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Original articles from Dan Erwin.
 
Keeping Your Enemies Closer
Most business people recognize early on that they’re going to have to work with “enemies,” people they don’t especially like or trust--or pay the price in performance and sometime job loss.

Listening: A Simple Pattern with a Big Payoff
“What’s the most important communication rule I need to know for my business?” “Well,” I responded, “not the talking I’ve been doing here. Instead, ask a couple highly relevant questions and listen, listen, and listen.

A Collage of Mentors, Part 2
Question any leader or executive about their success and eventually they’ll tell you that their mentor played a big role. Today, however, there is no Jedi-Master Yoda, wise and powerful, taking on people and unlocking the paths to business immortality.

No Yoda, But a Collage of Mentors
The need for mentorship is more profound than ever: success without mentors is nearly impossible. Compounding the issue is that choice assignments in this hyper-competitive world are in short supply. So it’s the mentored employee who will be presented with better opportunities, faster promotions, and top salaries.

Listening: A Simple Pattern with a Big Payoff
As he began to leave nearly an hour later, he asked one question I’d heard before: “What’s the most important communication rule I need to know for my business?” “Well,” I responded, “not the talking I’ve been doing here. Instead, ask a couple highly relevant questions and listen, listen, and listen. Then clarify the responses with another question or two, and listen, listen, and listen some more. At the end of an hour you’ll know a great deal of highly useful client information.” He nodded in very strong affirmation.

Why You Need to Think and Talk on Two Tracks: Part Two
In complex business conversations, metacomm can profoundly impact conversations and make them far more constructive and efficient—even timesaving. To a significant degree, metacomm functions to facilitate conversation and is highly useful for training participants in sequencing 101. In our studies and experience with metacomm, we have found a number of these forms especially useful.

Why You Need to Think and Talk on Two Tracks: Part One
One of the most difficult problems with collaborative conversation is staying on track. Smart people inevitably get waylaid by tangential ideas that are suggested by their meeting interactions. That’s precisely why many think that team meetings are such a waste.

‘That’s Not How Coaching Works’
It was a classic case of misunderstanding. But since more than 50% of all messages are loaded with misunderstanding, it wasn’t especially unusual. Here’s how it happened. The other evening I was having dinner with a half-dozen colleagues, all of whom are retired university faculty and administrators. Some really smart guys. The conversation veered into questions about my consulting and coaching and one of them asked how I “advise my clients.” “That’s not how it works,” I responded.

How to 'Wow' Your Boss
Your boss can either help or hinder your career: wowing her/him will help your career. With an effective relationship, your boss can give you all kinds of support, insight, and linking to others in the organization.

So Trump is Pragmatic. Now What Does That Mean?
Words are slippery items. We now know that the smart conversationalist listens to see whether the important word in a sentence is “dictionary-use” or “situational.” This is not an academic game. Understanding the distinction can be a matter of career life or death. The fact of the matter is that words mean what we want them to mean. So what did Obama mean when he commented that Trump is not ideological? “I think ultimately he’s pragmatic…”

Listening: A Simple Pattern with a Big Payoff
As he began to leave nearly an hour later, he asked one question I’d heard before: “What’s the most important communication rule I need to know for my business?” “Well,” I responded, “not the talking I’ve been doing here. Instead, ask a couple highly relevant questions and listen, listen, and listen. Then clarify the responses with another question or two, and listen, listen, and listen some more. At the end of an hour you’ll know a great deal of highly useful client information.” He nodded in very strong affirmation.

The Upside of Anger
Anger is usually viewed as a disrupting, destructive emotion, especially in business — unless, of course, you’re a well-placed executive without those limitations. The religious typically view anger as bad stuff, something we should set aside and, to quote St. Paul, never go to sleep with. But like most generalities, there are exceptions.

Inquiry as Influence: An Ancient Technology 2.0
The least used and one of the most productive tools for conversation is high-level questioning. But for a number of reasons, questioning has always gotten short shrift. Traditionally, asking questions is thought of as revealing your incompetence, which is then rewarded with a loss of influence. Even today, when the need ought to be obvious, few actually get questioning.

The Return to the Soft and Squishy
Colvin’s point is that trying to figure out what computers can’t do and getting an education to fill that need is wrongheaded. The driving question is: What do high achievers need to know that brilliant machines never will? Colvin argues that high-value skills, built on the humanities and social sciences, are the only sure way to beat the machines.

Deceive in Doses, Not in Deluges
Deception is not only inevitable in business, but sometimes necessary or strategic. If you track “deception” or “lying” on my custom Google search, you’ll find a number of blogs dealing with the issue. See, for example, my blog, Powerful people are better liars.

No Yoda, But a Collage of Mentors: Part 4
You’ll normally rub shoulders with skills mentors, people willing to help and mentor, during your first week at a company. It’s important from the outset to find the more capable people. Relational mentors, in contrast, are more difficult to locate.

No Yoda, But a Collage of Mentors: Part 3
You will find career mentors both internally and externally, often in consulting or contracting positions. They are the folk you can trust for a sympathetic career ear and advice. They are not limited by the traditional, linear career thinking. The best have a big picture of careers, stay open-minded, and are able to help you consider a variety of perspectives.

No Yoda, But a Collage of Mentors: Part 2
Skills mentors are the mentors you need to do your day-to-day work. They’re usually the first you meet in the organization because they have the responsibility to get you situated. Inside your organization and readily available, they can provide the basic mentoring in those specific disciplines and proprietary skills that your organization needs and holds dear.

No Yoda, But a Collage of Mentors: Part 1
The need for mentorship is more profound than ever: success without mentors is nearly impossible. Compounding the issue is that choice assignments in this hypercompetitive world are in short supply. So it’s the mentored employee who will be presented with better opportunities, faster promotions, and top salaries.

‘That’s Not How Coaching Works’
It was a classic case of misunderstanding. But since more than 50% of all messages are loaded with misunderstanding, it wasn’t especially unusual. Here’s how it happened. The other evening I was having dinner with a half-dozen colleagues, all of whom are retired university faculty and administrators. Some really smart guys. The conversation veered into questions about my consulting and coaching and one of them asked how I “advise my clients.” “That’s not how it works,” I responded.

How to Read a Conversation
In business, as in other vocations, what’s not said is often far, far more important than what is said. Indeed, sometimes people lose their jobs, opportunities, raises, or promotions because they fail to understand what’s not said. So, in many of my posts, when I write about “subtexts,” I’m referring to these covert meanings, hidden commitments, “undiscussables,”or what's not said.

Next-Gen Employees: College on a Barista Salary
If you really think a kid can earn his way through college or live with $100,000 in college bills, guess again. Occasionally I talk with someone who tells me he earned his way through college, so his kids can too. That's not a surprise, since the percentage of parents willing to help their kids go to college stands at about 77%, and it continues in a downward plunge. But just how realistic is it that a kid can cover all college costs?

The Upside of Anger
Anger is usually viewed as a disrupting, destructive emotion, especially in business — unless, of course, you’re a well-placed executive without those limitations. The religious typically view anger as bad stuff, something we should set aside and, to quote St. Paul, never go to sleep with. But like most generalities, there are exceptions.

The Return to the Soft and Squishy
Colvin’s point is that trying to figure out what computers can’t do and getting an education to fill that need is wrongheaded. The driving question is: What do high achievers need to know that brilliant machines never will? Colvin argues that high-value skills, built on the humanities and social sciences, are the only sure way to beat the machines.

Getting Smart About Creativity
When you’re getting advice about creativity or reading one of the many books about the subject, you need to be careful — very careful — because many, if not most, perpetuate our highly Western, misleading, and individualist cultural ways. That typically means that we’re going to have to go digging into our own mindset and belief system to revise and reframe these wrongheaded beliefs if we want to really understand creativity and innovation.

11 Books Every Leader — And Wannabe — Should Read
Inevitably, when I’m conversing with a friend or former client whom I haven’t seen for some time, I get asked what I’m reading. This is a list of books that have taught me much about people, careers, and organizations. Three don’t fit those categories, but they are exceptional: one on America’s role in the world, one on valuing popular music, and an absolutely delightful and hilarious book on mathematics.

How To Take Advantage of Your Personal Vulnerabilities
You blush. Confused and discombobulated. Embarrassed. You’re found out. But you know the rule in business: Don’t let anyone know what you don’t know. Keep up a good front. Don’t trap yourself and have to admit ignorance. Never, never open up and admit to personal vulnerability on any business subject.

How to 'Wow' Your Boss
Your boss can either help or hinder your career: wowing her/him will help your career. With an effective relationship, your boss can give you all kinds of support, insight, and linking to others in the organization.

Does Building a Network Make You Feel Dirty?
Although most of us believe that networking is a necessity for both our personal lives and our careers, it sometimes has negative connotations. It “conjures up images of back-slapping, forced smiles, awkward conversations or brown-nosing.” Because of that, many people shy away from the process — often to their loss.

Don’t Lie, But Tell Stories
At their heart, stories are fundamentally verbal theater. Like theater, they range from B-movies to classics. Stories pull the listener into the storyteller’s perspective. The power of story, like that of theater, is the experience it puts the listener through: what we call its rhetorical force. While less impactful and interesting, stories are also simply used to explain concepts.

Does Building a Network Make You Feel Dirty?
Although most of us believe that networking is a necessity for both our personal lives and our careers, it sometimes has negative connotations. It “conjures up images of back-slapping, forced smiles, awkward conversations or brown-nosing.” Because of that, many people shy away from the process — often to their loss.

All Ethical Systems Are Flawed
I readily agree with the current push for business ethics. Still, it’s important to recognize that not only are all ethical systems flawed, but some are deeply flawed. They are culturally bound. That’s a nice way of saying that what’s wrong in one culture is not necessarily wrong in another.

4 Keys to Successful Mind Reading
The other evening after listening to a neighbor talk about her family I asked whether she was "rules-oriented." I was certain she was, but I wanted to double-check my prediction. "Of course," she said. “That's the best way to raise kids. Aren't you?" Amused by her shock at my strongly negative answer, I was more intrigued by the fact that she was clueless regarding my orientation.

How Smart is Your Colleague? (No Test Required)
Before you align yourself with a colleague for a team project, you'll want to make sure he or she is an intellectual asset. So, how can you figure out the smarts of a colleague without having a consulting PhD? I shouldn’t be giving this away, but the basics are actually so simple that anyone willing to keep her eyes glued and ears open to another person can figure out that person’s basic work smarts. Quickly and easily. By testing and watching for three simple behaviors.

The Risks for Gen-Y or Z of Going without Health Insurance
Gen-Y or Z is now facing the financial decision: Buy the insurance, or simply pay the penalty and take your chances? For many, the issue is one of, how much is this going to cost me? Especially if you’re facing a tight budget.

What Do Managers Actually Do All Day?
By the time a smart Gen-Yer has been employed for a few years, the opportunity to manage begins to take shape. Thus, in this article I intend to revisit a highly relevant subject: what do managers actually do? Leaders in the field have all answered the question in the same very traditional way. However, as a student of the field, I intend to take a unique perspective on the question.

Strategic Dithering
“Hold your fire,” “bumble,” “muddle along,” and “don’t be in a hurry to make that decision,” are choice terminology. Or as in Maureen Dowd’s commentary, dither: “Amateur hour started when Obama dithered on Syria and failed to explain the stakes there.” Any number of commentators have fired off missiles about Obama’s dithering on Syria and all the trouble it gets us into.

Influence 101: Analyzing Your Audience for Personal Success
The most entertaining part of Super Bowl Sunday was not the game, but its television advertisements. That’s not especially surprising when you consider that the average cost of a Super Bowl ad was $3.7 million. All that moolah, much of which was spent on analyzing their audience and trying to determine what will pique interests and sell products.

Do You Have a Super Brain?
In Rudy Tanzi’s highly accessible and readable new book on neuroscience, the scientist distinguishes between the “baseline brain” and the “super brain.” With his co-author, Deepak Chopra, he sets out to unleash the explosive power of the human mind. They do a masterful job.

3 Rules for Mastering New Skills
How do you start something new? Whether it’s an exercise program, a simple task you’ve left on the back burner, or creating a new business from scratch — how do you get started?

Collective Intelligence...or Collective Stupidity?
Collective intelligence has been around for a long time — and in many different forms. For example, people from all over the world collectively created Wikipedia and Linux, high-quality intellectual products. But what makes for the best, the most trusted collective intelligence? Is it a lot of smart people, or perhaps more creative folk? It’s a highly significant question, because it speaks to the formation of teams and groups for gaining the most business impact.

The Six Key Competencies for Career Success
Dissect America’s corporate strategies and needs throughout the past 12 years, sort through the business-related research and anecdotal material, engage executives and entry-level employees, study the best journals and books, engage the top consulting firms and storied business school faculty, and you’ll find a phenomenal consensus on the needed competencies for career success.

The Geek Manifesto
Mark Henderson begins his Guardian review of his own book, The Geek Manifesto: Why Science Matters, with the reminder that “when drugs are launched, we expect rigorous testing. Yet with government strategy we rely on anecdote or public mood when empirical study could offer better results.”

Experts Aren't Necessarily the Best Mentors
Be very, very careful who you target for your mentors. Especially if you’re in the early years of your career, there’s a tendency to go for the real expert; those people with a depth of experience. But that can be a serious mistake.

How to 'Wow' Your Boss
Your boss can either help or hinder your career: wowing her/him will help your career. With an effective relationship, your boss can give you all kinds of support, insight, and linking to others in the organization.

Want to Make a Lot of Money? Don't Major in Business.
This is not a blog that business majors and their parents will want to read. In fact, the Penelope Trunks of the world were probably already pissed by the first paragraph. Tough!

The Surprising Secret of Success is Failure
At 77, I’ve long since quit stewing and being embarrassed over the fact that I was expelled from college for both social and academic reasons when I was a freshman. Unlike Bob Sternberg, who blew it in the fourth grade, I blew it my first year of college. Fact of the matter, aside from the woman I married and our three daughters, is that freshman failure was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

Blind Spots: Debunking Business Myths for Gen-Yers
I wish I had written this book. It’s desperately needed, has a built-in audience, and is written by a Gen-Yer for business Gen-Yers on the make for business success. My friend, Alexandra Levit, challenges the big ideas that so many believe but are so damned wrong.

Verify Your Intuition
In today’s highly competitive, fast-paced, volatile work world, employees are constantly being called upon to make decisions, often almost instantly. As a result, today’s workers rely heavily upon their intuition. There’s no doubt that intuitive thinking can be astonishingly effective for decision making. Intuition, in fact, is often described in almost mystical terms because of its contributions.

The Secret Sauce of Job Interviewing
Stories are the most primitive and consistently the most highly successful means for communicating. Analysis and statistics drive business thinking. They cut through myth, gossip, and speculation and excite the mind. Their strength is their objectivity, but that's also their weakness. They never offer a path to the heart. And that's where you need to go to motivate a recruiter or a manager to hire you.

It's Story Time: Telling Tales Can Get You the Job
Most job interviewees walk into the door ready to talk about their past experience and mention one irrelevant weakness. It’s rare, however, for an interviewee to have three or four good stories to narrate his or her successes. Good stories can make the difference between getting hired and getting a rejection note.

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