Book Review: So Good They Can’t Ignore You

For Christmas, my brother got me a book by Cal Newport called “So Good They Can’t Ignore You”. Well its almost April and I finally got around to reading it. The title was a little misleading. The book is actually more about how to find happiness than getting so good they can’t ignore you. That said Newport did a great job laying out a plan on how to derive more happiness out of your career, which I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend you read the book when you have a chance. If you want to borrow my copy feel free to send me a message.

In the book, Newport gives you 4 rules to follow to lead yourself to a happier career.

RULE 1. Following your passion is terrible advice. I thought this was the weakest of the rules in the book. I’ve always felt that your career should be a balance of things people will pay you to do, things you are good at, and things you like to do. Newport argues the point that every job is going to have things that no one likes to do so instead you should focus on building skills in your chosen line of work.

RULE 2. Build skills that are rare and valuable. Newport calls this career capital. I happen to call it plain old skills. I thought Newport offered some insightful advice in this section because he talked about how people who are true experts in their field get that way by doing deliberate practice. Deliberate practice is measured and focused practice on a specific thing in the expert’s field.

RULE 3. Seek out control. Control plays a major role in how happy you will be in a given job. Understand that there has to be balance between control and skills. If you can’t figure out how to file folders correctly don’t expect your boss to let you control your own schedule. On the other hand, if you are the only one in the office who can run the accounting software don’t be afraid to tell your boss when it works best for you to do the job.

RULE 4. Have a mission. Your mission, vision, and values need to be guiding your actions. I couldn’t agree more with this rule. One tip Newport recommended that I thought was an interesting idea was to attempt small experiments to see if they help achieve your mission. This blog happens to be one of my small experiments to see if I can make the world a more efficient place.

Have you used any of these rules to make your career more enjoyable? Let me know how in the comments.

I was not compensated for this review. I am an affiliate with Amazon and am compensated a small amount for each sale made by someone who uses my link. If you would like to do me a favor copy this link into your favorites and use it to navigate to amazon. http://amzn.to/2klSyPo

Be Efficient with your Time – Learn to Make Your Own Shortcut Keys

The other day I talked about learning how to use shortcut/hot keys to make yourself more efficient while using the computer. So at this point I’m going to assume you’ve completely mastered Windows, Word, and Excel hot keys and your boss bought you a new computer because you were making the old one look so slow.  It feels good doesn’t it. There is only one problem. You want more. You get that first taste of flying through a program as fast as it can go and you realize there should be a hot key for the next action you want to take, but there isn’t.

This is where a program called AutoHotkey steps in to solve your problem. AutoHotkey is a program that can record macros, run scripts, and expand text. These words might sound intimidating to some of you, but I assure you AutoHotkey is amazingly easy to use. With these functions combined it makes for an incredibly powerful automation tool.

One of the features that makes AutoHotkey so easy to use is that it has great documentation about how to use the tool. The help manual that comes with the program is extremely well written.  Whenever I have had a problem in AutoHotkey and consulted the help manual I have been able solve my problem within a matter of a few minutes. If you get past the beginner problems and start to face more difficult problems AutoHotkey has a huge community of users who help one and another out with their problems using the tool. You would have to try very hard to stump some of the people on the AutoHotkey forums.

AutoHotkey is free to download.

I’ll share my most commonly used AutoHotkey hot key. My AutoHotkey is super handy when using Excel and wanting to paste special values because it is done in one fluid step rather than three steps.  Usually you would have to press Ctrl, Alt, v, to bring up the paste special menu then v to select the values, then hit enter.  Instead I used AutoHotkey to do this task by pressing Shift(+), Alt(^), Ctrl(!), and v all at the same time and it sends a message to the computer to send Alt(^), Ctrl(!), and v followed by v again and then hitting enter.

+^!v::
Send ^!vv{Enter}
Return

Do you use any programs similar to AutoHotkey? Do you have any similar tips the world shouldn’t go on without hearing about? Let me know in the comments.

I did not receive any form of compensation for this review. It is just my honest opinion. If you have another similar software that you think I’m missing out on let me know I’d love to check it out.

Negotiating Strategy and Tactics – Anchoring

Yesterday I started talking about negotiation as a skill to develop to lead a more efficient life.

Have you ever been in a negotiation where you made an offer and the other party immediately accepted your offer and left you feeling like you offer way too much?

Today I’m going to talk about the strategies and tactics I use when negotiating to help avoid that feeling like you could have done better. Be aware of the strategies and tactics available for you to use in a negotiation makes seeing through them easier.

The first strategy is anchoring. Anchoring is the idea that people are attached to the first number they hear or see. Retailers everywhere use anchoring to make you think you are getting a better deal than you really are. Look at this watch below. Do you really think anyone ever paid $695 dollars for it. No, but it makes you think at $59.99 it is a pretty good deal.

Watch anchor

Tactics for using anchoring

When you should give out the first number

If you have a solid understanding of the value of an item or service and there is a well-defined market you should eagerly try to provide the first number in the negotiation. Of course, your number should be slightly higher than you expect to get, but should be a reasonable number. You are trying to anchor the other party to this value in their head.

When you shouldn’t give out the first number

If you are negotiating over something that doesn’t have a well-defined value or market, you should avoid making the first offer because you may inadvertently give away a large portion of the negotiating range without realizing it. If you have done this, a poor negotiator will immediately accept your offer leaving you with that feeling like you could have done better. An experience negotiator will immediately recalibrate their expectations and bargain with you further, you’ll never know you gave away a bunch of value. Next time you are negotiating and hear someone accept your offer a little too quick take that as opportunity to learn that you likely left money on the table during that negotiation.

How you should react after hearing an offer

You’ve managed to avoid giving the first number and now you’ve just heard what the other party’s offer will be. It is a better offer than you could have imaged and you want to jump up and down and accept it immediately. DON’T! Everyone will feel better about the negotiation if you act interested but not impressed. Use this time as an opportunity to learn more about the other party and how they arrived at that number. Once you’ve learned more about the offer if you find it is truly remarkable go ahead and accept it otherwise feel free to politely counter it with and offer of your own. If you do chose to the counter the offer you should expect that the final number will end up being split between their initial offer and your initial counter offer.

What are your experiences with making the first offer or not making the first offer? Let me hear your story below.

Be Efficient with your Skills – Learn to Negotiate

Negotiation is one of those things that crosses many different realms of efficiency. It is definitely a skill that you can acquire through practice. When it is done well you will see massive gains in both capital and time. Negotiating only takes a few minutes, but can make large percentages of cost go away.

Being a skilled negotiator requires two primary skills:

  1. Good Communication
  2. High Level of Awareness

Good communication is critical because it opens doors that weren’t always obvious. Good negotiators look for ways to create a win-win situation. They do this by understanding their counterpart and learning where they are deriving the most value from the transaction. There are often negotiations where two parties have interests that are not in direct in conflict with one another.

You might be asking how can that be? When negotiating you either pay more money or less right? Not quite. The biggest mistake in negotiating I see is that people assume they are fighting over a fixed piece amount. Fix NegotInstead you should always look for ways that you can make the total amount you are fighting over larger. This comes in many forms. Great communicators are able to find those points where everyone can win. Instead of focusing on the size of the piece of a hypothetical pie you are going to get try to focus on how you can add additional pie to the deal. It is always better to split two pies than one. This is how win-win negotiating should look.

Winwin Negot

Let me give you a fictitious example about how understanding value can create a win for everyone. Let’s say I have a pair of old couches that are sitting in my garage and my wife has said if they aren’t gone by the end of July she is going to hire someone to take them away. I really don’t want to pay anyone to come take the couches away because I think I could sell them for at least $400. Yea they are old, but they are very well built, real leather, and from a non-smoking home. Definitely not trash. The master negotiator comes over to look at the couches. He determines they are not worth $400 dollars to him, but he would be willing to pay up to $200 dollars. We continue to talk and he asks all kinds of questions and eventually learns of my predicament and how the couches are going to wind up trashed unless I sell them. This is when the master negotiator comes up with a win-win situation.  If not sold, he would be to offer to buy the couches at a reduced rate at the end of the month, just before the moving guys show up to haul the couches to the dump. This gives me a chance to sell them at the value I think they are worth, but also prevents me from taking a loss on the couches should I not be able to find a buyer by the end of the month.

In my next post I’m going to talk about ways to raise your awareness when negotiating, including many of the ways you can get tripped up in the negotiation process.

I also happen to have two couches for sale. I may or may not have to sell them by the end of July. If you know someone in the market maybe we can work out a win-win-win deal where you paid a commission.