Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Business Bites – Imagination and Emotional Intelligence

Imagination and Emotional Intelligence

By Scott Adams
I have a hypothesis that emotional intelligence is a function of imagination. In other words, your ability to imagine the future is what drives your decisions today. If your imagined future looks like a big foggy nothing, you might as well enjoy today because tomorrow is unknowable. But if you can vividly imagine your future under different scenarios, you’ll make hard choices today that will, you hope, get you to the future you imagine and want.

You probably saw a news item in which people were shown digitally aged pictures of themselves and asked how much money they were going to save for retirement. The people who saw older versions of themselves saved more. The digitally aged photos were like a substitute for imagination. So we have one data point that is consistent with the hypothesis that imagination is the key to emotional intelligence.

I had intense stomach aches for all of my waking hours during my childhood. I didn’t know it at the time, but my body doesn’t digest dairy or meat well, and I tended to have both of those things with every meal. I spent some part of almost every day doubled up in a fetal position. As an adult, I discovered that adjusting my diet was enough to eliminate my stomach problems. But during my childhood I would withdraw into my imagination to divert my thoughts from the pain. I’ve always wondered if all of that intense imagining made a permanent difference in my brain.

I can imagine the future so vividly that I was planning my retirement before I was out of grade school. That’s literally true. Thanks to my clearly imagined future it seemed easy to modify what I was doing on any given day to make my dreams come true in the future. Today we call that sort of discipline emotional intelligence. At the time it felt like nothing more than a vivid imagination. Perhaps imagination and emotional intelligence are closely related.

This is an important idea because emotional intelligence is highly correlated with success, and I would be surprised if it wasn’t a primary cause. So I wonder if imagination, like most other mental processes, can be improved with practice. If so, it would seem we have a direct lever for improving a person’s emotional intelligence.

If you know some teens, ask them what they see for their future. Some kids will give you a detailed roadmap of their future career plans. I believe those kids imagine their future somewhat vividly and have started their planning early. Other teens seem to have no imagination of their own future and they act recklessly today because they don’t see a compelling reason to plan for the unknown.

If imagination is the foundation of emotional intelligence, and emotional intelligence is the biggest factor in success, shouldn’t we be training kids to better imagine their futures?

I would think that generic imagination skills alone would not be enough; one needs to imagine oneself in the future. Schools could create assignments in which kids are asked to write stories about their lives in the future. Or they could be asked to draw themselves as adults with their own kids, jobs, and homes. I have a hunch that sort of exercise would make a difference.

If you subscribe to the superstition of “will power” you might believe emotional intelligence is something that you either have or you don’t. Perhaps you think the people who succeed have more of this magic thing called will power because they make hard choices today to improve their lives tomorrow. But will power is an illusion. People simply choose the path that looks best at the moment. And the moment is partly influenced by your imagined future. If you sharpen your imagination of your future, your preferences today might change, and to observers it will seem as though you have will power and emotional intelligence.

Perhaps the link between imagination and emotional intelligence is another reason role models are so important. A role model is a proxy for your imagination. It’s easier to imagine having the life of someone you know than it is to imagine your own unknowable future.

I’ve written quite a bit about something called affirmations, which is a process in which you imagine your own preferred future at least once a day, usually by writing down your objectives multiple times. If the process of imagining your future helps you make hard choices today, it will seem to observers as if you have lots of emotional intelligence.

Does your common sense tell you that vividly imagining your preferred future improves your emotional intelligence today? I give that hypothesis an 80% chance of being right. What odds do you put on it?



Secrets of Being Promoted and Earning More Money

By Colin Shaw

Have you ever wondered how some real idiots get promoted and you don’t? I’ve spent over 27 years working in the corporate world, climbing the greasy pole and I saw it all. I discovered there are three types of people. The key to getting promoted and earning more money is to decide which one you are…

Firstly, we have…

The Showman

We all know this person. I can picture a person I used to know who was the epitome of this type of person. Over a few years, I watched this guy get promotion after promotion and I have to say I was amazed. I thought he must be some kind of genius; I couldn’t understand his secret. All the senior managers loved him. Then, one day, he ended up as my boss. Working closely with him I quickly found out a lot about him and got to realize what made up ‘The Showman’.

His key strength was that he was great ‘on stage’. He was very eloquent at talking about what he’d done, to people in high places. He spent all of his time carefully crafting his image. He made sure he was at the right meetings and said the right thing. As a consequence senior management loved him and he was promoted. The issue was he was promoted so quickly people didn’t realize the key weakness of the Showman. He never actually did anything! He had some great ideas, that were totally impracticable and he never ever implemented anything in his life! It was all talk. What he was good at doing was taking credit for anything his team did and pass it off as his own. As a result his team’s morale was awful. But he had a knack of surviving for a while… until he was promoted again, and so the cycle repeated itself.

We then have….

The Implementer

This person is the opposite of the Showman. During my long career I have had the pleasure of working with some great people who actually got their hands dirty and did things. They worked hard and implemented things. They made change happen. These people are great to have in your team. But their biggest problem was that nobody knew about all the great work they did as they didn’t like to tell people. They were embarrassed to promote themselves and explaining to people what they have achieved. They thought that if they did a good job, then they would be noticed. This, however, is often not the case and as a result, unfortunately, most of them don’t get noticed and the world passes them by. This is clearly unjust, but it is life.

Finally, we have….

Abe Lincoln

The reason I call these people Abe Lincoln is because they are honest, hardworking, they get things done and make change. But to be President they must also be good ‘on stage’.

Let me relate a story to illustrate this type of person. Back in the day, I used to work for Mars Confectionery as a salesman on the road. I would see my boss twice a month. Showing my age, this was before emails and mobile phones! I always remember my boss saying to me that he wanted me to send him a memo each week, (on carbonized paper!) called ‘Look what I have done’. He explained that he wasn’t working with me all the time and he wouldn’t be able to see all the good things that I was doing. So he asked me to tell him.

So every week I wrote him a memo with the highlights of my week. Some he would write back about and congratulate me. Some he would forward onto his boss who would write to me and tell me what a good job I was doing. Each of these motivated me to do more and better work. As he knew the good work I was doing I then started to get promoted. As I continued on my career path I continued and promoted this strategy – do good work, and then tell people about it.

To me this is the secret of getting promoted. Too many good people think the world is a ‘just and honest’ place, and if they do a good job they will be recognized and get promoted. They are embarrassed to inform people of their achievements. They, wrongly, believe people will notice their good work. I know it’s hard to say, but the reality is that doesn’t always happen, and idiots like my old boss, the Showman type, who build their career like a stack of cards, get promoted and you don’t. In my opinion you have to tell people what a good job you are doing. I don’t mean by being brash, or in a way that is egocentric but instead by being honest like President Lincoln.

When I have been coaching the various teams I have had over the years on this I always use this analogy of a theater. I ask them to imagine a theater where the audience if full of people that can give them promotion or a pay rise. I explain in this theater there are people that work behind the front stage with the curtains drawn. They diligently work in the background, doing the lights, building the scenery, selling the tickets. These are the unsung heroes and the audience doesn’t have a clue who they are. These people rarely get promoted.

Then there are the people who are like my old boss. They are great showmen. They love being at the front of the stage and telling important people about how great they are. On stage they have the curtains closed behind them. Their performance is great and everyone loves them. They take all the glory. Then someone important says, “Can we look behind the curtains at what you have actually been doing. Can we see evidence of the change? Can we see the measures that have changed?” When the curtain is finally drawn back there is nothing there. It was all built on sand and their words are just words – not actions.

The secret of getting a promotion is this: You have to do things and then tell people what you have done. It is absolutely fundamental that you do ‘things’ and make change. But then in an unpretentious way, in an appropriate manner for the situation, you need to tell people about what you have done. It’s important that you do not do this in an egoistical manner and that you always recognize other people who have helped you. To get promoted and earn more money you must claim what is rightfully yours. Too many good people are overlooked because they are not good at articulating their worth.

Which are you – Showman, Implementer or Abe Lincoln?

Quote of the Day

“Do not look for approval except for the consciousness of doing your best.”

– Andrew Carnegie

7 Things Really Persuasive People Do

7 Things Really Persuasive People Do

By Kevin Daum

Sometimes you absolutely have to make your point. Here are 7 tips on how to do it effectively with style and grace.

While many people don’t like to sell, most find themselves having to persuade someone at some point. Persuasion is not just for salespeople and their prospects. You may try to persuade an employee to perform better, or perhaps you want to persuade your boss to take on your brilliant idea. Often the most effective persuaders are your kids. Somehow they come by it naturally while you, the adult, has to work hard to find the persuasive path to success.

Whatever your persuasive need, here are 7 things that the most persuasive people consistently do:

1. They Are Purposeful

Truly persuasive people understand their power and use it sparingly and knowingly.  They understand that most conversations do not require trying to get someone to do or accept something. Aggressive pushers are a turn-off and will put most people on the defensive. It’s the person who rarely asks or argues that ultimately gets consideration when they strongly advocate an idea, especially when they do it with power and persistence.  Simply put, they pick their battles. Want to persuade more? Argue and advocate less often.

2. They Listen … and Listen … Then Listen Some More

People who know how to persuade also know that just pushing your own argument will get you nowhere. They certainly are able to articulate their position in a convincing way, but that is only half the equation. They are actively listening when in persuasion mode. First, they are listening to assess how receptive you are to their point of view. Second, they are listening for your specific objections, which they know they’ll have to resolve. Last, they are listening for moments of agreement so they can capitalize on consensus. Amazingly persuasive people are constantly listening to you and not themselves.  They already know what they are saying. You can’t persuade effectively if you don’t know the other side of the argument.

3. They Create a Connection

It’s easy to dismiss people who trying to persuade you if you have no emotional stake in them or their argument. Really persuasive people know this, so they will be likeable and look for common ground to help establish emotional bonds and shared objectives. They show empathy for your position and make it known that they are on your side. They manage their impatience and wait for you to give them permission to advocate their approach. You’ll persuade people much more easily if they are open and aligned with your desires.

4. They Acknowledge Credibility

Really persuasive people understand that there is no sense wasting time arguing facts; most of the world does not function in black and white. They value strong opinions and will make sure that you are entitled to yours. In fact, they will make sure they give you full credit for every argument of yours that has some validity. This makes it harder for you to fully dismisstheir point of view. When you are persuading people, reinforce their credibility on facts and opinions rather than dismissing them outright. Then they’ll be more likely pay you equal respect in the exchange and be more open to the merits of your opposing view.

5. They Offer Satisfaction

Smart persuaders know that they don’t have to win every little battle to win the war. They are more than willing to sacrifice when it helps the overall cause. They are ready to find the easiest path to yes. Often that is simply to give you what you want whenever possible. In my old lending days, we would often deal with busy underwriters who asked for items we knew they already had. Instead of arguing the point, we would just resend the documents and save our energy for issues that were not so easily resolved. Give ground where you can and hold your ground only where it matters. Choose being successful over being right.

6. They Know When to Shut Up

Successful persuaders get that you don’t win the battle by constantly berating people with an unending verbal barrage. Wearing people down is not an effective strategy. They carefully support their arguments and check in with questions that will help to close the conversation. Then they step back. The great sales trainer Tom Hopkins still today teaches these decades-old techniques of his mentor J. Douglas Edwards. His most important lesson is “Whenever you ask a closing question, shut up. The first person who speaks, loses.”

7. They Know When to Back Away

Urgency and immediacy are often the enemies of real persuasion. It’s possible to close a less significant sale through urgency, but deep ideas require time and thought to take root. Great persuaders bring you along in your own time. And they give you the space and time to carefully consider their position. They know that nothing is more powerful than your persuading yourself on their behalf. That almost never occurs in the presence of the persuader.


The next time you want to persuade someone of something truly important, follow the tips above, make your case, and walk away. If they don’t come around, you were probably wasting your effort in the first place.