Justin Cohen's Blog
February 25, 2017
I’m excited to announce the premier of my television show on CBNC Africa. If you enjoy these emails I’m sure you’ll love the show.
It’s called Gurus. Here is the official press release:
“When the world looks to unlock it’s potential, we turn to an elite range of speakers and authors. Big businesses pay these rock stars of success up to $20 000 a speech. Now CNBC Africa viewers get an exclusive pass. First you’ll see them in front of a live audience next, Justin Cohen puts them in the hot seat, pushing them even harder to reveal the truth about success.”
Gurus premieres on Thursday 2nd March 2017, 21:15 CAT on CNBC Africa (DStv channel 410, StarTimes channel 309, Canal Plus 171)
December 8, 2016
What is the #1 reason people leave a job? If you think it’s money that’s 6th on list. So what’s number 1? Drum roll please … Lack of appreciation.
Yes, it may seem insignificant but in exit interviews this is the most sited reason for leaving – no one recognized my contribution.
Why? There is a direct connection between people’s self-esteem and their happiness. If I feel unvalued I feel depressed. If I feel depressed I want to leave. But appreciation doesn’t just make them want to stay, it boosts their performance.
Cornel university psychologists did a beautiful experiment on a group of doctors. Before going in to do a diagnosis for liver cirrhosis half the doctors got a token of appreciation – something small to thank them for doing a great job. The other group got nothing. The ones who got the thank you gift, made their diagnosis nearly twice as fast. They were also nearly 20% more accurate.
Appreciation comes in small ways it’s a smile, a thank you, a hand written note. The best way to ensure our customers are treated as kings is for us to treat one another that way.
If you want more from them give them more … love!
Want to create a high performance corporate culture powered by appreciation? Request information on Justin’s internationally acclaimed program – “Leadership Inside Out.” Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
November 21, 2016
If you wanted to create a brilliant artwork, business deal or invention do you think you’d be better off spending an extensive period of time on one creation or spending all that time on many?
Bayles and Orland tell the story of ceramics teacher who graded half her class on quality – they would get an A if they produced the perfect pot. The other half were graded on quantity, they would get an A if they produced 50 pounds of pots. So who achieved the highest quality, the ones who focused on quality or quantity? Turns out the highest quality pots were all created by the students who had focused on quantity. While the quality group spent their time on creating one great pot, it was by taking all that messy action and learning from their mistakes that the quantity group achieved an even greater pot.
Science proves the point. Research by Dean Sminton at UC Davis has found a direct correlation between output and quality. The people with the best work usually produce the most work and, incidentally, some of the worst work! It’s learning from mistakes that makes us better. Picasso produced over 20 000 paintings, Edison held over a thousand patents and Einstein had nearly 250 publications. It turns out that you need lots of work to create great work.
I’ve seen this so clearly in my own life. I struggled at school. I was not innately talented or smart but I have written a best selling book, largely because I’ve written five. When I first started I was a terrible writer. I’m not saying that I’m about to win the Nobel prize for literature but I’m good. I’m good because I take action. Lot’s of it.
Of course if you’re going to take all that action you better love what you do. You can’t just like the idea of being a writer you actually have to like writing. It doesn’t always have to be easy or pleasurable. At times it can be difficult and painful but there’s got to be some love because all that quantity takes a massive quantity of time and energy.
So, what ever you want to be great at … it takes quantity to produce quality.
October 24, 2016
We are on the brink of the 4th industrial revolution, what founder and chairman of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab calls nothing less than the transformation of humankind. Make no mistake this is a revolution that will change the way we live and work. You can see the beginnings in that little device in your pocket: ubiquitous, mobile supercomputing. You can see it in artificially-intelligent robots, self-driving cars, neuro-technological brain enhancements, genetic editing, and a reality TV talk show host with an extreme comb-over, who by the time you read this, may or may not be the leader of the free word. The evidence of dramatic change is all around us. And it’s happening at exponential speed.
The decline of labor
To understand how this affects work, look at how it already has. In 1990 Detroit was the planet’s economic juggernaut, producing more cars than anywhere else. The top three companies had revenues of around $250 billion. In 2014, Silicon Valley was the new economic power house. The top three companies produced about the same revenue as Detroit in 1990. But here’s the kicker – while the top three in Detroit employed 1.2 million people, the top three in Silicon Valley employed just 137 000 – 10 times fewer! Automation and digitalization have radically reduced the need for labor and will continue to do so.
The winning companies
It’s become a platitude of corporate speak but no word better describes the corporate zeitgeist than disruption. Established industries are being shaken up by nimble startups who are quicker to respond to changing currents. It’s easier to turn a speed boat than the Titanic. But even that speed boat may not stay afloat. In the 1920’s the average lifespan of an S&P 500 company was 67 years. Today it’s just 15.
The list of winners has become a chorus, speakers chant at corporate conferences. Airbnb, the biggest accommodation company that owns no property, Facebook, the world’s most popular media company that produces none of it’s content, and of course Uber, the biggest taxi company that owns no taxis. If you pity all those taxi companies that Uber put out of business, spare a thought for all the Uber drivers who will lose their jobs to self-driving cars. Change that used to take a generation now takes less than a decade. And it’s not just Uber drivers. According to Klaus Schwab, within the next ten years, 30% of all corporate audits will be performed by computers.
The end of death
We don’t realize how fast the world is changing because it’s happening all around us. Just like the earth. We don’t feel it spinning at 1600 km/hr, because we’re moving with it. So how fast is change happening? Where companies generally grew at a linear rate, according to computer scientist, Ray Kurzeil, today they can grow exponentially. What’s the difference? Take 30 steps linearly you get to 30, take 30 steps exponentially and you get to a billion!
No wonder Kurzweil and others believe at the current rate of progress in 2025 computers will become more powerful than humans, and within a couple of decades after, we could crack aging and death. Sound like a crackpot theory? It was on the cover of a Time Magazine article: “2045: The year that man becomes immortal.” Just think about it. All you need to do is eat healthily and exercise till 2045 and you could live forever!” Okay, I wouldn’t bet on it, but why does progress continue to accelerate at such an unbelievable speed?
Our new super powers
To understand progress today, you need to understand Moore’s Law – the doubling of computing power every 18 months. Gordon Moore made that observation in 1965 when he realized that the number of transistors per square inch of integrated circuit had doubled every year. That’s not quite true any more but data density has continued to double. Now in the early year’s of Moore’s observation doubling might not have meant very much but every year it means a whole lot more. To see what continual doubling leads to, fold a piece of paper in half. Not so impressive. But if you could fold a piece of paper 42 times how far do you think it would stretch? You would have a tower that would go to the moon. Fold it 103 times and it would be as thick as the universe! That’s exponential growth and that’s what’s happening to computing power as we speak.
Combine all that power with internet enabled crowd sourcing – that’s the ability to leverage the resources of almost anyone on the planet with a computer connection – and you see why in just five years Uber became more valuable than Delta Airlines. “Give me a lever long enough and I’ll move the world,” said Archamedes. That lever is the internet. Uber doesn’t pay for all those cars. Facebook certainly doesn’t pay us for our latest status update, but we’re building their business. No wonder that the companies at the heart of this tech boom are growing the fastest.
Just last week the CEO of one of South Africa’s top four banks told me that his biggest fear isn’t another bank, its Apple, Google, Amazon and Twitter who all have, or are starting to offer payment services.
With accelerating computing power and interconnection, it become even harder to say what is going to happen next. Who knows exactly what increasingly connected human intelligence working with even greater artificial intelligence will create? Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking believe that computers could take over and decide that the world would be better without human intelligence. I’m more optimistic that we won’t be murdered by a Frankenstein creation.
What ever happens in the end, management theorists like to describe the new world we live in as VUCA – volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. The term was created by the US Army War College to describe the world that emerged at the end of the Cold War but it is even better suited to the world we live in today. You only have to look at the rand to see volatility, the state of our politics to see uncertainty. Try sell a product in a world of TV, print, billboards, Facebook marketing, Google Adwords, Twitter …. and complexity will become your constant companion. As for ambiguity, just look at the various explanations for our stagnating growth.
Does that mean all we can do is throw our hands in the air and accept that the winds will blow as they may? Not at all. There is much we can do. In Norway, they have a saying: “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” Perhaps it is not a coincidence that Norway is ranked as the best place in the world to live. With an attitude like that even living in sub zero temperatures won’t stop your success.
The solution? Wake up to reality. In Zulu, Vuca – spelled Vuka – means “Wake Up”. Here is how to wake up and deal with it.
The joke is we need a one handed economist because economists generally tell us on the one hand the economy could rise and on the other it could fall. We need to prepare for either. Resilience is more important than prescience. Make sure you have a rainy day fund. Don’t be fooled by job security. Be the best that you can be and there will always be a place for you. When tough times come, as they will, embrace them as an opportunity to learn and grow. Adversity is the way life educates us.
You’ve heard it before – change is inevitable – except from a vending machine! What isn’t inevitable is our response. It’s widely thought that that Charles Darwin said the fittest will survive. Actually he said: those who are most responsive to change will survive. I say those who lead change will do more than survive, those are the ones who will thrive. I don’t know why change has become such a swear word, if tomorrow always looked like yesterday, life would bore us to tears. There is no certainty, just adventure!
There are multiple variables. We need to experiment with different options and be ready to fail. As they say in Silicon Valley, Fail fast and fail often. Actually there is no failure – only feedback! Besides, as Bill Gates says: “Success is a lousy teacher, it seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” If you do lose, as the the Dalai Lama says: “Don’t lose the lesson!”
Beware of anyone who claims to know the whole truth, particularly about the future. The Economist, the world’s most respected publication on the economy, never predicted the 2008 financial crash. Yet few would dispute the value of the perspective that it offers. In an ambiguous world, value is not in knowing the truth but in the depth and richness of your perspective. It is rarely one person who can offer this. The wisest person in the room, is the room. Don’t just use your brain, use all the brains you can borrow. The most intelligent people are the most socially intelligent. They are the ones who are able to leverage the intelligence of their network.
If you’re concerned about VUCA’s tempestuous currents, forget about predicting the next storm rather build a better ship!
This article is based on Justin Cohen’s new presentation VUCA: Success in the 4th industrial revolution. Justin is a bestselling author and international speaker. For more information go to www.justinpresents.com
July 29, 2016
June 13, 2016
Do Affirmations Work?
Can a word or phrase change your emotional state? “Irritation, frustration, hatred, revenge, rage, disease, death.” How are you feeling? Now listen to this: “Love, beauty, kindness, joy, wonder, calm, happiness.” Feeling different? Probably. Words don’t just change the way we feel, they change the way we behave.
New York University psychologists exposed one group of people to words such as “rude” and “disrespectful” while another group read sentences with words like “respectful” and “polite”. They then went into a room where they had to pass on a message to someone in the middle of a conversation. More than three times as many of the people reading the impoliteness related words interrupted the speaker.
Clearly words can change our state and behaviour without as even realizing it. That’s the problem with those news bulletins filled as they are with love and cheer, when they’re over they’re not over in your head.
But does repeating an affirmation like: “I am a well loved and respected person, capable of greatness,” boost self esteem? Research published in the journal of psychological science found that when people with low self-esteem repeat these sorts of statements they often feel worse. Why? How do you think you would feel if you just had your arm blown off and then repeated an affirmation that said: “I have two beautiful, healthy arms.” You’d probably find yourself focusing even more on what you know to be the truth, that you … don’t. When you repeat a positive statement that you really don’t believe it can reinforce the opposite.
The same researchers found that these affirmations can work when the underlying self-loathing beliefs are changed through talk therapy.
But can an affirmation boost your intellectual power? A Carnegie Mellon University study found that thinking about ones top values before a test increased student’s problem solving ability by 50%. The researchers believe this is because the positive statements reduced the students stress levels. So as long as you believe the affirmation it can lift your mood, destress you and even boost your intellect.
May 3, 2016
In 1979 researchers asked Harvard MBA graduates about their goals. 84% had no specific goals, 13% had goals but they weren’t committed to paper. Just 3% had clear, written goals with plans to achieve them. In 1989, the reviewers interviewed them again and found that the 3% who had goals were earning ten times as much as the other 97% put together. Incredible right? Just one thing. The study is a lie. It never happened. In fact you’ll find a version of it that happened at Yale university in 1953. That’s also fiction. Yet there are thousands of references to this “scientific study” on Google. It has been cited by many personal development luminaries including Anthony Robbins and Brian Tracy. Many years ago I spoke about it on one of my audiobooks before a kind listener alerted me to the truth.
Unfortunately the personal growth field has propagated many myths about success. Why? Often the myths contain seeds of truth. Research does show that people with clear, written well-formulated goals tend to be more successful than those without. Exaggerate that truth with a fictional study and you give me an even more compelling reason to write down my goals. The lie almost seems worth it. The problem is that these exaggerations set us up for disappointment. If I write down my goals and don’t start achieving massive success I may start to think there is something wrong with me and quickly give up. Worse, I may think that writing down goals is the only thing that’s required for success.
I love the personal development field. It’s given me the tools to live the life of my dreams but I also think its time to separate fact from fiction. Fact is not always as sensational as fiction but its way more empowering.
February 8, 2016
Why some people don’t feel stress
Researchers at Harvard gave people a social stress test. Kelly McGonagall explains it likes this: Imagine you’ve got to give a five-minute impromptu speech on your weaknesses to a panel of experts who roll their eyes every time you stutter. Now they make you count backwards from 996 in steps of 7. Try it. Come on, what’s wrong with you!? Sadism is a useful character trait in stress researchers. For most people the stress response kicks in. Adrenaline and cortisol pump through the body, raising breathing, heart rate, blood pressure and constricting the blood vessels.
But before another group gave their speeches, they were told that the stress they were likely to feel was good. Their increased breathing was pumping oxygen into their brains making them more alert. Their rapid heartbeat was helping them raise their performance. Their bodies were gearing them not for fear and failure but courage and success.
Amazingly, the ones who were taught to see their stress response as good, were not just less anxious and more confident, their hearts pumped more efficiently and their blood vessels didn’t constrict. Vascular constriction is what makes stress dangerous. Seems even when stressed, if you have a healthy mind you can have a healthy heart. The father of modern psychology William James said: “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability choose one thought over another.” The next time you feel stressed try changing your thinking. Remind yourself that your body is preparing you to perform at your peak.
November 24, 2015
Research by Nobel-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman found that increasing income level does increase happiness but only up until about $75 000. After that more money just brings … more money!
But even under $75 000, money is not nearly as important as something else. Researchers at University of California University asked groups of people who knew one another to fill out a questionnaire about their level of income and happiness. They found that those with more wealth were no happier then those with less. This came as a surprise. For a long time we’ve known that money doesn’t sustainably boost happiness – watch the Human Experiment episode on “How to be happier than a lottery winner” to see why. But psychologists still believed that socioeconomic status mattered. Your socioeconomic status measures the amount of success and money you have in comparison to those close to you. The theory was that if a close friend or family member had a nicer car or home that could create envy. Yet surprisingly this didn’t have much bearing on happiness.
The revelation came when researchers asked people to rate how much they respected and admired one another. Here they found a direct connection. The more admired and respected a student, the happier she was. Psychologists call this sociometric status – the degree to which someone is liked or disliked by their peer group.
To boost your happiness, you don’t need more money what you need is to be more liked and respected. How do you do that? People like people who are givers. Get engaged with your peer group, contribute, add value. The key to happiness is not getting, it’s giving.
October 28, 2015
When it comes to losing weight the exact program you’re on is less important than this one thing.
Researchers from Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research put 1 600 people on a weight loss program. Half the group recorded their daily food intake and exercise minutes at least six days a week. The other half did not. Three months later, the group that had tracked
their behaviour doubled the amount of weight they lost. Daily tracking is a form of personal accountability that massively increases your chances of achieving your goals. To track progress towards your other goals, at the end of each day simply write down what you did that day to achieve the goal. That will prompt you to take more action the following day.
I have developed a Habit Tracker accountability chart to help you. Go to www.justinpresents.com/accountability to download it for free.
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