10 Most-Anticipated Books of 2018

I love books. One of my New Year’s resolutions this year is to read 100 books. (I probably read around this every year but I’ve never tracked it…this year I will.) So naturally, one of the first things I wanted to do in the new year is assemble a reading list of sorts. I’ve read a few of these already in their advance copy form, but I’m looking forward to seeing all of these in print this year.

Below are the 10 books publishing in 2018 that I am most looking forward to (in order of release date):

When by Daniel Pink (January 9). We know that so much of success come down to timing, but we don’t really know that much about timing. Luckily, Pink has put together a great primer on the science of when to do what.

Powerful by Patty McCord (January 9). I’m obviously a fan of many of Netflix’s people practices, so I can hardly wait for a book by the women who wrote many of them.

Herding Tigers by Todd Henry (January 16). Managing creative teams is as easy as herding cats….cats that can also maul you. Luckily, Henry shows how to unleash (but direct) the brilliance of creative teammates.

Big Potential by Shawn Achor (January 30). What Achor did for understanding happiness, he’s now doing for the success and achievement.

Crushing It by Gary Vaynerchuk (January 30). I’ll be honest, I owe a lot of my initial motivation to build a platform to Gary Vee’s original book, and so I’m looking forward to seeing the collection of equally motivated success stories captured here.

Great At Work by Morten Hansen (January 30). A five-year study of what separates peak performers from everyday employees. What Jim Collins does for organizational performance, Hansen’s research is doing for individual performance.

In Defense of Troublemakers by Charlan Nemeth (March 20). I’ve loved Nemeth’s research and written about it since before my first book. I’m so excited to see her release a trade book version of her ideas on the power of dissent.

New Power by Jeremy Heimans Henry Timms (April 3). Their article years ago in HBR is still one of my favorites, the book unpacking the power of movements will undoubtedly be as well.

Friend Of A Friend by David Burkus (May 1). Okay. This one is my own, so of course I’m anticipating it. But if you wished you could have the benefits of networking without all the meeting strangers at cocktail parties…this is your book.

Build An A-Team by Whitney Johnson (May 1). The mind who brought disruptive innovation to thinking about our own careers now shows managers how to use the same learning curve to build a winning team.

I’m sure there will be more, but this should keep my first half of the year full. I hope you’ll join me and boosting your reading this year and leveling up your thinking.

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A How-to Guide to Help You Solve Your Office Dispute

Picture this. You’re at your desk and you desperately need to speak with your boss. In fact, this is a conversation that you’ve intended to have for the past couple of weeks. Long story short, your co-worker’s offensive comments are preventing you from getting your work done and resolving the situation yourself isn’t working or isn’t an option.

First things first, I’m sorry you’re in this situation. It’s not fun. But it is, in many cases, fixable. However, as you probably already know, how you approach this can not only be tricky depending on where you work, but also because it’s an uncomfortable situation. You don’t want to be a tattletale and you also don’t want to look like a complainer. However when a situation’s serious and speaking to the offender isn’t working (or isn’t appropriate), you should address it with HR.

And that’s why I’ve outlined the email you need to send to get the conversation started.

1. Begin With a Thank You

Most people respond well to a compliment. So, beginning with an acknowledgment for how busy they are and sharing your gratitude for the person taking the time and consideration to read your email, is a great first step to take.

2. State the Matter You Want to Address

Clarity’s key in life. If you have a problem with a co-worker or an incident that happened at work can you clearly define what your issue is? Calmly breaking down the facts of what happened and showcasing why this is an issue demonstrates the importance of your position.

3. State the Reasoning Behind Your Position

After explaining the situation, make sure you’ve clearly stated the reasoning for how you feel. Ensure that the reader knows how you feel about the situation that transpired, so then he or she knows where you stand.

4. Provide Solutions

Doing this shows that you have taken the time to assess the situation and you’re mindfully seeking a positive resolution to the matter.

5. End With a Thank You

Gratitude can never be underestimated. Taking the time to thank the reader for reviewing the email in totality will show your reader you appreciate their attention to the matter. It helps the reader understand why they need to take action on your concern(s). 
 

Dear Nancy,

Thank you for taking the time to read this email. I know how busy you are and truly appreciate your consideration for this matter.

As you might know, I recently had a disagreement with Jennifer Smith last week and the matter still hasn’t been resolved. This is a situation that needs to be addressed so I can continue my work without any distractions. Last week, Jennifer Smith and I were having lunch in the lounge area. Having lunch was somewhat typical behavior as we have eaten lunch together at least once a month for the past two years.

During the lunch, Jennifer was mentioning that she disagreed with how I handled a client matter. Jennifer said I was behaving very petty and silly. Because of this, she said she personally talked to the client and personally apologized for my behavior. When she said this, I told her that I was completely shocked and taken back by her actions. I went on to tell her that I appreciated her feedback, but it wasn’t necessary for her to call me names and talk to the client behind my back. Jennifer proceeded to call me a “Bitch” and said, “I couldn’t tell her what to do.” At that point, I stopped engaging with her.

Since that incident Jennifer and I have not spoken to each other. It has been very tense and difficult to be near each other. Despite, this unfortunate incident, I would like for things to go back to how they were before the incident occurred. I understand we might not go back to being as friendly as we once were, but it is preferable for us to have a more cordial atmosphere at the workplace. Without anything being done, I fear that it will be difficult for us to focus on our jobs and work product.

Given what has happened, I am confident that you will have great solutions to address the matter. However, I wanted to share my thoughts for this situation. For me to be more comfortable at work, I would like for Jennifer to provide an official written apology and agree to address work related matters in a scheduled meeting with the appropriate Human Resource contact. Additionally, if I have an issue with her, I would raise my concern in the same manner.

Again, I would like to thank you for your time and attention to this matter. It has been a pleasure working with you and I would like to address this matter, so that I can focus on doing my job to the best of my ability. If you would like to have a follow up call or meeting about this matter, I am happy to schedule it at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely,

Brianna

Dealing with tough situations are not enjoyable, but they are a must. The good news is that when you tackle them with strategy and preparation, they become much more manageable.

With that said, you may send this email and not get the response you want. In fact, it could even make matters worse. And because I don’t know your boss or your HR department, I can’t tell you if that’ll happen or not. However, you need to know that if it does, you have options: escalate the situation or look for a new job.

While looking for a new job doesn’t seem fair to you (because it’s not), it’s also important that you work in a place that you’re not only respected, but feel safe.

This post originally appeared on the The Muse.

Amazon’s New Headquarters: Suddenly, It’s Between These 3 Cities

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

There have already been more twists and turns than in the average day on Twitter.

Many think they know where Amazon’s second headquarters will finally be perched.

The company itself, however, is known for being famously recondite about, well, almost anything to do with Amazon. 

It’s hardly, then, going to offer clues as to its so-called HQ2.

Regular readers — bless you for that — may know that I’ve resorted to rigorously following the betting on this subject at Irish bookmaker Paddy Power.

It’s been a joyous exercise.

First, Atlanta and Austin were the clear favorites

Then Atlanta broke out on its own.

Then Austin came back.

As time went by, suddenly Dublin leaped in the betting. And then disappeared entirely.

I must report, however, that today I’ve noticed yet another dramatic change.

For Atlanta and Austin have been joined by a third city at 3/1.

I hear you sniff that it must be New York, which one celebrated marketing expert insists is the actual lock to house HQ2. 

Sadly, not. America’s loudest city remains at 14/1.

Instead, it’s Boston that has joined Atlanta and Austin in the betting public’s minds. 

Might it be that Amazon sees Boston as a sort of Seattle-type east coast enclave, better suited to the company’s purpose than the sheer claustrophobic vastness of New York?

Boston had previously been quietly fancied at 7/1.

Now, however, there’s a vast gap between the three at the top and all the remaining cities.

The next challengers are at 14/1.

Please, this is only betting. One cannot possibly be sure that the money suddenly going on Boston is informed money. 

But with Amazon only declaring that it will make its announcement some time this year, what is one supposed to do? 

Speculate, of course.

5 Ways to Attract Amazing People Into Your Life

The truth is, we need people. No man is an island, as poet John Donne famously wrote. And when we surround ourselves with great people, we are much more likely to do great things. Funny how that works! Association is so important to the way we think and act. I don’t know about you, but I want to surround myself with amazing people who are in the pursuit of worthwhile dreams and goals!

So, here are 5 ways to attract amazing people into your life. 

1. Be that Person!

If you want to attract other amazing people to you, then be that person too. Be what you want. We are often drawn to those who are like-minded. If you want amazing people in your life, be an amazing person! It sounds so simple and basic, but it is so true. Be the person that builds people up not the one who tries and tears people down. 

2. Speak It!

The power of positive affirmations. Speak what you want. For example, “I attract amazing, like-minded, positive, dream-driven people to me every day!” and “I am aware of opportunities all around me to connect with people headed for success!” This kind of positive self-talk can give you power and focus that you might not otherwise have. 

3. Make the Connection!

Get good at being genuinely interested in others. Ask questions. Listen. People will be drawn to you when you take an interest in them. When you have made those connections make efforts to reach out and check in on how they are doing on a regular basis. I reach out to 3-5 people every day that I have met over time in my professional career. 

4. Add Value!

People want to be around people who make them feel valued and appreciated. Show others you care, point out their strengths, and always let them know you believe in them and what they’re doing. Limit your time with people who drain your energy. We all have those people in our lives, and it’s important to limit time with people who aren’t healthy for us. 

5. Lastly, Communicate your Vision!

We are naturally attracted to people who are successful and have a clear plan.  Get good at communicating your vision with others. Make the invisible clearly visible to them through your excitement and words. Paint a picture of what you see so that others can learn how they can be apart of it.

Put these 5 tips into practice in your life, and then watch people come from miles to be apart of what you’re doing! 

26 Percent More Small Businesses Were Sold in 2017

Small businesses were a much sought-after commodity during 2017, with the number of sales transactions rising more than 26 percent from the previous year. That report comes from BizBuySell.com, an online marketplace for small businesses that tracks the number of transactions reported by business brokers. The company counted 9,919 sales, up from 7,842 in 2016.

The median sales price for companies was up 14 percent at $227,880.

In the fourth quarter, sales rose 23 percent from a year earlier. Nearly 30 percent of the businesses sold the last three months of the year were restaurants, bars or other eating and drinking places. Three percent were manufacturers, and 18 percent were retailers. Forty percent were service providers, in a wide range of industries from hair salons to landscapers to dry cleaners.

Eighty percent of the brokers surveyed expect the sales momentum to continue this year.

HOW COLD WAS IT?

The recent wave of arctic cold, snow and ice in the Midwest, East and South hurt retailers — unless they were selling things to keep people warm.

During the first week of January, demand for blankets was up by nearly three-quarters from a year ago, according to Planalytics, a company that tracks weather and retailing trends. The company is estimating demand for heaters to be up by two-thirds. That’s not surprising given that it was the coldest first week of January since 1988 and the third-coldest in more than 55 years. In New York and Washington, the average daily temperature was 17 degrees lower than in January 2016. In Detroit, it was 20 degrees lower.

People were hunkering down inside their homes. Restaurant visits across the country were down 1.3 percent. Retailers — except for those online — generally had fewer customers, as did entertainment businesses like movie theaters.

Some potential good news in Planalytics’ forecast: The cold is expected to help retailers sell their winter merchandise. That may cut down on their need to discount cold weather wear.

–The Associated Press

To Achieve Success On Amazon Copy These Tips Used By Million Dollar Brands

Most Amazon Sellers operate under the assumption that all they need to do to be successful is put their products on Amazon. They seem to believe that because they listed their products their job is done and that Amazon is going to take care of everything else on their behalf.   

This is a fallacy, and it is one that is perpetuated by many Amazon Gurus who promise you an easy way to make money remotely, while conveniently forgetting to disclose the fact that an Amazon business is like any other business and that listing your product is just the beginning of your journey.

According to Damian Prosolantis, a twenty-one-year-old Amazon Millionaire, who in addition to being a successful Amazon seller, also runs a consultancy business with over 10,000 Amazon Seller clients says “it’s what you do after your product is launched that determines whether you’re going to hit your sales targets or not”.

Damian has worked with, and researched, several of the biggest and most successful brands on Amazon, and know what multi-million dollar brands do to succeed on Amazon, that ordinary Amazon Sellers seem to ignore.

Here are the top three tips that Damian shared with me that million dollar brands do differently that helps to drive their success.

“Success on Amazon is all about being on the first page, and Amazon looks primarily at three factors to determine if your listing is “worthy” of being on the first page or not. 

  • Sales velocity (i.e. how many units you sell on a daily basis)
  • External traffic (how much visibility your listing gets)
  • Lack of negative indicators (like refunds, complaints, negative reviews).

It’s that simple, and I’ve ranked clients’ products on the top 3 spots of the search results, within a couple of days for ultra competitive terms getting over 100,000 monthly searches with this simple formula.”

Give to Get

The hard part is accepting the fact that you must do what I call “front-loading,” which is give up something now, i.e., free or heavily discounted products to get more sales later. 

Since the primary driving force of 1st-page rankings is sales velocity, you need to achieve as many sales as possible right at the start.

The best way to do this is to actively search for “pools” of your target audience, where you can go and give away products at a free or discounted rate, to improve your listing’s perceived credibility, as that’s viewed by Amazon’s algorithm.

These target pools often exist on Social Media, they can be open interest groups or are or niche followings that have been by built by Influencers on Facebook, YouTube or on Instagram in the form of theme-oriented fan pages, groups or subscribers channels.

For example, if you’re selling a fitness product you might want to identify a Fitness Influencer with 500,000 followers and partner with them to offer their followers a 75 percent discount on your product for a short period of time. This is a win-win relationship as it allows the Influencer to provide value to his followers and can help create a great buzz for your product launch. Everyone should include these free giveaways in their marketing budget to get the ball rolling.

Drive External Traffic

External traffic driven to your Amazon listing, of any kind, can dramatically enhance your search results positioning. In our firm’s collaboration with 10,000+ Amazon brands, we’ve observed that even “junk” traffic coming from cheap traffic sources could boost your search results ranking.

However, since that kind of traffic does not include your target audience, there is no “buying intent,” and thus Amazon does not regard it as highly as traffic with “buying intent”.

That is, when the external visitors you send to Amazon, take actions such as adding your product to cart or sharing it on social media, or even better, checking out.

The simplest way to drive that highly targeted traffic that has a buying intent is by leveraging the massive amounts of consumer data that advertising platforms like Facebook and YouTube have collected and running adverts against it to temp your target audience to visit your products on Amazon.

Even if they visit but don’t buy, you will still get credit for their visit.

It’s All About The Follow-Up

If you’re not following up on your sales, then you are missing out on some excellent opportunities, and judging by what I have seen this is one area where most Amazon sellers can improve. 

Why most of them are not using e-mail marketing is beyond my comprehension. 

The is number one thing I tell each and every one my Amazon clients is “get your autoresponder set up immediately after your start selling”. This is the easiest way to build a consistent, daily stream of product reviews, without spending your bottom dollar.  

Our clients have multi-million dollar brands because they understand this one thing. We’ve not worked with a brand that’s generating millions in revenue, that doesn’t get this.

You can build your own never-ending stream of reviews, with a follow-up campaign that’s 100% TOS compliant, with no risk involved whatsoever.  We are talking about verified 5-star reviews AND seller feedback. 

The added benefits of having properly created autoresponders are minimized complaints, and refunds plus increased reorders and cross-promotion. 

‘If you build, they will come’ only works in the movies, and having a great product is no guarantee of great success.  You have to drive traffic to your page, create a buzz, and follow-up to generate positive reviews and create relationships that creates fans and leads to more sales,  This is how the successful brands become million dollar brands on Amazon.

Want to Be Happy? Stop Trying to Improve, Some Experts Say

Are you spending too much time, money, and effort on self-improvement? The answer is probably yes, according to a New Yorker review of three new books that each take the current self-improvement movement to task as doing more harm than good.

What could possibly be wrong with making an effort to be smarter, more successful, thinner, healthier, more productive, richer, and more satisfied with life? Well, a few things, according to the authors of these books. First, it’s exhausting. Especially in the current era, when metaphysical concepts like the law of attraction (which only requires you to focus on what you want and believe that it will come true) have given way to more data-driven approaches where you have to measure your achievements (or absence thereof), keep track of them over time, and recalibrate as needed.

Second, it sets up unrealistic expectations, especially unrealistic expectations of oneself, which tend to be followed by bitter disappointment and self-recrimination when you fail to attain the goals you set yourself. Anyone who fully believes the American idea that “anyone can be anything” is likely to encounter a rude awakening when that belief collides with the realities of the marketplace, a lack of opportunities, and the fact that we each have our own limitations. 

Even if you’re not aiming for the stars, following self-improvement advice is likely to make you harder on yourself than you should be, if only because it implies that you’re not OK right now. Some of the book authors try to take on this problem by recommending steps toward self-acceptance and rejection of the unrealistic standards you may be trying to achieve. Of course, pursuing self-acceptance is just another form of self-improvement, as these authors are forced to admit.

Third, and possibly most damning, focusing on self-improvement likely means you aren’t focusing on the people or the world around you. In Desperately Seeking Self-Improvement, the co-authors spend a year following every self-improvement regimen they can find. By December, one of them discovers he’s been obsessing with himself to the exclusion of all else, just as his wife is about to give birth to their second child. Perhaps not surprisingly, their marriage has suffered in the meantime.

Self-improvement vs. mindfulness

I write this as someone who spends a lot of my time doling out self-improvement advice, most of which I also follow. I use the Pomodoro Technique and a variety of brain hacks to be more productive. I set measurable goals and review them regularly. And that’s just the stuff I’ve written about. The sad truth is that I spend a huge portion of every day trying to figure out how to do better and be better. And another portion playing games on my tablet, probably seeking to escape the constant striving a life like this seems to call for.

There’s value in turning all of this off. It’s one reason mindfulness has risen in popularity in tandem with the metrics-driven self-help movement. Mindfulness asks you to do the opposite of self-improvement. It tells you to stop thinking about whatever you have left undone, or plan to do, or hope to achieve in the future. Mindfulness is about appreciating the present moment which, once gone, will never come again. It doesn’t ask for self-acceptance, because accepting yourself is another form of judging. It tells you to let go of all judging and just be.

Can Americans learn to just be, and be content with whoever we are and whatever we have? I think it isn’t in our nature. I was struck by this years ago when I bought a 30-year-old bottle of brandy from the man who had bottled it. I was in France at the time, at a wine event where he and his family had a booth, and he and his wife and his grown children were there selling his vineyard’s products exactly as they had done for generations. They all seemed quite content, and I had a hard time imagining that it would be the same in the United States. Yes, the father might want to pass the vineyard along to his sons, but he’d also want them to expand, grow new varietals, come up with new products, open new locations, go global. We are a nation of strivers. It’s no accident that so many of the anti-self help authors come from other countries.

If constantly trying to improve leads to dissatisfaction, and if that constant trying is deeply embedded in our national character, can we ever be happy? Yes–if we can learn to handle the contradiction of searching for continuous improvement while at the same time being proud and satisfied with ourselves as we are. 

If you’re like me, you set yourself lots of personal and professional goals, achieve some, and fall short on many others. And that’s OK. There’s nothing at all wrong with trying to be better. But it’s also fine if you never change at all.

How to Make Choices with Confidence and Clarity

Most of us face decisions of some kind on a daily basis–and many of us wonder how we can improve our decision making skills so we can make clear, confident choices. Whether you’re a CEO, manager, teacher, coach, professor or anything else, you want to make the best possible decisions.

Decision making should be a two step process: the first step is gathering relevant information, and the second is deciding on the basis of what you’ve learned. Most people, however, are biased when it comes to information. If you think you already know the answer, it’s hard to take in new information, and in the end most people have made up their mind before everything is even considered.

But there’s the good news, in the form of a methodology for making decisions with confidence and clarity. Here are the key principles:

1. Don’t assume you’re the smartest person.

Especially if they feel inadequate to make the best decision, people often need to feel they’re the smartest and have all the answers (even when they don’t). This attitude will do nothing but hold you back. Recognize that you still have a lot to learn and seek out information with humility and an open mind.

2. Learn to suspend judgment.

I cannot overemphasize how much our biases get in the way of our good decision making. Bias tends to be the downfall of many smart and successful individuals, if you want to learn something new and gain a new perspective, forgo your biases and suspend your preconceived judgments, so in order, to have a clear enough and open enough to make choices and decisions with clarity.

3. Generate creative alternatives.

The wider the range of options you explore, the better your final decision is likely to be. Generating a number of different options may seem to make things more complicated, but coming up with alternatives forces you to dig deeper and look at the problem from different angles. Try to step outside your normal patterns of thinking and come up with some truly innovative solutions

4. Remember that to get is to receive.

People are more inclined to speak about what they know than to be silent and learn what they don’t. Instead of giving and not learning, aim to get so you can learn everything you need to know. Get a bit of feedback from someone you can trust and whose opinion you value. Listening to others can improve your understanding of what’s at stake.   

5. Gain clarity with objectivity.

Before you begin to make a decision, make sure you fully understand the situation. It may be that your objective can be approached in isolation, but it’s more likely that there are a number of interrelated factors to consider. Every choice comes at a cost, so look at things objectively and test your ideas with others.

6. Frame your choices:

Ask yourself if you will be pleased with your decision five minutes from now, five months from now, five years from now. This strategy makes you consider the short-term, medium-term and long-term consequences, along with the value and benefits, that come with your decision. When you apply this technique consistently, it will help you become more fluent in your decision making.

7. Evaluate your decisions.

With all the effort and hard work you’ve invested in selecting alternatives, it can be tempting to want to move ahead with your choice, But that’s the moment to pause and evaluate. Hindsight is great for identifying why some choices have been more successful than others. So before you start to implement your decision, take a long, hard look to make sure that you’ve gotten as much feedback and objective thinking and input as you can, because your final decision is only as good as the facts and research you have assembled.

The path of our lives is determined largely by the choices we make and the decisions that you take, make sure yours are confident and clear.