I know from the emails and tweets I get that some readers of this column go back to 2007 when I started Sales Machine on BNET, which in 2011 turned into Inc.com's Sales Source column.

Even back in the olden days, my writing frequently drifted far afield from sales and marketing, a tendency that's only gotten stronger over time, to the point where the moniker "Sales Source" seems a bit out-of-place. (Not planning on changing it, tho.)

I do post about sales and marketing (especially email marketing) frequently, but my most popular posts tend to be about corporate culture. That was especially true in 2018, where no sales or marketing posts (that I wrote this year) broke into my top 10 list.

What resonated with you readers this year was my critiques of open plan offices and general management stupidity, self-help advice gleaned mostly from high-profile entrepreneurs (like Gates and Musk), and... coffee.

With that in mind, if I summed up what I learned from the wisdom of crowds sorting out the 200+ columns I wrote in 2018, it's that what people want right now are positive role models, more privacy at work, and a really good cup of coffee.

With that in mind, here are the 10 newly-written posts (with a teaser from the post) that Sales Source readers loved in 2018.

A new study from Harvard showed that when employees move from a traditional office to an open plan office, it doesn't cause them to interact more socially or more frequently. Instead, the opposite happens. They start using email and messaging with much greater frequency than before. In other words, even if collaboration were a great idea (it's a questionable notion), open plan offices are the worst possible way to make it happen.

Here's the email, which was recently published in The Atlantic

I am out of the office and expect to have only infrequent email access. Thank you for your message. Email received between [these dates] will be deleted from this server eight hours from now. Please send your message again after [this date].

In other words, 'If this is important, ping me later. Otherwise, I might (but probably won't) read your email.'

Dear Verizon employees:

By this point, you've no doubt heard that Verizon will pay you three weeks' salary for every year of service, if you leave the company voluntarily. You're probably wondering whether you should stay and hope for the best, or should you take the money and run.

Stop wondering. Take the money. 

While management fads work flawlessly in PowerPoint, they always fail to deliver in real life, especially fuzzy-wuzzy biz blab like "build a great corporate culture" and "collaborate to be more innovative." (eye roll) There is one management strategy, however, that is easily implemented and immediately increases productivity while reducing costs: allowing employees to work from home and remotely, rather than forcing them to come into the office every day.

The meta-analysis found probable evidence that drinking coffee is associated with:

  1. A decreased risk of many common cancers--including breast, colorectal, colon, endometrial and prostate--with a 2 to 20 percent reduction in risk, depending on the cancer type. 
  2. A reduction in risk of 5 percent for cardiovascular disease and around 30 percent for both Type 2 diabetes and Parkinson's disease.
  3. A lower death rate.

If you continually criticize other people (even if only in your mind), you start treating other people poorly. To make matters worse, other people intuitively sense your negative attitude and respond by treating you poorly. It creates a self-reinforcing cycle that makes you, and everyone around you, more miserable. There is an alternative, though. Rather than dismissing or criticizing when you see a stranger, bring a kind thought or a positive idea into your mind.

 Bill Gates said that the late Hans Rosling's book Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World--and Why Things Are Better Than You Think was "one of the most important" he's ever read... While researching Gate's connection with Rosling, I discovered that Gates once posted a link to one of Rosling's TED Talks. Rosling was a prolific TED talker, so here--in lieu of or in addition to reading Factfulness--are nine of his most popular talks:

The results, published in JAMA Internal Medicine and summarized in Popular Sciencemagazine, were startling. Not only do coffee drinkers live longer on average than non-coffee drinkers (that was already a well-known phenomenon) but people who drink a lot of coffee tend to live longer than people who drink moderately or sparsely.

there are volumes upon volumes of books that provide ways to make meetings more productive and equally as many books intended to help hone phone skills. But what if, rather than trying to manage the damage from these behaviors, it makes more sense to bypass them altogether? That's what billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban does. According to a recent interview, his "secret life hack" is "no meetings or phone calls unless I'm picking up a check. Everything is email."

In a recent memo directed to Tesla employees, Musk included a list of productivity tips, including:

  • Avoid large meetings and keep them "very short" if you must hold them.
  • Avoid acronyms and company-specific jargon lest you confuse contractors.
  • Ignore corporate rules if they are obviously idiotic (i.e., most of them).

But the productivity tip that takes the cake and eats it too is this:

"Walk out of a meeting or drop off a call as soon as it is obvious you aren't adding value."