One of my main goals for 2015 was to get up on stage and present somewhere. I ended up achieving that goal at WordCamp Denver 2015 giving a presentation on Hacking Creativity.
I’ve never been particularly shy on stage, but I’m not necessarily a pro either. In preparing for my talk, I uncovered a ton of amazing tips for public speaking. In this article on Zapier, I take readers from idea to on stage with pro tips from the best in the industry.
I’m a huge fan of learning. I think it’s one of the most important skills anyone can master. In fact, if I was interviewing a candidate for a job, the first question I would ask is what skill they have taught themselves in the past year.
Like any other skill, you can actually improve your ability to learn. I combined my favorite strategies in this awesome guide on how to learn anything on the Todoist blog borrowing from master learners like Tim Ferriss, research on expertise and skill acquisition, and a bit of my own personal experience.
“Communication is oxygen.”
That portion of the Automattic creed has stuck with me from the start. After reading the creed during my first week of remote work, I had a surface-level understanding. Now, after a year of working with over 250 other individuals spread across the globe, I understand it even more. In many ways, communication is the lifeblood of an organization. Without discussion and collaboration between individuals, little innovation would take place.
It’s easy to emphasize the importance of communication in remote work since employees can’t meet by the proverbial water cooler. But, it’s just as important when employees are working in the same room—launches have to be scheduled, bugs have to be squashed, and relationships must be built.
There are a slew of tools out there for communicating, including Skype, Slack, and HipChat to name a few. However, in some cases, the normal tools just don’t get the job done, leading companies to improvise and create their own systems that work. Let’s take a look at four companies that have cooked up their own communication tool and three takeaways to apply to your organization.
Have you ever read a book passage that you’re certain could one day be applicable to your life? But, between your shopping list, work to-dos, and your aunt’s upcoming birthday, the passage quickly fades from your memory causing you to draw a blank when you really need to reference it.
When I began reading seriously for personal growth at the end of last year, I experienced this problem constantly. I was flying through books, but I was unable to recall or use any of the information.
Over the past year, I’ve been exploring and testing new methods for organizing what I’m reading for easy retrieval in the future.
I distinctly remember the sunrises during my senior year of high school. While my classmates were sleeping, I was on the roads racking up miles with my cross country team to avoid the Florida heat. We would hit the showers then shuffle off to class. At the time, I thought this was absolute torture. Getting up early in the morning was bad enough, but exercising on top of that?
That type of activity wouldn’t be anything new at Naperville High School in Naperville, IL. The school was profiled in the book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and The Brain. Naperville encourages students to attend physical education classes and offers early morning options so they can get a workout in before the first bell. As one would expect, the students have a lower obesity rate, but they’re also seeing benefits in the classroom.
To improve mental performance, many individuals, resort to hard work and repetition. In turns out, they might be missing out on one of the most powerful brain boosters in the world – exercise.
How many uses can you think of for a paperclip in three minutes?
If you’re average, you’ll probably be able to drum up 10 or perhaps 20 different uses. I came up with 11. The somewhat famous paperclip test was created in 1967 by J.P. Guilford as a measure of divergent thinking. It’s part of a group of assessments known as ‘alternative use tests’ which measure creativity.
The above example shows a common incomplete figure exercise. This test asks users to complete the picture in each window. This is another test of divergent thinking, the more creative you are the more interesting the results tend to be (see below).
If you didn’t come up with this given the start above, read on.
Creativity is often viewed as something you either have or you don’t. But that’s not entirely true, according to a study completed by Harvard, creativity is 85% a learned skill. That means we can improve. The question is how?
Content marketing has exploded in popularity over the last few years with seemingly every business kicking up their own blog or publishing guides and ebooks. In practice, content marketing involves generating valuable content that subtly promotes your brand and attracts an audience, who will hopefully one day become customers. While some businesses have a knack for creating content readers love, others, however, fall short, particularly on content that “attracts an audience.”
What separates the content marketing winners from the losers? I chatted with five top marketers heading up established blogs to find out what helps to set them apart from the rest.
I learn the most from people I’ve never met.
I’m constantly reading books, listening to podcasts, and attending conferences weeding through a tidal wave of information and applying specific lessons to what I’m working on.
In theory, I would refer to these individuals I’ve learned from as mentors, but the relationship doesn’t seem to fit the typical mold.
Mentorship implies some sort of contractual relationship. One individual is designated the mentor, tasked with providing innumerable bits of knowledge, while the other is the mentee—the fortunate recipient of this insight.
But these days that’s not how it goes.
“Asking someone to be a formal mentor is the absolute best way to never have a good mentor.”
– Tim Ferriss
So, if you’re not supposed to come out and ask, how does anyone ever get mentored? More importantly, how exactly do you ask for help? I dug through advice from experienced mentors and drew from a recent interaction I had with a mentor of mine to come up with some do’s and don’ts when looking for and building a relationship with a modern mentor.