I've been following Wharton's top-rated professor Adam Grant as well as Dan Pink, one of the 10 most-influential management thinkers in the world, for years now. Whenever they have some new scientific insight to impart about things related to productivity or positive psychology, I tune in.
For this piece, Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn co-founder and partner at the venture capital firm Greylock Partners, also caught my attention for his interesting take on networking.
Without further ado, here are three useful success strategies that I hope will not only brighten your day but also illuminate your business or work in 2018.
1. Develop your "network intelligence."
In his 2014 book, The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age, Hoffman, one of the most well-connected people in tech, emphasizes why networking is critical for success. No, we're not talking about referral networks at your local chamber meetings. For starters, he says that managers should create a culture in which employees -- whatever function, team, or business unit -- connect with one another as well as with external contacts. Hoffman expands further:
Here's what most people do when problem solving. They schedule a meeting with all the smart people at their company who might have ideas. That's a good first step -- talk to people. [But] the most valuable professional information is often in other people's heads. Great information and insight from the people you know can be a significant competitive advantage. We call it ... network intelligence. When it comes to knowledge in a highly networked era, who you know is often more valuable than what you've read.
And when faced with a truly difficult problem, Hoffman advises that you extend your network outwardly. He says:
There are more smart people in the world who do not work at your company than the total number of smart people who work at your company. So look beyond your office. If you do, your team becomes a whole lot bigger.
2. Stop the fake schmoozing and create something of value to capture attention.
We've all heard that it's "who you know" that will open up doors and take you far. Well, to a certain point. Adam Grant, author of the mega-bestseller Give and Take, wrote in The New York Times that something of greater value will yield greater returns and enlarge your network: accomplishing great things that capture people's attention. Here's Grant for a case in point:
Spanx took off when Oprah Winfrey chose it as one of her favorite things of the year -- but not because she was stalked by the company's founder, Sara Blakely. For two and a half years, Ms. Blakely sold fax machines by day so that she could build her prototype of footless pantyhose by night. She sent one from the first batch to Ms. Winfrey.
And the rest is history. In 2012, Blakely was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. As of 2014, she is listed as the 93rd most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.
3. To be happier and more productive, take more breaks.
In Dan Pink's forthcoming book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing," to be released tomorrow, he casts a light on the benefits of the ever-increasing workplace habit of taking short, frequent breaks. Pink states in The Wall Street Journal:
A 2016 study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity showed that hourly five-minute walking breaks boosted energy levels, sharpened focus, and "improved mood throughout the day and reduced feelings of fatigue in the late afternoon." These "microbursts of activity," as the researchers called them, were also more valuable than a single 30-minute walking break. And regular short walking breaks increase motivation and concentration and enhance creativity, according to researchers at Stanford University.
Pink says that for maximum effect, research advises spending break time with others, because "social breaks" have been found to "minimize physical strain, cut down on medical errors, and even reduce staff turnover."
For the most replenishing effects, take a colleague with you on a nature break. Here's Pink on the science:
A 2011 study found that people who took a short walk outdoors returned feeling happier and more rested than people who walked indoors. What's more, while people predicted they'd be happier being outside, they underestimated how much happier.
And when taking your breaks, detach completely. That means no emails, texts, etc. When you lose the tech and stop multitasking on breaks, it eases your stress and boosts your mood in a way that multitasking breaks do not.