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Forge
A publication from Medium on personal development.

Leadership

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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?” …


Including the calendar system that helps Jerry Seinfeld stay focused

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It’s a scenario most of us can relate to: You set a big goal for yourself—maybe you wanted to write a book, or start your own business, or perform standup comedy. In trying to achieve that goal, you had waves of motivation, but they were never enough to push you to the finish line. So you stopped trying. Now, years later, you look back at your life and realize that nothing has really changed. You start to think that maybe you’re just not smart, talented, or brave enough to do the thing you wanted to do.

I spent a good…


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

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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…


We need to start leading ourselves

Photo: Steve Carell as Michael Scott in “The Office.” Photo: Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

The signs of boss-exhaustion are all around us.

I’m not just talking about the obvious example of an election that will seal the fate of our ineffectual Boss-in-Chief (that is, if the virus doesn’t get there first). Earlier this year, the CrossFit CEO Greg Glassman, Bon Appétit Editor-in-Chief Adam Rapoport, and the New York Times Opinion editor James Bennet were all ousted from their positions within the same month. Meanwhile, journalists declared “the end of the girlboss” — a rejection of the careerist “lean in” model of women’s empowerment put forward by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and reinforced by a…


Photo: FOX Image Collection / Getty

On Monday, Ellen DeGeneres opened the latest season of her long-running daytime talk show with a mea culpa. The monologue was ostensibly DeGeneres’ effort to claim responsibility for allegations, from current and former show staffers, that her show was a toxic and abusive work environment. An apology, if you will. Except that it was seven minutes long.

Here’s the thing about apologies. They aren’t seven minutes long.

Sure, apologies aren’t a science. To my knowledge, nobody’s figured out the empirical cutoff time for what constitutes a legitimate “sorry.” But apologies aren’t exactly abstract concepts, either. …


And how to handle them

Stressed female employee with a frustrated male boss at work.
Stressed female employee with a frustrated male boss at work.
Photo: ljubaphoto/Getty Images

Once, during a trip to visit my colleagues at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, I spent nearly eight hours over the course of a week waiting for people to show up to meetings because they were running late, or in some cases, had completely forgotten. Another time, I worked on a strategy proposal all weekend, only to find out my boss had waited to tell me it was no longer needed. Earlier this year, I had to scramble on a project that I waited a month to get the green light on.

I’m sure you have plenty of your own…

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