Friday, September 21, 2012

Tips to spot a lie.

Do you ever wonder if someone is lying to you?  That perhaps their product is just a little too good, or that their experience seems a little too perfect for the job?  It turns out that there are ways to tell if someone is lying to you, according to Janine Driver, author of Can’t Lie to Me.  She explained some of her techniques in a recent article with, and they’re well worth looking into.

One particular thing that Driver brings up is the fact that when you’re asking a yes or no question the answer that the person gives should always include the word yes or no.  If you ask someone if they have ever stolen from you and they answer something along the lines of, “I would never do that,” it could be a clue that they aren’t telling you the truth. 

She also mentions that liars tend to overcompensate, especially if the pressure is on.  If you ask someone why you should believe them and then follow up with a “that didn’t really answer my question, why should I believe you?” you’re putting them under a great deal of strain.  If they are lying the answer will likely be quite long rather than the, “because I’m telling the truth” most people would say upon a second time answering that question.  A liar will potentially break under this stress, getting angry and accusing you of something, or making a long diatribe about how you should call all of their previous employers if you don’t believe them. 

One of the most important things she discusses, however, is a simple matter of observation.  She suggest you should take some time watching them, about three minutes, to understand how they act generally.  Then, as the conversation unfolds, observe and watch them for deviations from that baseline.  Do their eyebrows suddenly jump?  Do they start using a lot of “uhms” and “ahs”?  Does their voice break or their talking speed suddenly ramp up?  Do they suddenly seem superior? You might have caught them in a lie.   

The entire article is well worth the read, however, and offers a great many more tips on how to spot lies and the liars who tell them. Check out the full article at

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Listening to complainers is bad for your health.

Everyone knows at least one habitual complainer, someone who seems upset no matter what is going on in their life, no matter how good things seem to be going for them.  This is the kind of person who always has a sob story to tell about how the world is out to get them and, coincidentally, is often the person who most people go out of their way to avoid.  

It turns out there’s a reason why people avoid complainers, according to Trevor Blake, author of Three Simple Steps: A Map to Success in Business and Life neuroscientists have found that listening to someone complaining actually affects the brain in ways that can only be explained as unhealthy. 
Some of it is that the brain seems to imitate the patterns it’s experiencing, leading to the listener reciprocating the negativity themselves.  Essentially, people who force others to listen to their complaining are actually bringing the mood of everyone else down along with them.

But that’s not the only effect that listening to too much complaining can do.  Research shows that listening to 30 minutes or more of complaining or other negativity can actually destroy neurons in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that most people use for problem solving.  Listening to too much complaining can actually make you stupider. 

Given that scientists determined that even viewing negative behavior on TV can lead to the same effects, it’s interesting to speculate on what effects things like talk shows or reality TV are having on their audiences.  

Now, this effect isn’t seen by people who simply bring up bad things, to be classified as a complainer a person has to be bringing up something negative without actually desiring a solution, they just want to be outraged and have other people outraged with them.  

But now that you know the negative effect that it can have on your brain, you have that much more incentive to avoid those people who engage in such destructive behavior.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What does it take to succeed?

Success isn’t something that’s cut and dry.  How successful someone ends up being is dependent on a wide variety of factors, including genes, attitude, personality, and- quite simply- luck. 

But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything that you can do to affect your own success.  All else being equal, the person who develops the necessary skills to succeed will end up more successful than the person who doesn’t.

Of course, the skills that would be successful for someone in, say, engineering would be entirely different than the skills necessary for someone to succeed in retail.  But there are some skills that bridge the gap between fields and situations, general skills that really anyone in any field can use to get ahead.

One good example is critical thinking.  No matter where life takes you, knowing how to evaluate a situation and puzzle your way through a problem will help you out immensely.  Whether you’re trying to find a foothold in a saturated market or navigate the treacherous waters of city building codes critical thinking will serve you well.  However, it is a tough skill to learn.  Websites like can help by offering suggestions on how to work through problems logically, but in the end it’s a skill that you’ll only learn by trying. 

Another excellent life skill that everyone should learn is networking.  Networking is so much more than the pale definition bandied around by business seminars.  At its base, networking is the act of building a community of relationships that can help support you in your various endeavors.  It’s more than knowing someone who can either get you a job or find you a client, it’s knowing people who can connect you to a greater pool of knowledge and ideas.  If you want to be a mover and shaker, someone with their finger on the pulse of modern life, work on building your network.

And when all else fails, knowing how to research will put you head and shoulders above your competition.  Someone who understands how to properly research a problem is never truly at a loss.  And given the sheer amount of information out in there it’s more likely that knowing how to find the solution to a problem will be more useful than trying to memorize every thing you could possibly need to know. 

All of these skills are useful no matter what you decide to do or what field you end up in. And the lessons that you learn while developing them are keys to your success, if only you’re willing to take them.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Happy Monday!

10 Leadership Lessons From Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn:

I had the pleasure of attending the first video pilot interview of LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner by Adam Bryant, New York Times Senior Editor for Features.

As a user of LinkedIn and loyal reader of Adam’s Corner Office columns I had high expectations for the live interview. I walked away feeling like a high school girl who experienced her first crush. And now I am writing a tell all!

Jeff’s open and compassionate leadership style keeps the company focused on growing at the rate of two new members every second (that translates into 175 million registered users in more than 200 countries) while reducing the business mantra to just two words: “Next Play.” Weiner borrowed the phrase from Duke University basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, who shouts Next Play, every time the ball changes hands. Krzyzewski uses the phrase to make sure the Duke University Blue Devils don’t spend too much time celebrating a success or feeling down about a miss. Instead, they are coached to focus on one thing: the next challenge. During the interview with Bryant, Weiner described how powerful Next Play has been for the company. On the day LinkedIn became a public company, employees received a black T shirt with the company’s name and stock ticker written across the front and Next Play emblazoned on the back of the shirt. Even today 16 months after the LinkedIn IPO, employees continue to talk about their Next Play and stay focused on delivering results.

During the video interview, Weiner shared 10 lessons in leadership I think every businessperson should be aware of. They include:

1) Define leadership in your company: At LinkedIn, Leadership is the ability to inspire others and achieve shared results. It starts with defining a clear vision. In the case of LinkedIn it is to create economic opportunity for the 3.3 billion people in the global workplace by matching skills with job opportunities.

2) Understand how to evolve from a start-up to a public company: A CEO and the leadership team must understand the importance of growing their skills from solving problems to coaching others to achieve business results.

3) Prioritize your business goals: Start with asking yourself and your team if we could only do one thing, what would it be? This is a lesson Weiner learned from Steve Jobs and practices every day. Weiner’s advice is to focus on doing fewer things, and do those things well.

4) Practice time management: Weiner carves out 2-3 hours each day to reflect, think and see the big picture. Weiner’s advice if you do not carve out at least an hour you are fitting way too much into your schedule.

5) Encourage all employees to think like an owner: Employees in a start-up must understand the business decisions they make are ones that have P&L implications. In the case of LinkedIn, this means understanding how the decisions they are making impact the company mission of connecting the world’s 640 Million professionals and making them more successful.

6) Keep putting your customers first: At LinkedIn, one of the values is simply stated as: Members First. So anytime the LinkedIn product team considers new enhancements the first question revolves around: Is this putting our members first, or is this putting the company first? “If it benefits members, it will ultimately benefit the company.

7) Remember To laugh: Executing on a bold vision like creating economic opportunity for 3.3 billion people around the world is tough work. So humor needs to be a part of every executive’s day. Make time to laugh with your team members. Weiner says he values his team members’ sense of humor and sometimes, on a tough day, that can trump their talent and expertise!

8) Find time to reflect on what’s important to you: Working professionals should take time to ask themselves: “If you had to look back at your career 20-30 years from now, what do you want to say you have accomplished?” Weiner says he is amazed how many people he interviews cannot answer this question and worse yet have never thought about it. Instead, far too many focus on the next job role, next title, or next compensation package, without knowing what it is you want to leave the world. And Weiner believes once you take time to articulate this to yourself, you begin to manifest this to others and before too long, you start on a path to realize your vision.

9) Understand what makes you happy: Weiner lives by five keys to happiness: (articulated by Ray Chambers, an entrepreneur who helped create the leveraged buyout industry, as well as a number of non profits such as National Mentoring Partnership and Americas Promise) These include:
  • Stay in the moment.
  • Step back and become a spectator to your own thoughts.
  • It’s more important to be loving than to be right.
  • Go out of your way to serve others.
  • Take time each morning, to write down what you are grateful for and read it throughout the day.
10) Communicate the importance of next play to your team: The faster a company grows, the more opportunity there is to experience both successes and failures. While it’s important to celebrate the successes, and reflect on a failure, you ultimately have to move on and focus on the “Next Play.”
So did Weiner share LinkedIn’s Next Play? No, for that, we will all have to log onto the site and see for ourselves.

The Importance of Critical Thinking

Magnetic Consulting Group once again offers pieces of advice and suggestions to help you in your personal and professional life. 

No matter what field you are in, or wherever life takes you, there are certain things that are immensely important to understand and know how to do.  One of those things is critical thinking. 

Critical thinking is the disciplined process of actively and skillfully evaluating information in order to decide what to believe or do.   It’s a skill that is as much as use in puzzling your way through a word problem as it is in deciding whether someone is telling a lie. 

All great leaders think critically and strategically.  They evaluate current situations and see how they might develop in the future.  They can look at a emerging pattern and see the implications of any action, which is an incredibly useful skill for anyone in management.

But how do you develop critical thinking skills?  How can we change the way we solve problems and expand the way we think?

Luckily the first step in developing critical thinking is to start paying attention.  How do you solve problems currently?  Do you try to avoid them?  Do you automatically go with your gut feeling?  Do you waste time worrying about problems rather than trying to solve them?

Looking at your day and noticing patterns in your thinking is the first step towards expanding your intellectual horizons.  Once you know what you need to work on the next step is to practice thinking through problems in a reasonable fashion.

What does that mean?  Primarily, it means that when problems occur you carefully examine the issue rather than jumping to a conclusion.  Engage in what-if thinking. If you implement a solution what are the potential consequences?  What would someone outside of the situation, like a customer or friend, think of the potential solutions?  Discuss the situation with someone else and pause to make sure that you’ve  covered all the bases.

But more importantly, be sure to keep an open mind and be willing to change directions.  Consider the reasons why you feel compelled to follow a certain path and take the time to decide whether that is the soundest decision you could make.

All in all, establishing critical thinking skills is one of the best things you can do to improve your life.  Because the more you think about problems, the better your solutions will be.