Communication

What’s the best advice you ever got?

We get advice all the time. From people that we know, we respect and those we don’t know and we don’t necessarily respect….but we learn from regardless. Here is a collection of advice from a group of people from all walks of life…. May something resonate with you!

1. Don’t lose sight.

“‘People who used to run car companies were really into cars. People who ran hotel chains loved hospitality. Now, everything is run by accountants, and you feel it as a consumer.‘ This slightly grumpy rant from one of my mentors, the famed mad man Martin Puris, inspires me to stay focused on the purity and passion of a business pursuit.”  –Andrew Deitchman, co-founder of The New Stand

2. You get only what you settle for.

“The best business advice I ever got came from my dear old Dad. It’s quite simple and immeasurably powerful. It goes like this: ‘You, and only you, should set the value of your talents, ideas, services, and/or product. Don’t ever expect anyone to pay or give you more than they have to.’ As an entrepreneur, you have to get used to the fact that, quite often, you’ll be faced with an offer that seems less than the value of your talent, ideas, services, or product. That’s business. You are the sole arbiter of what you, your ideas, services, or product is worth. Therefore, what you get is what you are willing to settle for. You have to fight for what you feel you’re worth. Not that settling is necessarily a bad thing, but where you end up is what you settle for. Sage advice.” –Neil Powell, fine artist and co-founder of Mugnacious

3. Be clear and transparent.

“I learned many things while working for Steve Jobs in the ’90s, including what not to do. While Steve was arguably the greatest marketer of our generation and gave some of the most inspirational speeches of our time, he wasn’t the best communicator when it came to individuals. Steve didn’t set defined expectations for me or other employees: he simply knew it when he saw it. Watching him operate made me recognize the importance of clarity and transparency with my team, and how imperative it is to set expectations and effectively communicate with them. The more transparent I am about where I want to take the company, the clearer my team is about how to get there. Making sure everyone is on board before you make business decisions will help ensure you won’t alienate people (sometimes your best ones) in the process.” –James Green, serial entrepreneur and CEO of technology company Magnetic

4. Forget “having it all.”

“These days, there’s an ongoing debate about whether women can ‘have it all,’ and I’ve often been asked that question. I’m a person who likes to give 100 percent to everything I do. I want to be the best at my job and as a mother. But I realize I can only give 100 percent in the moment. If I’m at work, am I giving 100 percent to my kids? No. If I’m at home, am I giving 100 percent to my work? No. It’s a balancing act, but worthwhile as long as we don’t kid ourselves that we’re superwomen.”  –from the book Getting Real by Gretchen Carlson, host of The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson on Fox News, used by permission

5. Don’t get caught in analysis paralysis.

“Work is never going to be as slow as it is today. The pace of business in general — and start-ups specifically — will only quicken in 2016. So, we have to make a lot of important decisions quickly. I got some great advice early in life, which was: ‘Sometimes you won’t know the right decision, so you have to make the decision right.’ In other words, when you lack perfect information and time, you have to be thoughtful about your process, be diligent in your analysis, then make the decision quickly. After that, it’s all about execution and putting all your energy into making it work.” –Don Smithmier, founder and CEO of The Big Know

6. Listening is very different from hearing.

“The best piece of advice ever imparted to me comes from my mom, who is fond of saying ‘What you say matters less than what people hear and understand.’  As a teacher, she was a brilliant listener, and she used what she heard to build a bridge between what she needed to teach and how the student needed to learn. From that, she taught me to focus my efforts on helping people understand rather than on what I wanted to tell them. She taught me how to hear, and it is the single most important skill in my professional success.” –Courtney Buechert, founder and CEO of creative marketing agency Eleven, Inc.

7. Put your weirdness into your work.

“These words were spoken to me by famed voice-over and recording artist Ken Nordine. This was many years ago, and I’ve carried these words with me ever since. He recognized that we all get a little weird from time to time, but it’s how we choose to channel our weirdness that’s key. To offset my very ordinary life, I infuse every project I touch with experimental and fluid creations. It’s what’s led to my best work and most successful endeavors. With weirdness and imaginative thinking embedded in all facets of your work, you are free to spend the rest of your time enjoying the little things in life, a balance that is delicate yet so profound.” –David Slayden, founder and executive director of designer-founder accelerator BDW

8. Action creates opportunity.

“There’s a variety of advice that has had lasting impact, but this is the one that I continue to return to on a weekly basis. It’s a quote from my former CEO. This phrase remains valuable in the big and small, in the tactical and the strategic. We are in an industry that requires the creation and fostering of constant change. We have to invent new ideas, create new services and capabilities, all while increasing the quality of our craft. So while we can all spend an endless amount of time contemplating and planning, there is one force that cannot be denied. Take action, as it will surely create and open up new opportunities.” –Ed Brojerdi, CEO of  KBS New York and co-founder of Spies & Assassins

9. No cohesion, no team.

“In creative industries especially, teams are central to the work. They are integral to collaborative cultures and, far more often than not, essential to innovation. What too many people fail to recognize, however, is that two or more people working together doesn’t automatically constitute a ‘team.’ These people may be partners and co-workers, but that’s not enough to effect the magic that genuine teamwork can produce. When I was running the brand-strategy practice for consultancy FutureBrand, we assembled teams to take on each assignment and were careful to include a diversity of skills and backgrounds in each. I couldn’t help but notice, though, that certain teams were far more effective than others. In a management meeting, we discussed the issue and then we each went off to gather more data. When we reconvened, the lesson became clear: No cohesion, no team. It turned out that the highest performing teams simply liked each other more. They would break for dinners. Go bowling. Share their weekend plans and recaps. They genuinely cared about one another. And that led to a level of performance that far outstripped anything that less cohesive teams could hope to achieve. I keep that lesson in mind, not just when I’m putting teams together but also when I’m hiring. However brilliant or accomplished a prospect is, I don’t want to hire that person if he or she can’t play well with others. I look for the right mix of skills and mindset, of course, but beyond that I want to know that the person will be worthy of colleagues’ trust and a positive presence within the company. If not, I’d prefer that person play on someone else’s team.” –Andrew Benett, Global CEO of Havas Worldwide and Havas Creative Group

10. See the spaces, not the trees.

“This is a snowboarding reference. It can be daunting, standing at the top of the mountain readying yourself for the trip down, and seeing all the trees in your path. But the key is to see the space between the trees. This sort of mindset, seeing the opportunity and not the obstacles, is important as you start out on your next life chapter, both personally and professionally. When you’re deep into your work or facing a personal challenge, it’s easier to see the barriers, but don’t let them stop you from pursuing the opportunity that exists around them. Remember the business of your business. Many companies get caught up in the service they provide versus what actually drives their business. For example, Twitter is a micro-blogging service. But at the end of the day, what pays the bills is selling ads and sponsored tweets on the platform. Don’t lose sight of the actual economics of your business; it’s what keeps the lights on

In the Hot Seat: Handling Tough Questions Honestly

R1607J_BROSMIND-850x478Information exchange is integral to creating win-win deals, but it must be carefully managed. Disclose too much and your counterpart might take advantage of you; disclose too little and you miss opportunities to discover mutually beneficial trades. So what should you do when you’re asked a question that, if answered truthfully, would put you at a bargaining disadvantage?

WHAT NOT TO DO

Lie. You will be tempted to lie. Don’t. Setting aside ethical, moral, and legal arguments, if you get caught, it can damage your reputation and your relationship with your counterpart and potentially put the entire deal in peril. Research shows that many positive interactions are required to restore trust after a single breach, and breaches entailing deception are among the most difficult to recover from.

Palter. Another common but misguided approach is what Todd Rogers and colleagues call “paltering,” or using truthful statements to convey an inaccurate impression. The researchers give the example of former U.S. president Bill Clinton’s answer to a question about whether he’d had a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky: “There is not a sexual relationship—that is accurate.” Technically that statement was not a lie, because his involvement with Lewinsky was in the past. But research shows that people view such legalistic skirting of the truth as unfavorably as they view outright lying.

Abstain. A third common workaround is to abstain from answering the question. However, Kate Barasz, Michael Norton, and I have shown that this tactic leaves a worse impression than disclosing even extremely unsavory information. For example, in one study, participants viewed people who had confessed to frequently stealing items worth more than $100 as more trustworthy than those who had simply refused to answer the question.

WHAT TO DO

Redirect. In the short term, the strategies deployed by politicians, who routinely face tough, direct questions, can be instructive—particularly for one-shot negotiations (when you are unlikely to meet your counterpart again). A familiar tactic is to dodge the question by changing the subject to something seemingly related. As noted earlier, people are generally not very good at detecting dodges, so you have an opportunity to selectively disclose information of your choosing. A second strategy is to turn the tables and question the questioner. Responding in this way can deflect attention and enable you to take control of the topic.

Share carefully. If you’re playing a longer game, disclosure can work in your favor; it can foster trust and facilitate better outcomes through collaboration and joint problem solving. To avoid being exploited, however, negotiators should start small: Share a substantive but not critical piece of information. Only if your counterpart reciprocates should you continue the tit for tat; disclosure without reciprocation leaves you vulnerable to your counterpart’s value-claiming tactics.

 

Leslie K. John is an associate professor at Harvard Business School. Twitter: @lesliekjohn.