Why Putting People First Makes Good Business Sense

No business that strategizes around making people happy by giving them a voice and a sense that they have a stake in your business will experience less wealth. In the simplest sense we are talking about building relationships and communities around our business and the products and services we produce.

Here’s the bottom line: Putting people first is a different and a better way to think and to measure success. When we filter everything we say and do through the “putting people first” principle, we end up with a company that features the following:
1. The best products and services we can produce, because that is what people want and need.
2 Employees who are enthusiastic about their jobs and are given the responsibility and the ability to always say “yes” to customers by providing a solution, because that is what people want and need.
3. Products and services that offer great value at a fair price, because that is what people want and need.
4. A growing number of loyal and new customers, because you provide what people want and need.
5. Strong revenues and increased margins, because you provide what people want and need.
6. A company that never violates its values or acts unethically, because your focus is on people, not profits.
7. A company that communities vie for, because you provide what people want and need.
Of course, for any model to work, you must believe, you must be passionate in that belief and you must work hard to make the business achieve its goals and objectives.

Why Do Businesses Choose One Consultant (or Employee) Over Another?

Those of us who are consultants understand well that to get work, we must project both characteristics.

Businesses won’t hire us unless we appear credible and trustworthy. The questions come down to: 1) How do we project trust and credibility and 2) Why Do Businesses Choose One Consultant Over Another? The same questions apply to getting hired and being trusted as an employee.
Since 1983 I have either run a consulting business or served as a manager or executive within mid-sized or large business. Therefore, I have had to either prove the value of my consultancy or my own worth in the business world. Based on those experiences and having hired more than a few consultancies and employees and having had more than my fair share of both business successes and failures in terms of revenues and client relationships, here are the primary characteristics I think businesses look for in hiring consultants or employees.


    1. Values–What are your personal values and your business values and how do you apply them in your work?


      1. Personality–Are you someone who is easy to work with and a team player?


        1. Point of Reference–Do you understand what the business needs, where it is going, what solutions will work, and that your primary role is to produce results?


          1. Strategist or Tactician–Are you able to think and execute on strategies or are you a tactical thinker? Strategists make good consultants and leaders; tacticians make good employees and workers.


            1. Experience–What experiences do you bring to the business? Are they in line with what the business needs?


              1. Client List–Do you have a list of clients that make the potential client comfortable that you can meet its needs?


                1. References and Testimonials–What do they look like? Are they from executives, managers, and/or co-workers? Do they reference results and successes?


                  1. Presentation–How do you present yourself? Are your shoes shined and your attire suitable to the business culture? Are you confident and look people in the eye? Do you think quickly and answer strategically? Are you goal and results oriented? Do you ask questions about the business’s needs or only about yours?


                  There’s much more and please share your thoughts, as well. The point I want to make here is that at the end of the day a business hires a consultant or an employee because it trusts you will deliver the results it needs.

                  Management Thoughts : Do you want a Hanuman in your team?

                  Give wings to Hanuman’s imagination

                  Hanuman plays an important role in the Ramayan, yet in the epic itself, he does not hold any great position. He is just one of the many monkeys Ram encounters in the forest. He is not Sugriva, leader of the monkey troop. He is not Angad, who is told to lead the band of monkeys searching for Sita. He is not Jambavan, the bear or Nila, the monkey, who are given the responsibility of building the bridge. He is projected as an obedient follower who, through his intelligence, strength and courage, wins the admiration of Ram and emerges as one of the most revered characters of the tale and a god in his own right. But at no point does Hanuman make any attempt to steal anyone’s glory; while in his own temple he stands powerful with mountain in hand and feet on a demon, in Ram’s temple he is most content sitting at the feet of his master, hands in supplication.

                  Who would not want a Hanuman in his team? One who is very good at his work, one who will do whatever he is told to do, one who will never seek either reward or recognition and one who finds validation in obeying his master.

                  If we go to Raju’s auto repair shop, we will find that all the work is done by his Hanuman: Amol, a young boy, who has been working with Raju for three years. Amol is a natural, able to fix the most complex of problems. Raju knows he can totally rely on Amol. No job is too big or too small for Amol. He is as happy changing a tyre, as he is fixing the brakes. He does not boss over the juniors and does not feel slighted if the seniors ask him to fetch tea. If there is a problem that eludes a standard solution, everyone knows that leave it to Amol – he will, like Hanuman crossing the sea, find a way.

                  Yes, it matters greatly to have a Hanuman in our team. One who will not question you. One who will do exactly what you tell him to do. One who delivers no matter what the odds. One who is loyal and devoted. But is that really good?

                  The following is a folk story of Hanuman: Hanuman once narrated the entire Ramayan to his mother, Anjani. After the narration, an impressed Anjani sought a clarification. “You are so strong that with a flick of a tail you could have destroyed the whole of Lanka, killed Ravan and rescued Sita. Why did you not do so? So much effort and time would have been saved – you would not have had to build a bridge to Lanka, you could have avoided the war. Why did you not do that?”

                  Hanuman replied, “Because Ram never asked me to.”

                  And suddenly we wonder if this was opportunity lost. Hanuman was asked to discover Sita’s location; he did that. Hanuman was asked to fetch the mountain of herbs that would save Lakshmana’s life; he did that. No one asked him to destroy the Rakshasas and rescue Sita. Why he did not do that? One common explanation given for why Ram never asked Hanuman to kill Ravan and rescue Sita is that it was Ram’s duty to rescue Sita, not Hanuman’s. Ramayan is about Ram, not Hanuman.

                  In the entire epic, Hanuman proves his capability time and time again. On his way to find Sita, he displays his extraordinary power (crosses the ocean), brain (outwits the snake-demon Surasa), brawn (kills Simhika) and integrity (not resting on Mandara mountain). And yet, while everyone admires this, no one seems eager to take full advantage of it. Was this refusal to take advantage of Hanuman’s abilities a divine decision or merely a oversight?

                  Yes, Raju loves Amol’s work. Yes, Raju admires Amol’s work. But is Raju harnessing the full potential of Amol? Is his contentment with Amol’s obedience preventing him from seeing all that Amol can do, proactively, creatively, independently, if he is given the freedom to do so? Ask Raju and he will say, “But I don’t stop Amol from doing anything.” He does not stop Amol from doing anything, but he does not encourage Amol from doing something either.

                  The greatest danger of having Hanumans in our team is that his actions are limited by our directions. Maybe we fear that if Hanuman thinks for himself, there will be chaos – he is a monkey after all. Maybe we fear that he will overshadow us. Hence, ultimately, only we decide the goals, we define the vision, we declare the mission and state the objective. Our Hanuman will help you realize all this. But, maybe, the goals could have been greater and grander, if we had let Hanuman do more than merely obey.

                  Amol once had given Raju a suggestion. “Sir, if we park our cars perpendicular to the wall rather than parallel we can keep more cars in the garage?” Raju ignored this suggestion. “Do your work,” he snapped at Amol without giving his words much thought. But the message he implicitly gave Amol was that – ‘I only want your obedience, not your intelligence.’ Amol immediately complied. And that marked the end of Amol’s creativity that would have perhaps made Raju’s auto repair shop a much greater success.

                  This is the danger of over compliance and extreme obedience.

                  We prevent followers from thinking and contributing.

                  It makes good sense therefore to take a closer look at the Hanumans in our team; we just might find in their hearts a Ram waiting to be coaxed out.

                  Source: Corporate dossier, Economic Times.

                  Lessons Learned from Reading Over 200 Books

                  It kind of made me wonder: what did we really learn from all the books we read? Are we smarter than we used to be? I started to wonder, and this is what happened. 140 characters per book, for 200 books… 200 things you may not know.
                  Are you curious? I sure was when I started. Here we go.

                  A Walk in the Woods

                  The Appalachian Trail is a trail in the woods that’s over 2000 miles long. In 1990, Bill Irwin became the first guy to ever walk it– BLIND.

                  The Millionaire Next Door

                  Those that are wealthy are not those who ACT wealthy. Those that look wealthy are usually in just debt, while the rich tend to act broke.


                  “Sometimes we’re right about things– especially when we’re experts. Other times we’re wrong.” With a bunch of examples.

                  How To Succeed in Anything by Really Trying

                  The three A’s of careers are Ability, Ambition, and Attitude. If you have those three down, you’re good.

                  The No BS Ruthless Management of People and Profits

                  If your employees suck, nobody is happy. So fire them– fast. Stop being so bleeding-hearted about it.

                  The Dip

                  The real rewards come to those who can outlast the competition. If you can do that while staying unique, you win.

                  The Little Red Book of Sales

                  People do business with people they like. So if make it easy to be someone they like, you’re a big part of the way there.

                  Crash Proof

                  The US is carrying massive amounts of debt. This may or may not reduce the value of the dollar over time, so invest to compensate for it.

                  On Writing Well

                  Simplicity matters. Clarity matters. “Writing improves in direct ratio to the number of things we can keep out of it.”

                  The Little Teal Book of Trust

                  Trust matters, but more importantly, Jeffrey Gitomer is a master salesman, and it is always possible to write a new take on an old subject.

                  Everything Bad is Good for You

                  Even culturally “stupid” things like reality TV can have lots of value. In fact media is getting more complex over time. Don’t dismiss it.

                  The Myth of Multitasking

                  Do one thing at a time or you’re wasting your time. Man, I could still really learn this lesson. So could you.

                  What Would Google Do?

                  Companies that embrace Google-like qualities win over “closed” companies. Free, open, etc. wins.

                  Old Masters and Young Geniuses

                  There are two ways to success. Either be young and have a huge insight, or get older and gradually improve.

                  Pow! Right Between the Eyes

                  Surprises create emotion. Emotions create memories. Information has nothing to do with convincing someone.


                  Learn practical skills or you’ll regret it when you need them. Being useful matters.

                  Lance Armstrong: Every Second Counts

                  Persistence is everything. Ignore detractors and push forward no matter what.

                  Problem Solving 101

                  It’s easy to sell a little book to a bored guy in Chicago O’Hare airport… yeah, that’s all I remember.

                  Talent is Overrated

                  Work matters more than talent– this is like a much better version of Outliers. Focus on the work, always.

                  Culture Smart:Japan

                  There are at least 5 ways to talk to people in Japan, based on their status and yours. In America, we’re lucky to have social mobility.

                  Thank You and OK!

                  Even Zen Buddhists can be messed up. No single path will make you perfect.

                  The Way of Zen

                  Japanese Daruma dolls are really cool symbols for persistence. Keep real objects around you that remind you of your purpose.

                  Stumbling on Happiness

                  The stuff we think will make us happy usually doesn’t. We need to be clear on what those mistakes are or we waste a lot of time.

                  Not Always So

                  Enlightenment is about the practice, not the talking. You can’t intellectualize insight.


                  Simplify your life and you’ll appreciate what you have more. Yes, it’s that simple.

                  The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die

                  Most of the answers to happiness have been figured out by old people. Ask them, they’ll tell you.


                  Simple environmental changes can radically alter behaviour. It’s how change happens. So don’t blame yourself or your weaknesses.

                  The Game

                  Girls like confidence, and confidence is hard to fake.

                  How To Sell

                  Girls apparently like jewelry too. But not as much as confidence.

                  Six Pixels of Separation

                  Mitch Joel is an under-appreciated asset to the whole social media community. This book has secretly outsold every single other social media book out there, by the way.

                  What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20

                  Frankly, this was not memorable. If you are reading a book and can’t come up with any significant quotes or ideas from it, you should probably stop. Trust me.

                  Mastering Your Hidden Self

                  Do yourself a favour and don’t read books about spirituality. They’re usually crap and are trying to sell you on something.

                  Man’s Search For Meaning

                  Between stimulus and response there is a space, and in that space lies our growth and our freedom. (This was the largest inspiration for my book The Flinch.)

                  Feel the Fear… And Do It Anyway

                  If you feel fear in non-dangerous situations, you should just go forward anyway. It’s rare that bad shit happens.

                  Blue Ocean Strategy

                  Low competition means it’s easier to win. Always search for the easiest, least competitive way.

                  What Should I Do With My Life?

                  Follow your passion or you’ll regret it. Speaking from experience, this is true.


                  Stuff doesn’t make you happy, but you’ll never stop thinking it will.

                  She Comes First

                  Lol. I can’t believe I’m admitting that I read this. It was good though. You should read it.

                  Purple Cow

                  Being remarkable means your customers will notice, and being noticed is the first step on the way to being successful.

                  50 50

                  Doing the impossible is often easier than you think. Most people don’t try to find the real limits– they just trust what others say.

                  Presentation Zen

                  Stop putting walls of text on your Powerpoint slides. Everyone knows this now, don’t they?

                  Getting Things Done

                  Having a system in place is necessary to facilitate completing lots of tasks. Otherwise, you get lost. But if it’s too complex, the system itself gets you lost.

                  Open and Shut

                  The Canadian government never would have let Obama win, or even run, because he’s an outsider. This stifles innovation from the Canadian system.

                  Rules of Thumb

                  Any lesson is easy to learn… but applying it is hard.

                  When I Say No, I Feel Guilty

                  Saying no to something is actually very hard, so learn social “techniques” to help you say no when it matters.

                  Crush It

                  Fact: It’s possible to talk into a microphone and have it be made into a bestselling book.

                  Status Anxiety

                  It’s programmed into our brains to seek higher status, and when we can’t do it, we feel like crap.

                  The Architecture of Happiness

                  Our physical environment is important. How we feel in a place influences our behaviour in it, so try to create a space you love.


                  Even if people are outside your social network, you influence them. In other words, humans aren’t like wolves, we’re like bees.

                  The Cluetrain Manifesto

                  Hyperlinks subvert hierarchies. (This sounds simple but it’s in fact very profound.)

                  Gambling Scams

                  Amazing book. Crazy stories. Most scams are about getting the mark to feel like they’re getting away with something, not the other way around.

                  Zen and the Art of Archery

                  Reading short books helps you get ahead on your reading list. Don’t underestimate this. 🙂

                  The Numerati

                  The world of the future will be controlled by those who have, and understand, the numbers. Intuition is no longer good enough.


                  Traveling full-time is easier than expected. You, yes you, could probably do it… just not as you are now.


                  If you have trouble with a book, persevere anyway. It’s worth it.

                  Your Money or Your Life

                  Your spending habits are changeable. Stop letting them direct your life. What seems “essential” usually isn’t.

                  Of the Dawn of Freedom

                  Black people had it really bad, you guys. We are all lucky to be alive when we are right now.


                  Motivation from inside gets you moving. Motivation from outside stops you dead cold.

                  The Social Contract

                  There are implicit and explicit “contracts” that occur between people all the time, without people even talking about them.

                  Shop Class as Soulcraft

                  Working on things (vs, say, ideas) is rewarding, because you can see the results of your work and how it improves the world.

                  Escape From Cubicle Nation

                  Quit your horrible job. ASAP. Trust me.

                  The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work

                  Unfortunately, all work sucks at least a little. But life is still good, so don’t worry about it too much.

                  The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

                  Amazing things will happen, and terrible things will happen. Deal with both in the same way.

                  The Paleo Diet

                  Removing sugar and grains from your diet is one of the best things you can do for your health.

                  7 Days in the Art World

                  Art is all about personalities and technique is no longer that important. Often, big artists don’t even make their own work anymore.


                  Change is about working with three things: intellect, emotion, and environment. Get all three and change is easy.


                  I read this while in Cuba. This is the book I wish I had written. I was both impressed and upset when I read it because it was what I had wanted to do.


                  Simplicity is often harder than complexity, and often, there’s a lot of garbage that can just remain unsaid.

                  The Art of Eating In

                  If you’re doing it right, food in the house can be just as great as eating at restaurants. Take time to work on your cooking skills.

                  The Fighter’s Mind

                  People that fight intimately understand something that we do not.

                  The Greatest Salesman in the World

                  Mindset is everything.

                  The Creative Habit

                  One of the world’s most famous choreographers gets in a cab every morning to bring her to the gym to make sure she works out. In other words, high achievers have more than just “willpower” to make it happen.


                  Books that say a little are often way better than books that say a lot.

                  Do More Great Work

                  Getting people to do exercises makes them think about things more than if they just read about them.

                  Stranger in a Strange Land

                  Starting a cult is easy. 🙂

                  A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

                  Think about your life as a story. How would you make it worth watching? Also, a character is what a character does. This is very important.

                  Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate

                  Zen Masters are just normal people that sit around a lot. They aren’t saints. I spent a month in a Zen monastery in Japan, so I know this is true.

                  Global Citizens

                  Don’t downgrade your standards for books just because you’re getting on a plane in New Zealand. Just garbage.

                  Ogilvy on Advertising

                  People used to be very gullible I think. A wall of text used to convince people… wait, maybe it still does?

                  Tao Te Ching

                  This book made me appreciate Chinese writing. The fashionable thing is to like the Japanese, but honestly I think ancient Chinese philosophical writing is far superior.

                  Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography

                  History will distort what your message is, or it will forget you. Focus on making the people near you happy instead of your “legacy” or whatever.

                  All Marketers Are Liars

                  The story you tell yourself (and others) is really important.

                  In Defence of Food

                  If it doesn’t need to be refrigerated, it may not actually be food. So never go through the aisles of a grocery store– go around the edges instead, where the fridges are.

                  I Am Not a Gadget

                  The web is making you into a commodity and narrowing your thinking without you knowing it.

                  5 Love Languages

                  Behind the things your spouse does is a way of thinking. Aligning yourself with that will help you understand them.

                  The Vegetarian Myth

                  I was a vegetarian/vegan for 10 years and there were lots of talking points I believed without researching them. So the lesson here is, read up on sound bites before repeating them.

                  The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King

                  Big bets either pay off or wipe you out. But even if they wipe you out, you can still come back from it.

                  A Brief History of Everything

                  Systems look very different from the inside than they do from the outside.

                  The Gift of Fear

                  Your instincts have been honed by millions of years of evolution. When your intuition tells you something, don’t ignore it.

                  Three Steps of the Ladder of Writing

                  In order for great art to emerge, you must suffer. (I have also experienced this firsthand.)

                  Se liberer du connu

                  Any habit, no matter how stupid, will end up with religious significance if unquestioned.

                  The Primal Blueprint

                  One book on the paleo diet is enough. Stop re-reading the same information over and over again. (This also applies to social media books.)

                  Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong

                  The French are best appreciated as a deeply distinct culture. They may have cars, McDonald’s, and shopping malls but they are not like you.

                  The Art of Non-Conformity

                  I could learn a lot from Chris Guillebeau. You can too.


                  When things go viral, it’s because they touch upon emotion, not logic. This is actually a big message most web people forget.

                  The Happiness Project

                  It’s shocking how much this book has sold. I guess it goes to show what happens when you put “happiness” in the title. It’s good, but…

                  The Little Black Book of Connections

                  Your network is everything. Access to the right people accelerates everything you do.

                  The Paleo Solution

                  Another paleo book may not have been the right thing to do, but it does prove that presentation matters. This book is the best presented of all the ones I read.

                  Hamlet’s Blackberry

                  People have encountered new technology many times before, so looking to the past can help you understand how you should deal with it when it happens to you.

                  The End of Food

                  Unless it’s local and needs to be refrigerated, the food you eat had a terrifying ride to get to your plate.


                  I think I’ve read enough Edward de Bono books. This was about success, but whatever. Why do I keep reading about the same things?


                  Old people have tons of amazing stories– but most of us don’t know them because we just don’t ask.

                  It’s Not Just Who You Know…

                  Pull other people up. Be considerate to everyone.

                  Good Calories Bad Calories

                  Native people all over the world, before being introduced to Western food, had significantly less chronic disease.

                  Making Ideas Happen

                  The productivity system you use must be available everywhere and give you your tasks only for today, not for next week.

                  Work the System

                  You should not be working inside your company putting out fires. You should be improving its efficiency instead. This book is like a better 4-Hour-Workweek.

                  Food Rules

                  When you name something a “rule,” everyone believes it even though it may not be true.

                  Foucault for Beginners

                  Michel Foucault was gay and came up with the panopticon.

                  A Treatise on Elegant Living

                  What you wear isn’t just surface– it also displays your personality and what matters to you.

                  Why We Get Fat

                  Science writers usually write a complicated book, and then a simple one after that. Always read one or the other. Never both.

                  The 4-Hour Body

                  Do the minimum possible to affect the largest possible change. Everything else is wasted energy (unless you want to master a discipline).

                  Emotional Intelligence 2.0

                  I was in Thailand while reading this. Skip it and go to Thailand instead.

                  What Technology Wants

                  Technology is a force and it’s going in a certain direction. If you work on the web, you need to understand what direction that is.

                  How I Became a Famous Novelist

                  Thailand again… this was the funniest book I ever read. It made me want to write other things than business books for the first time.

                  One Small Step Can Change Your Life

                  Large change is best done in small steps, because it doesn’t set off your emotional alarm system.

                  The Alchemist

                  Have a quest.

                  Program or Be Programmed

                  Most people on the web are writers, not programmers, and in so doing, they are less powerful than they could be.

                  As You Think (and other short books)

                  Writing down goals has power.

                  Poke the Box

                  Become a person that initiates. Others will follow.

                  What the Psychic Said to the Pilgrim

                  People give up extremely easily. If you don’t, you automatically win.

                  The Thank You Economy

                  Social media is all about basic human interactions, so being as human as possible means you have the most impact.

                  The Long Walk

                  All Stephen King books are about a regular thing that becomes evil. Carrie is a high school girl that becomes evil. Christine is a car that becomes evil. Cujo is a dog that becomes evil. The Long Walk is about a walk that becomes evil.

                  How to Get a Grip

                  Most self-improvement is in fact very basic to do. Stop kidding yourself.

                  Do the Work

                  Just sit on your ass and do it. It’s that “easy.”

                  Go Forth and Kick Some Ass

                  eBooks are quick to read and people will probably buy lots of them.

                  Against the Gods

                  Insurance companies (and others) understand risk in an extremely sophisticated way– but most individuals do not. They consider risky things safe, and safe things risky.

                  The God Delusion

                  Richard Dawkins is not nearly as much of an asshole as some think he is.

                  Five Little Pigs

                  Agatha Christie is the greatest fiction writer in the history of mankind. She is a master.

                  Rules for Aging

                  Amazing short book about important life lessons. Very funny.

                  The Places That Scare You

                  “Drop the storyline.”

                  Born Standing Up

                  Even if their movies are bad, celebrities usually aren’t idiots… especially the comedians. Also: read more biographies.

                  Born to Run

                  Marketing, especially when applied to things we have been doing for millions of years, can really screw things up. People with expensive shoes, for example, get more injuries than minimalist shoe runners.

                  The Dip

                  Wow, I read this twice! Well, this one was an audiobook, so I guess that’s different. Kind of like being on the Camino de Santiago with Seth Godin.

                  How to Win Friends and Influence People

                  After finishing this book, I realized that I should be reading it every single year. It’s that good.

                  A Whole New Mind

                  The mind necessary in the 21st century is not like the one we were taught to use. We need to learn to think and learn differently.

                  Getting Unstuck

                  Godin also recommended I read some Pema Chodron. He was right.

                  The War of Art

                  This is the perfect writing book. It’s so good it makes you never want to compete with it.

                  The Thing About Life is That One Day You’ll Be Dead

                  Sickness and aging happen very slowly, so you never actually notice it happening. Plan accordingly.

                  Your Dog is Your Mirror

                  Bad dogs aren’t bad for no reason. They have been with us for longer than any other animals, so they are uniquely attuned to our emotional states.

                  The Consolations of Philosophy

                  Most of our basic human problems have been solved a long time ago. If you start digging, you can solve them pretty easily.

                  When Things Fall Apart

                  Even though pain may seem catastrophic, it’s actually temporary. And again, “drop the storyline.”

                  Evil Plans

                  When you draw, you can say a lot with a little. I plan on drawing a lot of my work in 2012 and beyond.


                  I read this because I was asked to blurb it, but it was actually a good primer.

                  Read This Before Our Next Meeting

                  Most time in offices is wasted. I heard the other day most people actually “work” around 2 hours per day. Meetings are partly responsible.

                  Purple Cow

                  When I read this for the second time, it was because I was trying to “distill” the Flinch. It worked.

                  Self-Reliance (Domino edition)

                  Always read the original.

                  The Power of Myth

                  Joseph Campbell, although not “undiscovered,” is still under-appreciated. The dude did things his own way in a time when conformity was the norm.

                  The 22 Laws of Marketing

                  Tim Ferriss was right. This book is simple yet awesome.

                  Zarrella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness

                  People who give you simple formulas are spoon-feeding you. Be skeptical.

                  L’art de la sieste

                  Some books are inappropriately titled. I thought this book was about napping, but it isn’t. It’s about people napping in paintings. No kidding.

                  End Malaria

                  The most easily marketed work is the one that is publicized collaboratively. In order to facilitate this, you should also write collaboratively. (See Godin’s What Matters Now for another example.)

                  The Pilgrimage

                  Universal themes in books never get old, and Paulo Coelho is a master. As he visited each town, I remembered how I felt while visiting them.

                  The Warrior Ethos

                  Throughout history, there have been cultures that have been hard, and others that have been soft. We are soft. The Spartans were hard.

                  5 Minds For the Future

                  The most appreciated people in the 21st century will be those who do the jobs that computers are bad at.

                  We Are All Weird

                  Find a little tribe that is like you, be yourself to them. Build yourself a business around it. (See also: 1000 True Fans.)

                  Accidental Genius

                  Freewriting unlocks ideas that your brain may never have otherwise encountered. Read this and try it for yourself.

                  Rum Socialism

                  I should go to Cuba again. You should too, probably. It’s going to change a lot soon. Foreigners just got the right to buy property there.

                  Falling While Sitting Down

                  You can radically change your writing and still keep a lot of your audience.

                  The Game Master

                  Yes, I still play Dungeons and Dragons. Yet there is little writing about how to write a game. This was a good one. You can download it here for a donation or for free.

                  Cognitive Surplus

                  When you free up a lot of your time, or give yourself many more options than before, your creativity and that of society is entirely transformed. Kickstarter and Sokap are great examples.


                  Each fact in a book should be considered separetely. For example, Willpower says glucose depletion is a primary cause of making bad decisions. Not sure about that.

                  The Education of Millionaires

                  I should be going to more events. Summit Series, for example.

                  The Lean Startup

                  There is a methodology behind exploration of new concepts. Don’t just do it chaotically– have a method behind the madness.


                  Get advice from people who have been there before. Don’t reinvent the wheel.


                  This is a kind of Gladwell-style book, but much more interesting. I also learned here that there are about a million books about psychological errors that people make.

                  The Power of Eye Contact

                  It literally took me a year to finish this. I started in January and finished in December. Anyway, eye contact is important for relationships.

                  Never Eat Alone

                  You are not networking as much as you should be.

                  Strong Enough?

                  Incremental change can make you amazingly strong. (This applies to all areas of life.)

                  Think Twice

                  We make cognitive errors all the time without knowing it. Correcting them usually means big rewards.

                  How To Be a Man

                  In an anarchist state, manners would become the main substitute for laws. So be polite.

                  What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

                  Many famous and well-respected writers have copied, or translated, other people’s works. See also: Hunter S. Thompson.

                  18 Minutes

                  Set your phone to ask you once an hour whether you’re being productive. Watch massive change occur.


                  Influence on the web comes from working with regular people, not “influencers.”


                  Almost all decisions we make are influenced by our biology.


                  The U-bend of life

                  The Economist

                  The U-bend of life

                  Why, beyond middle age, people get happier as they get older

                  Age and happiness

                  Dec 16th 2010 | from PRINT EDITION

                  ASK people how they feel about getting older, and they will probably reply in the same vein as Maurice Chevalier: “Old age isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative.” Stiffening joints, weakening muscles, fading eyesight and the clouding of memory, coupled with the modern world’s careless contempt for the old, seem a fearful prospect—better than death, perhaps, but not much. Yet mankind is wrong to dread ageing. Life is not a long slow decline from sunlit uplands towards the valley of death. It is, rather, a U-bend.

                  When people start out on adult life, they are, on average, pretty cheerful. Things go downhill from youth to middle age until they reach a nadir commonly known as the mid-life crisis. So far, so familiar. The surprising part happens after that. Although as people move towards old age they lose things they treasure—vitality, mental sharpness and looks—they also gain what people spend their lives pursuing: happiness.

                  This curious finding has emerged from a new branch of economics that seeks a more satisfactory measure than money of human well-being. Conventional economics uses money as a proxy for utility—the dismal way in which the discipline talks about happiness. But some economists, unconvinced that there is a direct relationship between money and well-being, have decided to go to the nub of the matter and measure happiness itself.

                  These ideas have penetrated the policy arena, starting in Bhutan, where the concept of Gross National Happiness shapes the planning process. All new policies have to have a GNH assessment, similar to the environmental-impact assessment common in other countries. In 2008 France’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy, asked two Nobel-prize-winning economists, Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz, to come up with a broader measure of national contentedness than GDP. Then last month, in a touchy-feely gesture not typical of Britain, David Cameron announced that the British government would start collecting figures on well-being.

                  There are already a lot of data on the subject collected by, for instance, America’s General Social Survey, Eurobarometer and Gallup. Surveys ask two main sorts of question. One concerns people’s assessment of their lives, and the other how they feel at any particular time. The first goes along the lines of: thinking about your life as a whole, how do you feel? The second is something like: yesterday, did you feel happy/contented/angry/anxious? The first sort of question is said to measure global well-being, and the second hedonic or emotional well-being. They do not always elicit the same response: having children, for instance, tends to make people feel better about their life as a whole, but also increases the chance that they felt angry or anxious yesterday.

                  Statisticians trawl through the vast quantities of data these surveys produce rather as miners panning for gold. They are trying to find the answer to the perennial question: what makes people happy?

                  Four main factors, it seems: gender, personality, external circumstances and age. Women, by and large, are slightly happier than men. But they are also more susceptible to depression: a fifth to a quarter of women experience depression at some point in their lives, compared with around a tenth of men. Which suggests either that women are more likely to experience more extreme emotions, or that a few women are more miserable than men, while most are more cheerful.

                  Two personality traits shine through the complexity of economists’ regression analyses: neuroticism and extroversion. Neurotic people—those who are prone to guilt, anger and anxiety—tend to be unhappy. This is more than a tautological observation about people’s mood when asked about their feelings by pollsters or economists. Studies following people over many years have shown that neuroticism is a stable personality trait and a good predictor of levels of happiness. Neurotic people are not just prone to negative feelings: they also tend to have low emotional intelligence, which makes them bad at forming or managing relationships, and that in turn makes them unhappy.

                  Whereas neuroticism tends to make for gloomy types, extroversion does the opposite. Those who like working in teams and who relish parties tend to be happier than those who shut their office doors in the daytime and hole up at home in the evenings. This personality trait may help explain some cross-cultural differences: a study comparing similar groups of British, Chinese and Japanese people found that the British were, on average, both more extrovert and happier than the Chinese and Japanese.

                  Then there is the role of circumstance. All sorts of things in people’s lives, such as relationships, education, income and health, shape the way they feel. Being married gives people a considerable uplift, but not as big as the gloom that springs from being unemployed. In America, being black used to be associated with lower levels of happiness—though the most recent figures suggest that being black or Hispanic is nowadays associated with greater happiness. People with children in the house are less happy than those without. More educated people are happier, but that effect disappears once income is controlled for. Education, in other words, seems to make people happy because it makes them richer. And richer people are happier than poor ones—though just how much is a source of argument (see article).

                  The view from winter

                  Lastly, there is age. Ask a bunch of 30-year-olds and another of 70-year-olds (as Peter Ubel, of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, did with two colleagues, Heather Lacey and Dylan Smith, in 2006) which group they think is likely to be happier, and both lots point to the 30-year-olds. Ask them to rate their own well-being, and the 70-year-olds are the happier bunch. The academics quoted lyrics written by Pete Townshend of The Who when he was 20: “Things they do look awful cold / Hope I die before I get old”. They pointed out that Mr Townshend, having passed his 60th birthday, was writing a blog that glowed with good humour.

                  Mr Townshend may have thought of himself as a youthful radical, but this view is ancient and conventional. The “seven ages of man”—the dominant image of the life-course in the 16th and 17th centuries—was almost invariably conceived as a rise in stature and contentedness to middle age, followed by a sharp decline towards the grave. Inverting the rise and fall is a recent idea. “A few of us noticed the U-bend in the early 1990s,” says Andrew Oswald, professor of economics at Warwick Business School. “We ran a conference about it, but nobody came.”

                  People are least happy in their 40s and early 50s. They reach a nadir at a global average of 46

                  Since then, interest in the U-bend has been growing. Its effect on happiness is significant—about half as much, from the nadir of middle age to the elderly peak, as that of unemployment. It appears all over the world. David Blanchflower, professor of economics at Dartmouth College, and Mr Oswald looked at the figures for 72 countries. The nadir varies among countries—Ukrainians, at the top of the range, are at their most miserable at 62, and Swiss, at the bottom, at 35—but in the great majority of countries people are at their unhappiest in their 40s and early 50s. The global average is 46.

                  The U-bend shows up in studies not just of global well-being but also of hedonic or emotional well-being. One paper, published this year by Arthur Stone, Joseph Schwartz and Joan Broderick of Stony Brook University, and Angus Deaton of Princeton, breaks well-being down into positive and negative feelings and looks at how the experience of those emotions varies through life. Enjoyment and happiness dip in middle age, then pick up; stress rises during the early 20s, then falls sharply; worry peaks in middle age, and falls sharply thereafter; anger declines throughout life; sadness rises slightly in middle age, and falls thereafter.

                  Turn the question upside down, and the pattern still appears. When the British Labour Force Survey asks people whether they are depressed, the U-bend becomes an arc, peaking at 46.

                  Happier, no matter what

                  There is always a possibility that variations are the result not of changes during the life-course, but of differences between cohorts. A 70-year-old European may feel different to a 30-year-old not because he is older, but because he grew up during the second world war and was thus formed by different experiences. But the accumulation of data undermines the idea of a cohort effect. Americans and Zimbabweans have not been formed by similar experiences, yet the U-bend appears in both their countries. And if a cohort effect were responsible, the U-bend would not show up consistently in 40 years’ worth of data.

                  Another possible explanation is that unhappy people die early. It is hard to establish whether that is true or not; but, given that death in middle age is fairly rare, it would explain only a little of the phenomenon. Perhaps the U-bend is merely an expression of the effect of external circumstances. After all, common factors affect people at different stages of the life-cycle. People in their 40s, for instance, often have teenage children. Could the misery of the middle-aged be the consequence of sharing space with angry adolescents? And older people tend to be richer. Could their relative contentment be the result of their piles of cash?

                  The answer, it turns out, is no: control for cash, employment status and children, and the U-bend is still there. So the growing happiness that follows middle-aged misery must be the result not of external circumstances but of internal changes.

                  People, studies show, behave differently at different ages. Older people have fewer rows and come up with better solutions to conflict. They are better at controlling their emotions, better at accepting misfortune and less prone to anger. In one study, for instance, subjects were asked to listen to recordings of people supposedly saying disparaging things about them. Older and younger people were similarly saddened, but older people less angry and less inclined to pass judgment, taking the view, as one put it, that “you can’t please all the people all the time.”

                  There are various theories as to why this might be so. Laura Carstensen, professor of psychology at Stanford University, talks of “the uniquely human ability to recognise our own mortality and monitor our own time horizons”. Because the old know they are closer to death, she argues, they grow better at living for the present. They come to focus on things that matter now—such as feelings—and less on long-term goals. “When young people look at older people, they think how terrifying it must be to be nearing the end of your life. But older people know what matters most.” For instance, she says, “young people will go to cocktail parties because they might meet somebody who will be useful to them in the future, even though nobody I know actually likes going to cocktail parties.”

                  Death of ambition, birth of acceptance

                  There are other possible explanations. Maybe the sight of contemporaries keeling over infuses survivors with a determination to make the most of their remaining years. Maybe people come to accept their strengths and weaknesses, give up hoping to become chief executive or have a picture shown in the Royal Academy, and learn to be satisfied as assistant branch manager, with their watercolour on display at the church fete. “Being an old maid”, says one of the characters in a story by Edna Ferber, an (unmarried) American novelist, was “like death by drowning—a really delightful sensation when you ceased struggling.” Perhaps acceptance of ageing itself is a source of relief. “How pleasant is the day”, observed William James, an American philosopher, “when we give up striving to be young—or slender.”

                  Whatever the causes of the U-bend, it has consequences beyond the emotional. Happiness doesn’t just make people happy—it also makes them healthier. John Weinman, professor of psychiatry at King’s College London, monitored the stress levels of a group of volunteers and then inflicted small wounds on them. The wounds of the least stressed healed twice as fast as those of the most stressed. At Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Sheldon Cohen infected people with cold and flu viruses. He found that happier types were less likely to catch the virus, and showed fewer symptoms of illness when they did. So although old people tend to be less healthy than younger ones, their cheerfulness may help counteract their crumbliness.

                  Happier people are more productive, too. Mr Oswald and two colleagues, Eugenio Proto and Daniel Sgroi, cheered up a bunch of volunteers by showing them a funny film, then set them mental tests and compared their performance to groups that had seen a neutral film, or no film at all. The ones who had seen the funny film performed 12% better. This leads to two conclusions. First, if you are going to volunteer for a study, choose the economists’ experiment rather than the psychologists’ or psychiatrists’. Second, the cheerfulness of the old should help counteract their loss of productivity through declining cognitive skills—a point worth remembering as the world works out how to deal with an ageing workforce.

                  The ageing of the rich world is normally seen as a burden on the economy and a problem to be solved. The U-bend argues for a more positive view of the matter. The greyer the world gets, the brighter it becomes—a prospect which should be especially encouraging to us

                  Pair of Old Shoes

                  Pair of Old Shoes


                  A young man, a student in one of the universities, was one day taking a walk with a professor, who was commonly called the students’ friend for his kindness to those who waited on his instructions.

                  As they went along, they saw lying in the path a pair of old shoes, which were supposed to belong to a poor man who was working in a field close by, and who had nearly finished his day’s work . . .

                  Student turned to the professor, saying: "Let us play the man a trick:

                  We will hide his shoes, and hide ourselves behind those bushes, and wait to see his perplexity when he cannot find them …"

                  "My young friend," answered the professor, "We should never amuse ourselves at the expense of the poor . . . But you are rich, and may give yourself a much greater pleasure by means of this poor man.

                  Put a coin in each shoe, and then we will hide ourselves and watch how this affects him." Visit: The student did so and they both placed themselves behind the bushes close by. The poor man soon finished his work, and came across the field to the path where he had left his coat and shoes . . .

                  While putting on his coat he slipped his foot into one of his shoes, but feeling something hard, he stooped down to feel what it was, and found the coin. Astonishment and wonder were seen upon his countenance.

                  He gazed upon the coin, turned it around and looked at it again and again.

                  He then looked around him on all sides, but no person was to be seen. He now put the money into his pocket, and proceeded to put on the other shoe; but his surprise was doubled on finding the other coin . . .

                  His feelings overcame him . . . He fell upon his knees, looked up to heaven and uttered aloud a fervent thanksgiving in which he spoke of his wife, sick and helpless, and his children without bread, whom this timely bounty, from some unknown hand, would save from perishing . . .

                  The student stood there deeply affected, and his eyes filled with tears.

                  "Now," said the professor, are you not much better pleased than if you had played your intended trick?"

                  The youth replied, "You have taught me a lesson which I will never forget. .. I feel now the truth of these words, which I never understood before: "It’s more blessed to give than to receive."

                  If you want happiness… .For a lifetime – help someone.



                  Focus On People Happiness, Not Money

                  The Happiness Quotient is defined and measured based on meeting people’s wants, needs and desires, which may or may not tickle their emotional sides 24/7….

                  Those who question the thesis in earlier comments are correct: We cannot, nor should we try to, control people’s emotions. That is not what The Happiness Quotient is about. It is also not about satisfying customers or employees, which I believe results in mediocrity.
                  Instead, it is about first understanding what motivates and inspires people to become loyal to a brand, and then using that information to build an internal and external culture of brand advocates who believe in and strive to always exceed human expectations.
                  To be successful, we must build from the inside/out, which requires a carefully structured strategic plan that is flexible, with measurable goals, with input from every department, and wherein every employee is held accountable for achieving the goals.
                  Raising The Happiness Quotient of our employees and customers starts at the beginning of our business:
                  1. The Business Plan and the business’s core values are based on The Happiness Quotient and long-term revenue success, not short-term.
                  2. The business’s core purpose must reflect something other than making money.
                  3. The annual Strategic Plan recognizes that employees at every level must participate in building the plan; they must be responsible and accountable for achieving the plan; and the goals must be measured in terms of exceeding employee and customer wants, needs and desires (The Happiness Quotient). In other words, the goals must be progressive, not about Wall Street, but always about Main Street. Evidence supports the fact that companies that operate in this way usually exceed the median expectations of Wall Street.
                  4. From the beginning, every hire must be focused on building a culture true to the business’s core values.
                  5. Every business decision must be filtered through the core values.
                  6. Every employee must receive ongoing brand and values training.
                  7. Every employee must receive ongoing and honest internal communications–the good and the bad must be shared.
                  8. Every employee must receive encouragement and have access to a structure that enables risk-taking and innovation.
                  9. Every employee must be held responsible and accountable for both internal and external marketing and brand building.
                  10. Employees and customers must be honored, recognized and rewarded for suggestions, ideas and innovations that make the company better.
                  At the end of the day, it is always about the “who” not the “what.” It is about people, not revenues. When it is, the revenues will come.