by-step guide to using the MBTI exercise at work. Get that download here.
Subscribe to Eazl here

Interact with the Eazl community:
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram

Why It’s Dangerous to be Intellectually Lazy

Intellectually lazy

Have you ever been on a team at work or school and there’s that one team member who just won’t contribute or do any of their own thinking, leaving you or other members with the responsibility of doing their work for them?

Or maybe (*gasp*) you ARE one of those non-thinkers?

In this post, I want to talk about why it’s dangerous to be intellectually lazy and what you can do to 1) Get out of the rut and turn your life around if you are one of those people or 2) Set your boundaries and encourage behavior changes if you are a person who intellectually lazy people tend to depend on.

As an entrepreneur and marketer, I’ve come across many people and situations where clients, colleagues, or customers look to me to do the work and the thinking for them. Now, it’s fine to ask people for advice and we should all expect to work with others and be helpful. Do not be afraid to ask for help or to give it!

But, you need to be careful about distinguishing between something that you have no way of learning yourself versus something that simply takes a little bit of your own brain power and effort to figure out.

There are some things that we are all capable of, no matter your intellectual capacity, and those of us who do our own thinking instead of delegating to someone else and making it their problem can spot a lazy thinker from a mile away.

MANAGER’S NOTE: Using your own brain power is SUPER important when you have team members or managers that have a lot of responsibility (this includes pretty much all of us who are not retired yet).

You’ll be seen as a weak link if you can’t take care of the easy stuff on your own because you might be making others’ work more difficult than necessary. Being this kind of thinker will have many implications for your work relationships, career opportunities, potential business partnerships, and even personal relationships.

Intellectual laziness leads to:

  • Low ceiling for your career and promotions
  • Replacement in the workforce by an active, lifelong learner (you need to be a thinker to compete in the modern economy)
  • Feelings of inferiority

Essentially, it makes you replaceable. And that’s not good in a personal finance, got-to-pay-the-bills kind of way.

What does it mean to be intellectually lazy?
There are a lot of behaviors that might qualify as intellectual laziness, but I want to focus on the few areas that might be affecting your career the most. Here are four of the main behaviors we need to work on eliminating right here. Right now. Today.

  • An intellectually lazy person often hands their thinking responsibilities off to someone else who they feel can do it better. They don’t believe they can deliver satisfactory results themselves and might want to save themselves from any harsh judgement that might result in them owning their own decisions.
  • An intellectually lazy person will often ask questions that have already been answered or are clearly covered in some kind of written correspondence or guide. They have little attention to detail and would rather take another person’s time to get the answer they need than spend their own time looking for the answer themselves.
  • An intellectually lazy person only consumes condensed versions of information, such as blog posts or headlines and neglects to fact check or read long form articles from unbiased sources. The result is often the possession of opinions and perspectives that are a filtered version of someone else’s (most likely non-qualified) and is tainted by misinformation due to lack of research.
  • An intellectually lazy person might lack the discipline, focus, or experience required to truly hear others, consume content, and understand what they’ve taken in to apply the information to their work or life.

How to change non-thinking behaviors
One of the first actions you need to take is accept that your cognitive abilities and actions are not a result of circumstance but a result of habits and behaviors, which you can change…like RIGHT NOW kind of change.

Something I want to ask you to adapt is a Growth Mindset. The Growth Mindset has changed the way that successful businesspeople, educators, and social scientists approach challenges and was pioneered by Stanford professor, Carol Dweck in her book “Mindset”. Her research-backed idea is that you can actually grow your brain’s ability to learn and solve problems.

Here’s a growth mindset meditation that we put together. I’d love for you to try it out if you are struggling with self-limiting perspectives on talent and intelligence.

Some other ways to build your confidence and brain power include:

    • Take online courses. Like, actually take them. Don’t just pay for it and not take it (believe it or not, this is what most people do).

eazl courses

    • Read, read, and read more. People who don’t read simply aren’t as intelligent as those who do. Reading can help you get ahead in your field, get re-inspired and motivated, and teach you to be a better writer -all things that are essential for career success. A lot of the most successful entrepreneurs and managers are avid readers. You can easily find recommended reading lists from almost any successful business person online. Like this list of Elon Musk’s favorite books.
    • Find intelligent news sources. Our minds are constantly inundated with non-news “news” sources through excessive use of social media. Find out what the smartest of the smarty pants are paying attention to and refer to those sources directly instead of Facebook or Twitter to stay up-to-date with world events. This is not unrelated to career success! The journalists that get real estate in our brains affect our worldview, which has a direct influence on our attitudes and abilities at work. Filling your brain with conspiracy theories and click bait headlines will make your mind cloudy. Put quality content into that beautiful brain of yours! We love NPR, for example.
    • Practice listening to others and responding thoughtfully. 
    • Resist the urge to pass off your responsibilities to a high achiever. Do whatever you need to do to complete your share of the work and collaborate with your teammates or manager. That might mean working late, doing some additional reading, or getting additional help in some other way.
    • Know what your strengths are. If you find yourself contributing the least at work, try to focus on providing help in the areas in which you are skilled. It’s also good for your manager to know so they can create effective teams where you feel (and are) valuable. If you think you don’t have a strength, work on building those right now (see: online courses).
    • Exercise your brain as much as possible. Find thinking activities that you like to do in your spare time like puzzles, crosswords, or problem solving video games. Your brain is a lot like any other muscle in your body: it’s completely miserable trying to work it out when it’s out of shape, but it becomes fun when it is in shape and high performing.

How to fend off a non-thinker
The upside is that almost no one INTENDS to be a non-thinker. Most of the time, intellectual laziness stems from lack of confidence and fear of being wrong. It’s important for those who are intellectually active to have empathy for those with a different mindset but not allow the mundane thinking tasks of others to be rested on their own, busy shoulders.

There are, however, some ways to handle those moments when a team member is trying to steal your bandwidth for something that shouldn’t be your responsibility:

  • Send them in the direction of a resource that might help them rather than filling in all the blanks for them.
  • Communicate the value of your time, it’s already limited nature, and how much responsibility you already have.
  • Give compliments and positive feedback when it’s deserved. This will encourage your teammate’s performance and make them feel less dependent.
  • Clearly mark a good chunk of your day as quiet work time to limit disturbances and interruption.
  • Never do all the work for them. This sets a bad standard and encourages repeated delegation onto your already full plate.

Are you struggling with feeling capable at work or with the added weight of a teammate who won’t help carry the load? Tweet at me and let’s have a conversation about your frustrations.

Canon’s Decoy, Slack and Stewart Butterfield, AMT Series on Skillshare

In this week’s Brain Boost, Canon’s Decoy, why you should care about Slack, and the new Advanced Management Training series on Skillshare.

Canon’s Decoy
We will start by looking at the number one trending video on YouTube. It is from Canon Australia and is a piece of content marketing that is centered around the act of photographing portraits. You, out there in the community, who are interested in marketing and content marketing will find this video to be an exceptional evolution in the world of content marketing. You’ll notice that Canon’s brand is very lightly featured in the piece. Instead, the piece centers around photography itself.

That is, a photographer would love to see this video –not because of the camera, but because of their passion for photography. If you are interested in checking out this piece of content marketing yourself, you can find the link here in the video or in the tradition of the video below.

Slack and Stewart Butterfield
This year, Wall Street Journal has named Stewart Butterfield, the founder of slack, the Innovator of the Year. Slack claims to “kill email” and you might want to take it kind of seriously. It is now being used by over 1.5 million people worldwide and institutions like Harvard University, Nasa, Deloitte, and other high-profile organizations.

If you want to learn more about Slack, here is a tutorial on YouTube where you can learn more about the technology and how to use it. You might read this very interesting profile of Stuart, the founder of slack. He has a really interesting background in philosophy and a kind of unique approach to business.

AMT Series on Skillshare
Finally, we have a new series on Advancement Management Training that is now available and live on Skillshare. You can visit part one of the series at the link here. If you are a new manager, an existing manager, or an entrepreneur who wants to improve your leadership and management skills, you might want to check out this course series on Skillshare. It’s also available on Udemy.  

We’ll see you next week at 10 a.m. Pacific time for next week’s Brain Boost.

The Force Awakens, 23andMe, and Using MBTI Profiles

In this week’s Brain Boost, our theme is “Fresh Approaches”. First, we are going to look at the new Star Wars trailer for The Force Awakens. Then, 23 and Me’s FDA approval. And, finally, using the MBTI to work smarter with the people around you.

The Force Awakens
Let’s look at the trailer for The Force Awakens –the new Star Wars movie. One thing that is interesting about this trailer and the release of this movie is that, oftentimes, there are longtime Star Wars fans watching the trailer with a very young person –12 or 10 years old. The young person has most likely never been exposed to the Star Wars concept at all.

In the spirit of fresh approaches, think about something that you do on a relatively routine basis –whether it’s designing products, serving clients designing marketing plans, etc.– and then think about how a twelve-year-old or somebody from a new generation or different customer base would react to what you are putting out there. How could you make it fresh and exciting?

23 and Me
Next, let’s look at 23 and Me who, this week, won FDA approval to mass-market their genetic tests. Basically, 23 and Me will send you a tube, you spit in the tube, and mail it back to them. Then, what they do is use their process to issue you a report on how your specific genome reacts to a variety of genetic diseases and personal characteristics.

The FDA’s approval of 23 and Me is a major step forward in the world of personalized health –something that I think is very very exciting and certainly a fresh approach to medicine.

Using MBTI to work well with others
Most of us are taught to think about our weaknesses and to spend time working on those if we want to improve. However, what’s interesting is, if you, in fact, learn what your strengths are and then lean into those, you can maximize them and then leverage the strengths of others in order to balance out where you’re weak.

In order to get started with that, you need to understand what your strengths are. One of the tools that you can use to do so is the MBTI.

 

Do you have any other “Fresh Approach” ideas for your own work or life? Share in the comments below!

New Research on Stress, Anxiety, DNA, and the Likelihood of Getting Sick

In this blog, we want to share with you some research about stress. This research should cause us all to be more empathetic to the people around us.

There is a researcher at Yale called Joan Kauffman. What she did is she compared the DNA of children who had had no major trauma in their childhoods vs. children who had major trauma, whether that be some sort of abusive home or something like that.

What she found is that, at the DNA level, the children who had major stress constantly emitted hormones that were similar to their “fight or flight” hormones. Basically, That they had constant stress and, moreover, they found out that these stress receptors and what happens doesn’t go away. That is, these people who have traumatic childhoods don’t have their DNA modified and improved over time to where they don’t have this constant source of stress.

Upset problem child with head in hands sitting on staircase concept for bullying, depression stress or frustration
Upset problem child with head in hands sitting on staircase concept for bullying, depression stress or frustration

You might be thinking, “That is really sad for these children who had major sources of trauma.” But, there was another doctor in San Diego (Vincent Felitti) and he was looking at the correlation between childhood trauma and illness and he interviewed seventeen thousand patients. These are relatively normal patients. These are people who were the average age of 55 years old and they have college educations about three quarters of the time.

What he found is that about 65 percent of these people interviewed had some major traumatic event as a child, whether that be some sort of abuse or maybe bullying or a really dramatic divorce, and when you combine the two findings that these research teams, there’s a whole new body of knowledge out there about stress and its long-term impacts from childhood.

Our point is this: if 65 percent of people are walking around with increased stress levels, because of some event in their childhood, that’s a reason we should all be more empathetic because that means that over half the people in America are most likely walking around with these increased stress levels. It’s not something that’s their own fault. It’s something that happened to them when they were a kid.

Next time you’re seeing one of those people be stressed out and you’re thinking, “Man, they should just meditate and be zen,” instead think about this research that shows that maybe that wasn’t under their control. Maybe it was something that happened in their childhood that they never even had any control over, but it’s really impacting them through their adult life.

Interested in learning about more research like this? We post new vlogs every Friday. Subscribe to our YouTube channel for updates.