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Any feedback is good

Some people consider that feedback can only be positive. If it’s not positive it’s criticism, drag or something else that’s not useful.

Actually, any of the above can be feedback, it only matters how you see it and what’s your attitude towards it. A lot of people can get depressed and lose hope and motivation while reading something negative regarding their work or their person. The problem is not actually the message they receive, but the words, how the message is created and the negative emotion. The form is the actual problem and not the content.

The secret is not to take into consideration the form, to drop everything and just focus on the feedback and the basis. If it’s criticism, it must be based on a fact, action or behavior. Analyze only what it refers to and not the form it comes in. If it’s based on something real, then just try to improve and work from it. If it’s something that has no real basis, feel free to ignore it. It’s not even worth it to lose time replying to something that won’t bring any real value.

Strip everything down to facts and figures and consider that. Feedback can have many forms, it only depends if you can see below the surface.


Reduce drag

Drag is everything that is slowing you down, that prevents your project from taking off, anything and everything that makes you lose speed and productivity.

In a lot of companies, especially in big multinationals, procedures are one of the main sources of drag. This is why most innovation, flexibility and creativity comes from start-ups and small companies. They don’t need to stop their flow and follow a procedure, they just go out there and do it. Procedures are good only if they reduce drag and increase speed.

There are also a lot of people that can slow you down. People who oppose you are usually a source of drag. The best thing you can do is just ignore them. You don’t really need them, except for the buzz they create, and if you ignore them, the greater buzz they will create. You don’t need anyone to try and stop you, but don’t confuse a critical voice for someone who will only create drag. Criticism can be good.

Everything that you do or that happens around you and makes you lose focus and get out of rhythm is a source of drag. If you can remove it, that’s perfect. If not, try at least to postpone it to a period when you know you are either not that productive, or when you are already tired. Save your best periods for your work.

In order to increase speed you will need to drop anything that’s holding you behind.

Learn to share

Sharing is one of the most important aspects of any professional life. No success can be achieved without sharing your work, products, solutions, innovations and creations with others.

But simply sharing what you have done is not enough. We live in a world full of noise and information that comes from all directions. This is why we filter most of what’s around us. That’s why when you think about sharing your work with others, you will have to break these filters, get above the noise and make yourself heard and listened to.

No matter how great or special your work is, if it turns out that the people who you share it with have no use for it, it won’t matter much. That’s why you have to carefully choose your audience and the target you share your story with. Make sure they are the ones most interested or in most need of what you are going to share.

Most probably, you are not going to be the only one that is doing that kind of work or who offers a solution to that problem. That’s why you will have to show what’s special about you, how you differentiate yourself and why people should choose you and not the other person.

And above all you will have to make your audience feel and vibrate alongside with you. You will have to touch them with your story, to conquer not only their minds, but also their feelings in the process.

The value of your time

A few years back I stumbled upon an interesting statistics about how much money Bill Gates makes each second. To put it simply, he makes so much money per second that if he’s walking on the street and he sees a 100$ bill on the ground it’s not worth it to stop from where he’s going and pick it up.

That might sound ridiculous, but actually that’s how people should set the value of their time. No matter what kind of work time we are speaking of, you have to relate to what other options you have at the same time. When you have to choose between a lot of projects, the one with the highest money / time ratio is your winner.

The problem comes when you have only one option and there is nothing to compare to. Many people start comparing with previous jobs and projects they had or with what their friends are doing. The truth is that the best option is to say “yes” to whatever it is since your other option is actually zero.

Something is always better than nothing.

Note: This only applies to the value of time related to money and not taking into account other factors.

Connect with your customers

One way to sales success is to stop thinking about making a lot of sales to as many people as possible and increase the number of sales to everyone who will make a purchase from you. Stop looking for a big number of one time customers and focus on repeated sales.

This means that you will have to create loyal customers. In order to do that you will have to offer an excellent product to fit their needs, a good price, a great customer experience and above all to keep in touch with your customers. It doesn’t matter what you sale nor the medium you use. You could be selling clothes in the store around the corner or photographic equipment online, you need to find a way to keep in touch with your clients.

Getting your customer’s email address is one of the easiest information to obtain and one of the cheapest and simplest way to keep in touch. You can send newsletters, special offers, coupons or just let them know what’s been going on lately.

You don’t need to push sales, you just need to remind people about you and your new products in order for loyal customers to come back.

Loss aversion

Loss aversion refers to people’s tendency to prefer avoiding a loss to gaining something.

What this means is that people avoid taking chances if there is a possibility of losing something. There are a lot of studies on loss aversion that show that the gain has to be at least twice as big as the loss or even bigger for people to take that chance. This means that the pain of losing 100$ is perceived as bigger than the pleasure of gaining 100$, and it can be surpassed only by a possible gain of 200$ or more.

This is why you will always see the people fighting for the status quo being more active than the people who want change. When reforms, reorganizations, changes in companies or society are about to take place, the people who have something to lose will be more involved and will fight harder than the ones who could have something to gain, even if the ones gaining are a lot more or the gains outweigh the losses.

People fall in love with what they own, with a certain level of comfort and the false illusion that they can always preserve it. That’s why, the next time when you want to do something that involves changes that will affect certain people in a negative way, be ready and expect a strong resistance.

The good news is that this can be trained. People who take risks more often, either by the nature of their job, or by choice, will end up having a lower loss aversion.

Change, innovation and success mean taking risks, and this goes against our very nature.

Famous for being famous

There is a group of people that seem to be famous for nothing really. They haven’t done anything of real value for society, they don’t do any hard, important work, they haven’t invented or innovated anything, yet they are world known.

These are usually the kind of people who create buzz around them, but not by doing anything worth while, but by creating scandals and gossips. They make the front page for their new fight with some other “star” of the same value, for their new car, their new affair or their new divorce.

On the other hand, there are people who have done something meaningful, who bring innovation and change, but never really make it to the front page. And when they do, they never try to stay there for long. For them it’s more important to focus on the work than to create buzz.

You can choose to create buzz around you, even if there is nothing valuable to mention, or you can focus on the important work and only then manage the buzz created.

It’s up to you to become famous for your work, or just to be famous for being famous.

Keep in touch with reality

Keeping it real doesn’t mean losing your creative side, forgetting about innovation, or to stop dreaming. It means that you have to stay in touch with your self, to be in constant touch with the environment and the people around you.

The most important things you will be able to achieve when it comes to business, success, and costumer interaction are strictly related to how well you understand reality.

Everything you do depends on your environment and the better you know it the more will you be able to use it in your favor. Once you know it in a high degree you will be able to anticipate it. This is when you will be able to create change, drive innovation, and lead people.

Knowing the people around you and your customers can give you the extra edge you need to succeed. Understanding the needs of your customers and clients allows you to offer them better services, better products and higher customer satisfaction. Anticipating your customers’ and clients’ needs will make a huge difference in the experience you will be able to create.

That is if you are not a Sci-Fi writer or a surrealist. Then it’s perfectly fine to go all out.

Focus on the things you can control

A lot of people try to predict and control things that are about to happen. It’s important for their personal life, for their business and for others around them who depend on that.

Doctors try to predict how the disease will evolve and what actions you must take, the weather channel tries to predict how the weather is going to be like and if you should get an umbrella or not, the CEO tries to predict how the market will evolve and how the clients will react in order to take the best possible decisions.

These are all things that can be predicted to a certain degree, but concerning yourself with what disease you might suffer at 80 when you are 20 is a long shot. It’s as crazy as trying to predict how the weather will be next summer because you will buy tickets for your vacation. At the same time, CEOs try to control every single aspect of their business and plan everything for the next 5 years denying the unpredictability of markets.

Some things are highly unlikely to predict and thus impossible to control. Focusing on controlling them is just a waste of time, and it would be better to focus your energy on what can really be controlled and make sure that it will turn out the best.

P.S. This is one reason I hate the classic question in job interviews: “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”. The truth is I cannot know and no one can. Think of what people would have said 5 years ago, before the economical crisis, and what the reality is now.

Is there a myth of multitasking

There are a great deal of studies and research regarding multitasking and the efficiency or better said the inefficiency of it.

I won’t debate this, even though it’s clear that one will be more efficient focusing on a sole activity rather than trying to do several at the same time. My concern is about how you can avoid having to multitask and focus on only one activity.

In our modern society we are constantly in a rush, always on the run, with a need to always be connected and up to date. This makes it extremely hard to direct your attention on a single task or event. Constant interruptions, urgent tasks, high priority emails, people that need your immediate attention are always present.

It’s extremely difficult, if not impossible, not to be interrupted. Thus, the only option you have is either to stop what you are doing every single time you get interrupted, or to start multitasking.

Since multitasking is becoming a necessity and avoiding it is not an option anymore, the best solution you have is to get used to it, practice it and increase your ability to multitask.