Bloomberg Businessweek is one of my favorite magazines. And the best of the best is its annual "How-to issue" (April 2013). What I particularly like about this issue is how it mixes the lowbrow, "How to eat crow" with the vaguely practical, "How to live on snacks." Plus the curious, "How to drive a supercar" and the esoteric, "How to get rich with tattoos."
The fun part for me is stringing together a series of these ideas to create a larger concept, a direction, a strategy. Watch as I take random quotes and throw them together with a certain serendipity hoping it provides inspiration for your current or future project.
Let’s start with a little secret: "Always phrase your own ideas as if someone else has said them." —Matt Selman, Simpsons producer (How to Manipulate Creative People)
Now what do you want to accomplish?
"When I give a talk, I explain the same concept three different times. The first time is the technical explanation, with all the code and math … then I’ll explain it a second time, walking people through what that means ... and then the third time I explain the concept, I give a succinct, easily tweetable sound bite." —Bitly's Hilary Mason (How to Make Complicated Things Simple (With Kittens))
"When the host asks a question, the very first thing you do is answer it. Don’t duck it, don’t hide, don’t run from it." —PR Expert Rich Masters (How to Argue Like a Pundit)
"My self-motivation is (a) fear of failure and (b) desire to win … there’s always the opportunity for some 18-year-old to come out of nowhere and crush you ... when you’re an entrepreneur, you’re always trying to win. You’re always trying to improve. You’re always trying to compete for customers. You’re always trying to stay ahead ... you’re always trying to kick your own ass before someone else does." —Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and chairman of AXS TV (How to Motivate Yourself)
"Ideas are the most powerful thing in the world, far more powerful than money ... everybody is capable of changing their lives and the lives of others by thinking big. It takes imagination, courage, and the will to work hard ... the great John F. Kennedy said words to this effect: ‘A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.’ The best ideas are highly contagious. They can cross borders and cultures." —'Titanic' Replica Builder Clive Palmer (How to Think Big)
"The first thing to consider is where you want to be ... find a place you’re passionate about ... this is not a business for anyone who wants to turn a quick profit ... you’re a farmer. You can’t control the weather ... you can’t irrigate in a dry year ... even if it’s a business you love, you still want it to make money." —Former Citigroup Chairman Richard Parsons (How to Own a Vineyard)
"What she meant was you’ve really got to embody what you are trying to communicate. Ultimately, that’s more important than mere words. You also have to have passion and belief. My dad worked for IBM. He said, ‘Look, I can’t sell products I don’t believe in. People will see right through me. But if I’m passionate and have a deep conviction about what I am doing, I’m the greatest salesman there is.’" —Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, N.J. (How to Get People to Listen)
So then, how do you do it?
"When I first got to Chicago and was doing improvisational comedy, there was a group of folks from Ivy League schools ... there was another group from Midwestern universities, the Chris Farley types who were like, ‘We are going to swear onstage and take our shirts off.’ There was a fascinating balance there. It created a great blend of intellectual comedy and slapstick. That’s exactly the mix you want to foster in a company. On one hand you have your innovators. These are your dropouts and visionaries ... a fundamental principle of improv is listening and accepting any initiation ... I want my managers to listen to their employees’ perceptions, not ignore them. Managers have to be open to accepting any kind of initiation." —Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter (How to Run Your Company Like an Improv Group)
"My instinct has told me to hire people I trust—those who have strong belief in their own convictions and the experience to back it up … " —Natalie Massenet, founder of Net-A-Porter (How to Follow Your Instincts)
"At the beginning it’s better to have fewer people who are on your side than many people who want to change what you feel is right. In our early days, instinct was everything. Slowly experience took over, and I’ve had to work hard to ensure that I value experience but allow it to coexist with gut reaction." —Natalie Massenet, founder of Net-A-Porter (How to Follow Your Instincts)
"Understand your consumers and what motivates them ... know your employees and what they are capable of ... we do an enormous amount of research. Don’t bet the ranch without any consumer insights or experience." —Lew Frankfort, CEO of Coach (How to Reinvent a Brand)
"You want to know your opponents’ arguments as well as your own." —PR Expert Rich Masters (How to Argue Like a Pundit)
"So gather your data, analyze it, understand what does and doesn’t work, and be transparent and accountable." —Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, author of Giving 2.0. (How to Ask Donors for Money)
"There are so many ways to work—as a team, solo—and so many kinds of workers, from introverts to extroverts and so on. We create many different places so people can be as productive as possible … " —Christopher Coleman, global design director at Google (How to Create a Workplace People Never Want to Leave)
Click here to keep reading.
Remember: Even with a good and diverse team you also have to create the right kind of workplace.
"People get their best ideas in a more relaxed environment ... a wine cellar, some great artwork, guitars to strum, and a ton of places to sit and talk." —Bill Lee, CEO of Twist and an angel investor (How to Work from Your Man Cave)
"One trick is to design spaces with a diversity of scale, light and mood. It’s really hard to do, and it looks like we are just making up these crazy spaces … one of the earlier amenities we provided were micro-kitchens. It was an amazing, vibrant place where people connected before they started their workday ... a few years ago we introduced sit-stand desks ... it changes the worker’s environment all through the day and gives them flexibility to work how they work." —Christopher Coleman, global design director at Google (How to Create a Workplace People Never Want to Leave)
With the right people and place, now it’s up to you to excel. You have to be willing to make the leap.
"Fear gets problematic when it becomes your focal point ... another technique was to actively look for the positives ... let your fear inform you." —Felix Baumgartner, set the record for highest and longest sky dive by jumping from 24 miles above the earth (How to Overcome Fear)
"If you’re supposed to know something and you don’t, try listening. I don’t mean fake listening but real listening ... ignorance is a perfectly reasonable position to take in a conversation. I don’t know everything you do. If I did, why would I bother talking to you?" —Craig Ferguson, host of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (How to Look Like You Know What You’re Talking About)
And don't be afraid to pause for a moment.
"The priority is creating time for silence so we can process ideas, react instinctively to them, give them strong business foundations, and ensure they are in line with the idea that launched us in the first place." —Natalie Massenet, founder of Net-A-Porter (How to Follow Your Instincts)
"Through this simple exercise you can learn to appreciate what is going on right now, as opposed to being lost in the past or future." —Lodro Rinzler, author of The Buddha Walks Into a Bar… (How to Meditate)
Because ultimately …
"The real communicators are the ones who can motivate people to act—and ultimately to lead themselves." —Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, N.J. (How to Get People to Listen)
And if all else fails …
"There’s another trick in there, too: When you show people a picture of a kitten, they’ll get happy, and then they’ll think they liked your talk." —Bitly's Hilary Mason (How to Make Complicated Things Simple (With Kittens))
"Thank you." —Mark Hafen, AIA, Founder and principal of Animal Arts (How to baffle and bemuse)