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Forge
A publication from Medium on personal development.

Leadership

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Wisdom can only be gained the hard way

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I walked into the room feeling like the least accomplished person in there. It was an invite-only group for tech founders whose companies had hit certain milestones. A support group of sorts. A place to vent frustrations, share struggles, and swap strategy in private — away from the judgmental ears of investors.

Why, you ask, should such a group exist? Because try telling your mom that you blew your tech budget on an agency that didn’t have a full stack tech team.

Or, one person might say, “I’m being sued.”

“Me, too!” “So are we!” “Us too!” …


A cheat sheet for quiet people who want to be seen

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“What the hell am I doing here?” I thought to myself. “This place isn’t for me!”

Cigarette packs, coffee cups, and manilla folders were everywhere. I felt like I’d just walked into the set of a bad sales movie. The year was 2003. The place was Baltimore. The people who weren’t screaming into their phones were yelling at each other about how many deals they had going.

Just as I began to think about making a run for the back door, the corporate trainer stuck his head outside the conference room and shouted, “We’re in here, Mike! Let’s go!”

I…


With practice, women can unlearn the social cues that have made us smaller

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When I was in elementary school, a teacher came up to me to quietly tell me that I was sitting incorrectly. I was reading a book and I had my ankle on my knee. She told me that it was impolite; that’s how men sit. According to her, women sit with their legs crossed more closely, one thigh over the other.

What? I remember feeling embarrassed but confused. It didn’t make sense to me. …


Here’s how to create a winning one

Photo: Watcharin Panyawutso/EyeEm/Getty Images

You’ve surely heard the protest chant:

“What do we want? [Insert social change here.] When do we want it? NOW!”

But imagine walking by a protest and hearing this:

“What do we want? We’re not really sure!”

“When do we want it? Whenever you get around to it is fine! Thank you!”

Doesn’t have the same ring to it.

And yet that’s closer to how we talk to ourselves when we’re trying to make a change to our habits or routines. We say to others, “Do it or else!” But we say to ourselves, “Give it a try sometime, or…


The habit can help drive your best ideas forward

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Earlier this year, I wrote about the seven emails you should send every week to get ahead in your career. Getting into people’s inboxes can help you strengthen your connections, stay top of mind as opportunities come up, and learn about industry trends. But sometimes, you want to dive deeper than a few paragraphs. For that, my tool of choice is the good, old-fashioned phone call.

I reserve at least an hour a day to take calls while going for a walk — it’s my all-in-one networking, ideation, and Vitamin D solution. I like to choose a mix of people…


Learn to look beyond the first question

Photo: Luis Alvarez/Getty Images

One of the best pieces of business advice I received when I was starting out as a consultant was to “keep pulling on the thread.” In other words: Don’t fall for the first answer, or the second answer. To get to the root cause of a challenge, you need to keep asking “why” to cut through the excuses and red herrings. It’s only after asking a long series of questions that you’re able to get from “Why is this company’s stock price in the toilet?” …


If you like Marcus Aurelius, you’ll love the Medici

Portrait of Italian banker and politician Cosimo de’ Medici (1389–1464), the first member of the Medici political dynasty that served as de facto rulers of Florence during the Italian Renaissance period. Photo: The Print Collector/Getty Images

Greek philosophy is booming today, with everyone from Silicon Valley bros to NFL teams studying the words of the Stoics.

We can largely thank the Medici family for this.

In the 1400s, Greece and its great works were walled off from the west. The Medici family was at the time building a banking fortune in Florence and making a series of brilliant political chess moves that made them de facto rulers of the city. One of those moves was to fund the translation of works by Plato, Epictetus, Hippocrates, Galen, and Homer. …


Networking from home has become a seriously valuable skill

Photo: Westend61/Getty Images

About a month into the pandemic, I received a flurry of emails that boiled down to this: Half of my work contracts were being cut. At first, I was frantic. But quickly, I was able to replace the lost contracts with new ones. How? I owe it all to a practice I’ve been doing for the last three years.

Every week, no matter what I have going on, I reach out to one new person who is doing something I think is cool and request a chance to talk to them on the phone. I know this might sound terrifying…


Arranging your calendar by hue can help your brain process the day ahead and get more done

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Creating a manageable schedule isn’t easy, but you know what’s even more difficult? Sticking to it.

Here are the problems with the typical calendar: When you glance at it, you probably just see a wall of to-dos. You aren’t gaining an understanding of the type of tasks that occupy your schedule or how urgent they are. You also aren’t seeing ways to leverage your energy levels to maximize your productivity. And you have no idea whether the way you’re spending your time is in line with your goals.

A way to conquer all of this? Start color-coding your calendar.

Simply…


A short guide to empathetic leadership during a crisis

Manager on a video call with his team.
Manager on a video call with his team.
Photo: Luis Alvarez/Getty Images

Co-authored by Johnathan Nightingale

Just as we were early in the pandemic, we’re currently in the fog.

This is one we could see rolling in months in advance: At the end of a year of anxiety and suffering and “grimace” emojis, this presidential election is momentous. As we write this, the results are not obvious, just as many expected. But predicting the fog doesn’t give us a greater ability to see through it once it arrives.

In the fog, simple helps, so let’s keep it short: Here are three things bosses need to do this week, regardless of what happens…

Forge

A publication from Medium on personal development.

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