Leadership

Risk and Reward

risk-and-rewardRisk is all around us. When we encounter potential failure, we come face to face with it.  And in that moment we have to decide, what are we going to do next?

Fear is the most natural reaction. We are uncertain of the outcome and how that will make us look, especially when the stakes are high. So fear makes us nervous and we decide not to go forward.

On the other hand, risk is inevitable if you are want to do great work. And there’s no better way to do great way than to work on something you care about. Your passion. Your art.

It’s easy to to avoid risk at all costs. That whenever possible you mitigate risks with the products you launch or the people you meet by only taking things that look flawless and where there is no downside.

But there’s just one problem. In almost every single situation, a small increase in risk can double the reward. And where there’s more downside, there is also often upside.

Taking that first step can be impossibly hard. But it’s almost always worth it in the end.

Just a thought.

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Saturday, June 1st, 2013 Leadership No Comments

Instant Miscommunication

InstantIn the age of instant gratification and communication, it is almost a quintessential experience to have felt that sinking, “Oh no” feeling of having just pressed “Send” on a message you should not have. Or even worse, getting a message where you have no idea how to interpret it. Unfortunately, this miscommunication happens far more often than it should.

The thing about miscommunication isn’t that we wanted to do it.  Nobody does. Likewise, it’s also not realistic to have the goal to never miscommunicate. I propose that the thing that really matters is to figure out how to cut down on the amount of time between when we miscommunicate and when we realize and fix it.

That’s why emails work better than texts and phone calls work better than messages. The more connected you are to a person, the more you can interpret their message and can fix what’s being said. And the more engaged you are in the conversation the faster you can understand what’s really being said.

The irony is that we all know this but continue to ignore it. We continue to send texts, to write quickly and to ignore how others might interpret it.  Significant others we are involved with. Parents that we take for granted. Bosses that we work with.  And entire organizations with hundreds of misunderstood messages every single day. In all these scenarios, we ignore the obvious fact the more we can understand and engage with people with talk to and the more we can put ourselves in other people’s shoes, the better off we will be.

In today’s world of Instant Miscommunication, real human interactions are less frequent but more important than ever before.

Saturday, May 11th, 2013 Careers, Leadership No Comments

A Good Plan Today …

Planis usually better than the perfect plan tomorrow.

Think about it. How many times has your perfect plan been ruined because something unexpected came up  or work kept you later than you hoped. Probably a lot.  So why do so many people still wait until tomorrow  with their perfect plan of how things will work out?

Sometimes being more informed, getting more news and having more time to plan isn’t worth the effort. It doesn’t help as much as you think and sometimes things come up and you’re plan is ruined.

More often than not it’s better to just get started today. Especially if your plan is already good.

Of course, there are exceptions: you’re grad school application, the book you want to publish or the planning of your wedding. The more perfect those are the better off you are.

But otherwise, you might just want to get started on your good plan today.

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013 Leadership No Comments

Try to stress less

NoStressHigh performing people are stressed out. A lot. We get stressed about our jobs (especially lawyers), exams, grad school applications, relationships, and almost every time the bus to work runs late.  But we should probably try to stress about it less.

But that’s easier said than done. Our stress rises when the due date gets closer or when we have to speak in front of a group of people. It also rises when we interact with others, especially if they are people whose opinion we care about.  We do what we can to avoid it.  Some people avoid speeches and stop talking altogether.  Others start talking too much.

But there is a lot of evidence that shows that stress is counterproductive.

One study showed that when the stakes don’t feel as high in the classroom, students almost always perform significantly better. Especially those from families with less priviledge.  A workplace survey showed that people that stress less tend to have a better reputation among peers than those that stress too much.  We all know from that stress doesn’t help relationships much. It also won’t change whether or not you’re admitted to grad school after you submitted your applicaton.  And when our 645am bus is late, no need to stress about that either. We might get lucky and strike up a 20 minute conversation with someone we’re glad had the chance to meet.

In short, that project you’re working on, the upcomng exam, or the bus that you are waiting for…  try to stress a bit less. It might make things work better in the end.

Easier said than done. But worth a shot.

Friday, March 22nd, 2013 Leadership No Comments

Most Important Work

ImportantWorkIn the midst of all the chaos in the world today, it’s more important than ever to focus on the most important work.

Unfortuantely, today’s world makes this more challenging. Not only are there more soundbites to filter than ever but we also don’t always know what work is most important. Is it our upcoming exam in two months? The numbers we have to crunch? The deal we have to close?  The memo we have to write? Or something completely unrelated to our jobs?

I don’t know if anyone has the perfect answer. But here’s one rule that sometimes works for me.

The most important work is the work where it does not matter who gets the credit.  As long as it gets finished.

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Thursday, March 14th, 2013 Careers, Leadership No Comments

Imagining failure and success

ImaginationOur imaginations are extraordinarily active. Sometimes we think about the good that will happen but far more often we imagine the reverse.

One of my favorite authors once said, “Anxiety is experiencing failure in advance. If you tell yourself the worst possible outcome, you’ll soon come to believe it.”

Not getting in to the program we dream of. Not passing a difficult test. The mistakes we’ll make in our next big speech. Or things not working out with that special someone. It’s easy to think about and even expect things to go wrong. But it’s far more difficult to do the reverse. To put our worry aside. To channel anxiety into excitement. To have hope that things can be better tomorrow than they were before.

When you are anxious and think about why things won’t work, it probably increases the odds it won’t work. Even if it should work out for the best. On the other hand, when you imagine success instead of failure, you’ll be far more likely to actually succeed than you would be if you didn’t.

In short, thinking about failure is a bad use of time, and will probably make you fail more often.

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013 Leadership No Comments

Empathy

empathyIf you were in my shoes, do you know what I would do? Would you know how I feel. Have you even thought about it?

Extending our hand to someone in need is easy. But extending our heart? That’s different. It’s hard. But it’s critical.

As a manager, nothing you do will be as effective as it could be if you can’t see the world from my eyes. You’ll never understand my assumptions, pressures or my motivations.

As a marketer, you can’t even start your work without understanding what a future customer is thinking about. In today’s age, you can’t just throw stuff in front of them on TV and hope to make a sale.

As an elementary school teacher in the inner city, if you don’t know the issues your student faces at home, you’ll never be able to understand them, find common ground with them, and eventually capture their imagination during class.

As a lawyer, if you represent your own agenda (even if it is for justice) without understand the pressures they feel, you will never be on the same page. As the phrase goes, “if you force them to fight and you lose, you’ll go home devastated but your client may not have a home to go to.”

And as a leader,  you won’t even be remotely as good as you could be if you can’t imagine life through my eyes. Understand what inspires me and how I view the world.

When we extend our hand, it usually means we have the time or resources to help. We give quick advice. We give a small donation. And then we’re on our way.

But when we extend our heart, we do it because we understand what it’s like to be them. We put ourselves in their shoes for just a second. It takes more time and it’s a lot more risky.

It’s a whole lot easier to extend your hand to someone. But it’s a lot harder to extend our hearts. That’s why there are not many TRULY GREAT lawyers, marketers and leaders.

Just a thought.

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013 Careers, Leadership No Comments

Full Text Of Obama’s 2013: Inaugural Address

Inauguration.EMPHere is text of the 2013 Inaugural Address.Words are those prepared for delivery and provided by the White House.

And below that my favorite quote of the day #EducationMatters

 

Vice President Biden, Mr. Chief Justice, Members of the United States Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:

Each time we gather to inaugurate a president, we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution.  We affirm the promise of our democracy.  We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names.  What makes us exceptional – what makes us American – is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Today we continue a never-ending journey, to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time.  For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth.  The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob.  They gave to us a Republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.

For more than two hundred years, we have.

Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free.  We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.

Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce; schools and colleges to train our workers.

Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.

Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.

Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone.  Our celebration of initiative and enterprise; our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, are constants in our character.

But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.  For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias.  No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores.  Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people.

This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience.  A decade of war is now ending.  An economic recovery has begun.  America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands:  youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention.   My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it – so long as we seize it together.

For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.  We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class.  We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship.  We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.

We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time.  We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, and reach higher.  But while the means will change, our purpose endures:  a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American.  That is what this moment requires.  That is what will give real meaning to our creed.

We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity.  We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit.  But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.  For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty, and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn.  We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few.  We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other – through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security – these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us.  They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.

We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity.  We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.  Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.  The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult.  But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.  We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise.  That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks.  That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God.  That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.

We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.  Our brave men and women in uniform, tempered by the flames of battle, are unmatched in skill and courage.  Our citizens, seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty.  The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm.  But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war, who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends, and we must carry those lessons into this time as well.

We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law.  We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully – not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear.  America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe; and we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation.  We will support democracy from Asia to Africa; from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom.  And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice – not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes:  tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice.

We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.

It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began.  For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.  Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.  Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.  Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.  Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.

That is our generation’s task – to make these words, these rights, these values – of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – real for every American.  Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness.  Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time – but it does require us to act in our time.

For now decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay.  We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate.  We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect.  We must act, knowing that today’s victories will be only partial, and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years, and forty years, and four hundred years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall.

My fellow Americans, the oath I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others who serve in this Capitol, was an oath to God and country, not party or faction – and we must faithfully execute that pledge during the duration of our service.  But the words I spoke today are not so different from the oath that is taken each time a soldier signs up for duty, or an immigrant realizes her dream.  My oath is not so different from the pledge we all make to the flag that waves above and that fills our hearts with pride.

They are the words of citizens, and they represent our greatest hope.

You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course.

You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time – not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals.

Let each of us now embrace, with solemn duty and awesome joy, what is our lasting birthright.  With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history, and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom.

Thank you, God Bless you, and may He forever bless these United States of America.

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Monday, January 21st, 2013 Education, Leadership No Comments

2013 National Day of Service Honors Martin Luther King

MLK2.EMPOn Saturday January 19th, people from all over the country will be participating in the National Day of Service.

Earlier this week, President Obama announced there will be a national day of service on Jan. 19 as a day to give back to our communities, and honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. whose birthday was earlier this week.  Back before he was assassinated, Dr. King was dedicated his life to service and lead an effort to bring equality to the country.

There’s never been a more pivotal time to move our communities forward by taking part in public service.

CLICK HERE to see what’s going on near you no matter what zip code you are in.

 

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Friday, January 18th, 2013 Leadership No Comments

Finding good advice

adviceMost advice is mediocre advice. That’s why if you ask more than one person, you’ll often get different responses.

Whether advice for you application essays. Job interviews. Decisions at work. How to find funding. Or how to get attention of that special someone.

Don’t get me wrong. People mean well, especially friends and family. But they still usually don’t give the best advice.

This leads to us to three challenges as we continue to look for ways to do great things in the world.

1. Understand that everyone will give different advice. Many people because they are uninformed on the issues and others who just give you plain bad advice. You have to learn to forget about it before you get stuck thinking too much.

2. Try to figure out the actually useful good advice. Filter through the information. Find people that understand how things work. And people that have been there before.

3. Find people you trust that will help you discern when your mind gets clouded.

All easier said than done. I know from experience. I’m sure you do too.

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013 Careers, Leadership No Comments

Focus Matters

focusA year ago today, do you remember what you were focused on?

Last year about this time, I was sitting on the same couch focused on writing a blog post about Wildly Important Goals for the new year. No, not about how much weight you want to lose or the activities to get involved in. But instead about the urgencies you feel. The progress you want to make. And how you want to impact the world.

As I think about WIGs today, the problem I’ve come to find is that today we live in an very unfocused time. And we live in a world where people get very distracted. And it’s harder than ever to keep the goals we make.

But ironically, we all come from a a legacy where people knew just how much focus mattered.  People that dedicated their lives to the civil rights movement. That went on freedom rides. That protested entire education systems. And that built companies to have a profound impact no matter what obstacles they encountered. Very focused people that were eventually able to move the country forward.

As you think about 2013, what do you want to focus on? What do you want to be more skilled at? How do you want to change your community? What art do you want to create?

New Year’s resolutions rarely work. Because To-Do lists generally don’t survive when the going gets though. But figuring out how to focus matters more than ever before.

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013 Leadership No Comments

Ask Jeremy: Response to reader in Brazil about professional development

In a recent question, Manuel, from Brazil asked me about sources of professional development. Specifically, he wanted to know if I recommend any inspirational or personal development books.

See below for the question and below that for my video response.

Subject: Professional Development

Message Body:
Hi Jeremy

My name is Manuel. I wanted to thank you for all the work put into his blog. I just watched one of your last videos where you briefly talked about mission and goals in life. I have been thinking a lot about this for a few years now and Wanted to ask you about your personal and professional development experience. What other sources of development did you use besides having mentors throughout college? Do you have inspirational and personal development books that you recommend?

Thank you so much
Manuel Cardenas
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Structure of my response

Not enough people think about professional development.

“To become a great leader, first you have to learn to lead yourself.  To lead yourself you have to know yourself.”  -Harry Kramer

Three things: Mentors, Tips, Books.

1. Mentors are critical. Not only helps the mentee, but also helps you and the community at large.

2. Tips: A) Put yourself in tough situations. B) Think about leaders / thinkers you admire.

3. Books

A) Thinkers I admire: Seth Godin, Malcolm Gladwell, Cory Booker, President Obama

B) Books (highlight top 5): Leadership Lessons from the White House Fellows,  Never Eat Alone, Whos Got Your Back,  Steve Jobs biography, Audacity of Hope, Purple Cow, The Dip, Not without Hope, The Power of One,  Start With Why, The Lean Startup, Strengths Finder 2.0, The Leader who Had No Title, Primal Leadership (or anything by that author), Blink, Outliers, From Values to Action

C) Seth Godin 2012 recommendations

 

Saturday, December 1st, 2012 Careers, Leadership, Other Blogs No Comments

Say hello

Me and my old roommate Greg went shopping in New York city today. We made a point of saying “hello how are you?” to every single store attendant we saw before asking for help.

I do this very often in Chicago too. More surprising than the fact that nobody else in line seems to do the same, is the fact that employees are always surprised as well. Often times they accidentally interrupt saying “how can I help you” before I can even finish. And sometimes they don’t know how to respond at all.

I propose the idea that each of us should do more of this everyday. Put more value on the human connection. And make people we transact with feel important.

But today’s world makes this more challenging.  In today’s technology driven economy, profit margins are lower and stores need more customers to than ever to make money.  So often times companies prize efficiency over good customer interactions. Likewise, customers today are in a hurry and more demanding than ever. So customers equally forget about the value of spending 20 seconds to speak to someone else.

But that’s just the problem. That’s why customers aren’t loyal. It’s why they don’t go back to your store again. It’s why they won’t go out of their way to support your idea or invest in your business. It’s also why employees can sometimes have really bad days at work. And why demanding customers will rarely get their way.

I propose the idea that both parties should put more value on the human connection. Companies need to balance the importance of efficiency with the value of human contact.  Customers should more time being nice to the people we interact with.

In the end, the interaction will be significantly better for both sides.  Employees will be more willing to help you out.  And you might just make the employee’s day.  All by Saying Hello.

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Sunday, November 25th, 2012 Leadership 4 Comments

Please vote.

In the last presidential election, fewer than 57% of voting age Americans actually voted. And this was one of the most watched events in history.  In 2010 it was fewer than 40% Surprised? Don’t be.  The numbers have been low for years.  This year,  we can all step up and do something about it.

There are a lot of reasons why it never makes sense to abstain from voting.

From the legal angle, if you don’t vote, then you aren’t thinking enough about the issues. The policies at stake are not only important, but they impact you profoundly.  If you consider the rules and policies of healthcare, education reform and unemployment a little more, you’d know just how much your voice mattered.

From the business side, I’d say this is a serious marketing problem. Not just from the candidates but from state government too.  How can you not exercise your most fundamental right to vote, to have a say, and to take part on the day that more people will be tuned in than any other time this year? On November 6, 2012.

If you don’t vote because you’re confused, then that doesn’t make sense.  There’s enough information out there to get more informed quickly and make a choice.

If you don’t vote because you think your state is already determined, then you might want to think again.  Because if everyone felt that exact way, then the numbers could swing in either direction very quickly. It’s the voters paradox. More importantly, the margin of victory in your district could still be a factor in the momentum any candidate gets during the election.

If you don’t vote because you don’t have the time, then make the time. I’m busy too, but spending a few minutes to register and vote is well worth the time.

If you don’t vote because you don’t like the game of politics, I understand, but don’t agree.  Don’t be fooled. Half of the “game” of politics is a ploy by the news channels to get more eyeballs and make more money.  Another part is paid TV ads trying to get their party an advantage over the other.  Sure maybe some of of the hooploa comes from the candidates themselves.  But nothing unexpected given what’s at stake in two weeks.

The good thing about voting is this.

  1. Voting is free. Or the price of a stamp if you mail your ballot in.
  2. You can vote from anywhere, and send in an absentee ballot if need be.
  3. You can take part in the outcome.
  4. You can help shape the next four years of our nation (or of your local geography in other elections)
  5. You can join the other thousands of people that will be doing the same.
  6. You can influence other people in your community to vote.
  7. You can exercise a right that people have fought and died for.
  8. You can get smart about the issues.
  9. You can take a stand for what you believe in.
  10. You can get started learning and have a stronger voice next time.

The candidates are different. So are their policies, motivations and stories.

Every single person, in every state, city, district and county should absolutely exercise their right and privilege to choose.

In short, please vote.

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Friday, October 26th, 2012 Leadership, Politics No Comments

The kind of bravery that everyone will notice

The true story of Felix Baumgartner’s act of bravery can be seen everywhere you look online. Just this past weekend he became the first person ever to break the speed of sound with his record-breaking skydive from 23 miles.

Jumping from higher than 23 miles meant he had enough time to reach a speed of 833.9 miles per hour. That translates into 1,342 kilometres per hour.  And that roughly translates into Mach 1.25, which is faster than the speed of sound.

Sounds unbelievable right?  No one has ever traveled at that speed in clothing alone.  And no person has ever jumped from so high before either.

Imagine the emotion.  Imagine the thoughts going through his head. Imagine the fear.   In the Washington Post, he noted, “I thought for a few seconds that I’d lose consciousness.” “I didn’t feel a sonic boom because I was so busy just trying to stabilize myself. ”

In spite of that daunting fear, Felix was audacious enough to try it anyways.  Don’t get me wrong –of course he did the math and understood the risk. But he went against all fear and decided to jump anyways. And in the end, he became the first man to break the sound barrier and three other world records.

I’m not saying you should go out and beat his record tomorrow.  Or come up with a new cliff diving record next week. But I am saying you should think about how to be audacious in your own field. Calculate the risks, do the math, and take big risks and see what happens.

Nothing truly great was ever done by someone that shied away from being brave. Instead being brave is how the Wright Brother got started and how airplanes were created. It’s how game winning shots were made. Billion dollar companies were formed.  Insurmountable campaigns were won. And how the greatest stories of our time conceived.  It’s the kind of bravery that billions of people on our planet have noticed over and over again.

In the meantime, maybe try to get Red Bull to sponsor your project too. Perhaps one of the best consumer marketing ideas in a very long time.

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Monday, October 15th, 2012 Careers, Leadership No Comments

One definition of a leader

A leader is someone that understands the importance of lifting people up in a world where so many things and people are working to tear others down.

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Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012 Leadership No Comments

Most law school applicants

… apply to law school the same way. They have very similar backgrounds, few years of work experience, focus way more on the LSAT than anything else, and end up choosing the highest ranked school that lets them in. Most of these applicants are smart, no doubt about it. But here is the problem.

 

Most law school applicants get low LSAT scores at least once, and then become afraid to take the test again. Many never take it a second time.

Most law school applicants spend so much time on the LSAT that they forget about the importance of having a good story

Most law school applicants write lofty essays about making a difference in the world, but nearly every single one wants to work at a big law firm by the end of their first year

Most law school applicants are hyper-competitive and don’t do a good a job working together

Most law school applicants apply to law school with very little ‘real’ work experience but don’t realize this is the case

Most law school applicants are more argumentative than collaborative

Most law school applicants are caught off guard during 1L

Most law school applicants haven’t developed certain professional leadership skills

Most law school applicants get rejected from more schools than they get in to

 

The good news is that if you are reading this post RIGHT NOW, then you do not have to be like most law school applicants

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Tuesday, September 4th, 2012 Business School, Law School, Leadership No Comments

Your friends’ friends

I recently got back from a pre-wedding celebration outside of the US. Not only was the trip fantastic but I also really connected with the people I met on the trip. The whole thing reminded of something really important.

One thing I learned on the trip was the importance of your friends’ friends. Think about: your friends are usually your friends because you have some common interest, either professionally or personally. It’s usually both.

But if you think a bit more, you’d realize that your friend could say the same thing about his or her other friends. This means that it is probably that this person’s friends also have similar interests to you. And in some cases, you’ll have a whole lot in common. Similar interests. Similar stories. And similar criteria for making good friends.

So in some cases, your friends’ friends could make great friends for you too.

In my own recent experience on this trip, I found this to be true. Not only did I like every single person on the trip but I also fond a lot in common with them, despite our differences in location. We had similar friends in common. Went to similar schools. Had similar beliefs not only about careers but also about other non-professional issues.

And when they all came to Chicago this weekend, it was like the trip before never ended. We connected when we saw each other. We caught up on the past few weeks. And at the end of the night we all split off to reconnect again .

And that’s precisely why I’ll be meeting up with two of them again when I travel to the east coast in about a week.

So I propose the idea that it’s important to connect with some of your friends’ friends.

On one hand, you never know who you might meet. On the other hand, you always know that the chances are high that you might have a lot in common.

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Saturday, August 18th, 2012 Leadership No Comments

Doing the things you need

In today’s hyperactive Internet driven culture, it’s easier than ever to do anything – log on the net, check email, message your friends, get interrupted with work—except the things you really need.

Like figuring out your schedule.

Making a touch decision.

Persisting through to speak to a live person.

Ten thousand things can get in the way of doing these things, every single day. And if you’re not in the mode of being productive, it’s hard. And these distractions can set you back hours, if not more.

But the things you need are the most valuable. They can’t be bought on Amazon, can’t be given to your assistant, and can’t be put off much longer.

How do we get some of these things done sooner?

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Wednesday, August 15th, 2012 Leadership No Comments

It’s not half empty or half full

It’s not, “is the cup half full or half empty?” It’s “is there anyone around who’s thirsty & needs a drink?” -Cory Booker

Powerful quotes need to be spread to the world. They need to be told in person, online, and anywhere people can see or hear them. This is one of those quotes.

Most people complain about their cups being half empty.  A smaller group of people consider themselves optimists and say, “no my cup is half full.” Then most of the rest of the people like to debate, which one is better.

Instead of any of those options, I propose we stop debating and take Cory Booker’s advice. That we find someone that needs a drink. And give them the water.

Saturday, June 30th, 2012 Leadership No Comments

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Jeremy C Wilson is a JD-MBA alumni using his site to share information on education, the social enterprise revolution, entrepreneurship, and doing things differently. Feel free to send along questions or comments as you read.

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The contents of this blog are mine personally and do not reflect the views or position of Kellogg, Northwestern Law, the JD-MBA program, or any firm that I work for. I only offer my own perspective on all issues.
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