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Blog, Job performance

Here is a 4 part framework to ROCK at your new job

The first 90 days of any new job are super important.

You have done much hard work to get here.You’ve gone through a grueling job search process. You’ve gone through multiple interviews. You have negotiated a great offer and start date.

You’ve landed this job. Or maybe you moved into a new role in the same company. So now you are here. Ready to start on a new gig. These are your first 90 days. 

Here’s why these early days are so important.

You have to establish credibility at your new job

One of the most important part of your new job is to make sure you’re establishing that credibility.

The organization that has  just hired you. They have seen the potential inside of you. They know that you can get the job done. They know you want to make a mark.

But here’s what they need to see

  • They need assurance that you are capable
  • They need assurance that you are a cultural and organization fit
  • They need assurance that you will be able to adapt

The above points were about the organization’s perspective.

From your perspective,  here’s what you would be looking to do in the first 90 days

  • Establish credibility around your capabilities
  • Connect with colleagues and develop great working relationships
  • Define your personal brand in the organization

As you work through your first days, make sure you create a connection with the people that you’re going to work with on a long term basis. When you step into a new role or a new job, most of the people around you have no idea what you’ve done before. This is a great opportunity for you to reestablish your personal brand so that you can actually show up as “the right person for this job” and cement your credibility which is so important.

4 Part Framework (ILPA)

Now let me share a way for you to establish your credibility, connections and personal brand in the first 90 days.

I call it ILPA, which is an acronym for Introduction, Learn, Plan, and Act.

1. I is for Introduction

The first component is I, which is introduction. Introduction is your narrative. It is similar to your elevator pitch, but this is really about your narrative.
What is your story? What is the story that you want to tell others as you’re introducing yourself at this new job? This is about making sure that you have a narrative and a story that you can tell others.

2. L is for Learning

Learn is about learning about your role, your organization and your organization’s charter, structure, strategy etc.

Your main job in this ‘Learn’ phase is to listen intently.

After you’ve done your intro, listen and absorb.

Understanding the role

You have to understand the role in detail and know the real expectations of this role.

During the interviews, it may have been abundantly clear that this role comes with specific roles and responsibilities, but you have to double click into those and understand the expectations of this role. This is key because in the future you will have to manage those expectations 🙂

Understanding the organization

The other side of Learn component is to understand, what is your organization doing?

What is the organization’s business, what is the organization’s strategy? How do they approach their charter?

Take many notes and learn everything about the organization:

  1. Org structure
  2. Strategy
  3. Current processes and systems
  4. Current projects
  5. New Initiatives

Most importantly, know the people: key roles and people in those roles, who are the influencers, who are the right stakeholders.

It is essential to know the key individuals in the organization and establish great working relationships that will be so important for your work ahead.

3. P is for Planning

Second phase of this 90 plan is plan. Now that you’ve learned a little bit more about the organization, and you know the strategy and you know some of the current initiatives, it’s a great opportunity for you to start creating your plan.

Your own work plan about how you’re going to approach your job. What are the things that you are going to do in the near future about your job? As you look at this new role,  you have to start to lay the foundations of what your work plan will be, let’s say, for the next three months, six months, 12 months, or even 18 months. This is a good area to establish some structure, some roles and responsibilities for this work plan that you are developing.

4. A is for Act

Then last, but not the least, is about act. It’s about execution. You’re no longer in the phase of just learning and knowing the people and knowing the plan, etc. You now have a draft of your work plan, and you started to execute on that.

This reason this is important is because you have to show that you’re not only a person who can engage with the org and create a work plan, but that you are also about getting involved in the action in the first 90 days.

Summary

ILAP: Introductions, Learn, Plan and Act

These steps may or may not be linear. They might overlap. And that’s ok. You don’t need to engineer this. 

Roughly, it takes about a month for each step. If you look at a 30, 60, 90 day plan. It is not necessary to consume all 30 days for each of these steps, but in general, that’s a good metric.

Pro Tips

  • Socialize your plan: You have to start socializing your plan with your stakeholders, and also figure out how you want to work with them.
  • Understand everyone’s work styles: it does take some time to understand each other’s work styles. You don’t need to rush those. You can start to put that into action based on your learning in the act area. 
  • Record your outside-in observations: Most of the time in a new role, you have a outside in experience. When you have that outside in view, which is so fresh in your mind because you’re coming in from the outside or you’re coming into this new role, not knowing the lay of the land, etc., make all the notes you can about your observations, about this new area. These observations will be critical for you as you develop into this new role or this new job. I would highly recommend keeping those notes for a long time and continue to have a more outside in experience as you transition into this new job.
  • Tell your story: have a great narrative as you introduce yourself to make an impression. You don’t need to go overboard but be confident and friendly.

It is a framework for you to use. Feel free to contextualize and customize it for your new role.

What do you think of this framework? What would you add to it?

Career Advice, Career hacks

Problems are opportunities; in fact problems are gifts, here is how to unwrap them

The problems and challenges you’re facing today are your gifts.

Because these are opportunities in disguise. Most people do not open that gift. They don’t want to open that gift.

And that’s because the wrapper on that gift isn’t very nice. It’s unpleasant, and it’s uncomfortable. It’s something that people stay away from.

And so, despite the unpleasant wrapper, you have to approach it because you have to unwrap that unpleasant wrapper.

Because the gift is inside.

In fact, be thankful for the problems you’re facing today because you are lucky that you are being given those gifts. And make sure to unwrap that gift.

Career hacks, Career strategy

The #1 way to learn a new skill and fast track your career growth

We all know that one of the key to career growth is to continuously learn new skills. It is a career superpower.

People that can’t learn can’t survive in the moder workplace, unfortunately.

So how do great leaders learn new skills? What is their hack?

Learning through audio or visual

Many people learn through audio. For example, you might be listening to some audio, maybe it’s a podcast, and you might be doing other things, but you’re always understanding the topic that’s going on, and you’re learning. Another one is watching videos. So, you are watching a video or hearing this audio, and you are learning. Those are great ways to learn.

Learning by doing

However, the best way to learn, which is great leaders have figured this out, is called kinesthetics. It is learning by doing. So, let me explain that. When we perform activities, that’s the maximum learning we get. So, when we are doing things with our hands, we are performing those tasks. That’s when our learning is at the maximum.

So, if your domain is programming or sales or marketing, the best way to learn is not just to listen and watch videos, which is great, and that’s helpful. But apply those lessons and apply those concepts in real life. Do it, practice it, and review it. And that’s how we all learn it. Let’s say we want to pick up communication skills, right? And then you can take a few classes, watch a few videos online, but soon you should be implementing them.

So, for example, you could be looking at opportunities to speak. Maybe you start with a small setting. Perhaps it’s just your core team, and then you speak there. Then you review yourself, and pretty much, then you start addressing the whole team or a collection of teams or the entire organization. That’s how you build up the muscle, a new muscle in terms of learning.

So, when you are trying to get into a zone of learning, try to figure out the things that I’m learning, the concepts that I’m learning, the key lessons, how do I implement them and what are the opportunities to implement them? That’s the excellent leadership hack for learning new skills and adding them to your T-shaped skillset.

Blog, Career hacks, Career strategy

Luck is when preparation meets opportunity

You may have felt this a lot of times, like; this person has the perfect job; this person lives in the perfect neighborhood. And it feels like that person is so lucky. But that is not the case. Because luck is all about being prepared, and it’ll be looking for opportunities and taking advantage of them. Being prepared means that you worked on your skills, and you’ve built your experience in the right areas over a period of time.

So, when opportunities arise, you are prepared to take advantage of those opportunities. This is how you create your own luck, which also means that you have to be in the game to win the game. And so think about the game that you want to play in. And if you’re in that game, because if you’re not in that game, then it is time to prepare and be on the lookout for opportunities to create your luck.

You want to be a successful leader; then, you must prepare yourself to be in the game and look for your next opportunity.

Career hacks, Career strategy

Technology has a First Mile and a Last Mile; where would you like to play?

How does technology make its way to the market, and what’s your role in that market? I like to view this as the first mile and the second mile.

The first mile is all about the creation of the product and the creation of the technology. It’s about making sure you are prioritizing the right features for the right market for the right customers, and then you’re putting engineering behind that to make that product come alive. And there might be a lot of scars on the backs because of that. Maybe it’s product strategy or product engineering or all of those things. And there might be some scars on the backs or as I like to call it ‘learning,’ right?

And the second mile is all about deploying that product, deploying that technology in the best interest of the customer to create the best outcome possible. And that involves a lot of knowledge about the customer or a set of customers or particular geographies or particular regions or specific types of processes and domains. But that’s the part where you’re able to create that value for the customer and create outcomes for the customer.

Now those two things have to happen. You need to have the first mile, you need the last mile, right? Now, the question is, do you know where your strengths are? Are you a first-mile person, or are you the last-mile person? And are you playing in the right field? The question is, are YOU playing in the right field?

Blog, Career strategy

Leadership hack: how to focus and drive innovation in a distracted world

Our jobs are increasingly based on innovation rather than manual labor. These include all kinds of things – ideas, concepts, problem-solving, creativity – all of those things that are sort of loosely defined as Intellectual Property (IP) or knowledge work. Now, these ideas and these creativities, they require a deep focus. They require us to put all the 120 bits of conscious thinking that we have to work.

 

However, we live today in a world of distractions. The latest email, the IM, the tweet, the latest Slack message, all of those things are contributing to a world that is not only full of distraction, but it seems like the level of distraction is going up by the day.

In a highly distracted world, everybody around you is distracted. Your teams are distracted, your customers, everyone, even your competition is distracted. Here’s your opportunity. Your opportunity is to do deep work using focus. My recommendation for doing deep work with focus is to go old school.

 

I like to use graph paper and a trusted Pilot G2 pen. And that’s where I can apply most of the 120 bits of conscious thinking towards a particular topic. Now, what does this do for you? This opens up opportunities for you to prepare better, to conceptualize, to create, to think, and quite frankly, to plan. And these are the things that will not only help you be better prepared, but they will set you apart.

Blog, Career hacks, Career strategy

Are you camping or are your climbing in your career?

In our careers, we are either camping or climbing.

There are times when we are in the middle of a transformation, we are learning new skills, we are putting in the hard work, and we are climbing towards our next opportunity.

And when we find a new opportunity, we camp.

When we find that opportunity, we make things great around us, we create value, and then we also enjoy the fruits of creating that value. We enjoy the rewards and the incentives that come along with that.

But after some time though, after you’ve camped for some time, you will start to feel too comfortable. And that is a signal for you to start climbing again.

What are you currently doing? Are you climbing, or are you camping?

Career strategy

Five great lessons from athletes that will make your job performance move into higher gear

You are often working on challenging, and sometimes just impossible projects. It’s very similar to being an athlete. And here are five things that we can learn from athletes for us to become better business leaders.

Training – The first one is about training. And this is about building competency. A competency is something which is, you have your skill, and you get to experience that skill, and that becomes a competency. And this is the part where you constantly are training so that you develop a better competency.

Mindset – the second piece is about the mindset. Having the right mindset for performance, and this is a combination of many things like gratitude. And it’s also about helping others and making sure that your mindset is tuned to creating value for others. And those folks might be stakeholders, your customers, your team, your organization, etc.

Focus – The third one is about getting in the flow for maximum performance. And this is a state that many scientists have been researching over the years. It is in terms of how to get human beings to a state of flow where they can create the maximum performance.

It is said that our consciousness, which is on the frontal lobe of our brains, has a bandwidth of 120 bits per second. So how can we maximize that bandwidth so we can focus on the right things and deliver maximum performance? That’s the way how athletes achieve flow, and they achieve maximum performance, and it’s very similar, holds true for leaders as well. And at work, we should figure out how do we maximize flow. So that was the third one.

Nutrition and exercise – The fourth one is around diet and exercise. And this is about eating the right things and doing all the proper work so that you can fuel your performance with energy and always maintain that level of energy that you have.

Rest – Last but not least is about rest. And you have to recover after you’ve delivered a great performance. You have to recover, you have to reenergize, and you have to recuperate.

And those are the five things that are so essential for all of us to become business leaders and things that we can learn from top athletes.

Blog, Career Nation Show, Career strategy

Episode 16: Career Nation show with Eric Siegel

 

“AI is an extremely powerful technology that helps us automate mass scale decisions. It’s sort of the implementation of private and public policies and automation and mechanization of those societal functions. It brings up a lot of ethical issues around social justice and how this affects all the people about whom decisions are being made.”

Eric Seigel, Ph. D, and founder of Predictive Analytics World joins us in episode 16 of the Career Nation Show.

Here are some of the highlights from this episode:

Why the term AI is misleading?

What is predictive analytics? How does it work?

How it generates a predictive model?

The operationalization of the model.

The opportunities with machine learning and predictive analytics


You can get the copy of Eric Seigel’s best selling book, Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die, from here: https://www.amazon.in/Predictive-Analytics-Power-Predict-Click-ebook/dp/B019HR9X4U

Career Nation: Career Nation, welcome to another episode. And today we have a fascinating guest, Eric Siegel. He’s the founder of Predictive Analytics World and he’s also the author of the award-winning book ‘Predictive Analytics’, the power to predict, who will click, buy, lie or die. He’s a former Columbia University professor and he now he helps companies and individuals understand the power of predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Please welcome Eric Siegel. Eric, welcome to the show.

Eric Siegel: Thanks Abhijeet. Thanks for including me.

Career Nation: Oh, it’s an absolute pleasure. Now this is such a fascinating topic and subject for so many of our audience. before we get into that, can you tell us, a little bit about yourself? Give us your background, give us your intro, if you will.

Eric Siegel: Sure. I’m a former computer science professor at Columbia university where I focused on machine learning and I’m a consultant, author, speaker at, in, in the field and, the founder of, Predictive Analytics World, which is the leading conference series focused on the commercial deployment. That is, it’s not a research conference, or a research and development or academic. It’s focused on the real world usage of machine learning. and it’s a vendor neutral event. So it involves and includes, information that pertains to whatever software tool or solution you may be using. so Predictive Analytics World, has been running since 2009 in our main large North American event. This year is May 31st to June 4th in Las Vegas.

Career Nation: Oh, that sounds fun man. So you think about all this wonderful technology in Vegas. It’s, it’s going to be a lot of fun there. thanks for the intro. There’s so many nuggets there that I would love to unpack. But let’s start here. Maybe, maybe, for, for a lot of our viewers, if you can help us understand a little bit better about what is predictive analytics versus machine learning versus artificial intelligence. A lot of times, people do use them interchangeably, in some cases. So, what in your opinion, in your perspective would help people to understand those things a little bit better? Yes.

Eric Siegel: Let me define machine learning and predictive analytics first. Artificial intelligence, it’s pretty subjective word, used many different ways. So is data science and big data by the way. So, machine learning is technology that learns from experience to make predictions or to classify individuals. So, in business applications that would be per customer, right? And all sorts of medical imaging and online applications. It’s images and that’s also referred to as deep learning and many, and in many cases that’s a type of neural network. So, the idea is that you have a whole bunch of labeled data. So these are, these are also referred to as supervised machine learning. Supervised because you have the data that’s already labeled to learn from, that’s called the training data and it already has a whole bunch of examples where either you knew what turned out to happen.

Eric Siegel: So let’s say you’re trying to predict which customer is going to cancel or churn. It’s called churn modeling. you already have a whole bunch of examples just because of the history of who did actually leave as a customer and you know the outcome. Or you have a bunch of labeled images that show pictures of cats and dogs and you know which are which because humans have already labeled them. Either way from history or human labeling, you have the labels and that’s supervised in the sense that it directs the learning process. It’s a way to measure how well the model labels or classifies or makes predictions per individual. So you can imagine this concept of individual applies very generally, can be per image per individual customer, corporate client, product, product line, satellite that might run out of a battery. There’s, it’s such a universally applicable technology.

Eric Siegel: The idea of machine learning to learn from those examples to generate a predictive model. So, it’s also called predictive modeling and then the model itself, everything that you’ve learned from those labeled data is now applied over data where it’s not labeled. You don’t know how it’s going to turn out, you don’t know which customer is going to cancel. You have images you need to classify, you don’t already have them labeled. Right? So, that’s the whole point. You’ve learned from the data. And it’s so generally applicable across business, applications, applications in government, and political campaigning, basically across all industries.

Career Nation: Oh, that’s wonderful. And so if, if you, if I were to sort of understand some of that, then there is some human form of this. Which is we figure out and apply some labels to these different items and whether we are trying to, you know, research about our customers or research about, you know, products or what have you. And then we, based on this, we can make certain predictions using predictive analytics. And so, this is the sort of the promise of taking sort of machine learning, which is understanding more about these labels and applying them into a predictive way to do predictive analytics. And is artificial intelligence and extension of that? Is that, is that something that’s sort of forward looking from that or it sort of starts from a sort of these predictive analytic type of models?

Eric Siegel: Artificial intelligence is a buzzword and subjectively defined word that can mean pretty much whatever you want because, and typically it’s defined in a circular way. It means making computers intelligent. But the word intelligence was in the word you’re trying to define. So, it doesn’t mean anything. It means whatever you want. It’s a, it typically either is an exact synonym to machine learning or deep learning, which is a specific kind of machine learning or it’s sort of a broad subjective category that includes machine learning as well as like chatbox, chatbots or anything else that a human feels is humanlike from a computer or it’s sort of a vague word that kind of over promises the direction of how quickly machine learning is going to grow and, and computers are going to become more human like in some way. So it literally serves only to hype.

Eric Siegel: There is absolutely no intrinsic meaning to the term Artificial Intelligence. And by the way, I taught the artificial intelligence graduate level course at Columbia university a couple of decades ago. And my opinion hasn’t really changed since then. The hype about it right now is, is good in the sense that yes, machine learning is extremely powerful, but there’s also some over promising going on out there. By the way, I didn’t really differentiate between machine learning and predictive analytics. So, predictive analytics is basically a, a major subset of machine learning. So, if you’re using machine learning for business problems like customer churn prediction, targeting, marketing by predicting which customers can respond, helping inform credit assignment. So, whether a application for credit card should be approved, that’s called credit scoring. Also a use of predictive modeling or machine learning. Those types of business applications are generally also referred to as predictive analytics.

Eric Siegel: So the word prediction, by the way, obviously it means predicting the future, the outcome or behavior per let’s say customer. But sometimes it’s used like predicting, is this transaction going to turn out to be fraud? You’re not predicting the future. It’s just a classification. Predict whether this is a picture of a cat. You’re kind of warping the use of the word predict. But people do use it that way. In any event, when you go to that kind of image classification, people don’t usually call it predictive analytics, but either way it’s definitely machine learning.

Career Nation: Oh, thank you for that. That, that helps to clarify quite a bit and you know, it seems that, you know, Eric, based on what you just shared, it, there could be so many applications of this across industries, across companies. Where have you seen, sort of, people take this and apply it practically commercially to, you know, improve their business, improve their customer experience or help their employees?

Eric Siegel: Like what are some of the examples you’ve come across? Well, since we’ve been running the conference series predictive analytics world since 2009, we’re now in our 12th year. The bread and butter of that conference are real-world case studies from fortune-500 companies. And that’s sort of the whole point. So, I’ve seen a million of them. my book predictive analytics as you mentioned it. And by the way, I’ll just say the subtitle of the book again, because it’s an informal definition of the field. Predictive analytics, the power to predict who will click, buy, lie or die. That book includes a 181 mini case studies in a central color table, across all industry sectors. So, the kind of things I’ve been mentioning, targeting marketing, credit scoring, fraud detection, these are very common practices. All large companies or virtually all large companies use use machine learning. It’s value is also prevalent amongst mid-sized companies and many small companies also can benefit since the requirements, not so much about the size of the company, but about basically the size of the data. So if you are a small company sending direct mail to a large contact list, it’s the size of that contact list that matters with regard to whether there’s a value proposition to be gained by learning from this historical mailings, that is the training data and making predictions in order to target future mailings.

Career Nation: Got it. And let’s say I’m a, you know, a business analyst in a company or I’m a manager or take any title, right? And if I wanted to sort of get started and familiarize myself with machine learning and predictive, and if I wanted to sort of start figuring out how do I apply this, are there some tools that I can just sort of run on my laptop or is this some, you know, something I’d acquire like a cloud subscription? What are, like are there things that would help a professional to sort of get started in this area?

Eric Siegel: So yes, there’s many existing tools. Many of these companies exist as sponsors of our conference since we’re, we’re very much vendor neutral and the majority of the content, but we have these sponsored sessions, a few times a day. And, the trick here though is that it’s actually a little bit bigger scope, project to make use of and, and implement, integrate machine learning at least for a first time within your enterprise. Then, your question I think sort of implied. Because it’s not a matter of like, well I’ve got to get familiar with the tool and use it. there needs to be a large number of people, at least several on the team making predictive analytics work. The actual use of the core tool, the fun part, the scientifically interesting part, the rocket science part. That those tools of which there are many is actually a secondary to the first decision, which is how are we going to use it?

Eric Siegel: Which mass scale operation are we going to render more effective with these predictive scores that are output by the model. So for example, I’m doing these mass mailings and I want to target them better. I have a fraud detection team and I want to use their time better by serving them transactions, more likely to be fraud. I want to make better decisions about credit scoring as far as, you know, credit card or other loan applications. All these different kinds of business applications. Whatever it is, you need to decide within that realm. Very specifically, what are we doing now and how are we going to potentially change today’s operations, by informing them with or integrating into the process somehow the predictions that is the predictive scores, which are basically probabilities per individual of whatever outcome or behavior you’re predicting for the project, whichever serves to improve the efficacy of that large scale operations.

Eric Siegel: So, that’s the carrot at the end of the stick. That’s the deployment or the integration, what’s called the operationalization of the predictive model, right. At the end of the project or at the conclusion or the actual sort of deployment of the project. Bbt you, that’s the carrot at the end of the stick. But you start with that first very much and then you say, well, do I, what do I need to predict? And in order to predict that, do I have the right data available? You might do some preliminary data polls and get a sense of that. And then, okay, now we want to actually start doing the predictive modeling. We’re green-lighting the project. Now we need to see who do we have on board. This is something that, you know, this is within the realm of data scientists, which is a very subjective word, but oftentimes is used to refer to people who have experienced with predictive modeling and whoever is doing the actual number crunching and applying these software tools needs to have experience doing that, in the past.

Eric Siegel: So, sometimes you need to engage external resources consultancies and service or service providers and such, to help with that at least on a first project. Or are you doing more extensive training of some of your existing relatively technical staff or data oriented staff? So, as an individual you, you don’t sort of side, I’m going to do predictive analytics at my company. What you decide is my company would really benefit from predictive analytics. Let’s see how I can participate, how I can contribute. Because predictive analytics or these business applications of machine learning aren’t a technical endeavor, first and foremost. First and foremost, they’re an organizational change to existing processes. So it’s not just some kind of thing like, let’s put this technology in place and makes our website go faster. It’s not that. There’s engineering components to it, but they’re secondary to the fact that this is a change to organizational processes.

Eric Siegel: So you need to start with figuring out how is that process going to change? How would it be informed with predictions, right? Which aren’t necessarily like a crystal ball, but they’re better than guessing. And back in the napkin arithmetic, how is that going to help? So that organizational process, getting executive buy-in, getting buy in from operational managers who are, where the change of process is actually going to be taking place. And, and then enlisting the right team of people who can pull the right data, the analytics people, the actual data scientists or an external service provider. So there’s a team of several people. There’s involvement across the organization. And so that’s how you look at it. You don’t, it’s a, it’s a large scope process project.

Career Nation: Oh, that’s wonderful. And so this is a, this is, I love that, those examples, because these are a way to establish a discipline, a almost like a different approach to doing business within the company. And it really helps to sort of get grounded on, okay, what are the, what is the problem or the types of problem that we would like to solve, how big is that? What is the nature of that? Do we have enough data to solve that problem? And then based on those that sort of data inventory, we can figure out how do we apply some of these predictive models and then sort of drive those behaviors within the company and outside the company in many cases. That’s fascinating. And, and you clearly have had been having a lot of fun with this. You are, you’re running the predictive analytics world, which is a show in Las Vegas. You have written a wonderful book and we’ll, we’ll put the book link in the show notes below. And also, you are, you were, I think you were running the Dr. Data show. I saw a bunch of episodes there. So, tell us sort of what are the wonderful things you’ve been up to.

Eric Siegel: Yeah. If you want to hear more of the kind of stuff I’m describing about, well, how the technology works under the hood and, and some of the ins and outs. The Dr. Data show is a web series of 10 short episodes, so it’s 10 of the most interesting topics on machine learning, why it works, how it provides value, the ins and outs, how you evaluate to make sure the model has actually learned from the data rather than just kind of memorized it, or, or, or sort of found patterns that only apply in this particular set of examples. How do you know it’s actually learned in a way that’s universal, will apply in general, which is actually a pretty profound, almost philosophical question. But, the actual way you validate it isn’t philosophical, it’s very simple and pragmatic. You can actually just measure how well it works. So, all those kinds of ins and outs about the process are covered across these 10 episodes. And you can go to the drdatashow.com or just Google it. So, that’s, that’s available online.

Career Nation: Wonderful. Eric, this has been awesome. And now this is a part of the show where we get to know a little bit better. And we would love to ask you some of your favorite things. So we’re getting into the favorite, quick fire round. Are you ready? It might, my favorite color is blue. Is that? So, that’s super helpful. So let me ask you a couple of specific questions. Other than your color, what is your favorite app and why?

Eric Siegel: Okay. I think there would be two. I would say ClassPass, which I think is only helpful if you live in an urban area. ClassPass is a way to, to sort of pick and choose and take, take an exercise class, at here and there without memberships and all that kind of stuff. So, I could just go and say, Oh, here’s a pretty good deal. I can just go take this one class tomorrow morning at 10 over at this Yoga studio or this sort of workout bootcamp place or what have you. And the reason I like it is because it, it, it, you’ve signed up for a certain number of credits you need to use per month and only some of them roll over. So, it helps enforce the discipline of getting yourself out there. Now I actually, am pretty disciplined.

Eric Siegel: I do sort of a, I go to the gym pretty much 365 days a year, but there’s, what is this from? So for me, the ClassPass thing is helping me, not just go to the gym and listen and listen, do work in my head by listening to podcasts or audio books or on the bike, like watching work-related videos. So, I’ll go take a yoga class and that’s a lot more challenging for me to sort of just be there and work in a slow, but physically assertive thing for an hour without actually getting work done at the same time. That’s actually hard for me, but it’s good for me. So that, I’d also say on the, on the flip side though, it’s also Audible, cause I, I don’t really read anymore. It’s all audio books.

Career Nation: Oh, that’s fascinating. I love that concept of ClassPass. Yeah, I’ll definitely download it. Do you have the other app as well as a favorite? Eric Siegel: The other, Career Nation: Well I think you mentioned two, right? So you’ve got a ClassPass. Audible is the other one? Got it. Cause I listen to audio books, audio books all the time in the gym. Yeah. Yeah. I love it man. Awesome. And what is your favorite quote? If you had to put up a quote on highway one-on-one or my favorite 680 or infamous 680. But, what would be your favorite quote?

Eric Siegel: My, my favorite quote, would have to be, spider man’s uncle who said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” And of course, in my case, I’m applying this to machine learning, which brings up a whole bunch of ethical issues. It is an extremely powerful technology that helps us automate mass scale decisions. It’s sort of the implementation of private and public public policies and automation and mechanization of those societal functions. It brings up a lot of ethical issues around social justice and how this affects all the people about whom decisions are being made. The way that we’re treated and served in modern society is dictated, more and more by predictive models that drive these decisions as, you know, they predict about us who will click, buy, lie or die, like in the title of my book and decide who to contact, investigate, incarcerate, or set up on a date.

Eric Siegel: Right? So it’s affecting us in all different ways. And some some of these decisions are extremely consequential with regard to who gets it, who gets approved for credit or a loan, or credit card. Who even gets offered it with marketing in the first place. And, and in some cases, you know how long you actually stay in prison in predictive policing. It’s all the same core technology, predictive modeling. And it’s to automate or semiautomate decision or inform or in one way or another to influence decisions, that are, you know, sometimes with a human in the loop and sometimes not depending on the area. So yeah, so, the spider man quote, you know, it’s paraphrase, paraphrasing Voltaire, but I know, I know originally from Spiderman and, and I, I take it to heart, actually, I think it’s really, sort of hits the nail on the head.

Career Nation: Oh, I totally agree. And there’s so many sort of layers to that that you, you mentioned. And you know, the, the, the, there’s opportunity on one hand where it, you know, we can do so many wonderful things with predictive, maybe we can predict diseases and things like that and really help a fellow human beings and communities and organizations and companies. And on the other hand, there’s probably never been a time earlier in history where so much sort of data and algorithms have been concentrated in only so many companies and companies that own those datasets, etc. So it’s, it’s going to be a very interesting now

Eric Siegel: world for sure. Yeah. I mean, I, I mean, I’m a proponent of the technology and extremely excited about its potential, positive value, not only for the bottomline in terms of profit. And although that often translates into benefits for individuals, but all sorts of social good applications. So it’s, it’s like a knife, right? It’s, we’re not going to outlaw it entirely. It can be used for good or bad. And so therefore there’s gotta be some management and oversight.

Career Nation: Oh, for sure. Which brings us to our next favorite question. What is your favorite book, Erik?

Eric Siegel: Well, the great novels, are the ones that stick with me. And I have the, so, you know, Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha and Steppenwolf, those ones really blew my mind and I didn’t read them for first time until I was in my early thirties. So, I had the fortune of, being kind a lopsided brain, through college, high school and college. I would kind of blow off all the reading as much as possible. My verbal wasn’t that high. I feel like I caught up though. And, maybe not, you know, to my geeky math side, but much better than it was back then. And so by my early thirties, I started, I was already sorta that developed, much more developed than you are when you’re 20, when I read these books for the very first time. So, that was a much more enriching experience.

Eric Siegel: I felt like I got all the levels a lot more than I would would’ve at the earlier age. So, those, that’s novels. But as far as sort of more business books. A couple of examples come to mind. Well, Geoffrey Moore Crossing the Chasm is like a pretty basic entrepreneurial book about, you know, if you’re, if you’re starting a new business or a new line of business, just the idea of a market niche and anecdotes about how that applies. That such a formative book and that one really stuck with me, especially coming from an academics background at that point. I’m real, I’m like, I’m a recovering academic, right. I, I, I, I, I’ve been in, in, in the industrial world since, 2001 or 2. And, and also just sort of being the sort of data geek side of things, but trying to see, okay, wait, there’s a business side and this, this, this one really, this one really stuck with me.

Eric Siegel: in terms of actual technical books, actually it’s a textbook and machine learning that stuck with me. And the title of the book is machine learning, but as the textbook by Tom Mitchell who was the founder and chair of the first machine learning department. Machine learning is usually within computer science, but it’s Carnegie Mellon has machine learning department. He came out with this textbook just in time for the first time I taught the graduate level course machine learning at Columbia university. And it’s just such a great way to sort of formulate and get a sense of this whole field, right? Not just get married to one particular thing with like deep learning kind of neural network that’s doing so well, but get a sense of what’s the overall field of, of, of machine learning and what are the, what are the universal concepts apply across all the different kinds of technical methods, predictive modeling methods, and sort of what are the universal requirements as far as the data preparation. So that sort of foundational structure and for understanding it as a field for me it was really set by that book.

Career Nation: Oh, those are wonderful, resources and, we’ll, we’ll track those down and put them in the show notes because it’d be really cool to take a look at that list. And, thanks for sharing that, Eric. And yeah. And why don’t, why don’t you share, your favorite restaurant?

Eric Siegel: Yeah, my favorite restaurant is just all the expensive sushi restaurants. But that’s a very, that’s a very specifically defined category of restaurant. And I’ve, I’ve, I’ve invented this, this category. It’s called expensive sushi. It’s not the kind of thing you’re going to do every day. But actually, one of the reasons I like it in a restaurant where the sushi is so good and it’s typically offered on omakaze, which, which means chef’s choice. It’s kind of like a tasting menu. You get smaller portions come gradually over a larger period of time, and then you end up taking more time to just appreciate how good each bite tastes, which is a very undervalued thing in our world, right? We’re, we’re constantly shoving Doritos into our mouth, right? So, nothing against Doritos, if Doritos are watching right now. But, so there’s this concept of mindful eating, right? And I read a book about it and I don’t remember who it was and the book was great, but you know, it’s not rocket science. It’s just think of, you know, actually pay attention to what your experience while you’re eating and that, that’s valuable for a lot for obvious reasons, if you think about it. So, and that sort of, that kind of restaurant experience, very conducive to that. And assuming with someone you like talking to, it’s a long meal though. It’s fun. Yeah.

Career Nation: Oh, that is so cool. I like that. And yes, apologies to Doritos and I liked that concept of mindful eating and that’s something that’s becoming more rare and it’s it’s time to get the mindful eating as well as the conversation back to the dinner table. I like that a lot. Yeah. Why don’t we shift gears a little bit Eric and talk a little bit about sort of your career and you had a phenomenal career. Very fascinating, colorful. You’ve done so many different wonderful things. How about we get into some of the techniques that you used in your career that you think are sort of unique and they’ve really helped you do basically either become better or organize projects better or you know, with your productivity you can move faster at work and things like that. How about some of the techniques that you feel that our audience would definitely appreciate?

Eric Siegel: You know, I’ve never, I’ve never tried to be a self-help guru and this, you know, thinking about, there’s so many things that I do that I could try to expound on that someone else might be find useful. So, generally, in my career, you know, as I said, I’m a former academic. And in academics you, you work really hard on concepts that it’s sort of seem ideal or abstractly sound. And that’s where my interest started with machine learning. Right? Which from a, just from a scientific point of view, I think it’s by far the most fascinating, interesting type of any kind of science technology or engineering. Cause you’re, you’re, it’s, these are methods, algorithms, computer programs that learn from example. So you’re actually automating the process of learning that is generalizing from some limit. It may be a long list, but it’s a limited number of examples. Eric Siegel: And how do you draw generalizations from that, that apply in general? That’s just such an interesting problem to try to solve. And there’s so many different facets, ins and outs to it. Although it’s the bottom line, it’s really simple to measure how well it works. It might be hard to design, how to do it, but when you’re trying it out, you could just try it on new data that, you know, you have this held a side data that it wasn’t used for the training part and say, well how well does it work on that? So you get instant gratification. You see how well it works. Fascinating area. Now does that mean it’s going to be viable when a, you know, a green academic like me 20 years ago steps out of the university and it’s like, I’m going to go use this and be a consultant.

Eric Siegel: Right? How do you convince people of this idea when they haven’t been indoctrinated into it abstractly and they’re just trying to run their business on a day-to-day process? That was a huge learning process for me, right? Where I, it’s not just about great ideas, but it’s about how you communicate them and how you socialize them and how, you know, how change management takes place. So it’s sort of like you know, and in my case, I was sticking to the ideals, to the principles. This is a great idea and it not only is fun and interesting scientifically, it really looks like it should be valuable. We can increase the profit of this marketing campaign by a factor of three is by not by changing any of the creatives or the product we’re selling, but just by targeting a little bit more effectively across customers predicted more likely to respond. That kind of business value proposition just sort of falls out naturally from it. Eric Siegel: Yeah. But, so that, that was in 2003. I first moved to the West coast and, and you know, started being a independent consultant in the business world. And you know, the world, back then we called it predictive analytics because machine learning was strictly an academic research and development terms. Nicely, that’s now become a more acceptable term in general. And the field certainly has taken off greatly. You know, when we launched Predictive Analytics World, that was the first, you know, conference, other than some run by the, the software vendors. But the first cross vendor conference outside the academic or research conferences, you know, focused on the commercial deployment. And we’ve stayed in the lead and we’ve stayed viable and only been growing since then, because we stay relevant and keep things going. But at the time, you know, we a little bit ahead of the curve. Eric Siegel: We didn’t know how many people would show up. Right. We, as it turned out, we hit the timing pretty well. It was, it was February, 2009. Even though we just hit a recession, we had a much bigger turnout than we had even hoped for because people were ready, this stuff was starting to warm up and now it’s hot. It might be a little too hot. There may be a little bit over promising here with the whole AI buzzword, but it’s very much realizing value in most commercial deployments. So, that would be one sort of takeaway as far as sort of stick to the principles that you believe in and sort of then look at the human side. How do you socialize it, how patient can you be, what are the tactics to do that, right? How, how, you know, how do you sort of, find that path, right? I mean, other than that, I’d say install Boomerang for Gmail, which is keep your inbox organized and tidy.

Career Nation: I love that. Yeah. Boomerang is one of my favorite tools as well. So, you know, what, what do you bring up is fascinating because a lot of times we come up with, let’s say, it could be a technology concept or a business concept and we are so convinced that this is going to change the world. And we’d go out there and pitch to customers and some customers bite and some don’t. And we sort of sort of, there’s something to be said about perseverance and tenacity to actually go out there and keep knocking on doors and actually working with customers. The other side of that that you also talked about a little bit and touched upon is sort of the human side of it. Which is, yes, the technology is great and the ROI is going to be great, but there’s this other part of it which is, you know, human beings are going to buy it. We at the end of the day, humans, we do business with human beings and it’s something about having that EQ and that emotional pull with customers as well, so that we, we figure out a way to how do I make this customer successful or the stakeholder successful in addition to just providing a great ROI for or great value to this company. I think that said, it’s a phenomenal learning.

Eric Siegel: Yep. And you can’t Ram it down their throats. So you can kind of make a graph that shows the promised ROI, but that doesn’t sell itself quite as quickly. It doesn’t sell itself on the schedule that you have in mind. Career Nation: That’s right. Because sometimes it takes time to realize the ROI and the value and quite frankly, people also want to see some visible returns in addition to just pure charts. And I think that’s where the magic is, Eric Siegel: right? So then over, you know, so I became that independent consultant, you know, hustling for clients for the first few years. In 2003 and conference started 2009 and its purpose was largely to do that and get as many brand name case studies with proven value, you know, from the trench stuff from, from, from the front lines as possible. My book is 2013 and then the updated in 2016. So, by 2013, having been in that world for 10 years, maybe I was overcompensating because as I mentioned earlier in our discussion today, I have 180, 183, a little mini case, like sort of one or two line case studies all, all in a compendium in the middle of the book and this color table, the central table because I was, I had trained myself to just work so hard to prove yes, this stuff actually works. It’s not just a good idea on paper. Look at all these examples where somebody got value, got success from it. You know, and it’s divided into seven or nine sub tables across all the different industries like marketing and financial sector, government, etc. So, that was sort of the result of that 10 years of me just sort of feeling like it was never enough to show yes, it works, it’s a good idea. Now everyone’s like expecting too much from it instead of too little.

Career Nation: Oh yeah. I mean it’s so wonderful and I’m sure you feel you must be feeling a lot of, Career Nation: some level of contentment and satisfaction that the thing that you started and you were one of the early pioneers of predictive analytics and you educated, consulted, helped, coached so many customers and clients. And now this thing is taking a life of its own. And now it’s a popular, I would say almost mainstream, you know, technology component, at least in Silicon Valley. And a lot of other tech companies, and you must be, you must be feeling, you know, hey, I’ve been vindicated. And you know, I was totally justified. I’m taking this to market that early. Sometimes in Silicon Valley, being early is sometimes being incorrect, but now you’ve been proven correct. And so it must be, must be a good feeling.

Eric Siegel: Yeah. And then the colleagues that I, that I, that I established in those early years of being consultant, you know, we’re still close colleagues, most of them participate at the conference as speakers and, or at least as attendees. And, so we all were sort of in the same boat. We’re kind of like, Oh, how do you explain this to people who are new to it or are nontechnical? And, and now we’re kind of looking at the world, like, what? Wow, this, this grew even faster than, you know, we even hoped over the last several years. It’s kind of amazing. But, you know, we always had no doubt that it should go this direction.

Career Nation: Eric, so this has been a phenomenal journey for you, right? You started with academia, consulting. You’re doing conferences, wrote a book and so many other things. What’s the future? What does the future hold for Eric? What is on the roadmap that you would like to share or if you’d like to make that a pleasant surprise. That’s cool as well.

Eric Siegel: Oh, well we’re continuing to grow the conference and keep it up to date and with all the hottest industry trends and case studies and stories. I’m working on a new updated online course about machine learning and the kinds of topics we talked about today. I have, I’ve never disclosed this, but I have a, so I have a second rap. So there’s already a rap we released a few years ago called ‘Predict This’ and it’s an educational, it’s the best ever educational rap music video about predictive analytics. You can go to predictthis.org, just three and a half minutes long. And we have another one, but that might take a couple of years by the time we actually, get it together, on a, on a special topics that I thought would be good. And I would say that outside sort of my consulting, my sort of central consulting career and the conference, it’s the ethical issues I mentioned. I’ve been writing op-eds on that in San Francisco Chronicle and Scientific American blog and some other places. You can see my list of about 10 op ed so far published. All it just go to civilrightsdata.com, civilrightsdata and that gets you to that list, that linked list of articles. And I’m continuing to work on, on that very much. I have a lot more to say about, some of the social justice issues that underlie the deployment of predictive models.

Career Nation: Oh, that is so important. And thank you for leading the charge on that one, Eric. Now as we wrap up here, any parting thoughts, Eric, that you’d like to share with Career Nation? As you know, you know, we are an audience that’s, I would say, predominantly works in corporate America, a lot of us in Tech, business and we were sort of, some of us are early in career, middle of career, late in career. And so what, what would you like to share as your sort of parting words of wisdom for our audience? Eric Siegel: Yeah, I think that for those of you who are interested in machine learning or if you haven’t let go of the term AI yet after hearing me, by the way, I, I, I have a, a Dr. Data episode which is also on Big Think called AI is a big fat lie. So I am concerned about the misleading use of that term and many or most cases, but machine learning, supervised machine learning, very much a real thing. And if you’re interested in helping or getting involved with how it will provide value, your, your organization, my message to you would be, there are many roles, both managerial, nontechnical, involved in the operational deployment integration, the use, the consumption of the predictive model output, like its predictions. Its, its probability scores and outputs per individual or the supervising over the overall project. Or of course there’s the actual data side, the technical side, the data preparation, the corporate active modeling itself. Eric Siegel: There are so many different facets to the overall project and making sure that it’s running in a way collaboratively across viewpoints and across people in different roles at the organization. So, it’s not just one brilliant data scientist who knows how to do everything. Not at all. It can’t be, and there’s so many different ways you could potentially be involved. So, the core technology has many facets and its very involved, but the fundamental principles are not nearly as difficult to understand as you might imagine. They’re actually quite intuitive, which is, which the point of my book predictive analytics is to make that accessible and sort of unveil how it works under the hood. But then again, remind you, wait, this is about the value proposition to the business and how it gets deployed and used, not just the number crunching part. So, if you find the area promising or interesting or exciting, keep in mind as you kind of delve into it and learn some, that there are many different ways, that you could potentially be involved.

Career Nation: Yeah, there’s so many opportunities and Eric as you outlined and there’s so many roles in the world of predictive analytics and machine learning. It’s tech as well as non tech roles and those are quite frankly, we’re still early in the cycle and those are the sort of the leadership opportunities of the future and people who are getting involved with these concepts and frameworks and technologies have an opportunity to basically, you know, further their careers down the road. Exactly. Awesome. Eric, this has been fascinating. This is such a rich conversation. Thank you so much for your time. We wish you all the very best for predictive analytics world and we’ll drop a bunch of links and the notes below so that people can get in touch with you and know a little bit more about what are the wonderful things and projects that you’re up to. Awesome. Well thanks Abhijeet, it was great being on the show. Thanks for the great questions. Absolutely. Have a great day. Yeah, you too.

Blog, Career Nation Show, Career strategy

Episode 15: Career Nation show with Rohit Bhargava

“If you can see things that nobody else sees, by consuming the information that they don’t, you can make yourself indispensable. Because that way, you end up having better, bigger ideas.”, says Rohit Bhargava in episode 15 of Career Nation Show.
Rohit Bhargava is the founder of the Non-Obvious Company. He is an innovation and marketing expert, marketing strategist, author, teacher, and keynote speaker.

Here are some highlights from this episode:
> Non-obvious megatrends
> Power of observation
> Protective technology
> Skill development
> Flux commerce
> Developing trust and becoming trust advisor
> His favorite book, app, and food
> Career advice
> How to become a successful leader?

Career Nation: Hey Career Nation! Welcome back to the Career Nation Show. Today it’s going to be a very special episode because today we have a special guest, Rohit Bhargava. Rohit is an innovation and marketing expert. He’s the founder of the Non-Obvious Company. He spent about 15 years as marketing strategist for Ogilvy and as well as Leo Burnett. He’s now the number one wall street journal bestselling author, and he’s also the author of five business books before this. He teaches marketing and innovation at Georgetown university. He’s probably known for the current bestseller, Non-Obvious Mega Trends. Please welcome Rohit Bhargava. Rohit, welcome to the show.

Rohit Bhargava: Thank you. It’s a pleasure.

Career Nation: Awesome. Rohit, tell us a little bit about yourself for the three people that don’t know you.

Rohit Bhargava: It’s probably way more than that I think. But, yeah, I spent a long time working in advertising and marketing advertising agencies. And, when you do that, I think you become a storyteller. And that’s one of the big things that’s been a driving force in my life. And so I tell stories for a living. I do that by helping people be more in what I call non-obvious. So helping them see what others don’t see, helping them think of new ideas, be more creative, be more innovative. Whatever the buzz word is, you want to attach to it, right? Disruption… There’s lots of them. But I do that by, delivering a lot of keynote speeches at conferences around the world. I do workshops like one day private workshops, for organizations. And I write a book, called Non-Obvious, which has been, every year there has been a new version of it up until this past year where I did the final version of it, which was called Non-Obvious Mega Trends. And it’s all about the big trends that are changing our lives and our culture and how we can use them to improve our careers and improve our business.

Career Nation: Oh, fantastic. There’s so many nuggets there that I would love to unpack. And Rohit, why don’t we dive into sort of the non-obvious mega trends first. And so at first glance, non-obvious and mega trends, it almost seems a little bit like an oxymoron, right? If it’s not obvious, how can it be a mega trend because I may not have heard of it. And so it sounds like these are sort of massive trans, these are undercurrents most people have not been paying attention to, but we should. Is that what it is?

Rohit Bhargava: Yeah, sort of. I mean, if you’ve ever seen one of those viral YouTube videos of a painter kind of making a painting and as they’re making it, you’re like, ‘You know, that kind of looks like something but I’m not exactly sure what it’s going to be’. And then right at the end they kind of flip it around and you’re like, ‘Oh, that’s what it is’. You know? I think sometimes the mega trends are a little bit like that. Like they spotlight a lot of stories that we may have seen or you may have heard. But a lot of times we don’t take the time or have the time to put the pieces together over a longer span of time to say, ‘Hey, this thing that happened a year ago and this story that just happened last week, this is how they’re connected and this is what they mean’.

Rohit Bhargava: And so a lot of times with the mega trends described as something that we may have been kind of aware of in the peripheral sense of what was going on in the world, but we never really thought about in that way. And so the reaction I get most often to most of these mega trends is, ‘Oh, that’s like what I’ve been thinking and that’s what I’ve been seeing’. But you don’t really verbalize it in that way, right? And so that’s what tends to happen when I talk to people who’ve read these, who say, yeah, you know, I totally, it’s not that they read it and they’re like, Oh man, I never heard any of those things, right? Because then it’s kind of obscured. And that’s not, to your point, it wouldn’t be a mega trend then.

Career Nation: Yeah. And you’ve done so much work around these trends and I’m sure you like to do a lot of analytics, you observe all of this and you’ve mentioned this in the book, and you call it sort of a Haystack Method, where you sort of gather aggregate, elevate, name and prove, and at the risk of giving away the book. But, in sort of that gather step. You mentioned looking at things that are unusual where you can spot a pattern that’s sort of different. And, that’s to me, very interesting. And one question I had there for you was how can one develop a mindset that notices the unusual things? Is that, should a person just go out and proactively hunt for unusual things? Is it like a power of observation, a superpower that we should be developing?

Rohit Bhargava: Yeah, I think to some degree we all have this sort of power because we see things that are, that are interesting for us. And I think sometimes what we do is we see something that’s interesting, but we don’t necessarily take a moment to reflect on why it’s interesting or what it means. We just sort of consume it and move on to the next thing. And it becomes almost like that, like sitting in front of a bowl of Doritos, right? Like you’re just sitting there popping them in and you don’t even pay attention to what you’re doing. And instead, I think that if we were a little bit more conscious of why we find these things interesting and we engaged our curiosity a little bit more, we’d start to see these patterns. So a big part of what I try and teach people is be more intentional with your media consumption.

Rohit Bhargava: Like be more intentional with what you’re paying attention to and then create some sort of discipline, some sort of method to be able to capture what you read or what you think in a moment so that you can return to it later. And the analogy I use for that is that, if we could collect ideas the way most of us collect frequent flyer miles, we, we could really cash them in later, right? Because you don’t collect a thousand frequent flyer miles from flying from one place to another and then turn around and log into your account and say, okay, let me use my thousand miles. Right? Cause you can’t do anything. Like that’s not enough. But if you collect them over time, then it turns into something valuable where you can actually get a flight somewhere. And I think ideas can be the same way. Like if we collected them and had enough discipline to be able to find where we wrote them down in the first place and not lose that scrap of paper. And, you know, all the things that we sometimes accidentally do, then we could start to see the commonalities between them and come up with better ideas.

Career Nation: Got it. That’s a very helpful tip. And, as you know, if you look at our audience here for Career Nation Show, a lot of us are sort of business and technology leaders. How can we take advantage of these observations? Look at these trends as a tool or a skill that we can develop? How can we gain the skill? How can we apply it and sort of make our organization better or maybe more competitive and things like that.

Rohit Bhargava: So the way I see ideas and stories that relate to these mega trends is, the same way a spark would act in order to help start a fire. And so if you take these stories and you see something interesting in them, and then you say, Oh, I can use that to create something for our business. So let me give you an example, right? So one of the mega trends is something that I called, Protective Technology (Protective Tech). And it’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s technology that proactively acts to protect us from some situation. And just this week I saw a story that I published in my weekly newsletter, which is all about non-obvious stories, right? That I send out every Thursday. And the story was about Tinder, adding all of these safety features that allow them to, for example, verify that the photo that somebody posted is actually a photo of them because they have to take a couple of selfies real time.

Rohit Bhargava: And then they match that with the photo. So it’s verified photos. So they’re not just posting a picture of like some famous celebrity and saying, Hey, that’s me when it isn’t. And then they have a panic button feature to where you can say who you’re about to go on a date with. Here’s all of their details so that there’s some emergency services in case something goes bad and you have some protection, right? So here’s a real example of Protective Tech, right? And what Tinder is doing to help protect their users in these real life situations where you meet somebody online and then you interact with them in real life, right? What could we do to inject more protective tech into our experience, right? That’s the question. So really with this mega trend, the question becomes an inspiration to then say, well, what do we do with this?

Rohit Bhargava: Like what could we do? And now you can have a brainstorm. And look, I’ve done a lot of brainstorm, facilitating a lot of brainstorming cause I work in the creative industry. And the problem with brainstorms is we sometimes start with these big open ended questions that say, look, we just need to be more creative. We just need to come up with something big. And like that’s not enough definition to create. And if you talk to any great designer, they will always tell you that they far prefer a more detailed creative brief than just a vague open canvas. Because the more detail they have around what they’re trying to create, the more creative they can actually be, strategically. And I think that the mega trends can give you that opportunity to be more strategic with your, idea session.

Career Nation: Got it. I like that idea a lot. And especially using that for brainstorming sessions. Some of the things we do here, you know, especially with our audience is sort of do problem solving or problem solving and get scale. Would you agree that some of this trending can help us in on one hand identify some of the problems that need to be solved, as well as some of the opportunities that we can take advantage of and then also help us to figure out how can we solve the problem, ie, get us to some solutions. Would that be a sort of a way to approach, our work in terms of problem solving, using trends and using sort of non-obvious observations?

Rohit Bhargava: Yeah, I think the, I mean, you really hit on it with the non-obvious observation part. The trends are really the output of my own process of collecting all these stories over the course of an entire year. And in the case of non-obvious mega trends over the course of 10 years, you know, because that takes 10 years worth of story gathering and research and interviews and all that stuff and puts it into one big package, right? But the technique that I really try and teach people to use is not so much just taking these trends and saying, well the trends are it and that’s the only thing you need to worry about. What I’m trying to teach people is that there’s this way of thinking what you said, the non obvious way of thinking. Which is you know, spot these unusual stories, collect them, find the intersections between them.

Rohit Bhargava: Look for inspiration beyond your industry. Right? A lot of times people who are in a technical field, like they just read their technical trade journals and that’s it, right? Or if you’re in architecture, like you’ll read the architecture digest and you know nothing else. And I think that if we’re going to truly be creative, if we’re going to really be innovative, like we’ve got to go venture outside of our industry, we’ve got to take inspiration from other places. We’ve got to avoid being the sort of person that says, ‘Well, I work in B2B and so anything that’s B2C like I don’t care about’. And so a lot of times we find like I find people have already closed their minds to stuff that they don’t think is relevant for them instead of looking for that gem of something that could be relevant for them that isn’t from their industry.

Career Nation: Yeah, totally agree with you, especially around the idea of applying, hings and ideas and concepts from other industries to your industry. And there’s a lot of learning there and there’s a lot of sort of, identification of problems and maybe different approaches to solve those problems. And again, that goes back to non-obvious, ways and non observation of non-obvious things. Now for 2020, which is your recent book and congratulations on hitting number one, wall street journal bestseller list. And so on, on those 10 non-obvious mega trends, I found all of them super fascinating. The one I got most intrigued by is Flux Commerce. And probably that’s because it’s closer to sort of my line of work in tech and innovation. Can you, do you mind double clicking on Flux Commerce for us?

Rohit Bhargava: Yeah. Flux Commerce is the idea that, business models are rapidly changing. The lines that used to exist between different industries are starting to break down. And so what you’re seeing is a lot of competition from unlikely places. And that’s an opportunity as well as a threat for many of us, right? So Apple’s opened up a new credit card. So now they’re in financial services. You have, furniture brands like West Elm opening a portal, so you can try the furniture in the hotel and then go and buy it. You’ve got Cheetos opening a hotel, right? I mean, you’ve got all of these different examples of banks like Capital One having coffee shops, right? Like there’s so many examples in so many sectors that point of this idea that these lines that were traditionally drawn, where you just select the drop-down in your industry or set up your, consulting practice by verticals, isn’t as relevant as it used to be because everybody’s looking for opportunities in other places.

Rohit Bhargava: Along with that you’ve got a business model flux. So cars being available by subscription now, like all of these auto manufacturers are saying, look, you can just subscribe to our cars and you don’t have to buy them. You don’t have to own them. The nature of ownership itself is starting to change. We see a lot of examples of that where people are saying, ‘Look, why do I need to buy this thing? I’ll just rent it and use it whenever I need to use it’. And the sharing economy is been a big part of that as well. And so all of these are also examples of just this flux, of commerce. And so it’s no longer just this, the idea that you make a product, you sell a product, people buy the product, and that’s it. Now you have all of these other examples like Patagonia and going off and creating their whole worn wear movement saying, Hey, don’t buy the new product. Like fix the old one and keep using it because we don’t want this stuff to end up in landfills. Like that whole movement is just so fascinating. And that’s what I tried to write with this trend.

Career Nation: Oh, totally. This is so fascinating because it touches us in so many different ways through all of these different companies and quite frankly, all of us as consumers and customers are contributing to some of those trends as well. with our evolving, tastes as well as evolving values. You know, I’m shifting gears a little bit, Rohit, you know, in one of your prior books, Likeonomics, you talked a bit about earning trust. And, in the business world we see this term tossed around a lot, like becoming a trusted advisor to your customers or stakeholders. For example, salespeople are super interested in making sure that they become the trusted advisor for their customer accounts, for example. Right? And so this is something that many leaders aspire to be. They want to be the trusted advisor. Can you share, maybe an approach, maybe a way to developing that trust and becoming a trusted advisor?

Rohit Bhargava: Yeah, I mean, to me there’s many keys to it. I mean, one is a proactive honesty. Which is sharing something you didn’t have to share. And so you imagine, I mean, this is a pretty simplistic example, but imagine going to a restaurant and you’ve got a waiter there and you’ve got two different waiters, right? And the first waiter, you say, Hey, you know, I haven’t been here before. What’s good here? And waiter number one says, Oh, everything’s great. You can’t go wrong. And then you have the second waiter, Hey, what’s good here? And the waiter says, well, you know, if you’re really hungry, you might want this. The thing that I get the most complaints about, like, nobody likes this dish, so definitely don’t order that. I’m the one that I get if I ever get to eat here and they let me have whatever I want, that’s what I get.

Rohit Bhargava: And the most flavor is this one. And like, you know, he tells you something that is useful. That’s the guy that you trust. Because he’s not the everything’s-good-here guy. He’s the this-is-good-this-isn’t-good guy. And because he’s sharing with you what’s good and what isn’t, and because he’s being proactively honest, he builds trust. And I think that same lesson is something we can use, whether we’re in a leadership role or a sales role or we’re just trying to engage with somebody who we don’t have a level of understanding or trust with yet at all. Because people trust authenticity. And that’s one way to relay authenticity. Right?

Career Nation: Yeah. I love it. Rohit, this is the part of the show where we get to know you a little bit better. And that’s Favorites. So are you ready for a quick fire round of our Favorite’s game?

Rohit Bhargava: I hope so. Lay it on me and we’ll find out.

Career Nation: Awesome. Okay. Let’s start with your favorite app. And you also have to tell us why do you like it.

Rohit Bhargava: So my favorite app is Shazam. And because it is the ultimate in simplicity. You press one button, it listens to the music around you and it tells you what songs playing. And I just love that singular focus of like one big ass button. And that’s what the app does. Like in a world where we have everything doing everything. Like that’s just so beautiful. I love that.

Career Nation: Oh, totally agree. I love Shazam by the way as well. So, beautiful app. And I think Apple just bought it recently. So, it’s part of the…

Rohit Bhargava: – Nobody’s perfect.

Career Nation: – Exactly. All right. let’s go to your favorite quote.

Rohit Bhargava: My favorite quote is one that I actually share in the book and has been a big inspiration for me and it’s from Isaac Asimov, renowned author and many people know him as a science fiction author. But he actually wrote, you know, more than 300 books on so many different topics. I mean, he wrote a guide to the Bible. He wrote a guide to every Shakespearian play ever written. I mean, just amazing amount of work. And what he said one time when people asked him about his appetite for knowledge, as he said, “I’m not a speed reader, I’m a speed understander”. And I love that. Because what it said to me is you don’t have to spend your time trying to consume everything. You have to be more intentional about what you consume in the first place and then focus on understanding, like thinking. Right. And, and I think that we all could do a little more of that.

Career Nation: Yeah. Love it. And I can definitely see there is a tiny in between sort of speed understanding and observing non-obvious trends. Okay, let’s go to the next favorite topic. What’s your favorite book, Rohit?

Rohit Bhargava: So one of the books that really changed how I thought and I have, I mean, just to give you a little like, you know, glimpse like… That’s my book shelf right there.

Rohit Bhargava: So, you know, I have a lot of books. But, just to give you a sense of, one of the books that really inspired me, it’s a book called Einstein’s Dreams by a physicist named Alan Lightman. And it’s almost like a book of poetry. I mean, it’s very short. Every chapters super, you know, super like condensed. And it’s all about what would Einstein have dreamed as he was coming up with his theory of relativity. And so every chapter is basically a different version of time. In one of them time move super slowly, in one of them it accelerates, in one chapter (time) moves backwards. And the whole thing just imagines what it would be like to live in a world where time worked in that way. And it just really got me thinking about, the nature of time and you know, some philosophical ideas, but just kind of useful too. Because it makes you a little more present in the world. And I think that, that’s not always easy to do.

Career Nation: Oh, that is fascinating. I’ll put that on my list. Einstein’s Dreams. Moving on to the next favorite are probably the last question. What’s your favorite restaurant, Rohit?

Rohit Bhargava: So, I think I have a good one here. So for my, almost my whole life, my dad worked at the World Bank before he retired. And at the World Bank in DC, they have a cafeteria. And because it’s the World Bank, what they do is they bring in chefs from many different countries and they have stations for lots of different countries, including like a featured country at various times. And as you go from station to station, it’s just this really authentic international food prepared by a chef who’s generally from that country and they’re all just in one place. And you can have some of this like amazing, authentic, world cuisine in basically a cafeteria sitting where you carry your tray around, you just pick up whatever you want. And I just think that it’s such a cool thing. I used to love going there, to have lunch, whenever I could because it was just such a cool experience. So that’s probably one of my most favorite places.

Career Nation: Oh, that is fascinating. And that gives you sort of a taste of cuisines from all over the world. It’s special. It’s awesome. Now that we know you a little bit better, Rohit, let’s talk about sort of some of your techniques that you’ve applied to your work. Some of your favorite tools, you know, or your approaches. So as you are working on any given day, whether you’re collecting trends or you’re speaking or you’re preparing for a big presentation, tell us some of your secret sauce. Tell us what is your approach? What are some of the tools you use?

Rohit Bhargava: So, I have some online tools, that I use. So I use a Feedly app. I use it, get pocket app, to save stories every week. And so I’m always collecting stories because I’m doing this weekly email, right? And so I’m always looking for stories and interesting things, to talk about there. I’m also very physical with, the things that I save. So I am a big fan of magazines. I love magazines and especially I buy magazines that are not targeted at me. That’s one of the big things that I do. And I tell other people to do that too. Cause if you buy magazines that aren’t for you, like you get to know about a different world, you see different celebrities you’ve never heard of, right? You get to see like, you know, just, just an entirely different view of humanity, than what somebody is interested in. If you pick up one of these magazines and they all have these really niche interests, right? And so I love them because you escape the algorithm when you do that, right? Nothing’s personalized to you. It’s just the magazine you get is the same one I get. And that’s it. Like, you know, you get what you get. And I love that. So I’m an avid consumer of those types of, of information because I find interesting ideas in them and I save them.

Career Nation: Love it. You know, one thought that came to mind as you were talking about sort of picking up content outside of your genre or outside of your domain was this sort of idea of non personalization. And if you look at your any of your feeds online, everything’s personalized. And I see that you are intentionally going out of that and trying to get something outside of your personal domain. And that is, that I think is so powerful because if it’s non-personalized you basically are opening up to so many opportunities that you may not be aware of. And it’s not, it’s maybe partly serendipity, but it’s partly also sort of getting exposure to other views, other perspectives, other domain areas. And who knows, those might result in new opportunities.

Rohit Bhargava: Yeah. You know, I think that never before has that been more important to do. Because I mean we’re living in a time, I think the first time in human history where, it’s possible to be more informed and more narrow-minded at the same time. Because you just read the same things that you agree with over and over. And we find it hard to avoid doing that because that’s what’s served up to us, right, by the algorithms. And a lot of people don’t realize, I mean, you have a pretty savvy audience, so everybody listening here probably knows. But when I search for something on Google and when you search for something on Google, we don’t see the same results. Because they’re tailored to us based on what Google thinks we want to see. And to some degree, I think that explains a lot of the, misunderstanding and anger in the world.

Rohit Bhargava: Because a lot of times people think, ‘Well, if you’re seeing the same stuff I’m seeing and you have a different conclusion about how the world works, then you must be stupid. What’s wrong with you?’ And actually you’re not seeing the same thing. Like we’re seeing totally different things and we’re concluding how the world works based on that. And I think people don’t appreciate that often enough. And so they just look at somebody who doesn’t think the way they think and they dismiss them as idiotic when actually they’re thinking the way they think because of what they see. Because of what they read. And that’s totally different than what you’re seeing and what you’re reading.

Career Nation: I love that. And that cuts across so many different things, right? Politics, business, technology. Unbelievable. I love that sort of non personalization. Maybe it becomes a mega trend down the road.

Rohit Bhargava: Yeah. I think we need that. Maybe I should just kind of focus something just on that. That might not be a bad idea.

Career Nation: Love it. Rohit, you know, you’ve been such a great sport here, sharing your advice and your time. As we wrap up here, what is your advice for Career Nation show? You know, our audience who is super interested in developing their careers, developing themselves as successful leaders?

Rohit Bhargava: You know, I think the one thing I will tell you about my career, having been in the corporate world for about 15 years before I left to become an entrepreneur for the last five is if you can see the things that nobody else sees by consuming the information that they don’t, you can make yourself indispensable because what ends up happening is you end up having better, bigger ideas. And whether you consider yourself a creative person or not, being the one who comes up with those things and thinks in that way becomes a personal brand. You know, it becomes the thing that you’re known for. And for me, that has really paid off because there was a point when I was working in one of my ad agencies where no one would ever have a brainstorm without inviting me. Because they knew that I would come up with great ideas. And it wasn’t because I was the smartest person, but it was because I was paying attention to things that nobody else was. And I was reading the things that nobody else was. And you know, I wasn’t spending like years and years doing it right? But I was consistently doing it as a habit and that really paid off.

Career Nation: Yeah. I love that. great advice to wrap up here. Rohit, thank you so much for your time. It’s been a pleasure and thank you for the great advice. And we will put, your links to the book in the show notes and we hope to talk to you again in the future.

Rohit Bhargava: Yeah, me too. Thank you.

Rohit Bhargava: Take care.

Blog, Career Nation Show, Career strategy

Episode 14: Career Nation show with Charlie Gilkey

“We didn’t commit as much as we could have because we were afraid of what might happen if we win. What are our notions of success that keeps us from doing meaningful work and making the change? We’ve talked enough about the fear of failure. Let’s talk about the fear of success.”, says Charlie Gilkey in episode 14 of Career Nation Show.

Charlie Gilkey is a US army veteran, business growth strategist, author, speaker, and entrepreneur.

Here are some highlights from this episode:

+ Why smart people struggle and give up halfway?

+ Why shouldn’t you consider thrashing as bad?

+ The downside and fear of success

+ How to create space for our special projects?

+ How to find the balance between your professional and personal relationships?

+ How to tell your career story?

You can get the copy of Charlie Gilkey’s best selling book, Start Finishing, from here: https://amzn.to/2RiNEUx

Career Nation:
Hey Career Nation, welcome back to the Career Nation show. Today, we have a treat. Today we have a special guest who is a great creator. He’s an army veteran. He’s an entrepreneur. And now the bestselling author of a brand new book, ‘Start Finishing’. Please welcome to the show, Charlie Gilkey. Charlie, welcome to the show.

Charlie Gilkey:
Abhijeet, I’m so pumped to be here. Thanks for having me.

Career Nation:
Oh, the pleasure’s all mine. Charlie, for those in the audience who don’t know much about you, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Charlie Gilkey:
So, as you mentioned, I am a pretty prolific creator. I’m a blogger, I’m an author, I’ve got a podcast, I’m a, you know, speaker. So basically if there’s a way to get ideas out there in the world, I’ve experimented with it and I’ve tried it and I’ve probably got some, content trail that represents that. You know, I started productive flourishing, which is whereof all my work kind of goes to. I don’t do well having multiple brands. I started this in 2007, and at the time I was an army logistics officer. So I was army joint force military logistics coordinator, which means I was making sure the Army, Air Force, and Navy or dropping equipment where they needed to and getting it picked up and you know, taking it where it needed to go. And you would think that would be a well old machine. And it is because people like me are doing that oiling all the time. It’s not nearly as automated as you might think. And I was also completing my Ph.D. in philosophy. So I’m an Ethicist and social philosopher. And I had recently returned from

Charlie Gilkey:
operation Iraqi Freedom. And you know, it sounds so sophomore to say like, this too when I say it now, but at the time I was like, ‘Man, I just got to get my stuff together. I’m not getting it done. You know, I’m not being able to finish these papers and I’m not quite the person I want to be’. And so I started doing some research, like a good scholar and a good officer does. And says, you know what, I’m not the only person with this problem. What are people doing? And I started doing a lot of researching and synthesizing and that’s actually what became productive, flourishing. And so for the last 10-12 years, it’s really been focused on how we in the creative class can focus on finishing the work that matters most to us. And oh, by the way, the work of our lives is just as important is the work of our careers. So that’s really a background on what I do. So throughout this interview, I might go different directions. There might be some military voice, it might be some philosophy voice. But it really is that like that focus on how do we become the best people we can, that we can be in. Largely that’s through finishing projects that really, really matter.

Career Nation:
Well, there are so many nuggets there that I would love to unpack, Charlie. The, you know, the one thing that sort of, caught my eye was sort of your, background about the sort of, helping with logistics and operations and sort of getting to sort of execution and getting it done. And so that’s been sort of that recurrent team. And, is that what sort of inspired you to write a book about productivity or are there other factors or different factors that led you to write a book on productivity? Tell us some background on that.

Charlie Gilkey:
Well it is, you know, the blog started, the, my work started with productivity. And actually start finishing as my second book, right. My first book is The Small Business Life Cycle, which is really what to expect when you’re expecting for entrepreneurs. And I was involved in so many great conversations with entrepreneurs and executives and leaders and really the change makers of the world. But they all came back to not being able to get it done,, right.

Charlie Gilkey:
And so sometime around 2014, I put a stake in the ground and I was like, ‘Look, I know we want to talk about these big ideas. I know we want to talk about these great products in the ways we’re going to change the world. But at the end of the day, if you can’t get it done, it’s just all social Sodoku. Which is all playing this big game. It feels good when we’re playing, but nothing changes in the world’. And so I wrote Start Finishing to be that foundational piece so that we can get that, the base of ability and competence and mindset around getting this stuff done. And then we can layer on top of that. Yes, we’re building businesses. Yes, we’re building careers. Yes, we’re building products. Yes, we’re changing the world. But we know how to do that. And so for me, the conversations at a certain point felt really hollow and really purposeless because I’m like, at the end of the day, tomorrow you’re going to be stuck with the same problems that you had before we started talking. So let’s address those problems and move forward.

Career Nation:
And Charlie, when you, when you talk about sort of, you know, going over the finish lines, finishing things, execution is, is this sort of productivity thing, et cetera to you, is this a muscle that all of us should develop and hone and, you know, build over a period of time? Or do you think it is just sort of a, just sort of another skill, that you may need to know and you may have some competencies but you may not need to exercise it every time? What’s your philosophy around, is this a muscle? Should I build it every day and you know, that sort of thing?

Charlie Gilkey:
Yeah, I would probably push it as more is a lot. Not that it’s a muscle, it’s like the skeleton. It’s one of those core skills that I don’t think any of us get out of learning. Right? And, you know, we, no matter, you know, we might be a great product designer. We may not need to know, you know, management finance. Like that can be a periphery sort of skill. But this skill is a universal one that we all need to learn. Because especially for the creative class, our livelihood depends on taking ideas and converting them into market value. Right? if you’re not able to do that or you’re not able to do that, well you don’t have a roof over your head. You won’t have the career advancement that you want. You won’t be able to take care of your family. So it is very much a core skill. I won’t say it’s ‘the’ core skill because there are a lot of, you know, there might be three to five clusters of core skills, but it’s one of those.

Charlie Gilkey:
And what I furthermore say is we all know, aside from sociological and cultural factors, we all know that the people that are getting the pay that is getting the advancement that is getting team leadership are the people who are able to get stuff done. And the other thing I’ll say here is while Start Finishing is really about personal foundations and personal self-mastery and getting things done, you know, it also incorporates a huge element of collective productivity. And so the book that I’m working on now, it actually goes more that way. But if you can’t get your own stuff done, you can’t lead a team, right? if you can’t focus that team and figure out why they’re not getting stuff done and that team is not going to be successful. So no matter whether you’re like, I’m that visionary, creative and I’m not, I’m not in charge of getting stuff done.

Charlie Gilkey:
Well, there’s still somethings you need to do. You need to be able to articulate a clear vision for people, right? You need to be able to follow up with people and you know, chunk things down. And so Start Finishing really does help people do that and we don’t get away from it.

Career Nation:
Wow, that’s so great because I totally agree with you. There is a foundation within the individual that we need to get our stuff done. That’s a core skill. And then of course as a team, we have to work together to produce those outcomes and results that we want and the value that we want to create. I love it. And it looks like there is probably a Part 2 there somewhere for the book. So I can’t wait. So that’s awesome. And so, you know, one question is always sort of puzzled me. In fact, I’ve struggled with it as well is, there are many smart, ambitious people out there. They have great ideas and they start out on that idea and then somewhere in the middle they either give up or they let the idea languish or they are just not able to get it done and get to the stage where the idea actually goes out to the world. Everybody, you know, takes advantage of whatever they are creating a product or service or what have you. Have you observed that? I’m like what would you recommend? What’s sort of the silver bullet here?

Charlie Gilkey:
Yeah, so here’s the thing. Like some of us thrash… Thrashing is sort of the meta-work that flailing the quote-unquote research, you know, all the work you do on something that doesn’t seem to actually take it anywhere forward. Like, we all thrash at different stages of the product. And you’ve mentioned the middle stage of a project, or excuse me, you mentioned the middle stage of a project. Some of us thrash at the beginning of a project. Like before we actually accept that we’re going to do it, like, are we the right person? Is this the right time? Am I ready? Some people thrash there, some people thrash in the middle when like all of the novelty of the idea and all of the promising idea has crashed into the realities of getting it done and the competing priorities that we all face. Some of us thrash at the end, like at that last 90% where just before we’re about to show someone that’s when all the demons and head trash and all stuff comes up. And then some of us thrash throughout the entire project. Right?

Charlie Gilkey:
And so that’s, we’re just, that’s who we are. Right? But yeah –

Career Nation:
– They’re perpetual thrashers.

Charlie Gilkey:
– We’re perpetual Thrashers. And you know what, one thing that I’ll say about that is, in our society, we’ve made something, we’ve somehow, integrated that thrashing is bad. We’ve all somehow integrated that if you’re struggling with something, if it’s hard, then maybe you shouldn’t be doing it. It’s sort of the perverse talent myth, right? They’d like people who are good at things, it comes easy to them. So, therefore, if you’re struggling with something, it’s not a talent that you have. Maybe you should go find what you’re talented at and stop doing that thing. It’s total BS. But we somehow deeply have integrated that. So when we start thrashing, it’s a clue for a lot of, or many people read it as a sign that something’s wrong, right? Like maybe I’m, you know, maybe this isn’t the right project. Maybe I’m going about this the wrong way. Maybe you know, maybe there’s some other way out there that I need to go research for the next six months to figure out how to do that. As opposed to just saying like, no, thrashing is a part of any project that matters. And think about it this way. We don’t thrash about taking the trash out or doing the dishes or doing the laundry or going to get groceries. We either do it or don’t do it. We might procrastinate, but we don’t have that many existential crises of am I in the right place? And we only do that with things that really matter to us. Right? You start thinking about getting a new job or doing a major new career initiative or starting a business or getting married or you know, moving across the nation or you know, becoming the next bat. All of those things will get you to thrash. And so my point here is that I want people to recognize thrashing as a sign that you’re doing something that matters to you. And two, it’s not a sign that you’re not capable of doing it, it’s just that you’re having to rise to a different type of challenge. And maybe it’s the exact type of challenge that you need to rise to.

Career Nation:
And Charlie, you mentioned this in the book, which is when the goal or the objective is very important to us, we develop more of this thrashing and we develop sort of the symptoms and why is it, why does that happen? Why is it like if there’s something that’s so special to us, so important and we feel like we have all of these thoughts and doubts in our minds and other things going on. That sort of moves us away. What, why does that happen?

Charlie Gilkey:
Two simple reasons. There are a lot of reasons but two sorts of generic reasons. One is we’re afraid of failure. And if we fail on these things that really matter to us, as we make it about our identity. It’s not just some random thing that we are doing that we didn’t do good at, right? It’s who we are as a person. So I’m going to give an analogy here. And this is, this might resonate with some, but you know, we’re in the age group where most of us have played video games at some point over our time, whether it’s solitaire or whether it’s something else. Like when we play games like that and we fail, we don’t make it a character mistake. We don’t make it, you know, something that says about who we are. We try again, right?

Charlie Gilkey:
It’s like, Oh, that didn’t work. And we can spend entire days in games failing and not make it about our character and not make it about our competency. We just assume we haven’t figured out how to do it yet. But when it comes to our life and our work and when we fail, we don’t have that same, we don’t apply that same freedom. Right? Granted there are social pressures, there are other things that are going on, but more than that, our internal narrative, it can be, I’m not good enough. Right? I don’t know what I’m doing. Maybe this is too much for me. So we tell all those stories about meaningful work that can kind of cripple us. So that’s the obvious thing. Many people know that they’re afraid of fear, that like, the other thing that people don’t recognize that they’re often afraid of is a success.

Charlie Gilkey:
Because if we do this really meaningful work, it might change the status quo of our life. It might change some of the relationships that are around us. It might change relationships with our family, with our partner. It might change the relationship with our coworkers. It might change the relationship with our boss and you know, as much as we like change, we’re really schizophrenia people sometimes and that we want to change, but we also like, like things to stay as they are. And so, sometimes that fear of success and how it might change and some of the no wins scenarios we’ll tell ourselves about success such as, you know if I’m successful then I’ll wreck the relationships around me. If I’m successful, then I’ve somehow sold or sold out or become a less, moral or ethical person, or less, you know, valuable person.

Charlie Gilkey:
Or if I succeed, then, I’ll set a bar so high for myself that I, I won’t be able to live up to it again. And then I’ll always be like, I’ll be crestfallen. And then the fourth one is, if I succeed, it’s gonna come at the cost of my health and sanity and spiritual wellbeing, right? So as long as we have those no-win scenarios around success when it comes to our meaningful work, it’s obvious why we can get stuck in the middle and right as soon as we’re about to start approaching success, we’ll start self-sabotaging, we’ll throw in the way or we’ll switch to an easier project that allows us to stay in this emotionally safe space of gray mediocrity where we’re neither really winning nor losing. Because, you know, we don’t want to lose and fail. That’s just a normal human. But we also don’t want what we perceive as the cost or the downsides of success.

Charlie Gilkey:
So we just shoot for that middle and on a weekly basis, on a monthly basis, that seems to be the right call. But when we look back over the course of a year or five years or a decade, what we regret is that we didn’t play as big as we could have. And we didn’t commit as much as we could have because we were afraid of what might happen if we win. So that’s the story that I want us to have this more about is what, what are our notions of success that keeps us from doing the meaningful work and doing the change, making work. Because we talked enough about the fear of failure. Let’s talk about the fear of success.

Career Nation:
Yeah, totally. And, what you just said is so fascinating. Which is fear of failure, which is sort of the more commonly known fear and then the fear of success? That is fascinating. And you’re so right about living in that gray zone in the middle for too long. It feels comfortable, but it actually is not productive and doesn’t get you to where you should be playing. And let me ask a followup on that and that’s sort of around prioritization and a lot of folks in our audience who are in tech and sort of other sorts of fields, they are always full of ideas. And, what in your mind would be sort of a way to prioritize. Because, I used to be a product manager and as the product manager I would think, the highest economic value gets is basically the number one priority for me in terms of my ideas that I would like to implement as a personal project. Or maybe there are some other criteria there, but what would you recommend as a sort of, an approach to prioritizing a lot of great ideas?

Charlie Gilkey:
Yeah. So you mentioned one of them obviously is what’s going to give you the biggest economic Pat. But I want to pause here because I’ve been talking and I sort of set it up in the beginning, but I want to slide this in cause it’s important. We over-focus on the economic work of our life and deprioritize the work, or excuse me, the career and economic work and we deprioritize the work of our lives. Okay. And try to find space and time in the leftovers of our economic work except for we overcommit on the economic and career side of things so that we’re overfull there and there’s just no space for our life to be fit into. And so throughout this conversation, when I say work when I say the project, there’s no necessary difference between economic work and the work of our lives.

Charlie Gilkey:
So you know, a project is anything that takes time, energy and attention. And when you really understand that, what we see is that there are a lot of things that we’re doing in our day to day lives that actually project that we’re not making space for, we’re not getting. So any of those hobbies that you have, trips, relationship, community, all of those things actually end up being projects that don’t get prioritized. They don’t get plans, they don’t get scheduled and they don’t get done. Okay. So I’m just going to put that out there ’cause that’s one of the things that I would have people be thinking about in this, in this broader macro prioritization is what are both the projects of your career? And what are the projects of your life that you need to be sorting between and making sure that their space, their space for both in accordance with what your values are?

Charlie Gilkey:
So if you’re a career person and that’s just how you set up the meaning of your life, I’m not judging that. You’re going to place more weight on career projects and less weight on personal projects. And that’s okay. You just got to know that, that regret, that frustration, that exasperations you may have about not getting projects, personal projects, done are consequences of the ways that you’ve set up your life, right? You may decide that, you know, maybe career is not as important and you’re going to prioritize the personal aspects of your life and you have to be okay with the consequence that you may not have quite the career advancement. You may not make the money, you may not have quite the stellar career as someone who’s focused on that. Now, there’s a lot of freedom in that because you get to choose, right?

Charlie Gilkey:
But you don’t get to choose to do one thing and expect to get the outcome of a different choice. Right? So don’t be mad about results you didn’t get from work you didn’t do. So I’m going to kind of set that up. So to your actual question though. What’s going to provide the biggest economic payout is a great one. The second one is what’s in this. this is from the book The One Thing. I think it’s by Keller. I’m looking at it here. So, yeah, Keller and Papasan. What project, if done, would set your life or your career up, in the most important way, right? And so it may not be that it’s an economic project, so it might be that you could create this project, you could create this product that has a huge economic payout. But it could also be that you focus on building a team that is able to create products like that in, you know, in a workflow or in a chain that’s far better than what you would be able to do if you just focused on the economic project.

Charlie Gilkey:
Right? But I talk a lot about the project world. And the project world is basically the idea that our life is divided into coherent three to five-year chunks. And I’m going to focus on right these both. On the life side and our personal relationships people change every three to five years, our life changes, you know, kids grow up, siblings’ age, parents age, we age, we get in and out of relationships. In every three to five years, there’s some sort of,

Career Nation:
– By the way, you don’t seem to age at all, Charlie, but keep going.

Charlie Gilkey:
– I appreciate that. There seems to be something that changes in their life that there’s a new sort of macro project. And in our careers we take new jobs, we get new positions, you know, we change, we pivot our business, like all sorts of things happen. So every three to five years, a chance to be a significant Metro project.

Charlie Gilkey:
And I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, but when I was, you know, doing the research for the book, I figured out the Stewart Brand who’s like the Renaissance, he’s like the Renaissance soul par excellence of our age, right? And so he sort of said something similar, which is significant projects take at least five years to see through. So, what you can do is take you, you know, take your age, subtract it from 85 and divide by five. That’s the number of significant projects you have remaining in your life. And so another way to prioritize projects is, is this the main thing that you’re working on? Is it worthy of one of those remaining five or one of those remaining projects? So for me, I’m cresting 40. So that means I have about nine major projects remaining in my life that I could do.

Charlie Gilkey:
Okay. And so when I’m working on, you know, if I decide to work on the next book I’m in essence deciding that that’s taking one of those projects lots at the rate that I write books, right? if I start a new business, if I joined a new board, if I do any of those types of things, I’m always assessing, is this one of, is this worthy of one of those nine slots? And it doesn’t have to be about money, right? It can be about the legacy that I’m leaving. It can be about the impact that I’m wanting to make in the world. It can be about the way that I want to be in the world as opposed to the things that I want to do in the world. So there are different ways of sauteing that, but I find that people, you know and on one hand, it can feel like the earth is sitting on your chest when you realize you have a limited number of significant projects.

Charlie Gilkey:
It’s like, Oh, what do I do with that? But once you accept that constraint, it really does help prioritize the major projects that you’re working on and how that feeds into this broader story of your life. The last thing that I’ll say here is, work on the project that would pain you the most to let go of. And so sometimes when I’m working with clients, you know, like I’ve got all these ideas and it’s like, okay, what are they? And now I list them. They’ll list of bunches like, so imagine I’m reaching for one of those and if I grab onto it, you’ll never be able to do it again for the rest of your life. Which one causes the most pain? When I start reaching towards the most creative folks, they know, like when I get closer to them and they get super mad, right?

Charlie Gilkey:
Like not that one. Right? And it’s like, okay, that’s an important sign because here’s the thing, if you don’t choose to do that, time is going to take it away from you, right? If you don’t choose to do that project, it won’t be Charlie and his thought experiment, it will be time that comes and says, you know what, five years have passed. You lost that one, right? You lost some of your projects every five years, every seven years. You know, we can quibble about whether it’s three years or five years or seven years, but there’s a certain amount of time that we have for these significant projects. And so that last exercise can really grip people because once you know that, like you feel that tug and that pain want to start grabbing forward, that’s a sign start going towards it because if you don’t, time is going to take it from you.

Career Nation:
You’re so right. I mean, for a lot of people the pain of loss is higher than the pain of gain and that’s such a beautiful thought experiment. I would actually love to do that for some of my clients who are currently struggling with multiple priorities and projects. And let’s say, you know, we go through that thought process and we arrive at the project that this is our project that we want to do. And let’s say I am actually going through the motion and sort of planning for it, et cetera. And you mentioned this in the book, which is sort of creative space for your project. Like how in this world full of distractions devices, how can one go about making space for that special project? Because of the demands of other people’s time on us are always there. The devices are always going off and notifications. So how do we create space for that special project?

Charlie Gilkey:
You know, I love that because there are lots of different ways to take this conversation, but there’s a really simple way to address it. it all comes down to what I call focus blocks, which are 90 to 120-minute blocks of time where you can focus on a project, right? And you know, for creative projects, you know what, what that means. Like you have to be in that sort of work zone of coding or designing or writing or whatever that is. But it can also be, you know, if you need to clean out your garage like there’s a certain amount of time it takes to really get into that and figure out what’s going on. So it’s just focusing on that project. Now I can talk later on about how to firewall a focus project, but the fact of the matter is if you don’t have any available focus blocks for a project, you’re not going to move that project forward.

Charlie Gilkey:
Right? And a general rule that I would tell people is three focus blocks per week per project. If you can’t carve out 90 to 120 minutes of dedicated time to work on that project, you’re simply not going to move it forward. It’s not about your procrastination, it’s not about your capabilities, it’s not about your, you know, any of that sort of stuff. It’s simply you don’t have the type of time you need to move it forward. So step one, when we start talking about making space is look at your schedule and be realistic about where you can create those focused, you know, those focus blocks and where you can’t. And if you see that work and you see that the other commitments of your life are eating all of the time that you have for focus blocks, what we have to have the conversation about is like one of two things is happening.

Charlie Gilkey:
One is your life and your work is basically in alignment with your priorities. So we don’t need to change anything. Or your work in your life or out of alignment with your priorities, which means we need to change something, right? And you know, there’s what I’m trying to do here and, and you probably see it, Abhijeet is that I’m trying to take that pain and that frustration and that sort of, creative constipation that we can often have. And I’m trying to put that at the beginning of our decision-making process rather than spreading it out and diffusing it over weeks and quarters and months and years. Right? I would rather say Abhijeet, look, I know you want to do these projects, but this is your life right now either accept that your life is in accordance with how you want to live your values and your priorities.

Charlie Gilkey:
Or we have to start making some changes in that change may be uncomfortable. It may invoke some thrashing and may be difficult, but you can’t continue to do what you’re doing because you’re going to get to the same result. So that’s the first thing that I’ll say. And it’s like if you can’t carve out those focus blocks, you’re not going to be able to do the project. Now I say three focus blocks per week because that gives you some momentum on that project, right? You may be in your life where you’re like, I can only do one. I can only do one focus block a week. And I’m like, great, do that one focus block, make some progress. But again, don’t fall into comparisonitis and despair when you’re looking at your buddy that has allocated five focus blocks for their project and you’ve allocated one like you’re not, they’re going to be cumulatively outrunning you, right?

Charlie Gilkey:
And it’s not just that they’re going to be running five times faster, it’s five times plus some compounding interest of their momentum. They’re just going to be outrunning you. And that has nothing to do about them being better than you, is smarter than you, having their stuff figured out. It’s just the amount of time that they’re putting into the gym that we call life, right? If you don’t have that much time, you’re not going to get the results. And again, that can be really frustrating. But I’d rather us be frustrated about the reality of things and be able to assess it the way things are than to create stories about ourselves, about we’re not good planners, we’re not good executors we’re procrastinators. We don’t know what we’re doing. Cause that’s our default is like not looking at the situation and seeing that it is, but telling stories about ourselves and ultimately handicappers.

Career Nation:
Yeah, you’re so right. Sorry to jump in there. But I think that sort of creates sort of a negative spiral for a lot of people, which is I’m not good enough. I can’t do this. And then basically it reinforces negative behavior, negative thoughts, et cetera. You touched upon not touch upon actually you go through this concept of Gates in the book, which I found so fascinating. Tell us a little bit about that.

Charlie Gilkey:
Yeah. So Gates are your genius Affinity’s talents, expertise, and strengths. And I know that each means something different, but I really want it to be like that special sauce that you, that you uniquely have that enables you to do things. And they’re not always what would go on like your resume or go on your professional skills. So you might have a gate of curating music, right? Or you know, being able to organize spreadsheets or you know, being able to a party that’s a totally, you know, one of your Gates, but you may not list that on there.

Charlie Gilkey:
But what we do Abhijeet, is we pick a goal, we see common ways that people go about those goals. And we pick one of those common ways and then we jump into the project about the middle of the project. We figured out it’s super hard, right to do. What I want people to do is when they’re thinking about their goal, just start thinking about their Gates and say, Hey, how can I leverage what I’m great at? What’s native for me to get this goal done? This might mean you have a completely different pathway than the common way of getting there, but you know what, that pathway will work for you. So I’ll give an example here. To someone, I’ve given a book. I had a reader reach out to me. His name was, he’s Ernie. That’s not his real name, but we’ll call him Ernie.

Charlie Gilkey:
So Ernie reached out to me and he’s like, Charlie, I want to grow my blog. I’m terrible at writing. I don’t like writing. I’m good at you to know, conversations and video, but I want to grow my written blog. So what should I do to grow my written blog? And I was like, am I being punked here? Like, am I being trolled? Because in his, in his email, he had basically, he had already said, well, what the problem was like. And so I responded back, I was like, Ernie, don’t grow a written blog. Like, that’s not your goal. Your goal is to actually develop a platform and you know, build a business or do something like that. A blog is a pathway for doing that. You don’t like writing, you’re not good at it. You don’t want to do it. Right? Pick the things that you’re great at.

Charlie Gilkey:
Start a podcast, start a video-blogs. Like, use those skills to get to that goal. And when I say it, it sounds simple like duh. But I think most of the time when I say people can go back over the last two weeks and think about something they’ve done, the hard slash conventional away. And thinking about how they could have done it if they really would have used one of their geniuses Affinity’s talents, expertise or strengths to get that thing done. So, and the other thing that I’ll say is a lot of our Gates are actually collaborative and social. but we don’t use them because we have, head trash and negative stories around asking for help. And so because we glorify that sort of self-made person and we glorify that person that’s like doing it all by themselves, that becomes our model.

Charlie Gilkey:
And so we’ll go and we’ll struggle and we’ll thrash and we’ll push as hard as we can before we have to ask for help. Because we don’t want to owe anyone, we don’t want to show that we’re less than. And we want to credit them for doing it by ourselves. Right. And so what I would also remind people is that pulling people into your project earlier on and really working them in is the joyful, rich, and faster way usually to get things done. But you have to sort of front-load that. You don’t have to crawl through the desert of that project or you’re like, I’m gonna make it. And then right as you’re about to run out of the water, you’re like, help please, right. You don’t have to do that. You can ask for help from the beginning. And that helps sets up very natural and organic, accountability with a group of people that you are in that actually gives a lot of momentum and fuel for the project.

Career Nation:
Yeah. That is so true. In fact, one of my mentors tells me that, about this med of self-made person and basically he said, there is no one here that is self-made period, end of story. And, you’re so right about finding out what those Gates are, what are those areas of your genius, affinity, et cetera. And then, figuring that out and then moving back into your project and making sure that you are taking others along. And, you know, there are so many tools in the book that I would love to double click into, but before that, we do want to know you a little bit better. So if you’re a game, we would love to play the favorites game with you.


Let’s do it. You know that I may have to give you three favorites, but I’ll do my best to give you the one favorite. Yes. You’re allowed to cheat, allowed to cheat it just a little bit, Charlie. Okay. Charlie, do you have a favorite app?

Charlie Gilkey:
At this point in time? Ulysses, which is a writing app. And what’s great about Ulysses is that it just focuses on the words, and lets me figure it out. Just distractions and get content where it needs to go. So given that writing is what I do, I love it.

Career Nation:
Well, you did not cheat on that when you gave us your favorite app. That’s awesome.

Charlie Gilkey:
I had two or three other there. Don’t do it, Charlie, don’t do it.

Career Nation:
I love it. Do you have a favorite quote that you either like, you have stocked up on your, you know, closet somewhere, it’s on, on your personal note journal? Like do you have a free coat?

Charlie Gilkey:
Yes. And this is from Lao Tzu in the Tao te Ching. And it’s, I’m going to give you, I’ll give this version of it. “He who can conquer the world, I count as strong. He who can conquer himself, I count as truly powerful.”

Career Nation:
Oh, well that is deep. I love it. And I also love that fact because knowing yourself is such a liberating and powerful thing at the same time and it really allows you to go out and start finishing things. Wonderful. Do you have a favorite book?

Charlie Gilkey:
Ooh, now this gets trickier. By process of what gets quoted the most, it’s probably the Tao te Ching. And so as the book I’d just referenced, but it wouldn’t be the one that, you know, I have a small list of books that I would take to an Island. Like if I got, if I was to cast away and I got to pick five books, I could not have Tao te Ching there. So yeah, I would say that one.

Career Nation:
Wonderful. And I know you’re in wonderful Oregon. Do you have a favorite restaurant?

Charlie Gilkey:
So again, going with Gandhi’s action expresses priority, it would probably be Hopworks Urban Brewery, which my wife and I eat at probably twice a week for different choices that they have there. So yeah.

Career Nation:
Is there a favorite brewery as well over there?

Charlie Gilkey:
I love their, help cider. I’m a hard cider guy. And so their cider is really great too.

Career Nation:
Very cool. We’ll check that out. I don’t know if you get that here in Northern California, but we’ll see.

Charlie Gilkey:
You down. It’s a local company.

Career Nation:
Got it. So Charlie, thank you for that. And why don’t we shift gears back into the topic of the book and, I really wanted to ask you this, which is what would be sort of the top three ideas that you would share from the book that have for you personally stood out as like, Hey, if I want anybody to read this book and take these three things away, these would be it.

Charlie Gilkey:
Okay. So, yeah. Great. So the first one would be the idea of success packs. And I’ve alluded to collective productivity throughout our conversations. But your success packs are the group of ‘Yeah-Sayers’ that you put around your projects that help you do that near. Four different types of people you put in there.

Charlie Gilkey:
I can go, we can double click down into this and if you want to, but success packs and definitely the idea of, what’s important about success packs is one, you recruit them before you have a plan. And that’s counterintuitive for a lot of people, right? But they help you make a better plan and success packs help you convert how problems into who solutions. Right? So whenever you don’t know something, it’s not, I got to go figure it out. It’s like who do I ask? Oh, and are already part of my team. So success packs as a major one. The second one will be the five project rule, which the long way of saying that it is no more than five active projects per time perspective. And so both to explain that the time perspective is the easiest gateway into there. So we all know, I think intuitively the difference between a week sized project, a month sized project, a quarter-sized project and a year sized project.

Charlie Gilkey:
And we also know that the higher up you go in those time perspectives, the more those projects contain smaller projects at the time perspective over them. So how this gets really useful is that when you’re doing your weekly planning, you can say, okay, what are the five projects that I want to make the most progress on and or finish? And you can just focus in that time perspective. The trick here is that our brains don’t do well with different time perspectives at the same time. Right? It’s like the analogy is trying to think about the size of an ant, the size of a basketball and the size of the United States at the same time. Our brains can’t do it. Right. But when we start making plans and when I look at people’s to-do list, I can tell, Abhijeet, cause I’ll look at their to-do list.

Charlie Gilkey:
There might be 10 items on there and two of them are sort of like month size projects and you know, three of them might be week size projects and then there’ll be something that will take them a day and then there’ll be a bunch of tasks. And because I can see it, my brain goes haywire cause I’m like what’s going on here? But their brain is going haywire too. They just don’t know it. So the five projects rule really helps you focus for that time perspective, prioritize, do just in time planning and get those things done and see how they build towards the future that you want. So that would be one. The third key concept, I believe we’ve already talked about, but it would be to use your Gates more. So I struggle with the third one cause it’s either Gates or the no in scenarios that I talked about because again, so many people don’t realize that they’re actually afraid of success.

Charlie Gilkey:
And no matter what your plan is, no matter how much you put to it, if fundamentally you’re afraid of success, you’re not going to be as successful as you would otherwise be, cause you’re always gonna pull back and leave some in the tank. So that’s, I sort of asked like between Gates and no one’s scenario. So I’m going to cheat and say four. There we go.

Career Nation:
I love it. That’s such a great summary. you know, there was another concept that a really personally liked in the book that was around momentum planning. And, you know, momentum is fun. You, it’s hard to tell when you have it, but when you haven’t, you know, you know you have momentum, you’re making progress. How do we achieve momentum? How can we actually make it happen and sort of taking that from sort of this abstract view to him in a manifestation of that in our project, in our lives to make progress?

Charlie Gilkey:
Yeah. So one way to understand how to recognize momentum is the degree to which you need to scaffold and structure the work itself versus just being able to do the work, right? So when we’re really in a group, when we’re really in momentum, there’s not a lot of thinking about the work. There’s much more doing the work. but those projects that you pick up once every two weeks and you work on a little bit and you put it back down and you pick it up and you put it back down, you don’t get much momentum on there and you know it because every time you pick it up you’re like, where was I? What do I need to do? Like, well, that’s just going to look like the finish. And so, really a lot of the work. So there are different ways to think about this, but one of the reasons the five projects, rule is so important is because it actually does help you focus on momentum.

Charlie Gilkey:
Because what we have to remember is it’s not how many projects we start that really matters. It’s how many we finish, right? And so I want us to change our conversations from I’m doing all of these projects, to I’m finishing these four projects, right? And they’re leading to other projects. And you know, so what I will say is if you don’t have momentum right now and you’re really trying to get it, focus on the time perspective where you do feel like you have good control over. So like if you’re the weekly master and you can get weekly momentum done, that’s great. Use that to start focusing on month sized momentum and being able to tie months together if you’re good at months, work on growing into the quarter size because the quarter sized projects tend to be. That will have changed for so many of us, right?

Charlie Gilkey:
Because most of the significant projects we’ll do, one span over, you know, three to five years. But we have to sustain focused on chunks of those projects over quarters and tie those quarters together. So when you get to mastering that quarter, which is why there’s so many books like the 12 week year and the 90-day plans and everything revolves around the corner. Cause we recognize that is probably the biggest chunk of time that most of us can coherently plan and have that plan to be realistic. And it’s the one that someone gave us to falter on. So, that’s what I would say to like really focus on limit them starts with where you already sort of feel that it might be daily momentum. I’m not judging right. If you can master the day, great. Start, you know, working on the week, but don’t try to go from the day to the year cause that’s going to be super frustrating and you’re probably not going to be able to do it. To expand that, that circle of mastery, up to different perspectives of time. Was I clear on that one?

Career Nation:
Oh, it was. And it was sort of like this Jedi trick to get into momentum mode. I love it. you know, I do have a tactical question real quick on that one, which is sort of how do we say no and you know, yeah, I could have five projects. I could have a weekly week project or a month project, et cetera. You know, one of the things that always comes up and because you know, I’m usually well-networked and there’s always, requests coming my way and I think I’m a nice person. I don’t want to say no. And so how do you defend your sort of this momentum from external factors and how do you at the same time maintain a great network, maintain those professional and personal relationships that you value so much?

Charlie Gilkey:
So a few things. One, start from the perspective that you don’t have to defend it, right? In the sense that like you are charting your own sort of project destiny, right? And if people take you off that project, destiny, it’s because you allow them, right? And so I think and the reason I start this, cause I think so many of us start with our default is yes. Unless we can say no, right? So I’m trying to change it so that our default is no unless it makes sense to say yes. Right? And that seems to be a subtle shift, but it’s a really powerful one. Because it enables you to use some habitual triggers. Like the first thing that I would say to you Abhijeet on that one is going on a no diet in the sense of when someone asks you to do something, your response is first no.

Charlie Gilkey:
Because I think that’s going to be a bridge too far for you. But it’s, let me check my schedule and my project deck to see when I can do this. That will give you just enough time to interrupt that, tendency to say yes and that tendency to over-commit. And if you actually look at your schedule when you actually look at your project deck and decide that this request, like, is one of those things you want to do, then absolutely say yes. And the other thing that I’ll say is, and it’s going to sound pretty simple and obvious, but make sure that your schedule accounts for the open time that you may need to say yes to people. And so if you are an especially gregarious person and you say yes to a lot of things, you know, in that five projects rule, you might only let yourself choose four of those projects because you know there’s always going to be space taken by the other ways you’re going to say yes.

Charlie Gilkey:
But what that means is again, Jedi mind trick here, that project slot that you opened up is community projects, right? You’re just making space to support your community. And I think that’s a great thing to do if that’s in accordance with your priorities and values. And, and, and, and don’t assume you get to be heavily involved in a bunch of other people’s projects and priorities and you know, the stuff that they’re doing and get to do your full load of projects at the same time because that’s where you’re going to end up being in that self-defeating perspective or self-defeating position where you say yes too much and then you’re the person that can’t honor his or her commitments. And or not get your stuff done. And it starts to be where you will resent the very people that you’re saying yes to. Because they’re, you know, they’re keeping you from doing the things that you want to do.

Charlie Gilkey:
And so it completely corrupts that energy. And so, far, far better to say fewer yeses. But be able to really lean into those and follow through those yeses. Then to say way too many yeses that you can’t live up to. And that keeps you from doing the work that you’re most, here or most I’m here to do are most called to do. Does that help?

Career Nation:
Oh yeah, absolutely. I love those hacks. I love that shift from a default yes and maybe no to a default bell and then maybe yes. And also love sort of, Hey, let me check my schedule because that allows you a little bit of a buffer to make sure you’re providing the right response. I love it. Are there, so this is sort of a general question as zooming up a little bit. Are there hacks like that, that Charlie has in his toolbox that has not made way into the book? And, are there things that you, you do, maybe it’s your morning routine, maybe it’s your, the way you prepare for, I don’t know, a big meeting. I don’t know. Like, are there hacks like that that you have or that you’d like to share?

Charlie Gilkey:
Hacks! Let’s say very tactical ones in that way. Some of them are going to sound like a sort of general productivity advice, like every day I spend at least 15 minutes cleaning up my office. I’m preparing for the next day. Right? I don’t do well when I have a bunch of papers and stacks on my actual desk. They can be somewhere else, but not on my desk. Friday I have a five-things-Friday where I get rid of five things every Friday. Right? And so whether it’s just boxes that or crew or books or whatever it is. Just intentionally getting rid of stuff too, keeps things simpler and more organized. Let’s see. Another thing is that, one of the major hacks that I have, and I wrote about it in the book, you see me look, and it’s not in here. I wrote the book on an alpha smart Neo. Which is, if you give me just a second, I’ll go get it right.

Career Nation:
Yes. Go for it. Oh, this is going to be so fascinating. This is for the first time in the show that the guest has left the screen to go get something. And it’s my, it’s my duty to entertain you while Charlie’s coming back.

Charlie Gilkey:
Alrighty. Here we go. so Alpha Smart Neo, which is the 1990s processor. You turn this guy on, I think this is on here and it fires up and you have six lines of writing. And that becomes a sort of a distraction-free area. Or I can just write and focus and I don’t have to worry about email to worry about Google. It’s just me. And this is, it’s like, you know, Abhijeet we’re at that age where we can remember when we went to a computer to do a specific thing and then once we did that thing, we went and lived their lives. Right? So you had drafted and then you go type on a computer, you print it out and then you’d go live the rest of your life. You weren’t, you didn’t do everything on the computer instead of retraining. But what I’ve done is taken that like whatever recognize is that I create better work on smaller screens. So…

Career Nation:
Interesting. Very cool.

Charlie Gilkey:
Yeah. It’s more focused work. So it’s anti the trend of 27-inch monitors and things like that. But all of my creative workflows usually focus on constraining the space to just what I need to be focusing on at that time. Because if I can click on something, if it’s availability I can feel it at this point, draining a little bit of my bandwidth. And so this is kind of this meta hack here is assume that you have ADHD, and build your workflows around that assumption. And even if you don’t have ADHD, it will make your work so much easier to do and it helps help you focus and help you be present with things. Right. So if you, I may or may not have it, I’m not judging whether I do, but assuming that I have it, create better, simpler, more focused, more present workflows for me that allow me to be where I am and not be in 17 different places at once.

Charlie Gilkey:
So that one didn’t make the book. Another one that didn’t make the book is, and it’s not so much a hack as much as it is I working mindset is balancing creating, treating, connecting and consuming. We normally think about creation and consumption, like in the sense of you take in a bunch of stuff and then you create stuff. But connecting with people is a super important thing. And I can tell when I’m off-balance in my work shows up in my life shows up when one of those is not at the right level. And so it’s always sort of tweaking, tweaking or noticing like, Oh, I haven’t read as many books and articles as I normally do and I’m dry on the creative side, or my conversations aren’t as rich my conversations and connect with other people. So I need to do that.

Charlie Gilkey:
Or Oh, I’ve been in a cave for two weeks and I’m really uninspired and disconnected. It’s time to connect with other people. Right? And so just managing that energy is more like a weekly, or I could do it at the moment like, Oh, I really need to reach out to a friend, or I really need to, instead of watching TV or playing a video game, it’s probably time for me to do some high-quality reading or high-quality consumption. So managing that has been something that I’ve been doing for the last 10 years. It didn’t make the book because that was one of the 20%, that was some of the 20% of content that had to get cut. But it makes a huge difference when you start looking at how do you remain in a state of a thriving human being and understanding that it’s those three forces that are working.

Career Nation:
Oh, I love that. And that connecting piece can be so important because that makes you human. It is also sort of, it’s almost like the connective tissue between the absorption and the consumption of information to creation. In some ways, and you may have seen this is sort of also triggers sort of the subconscious mind in some ways because we’re having a conversation. It’s perfectly normal, but just catching up and you will kind of come up with an insight and idea which is like, ah, the problem I was trying to solve weeks ago, days ago, et cetera. Here’s the solution and then you will be rushing back to your notebook or to your Apple device. And I’m trying to try to note it down. I love that. Love that concept. Charlie, this has been phenomenal. I mean, this has been just a ton of value in this podcast episode. As we wrap up here, what would be your advice for Career Nation and as you know, our audiences across the board, we have some folks that are early in a career in the middle of their career, towards the end of their career. And quite frankly, they are interested to figure out how can they advance in their career? How can they create more value? Why parting advice? words of wisdom for them?

Charlie Gilkey:
Yeah. On this one, I would say that it’s your responsibility to tell the story of your career. That’s not your boss. It’s not your employer. It’s not anyone else’s responsibility, but your own to tell that story of how your work is creating value, how your work is coherent. You know, I’m echoing our good friend Pam Slim here where you’re like, you know, it’s your body of work and it’s really about the stories you tell about it. And I think as much as we focus this conversation on the doing of stuff, right? Remember that one of the doing things that you needed to do is to be, telling the coherent story about the work that you’re doing. And I’m not necessarily saying over-promotion and marketing and things like that. But if you’re not really thinking about how the work you’ve done this quarter could end up on your resume, one year is going to go by, years are going to go by and you won’t necessarily be thinking about the work that you’ve done. But two you may not be thinking, huh, this work that I’m doing wouldn’t show up on my resume. It’s not what I would want to tell the world that I’m doing. I need to create different work. So again, it’s your responsibility to tell that story and it’s your responsibility to chart, you know, the map of your work. And so, tell a good story, chart a good map.

Career Nation:
What a great way to end this episode. Tell a great story. Chart a great map! Charlie, thank you so much. It was phenomenal. We appreciate your time and good luck with the book. For those of you who want to get a copy, you can get it at your favorite bookstore. And we’ll drop a few links in the show notes – Start Finishing. Charlie Gilkey, thank you so much.

Charlie Gilkey:
Thanks for having me, Abhijeet. It’s been a blast.

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