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It’s hilarious that it’s taken me 32 years to learn just how blissfully unaware I was of my backend.

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No, not my ass, but the stuff that goes on in my subconscious.

Between 9th grade (when I started enjoying learning) and completing college, I was living under the impression that soaking up knowledge, binge-watching powerful documentaries and reading important books brought me closer to my higher self.

Little did I know that was only occasionally true

In his book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman explains that our conscious mind is in charge of analytical thinking.

But it’s also sometimes busy, mostly starving, and often lazy.

And despite believing otherwise, we’re mostly running on autopilot, following the rules made by our subconscious.

After that realisation, you can’t continue…


Reading stories of superstar CEOs and their genius inventors don’t make you more innovative. It pushes the reality of innovation past our cognitive horizon.

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Innovation is hard work.

The side of innovation that we read about in books and magazines is the superstar CEO and their genius inventors chugging away at changing the world.

It pushes the reality of innovation past our cognitive horizon.

But true innovation is much more complicated than that.

What we don’t see is the intolerance for mediocrity, high personal accountability, and disciplined leadership.

How much money you have to throw at R&D has little to do with innovation.

And while leadership matters, having brave leaders doesn’t improve your odds of success by itself.

Being curious does.

Curiosity is essential for innovation

When Steve Jobs…


Organisations don’t follow the laws of physics, but if they did, these two rules would make the cut.

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I’ve worked as a business manager for most of my professional life.

And over the 10+ years, I’ve learnt to follow these two principles about productivity and performance:

  1. Measuring performance by activity leads to overwork at the same time as your most important work remains undone.
  2. Any available time that doesn’t get re-allocated will fall back into the black hole.

Organisations don’t follow the laws of physics, but if they did, these two rules would make the cut.

Because ignoring these principles is the same as expecting to fill a bathtub without plugging the drain first.

But all waste happens for a reason.

Only 15% of employees…


Post-2020 hierarchies are being scrapped. And there’s no turning back from two years of flexible work.

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Companies looking to attract and retain talented people need to offer more choices in projects, work hours and locations.

Tech companies and agencies have had a head start in managing a flexible talent pool.

But despite years of practice, they’ve got one thing very wrong.

We still manage productivity the same way we did in the industrial age — by spreading the cost and sharing the machine across multiple assembly lines to minimise downtime.

We’ve replaced machines with people, even though the two aren’t directly interchangeable.

This makes it impossible to create sustainable improvements in efficiency and knowledge sharing.

The benefits of having more experienced people support multiple teams simultaneously look good on a balance sheet.

But that usually means you’re overlooking the cost of personal motivation and team performance.

I’m guilty…


Practising these techniques will foster an for learning together and winning together.

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Collaboration is hard.

People have different working styles and competing priorities.

As a competitive jerk for most of my early career, I wasn’t bad at collaboration.

But I also didn’t miss a chance to do things my way when the collaborative way didn’t suit me.

Then I was responsible for leading a group of people and managing a P/L.

And everything changed.

When it’s your job to get people to work together — and win together — you’re responsible for creating an environment where collaboration can happen with the least amount of resistance.

The way you organise work says more about your intentions than all your plans put together.

Take Apple.

The majority of Apple’s revenue…


My two hours of googling will never beat your years of professional experience.

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I knew next to nothing about the business, but I knew that agency life was my calling.

And I was determined to turn my foot-in-the-door into a rewarding career.

To be taken seriously, I needed to be knowledgeable about my clients’ business and be an expert on selling.

People appreciate you more if you take an interest in their problems.

That drive helped me transition from an expert to a leadership position quickly.

But riding on the tails of late nights and weekends spent working was my imposter syndrome.

The harder you grind, the more you get stuck.

If anything, my responsibilities have only multiplied over the years.

Strategy is…


It’s known as ‘sandbagging’, and it’s when you reduce expectations, knowing very well that you will exceed them.

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Companies do it to look better on paper; when they surpass expected results, they appear financially healthier.

And people avoid setting realistic expectations because they don’t want to appear as average performers and want to get better reviews.

Sandbagging happens when people are afraid to take risks.

So, all the time.

But it’s worse when our incentives and social standing at work are at risk.

We sandbag an ambitious project by setting safer goals or by negotiating down expectations.

It’s a bad practice because sandbagging makes sure that over-delivery never happens.

A McKinsey study found that 78% of business strategies…


It takes three kinds of people to get a job done.

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  1. Thinkers connect ideas, find themes and build compelling visions.
  2. Planners turn visions into practical and pragmatic steps.
  3. Doers are the experts who turn ideas and plans into physical (or virtual) products.

Most people can get on by doing a bit of all three. But we’re only really good at one or, at most, two.

That’s not to say that you can’t master all three. You certainly can.

There’s enough research available to prove that practice beats natural ability every single time.

But it takes a conscious decision to do so.

Knowing where you are is the first step to going someplace else.

I’m not good at the doing. …


They work just as well for personal and professional growth.

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I was dumbstruck after reading that 78% of business strategies do not affect growth.

According to research based on data gathered over ten years, the odds that your strategy will do much more than keep up with your competitors is less than 1 in 10!

Odds like that make you think twice about the time you spend working evenings and weekends on refining that winning strategy.

But what about the hundreds of articles, case studies and books about successful strategies that change the fortunes of companies and people?

If winning strategies are this rare, then what’s different about the companies…


How I stopped my dysfunctional habits from hurting my team.

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I was blissfully going about my career, believing that all those years of reading every book on leadership was finally paying off.

I was convinced I was the kind of leader people wanted to follow.

Until the day I heard, “You suck as a manager.”

I had just fired him, and he had a right to be upset. But it was also true.

And here’s why: I’m the dysfunctional product of a dysfunctional family.

I spent my youth as a go-between for grown-ass adults who refused to solve their own problems. …

Aliyar

My life’s mission is to help you achieve success at work by doing fewer things better. https://aliyarhussain.com

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