Peter’s Links of the Week (Jan. 24-30)

[Assorted] Links of the week:

Employee engagement – improved performance (The Telegraph)

Luis von Ahn on Learning Languages, Building Companies, and Changing the World (The Tim Ferriss Show)

As Boomers Retire, Companies Prepare Millennials for Leadership Roles (BloombergBusiness)

Productivity tip of the week:

Apple has this cool feature called “Spotlight Search” that allows you to search a myriad of items in your computer. You can also use Spotlight to do some quick calculations. Hold command + spacebar and the Spotlight will activate. From there type in any equation (e.g. 837*30). You’ll see that the solution pops up right in the search bar. Cool eh?

Quote of the week:

As long as you live, keep learning how to live. – Seneca

Product/service I’m loving:

Duolingo. If you haven’t heard of it, you may have been living under a rock over the past 4 years. This is perhaps the best language learning tool that I’ve come across to date. If you’re trying to learn a new language or improve upon a language you already know, this is worth downloading. Oh, and not to mention it’s free.

The co-founder of Duolingo, Luis von Ahn, appeared on The Tim Ferriss Show earlier this month. Check out the link above for the interview. There’s some fascinating stories about Luis and how Duolingo came to be.

Videos/documentaries I’m digging:

I just binge watched Making a Muderer on Netflix last week. If you enjoyed the Serial podcast series, you’ll enjoy this show. It’s a story that will take you in multiple directions and ultimately question how our very own criminal justice system works.

As always, thank you to those that liked, re-tweeted, or commented on my Tweets. See you on next week’s round up!

Seven Questions to Ask Yourself Everyday (Part I)

This post is a two-part series on the Seven Questions to Ask Yourself Everyday. Part II will be released next week.

Awareness is like the sun. When it shines on things, they are transformed. – Thich Nhat Hanh

Last year, I read a book called Triggers by Marshall Goldsmith and summarized my key takeaways. It’s an excellent book about how triggers in your environment can have a significant impact on your behaviour whether you’re aware of it or not.

One of the key takeaways from Triggers was about the power of awareness in helping us change our behaviour. Changing our behaviour – especially as an adult – is possibly one of the most difficult challenges we’ll ever face. After all, we’ve ingrained behaviours and routines for years and years, and changing our behaviours can mean fundamentally changing the way we live.

Goldsmith provides a really practical tool to help us create awareness called the Six Daily Questions. The concept is simple – ask yourself six questions at the end of every single day and rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 based on how well you think you did with the question.

I was a little skeptical about this concept at first but I decided to trial it for a few weeks to see if it made an impact in my life. After all, Goldsmith is one of the most celebrated leadership coaches of all time and I figured what works for them might work for me.

Before we go through the questions, I should explain how these questions should be asked. I’ve journaled in the past to questions like “What was the highlight of my day?” or “List three things you are you grateful for today” but I often felt a disconnect with the questions.

I’m not sure how to explain this but when I was answering those types of questions it felt more like a passive exercise. Almost like I was recounting someone else’s day (although it was my day) and it lacked the sense of forward progress on why I did what I did that day.

Don’t get me wrong, I think reflection is very important in creating awareness, but with the goal of becoming a better version of myself everyday, I felt like those reflections questions weren’t capturing those thoughts properly.

So here’s how Goldsmith’s Six Questions differ: they all begin with the phrase “Did I do my best to…?”

When you start every question with “Did I do my best to…?” the question goes from passive reflection to active thinking. Instead of “Did I achieve this goal today?”, you’re asking yourself what effort did I put in to achieve this goal? The question becomes about the intention and effort you put into that goal rather than the result.

With Goldsmith’s Six Questions, you’re not trying to control the result (we often don’t have immediate control over that) but you’re trying to develop the improvement process. This makes every question I ask a lot more powerful because now I have the ability to honestly answer to myself – did I really do my best today or is there room for improvement?

Hopefully that makes sense. Now, onto the six questions.

Goldsmith’s Six Questions

  1. Did I do my best to set clear goals today?
  2. Did I do my best to make progress towards my goals today?
  3. Did I do my best to find meaning today?
  4. Did I do my best to be happy today?
  5. Did I do my best to build positive relationships today?
  6. Did I do my best to be fully engaged today?

These are six great questions to start with and will provide you with a baseline of questions to answer everyday. Below you’ll find a slightly different version with seven questions I ask myself everyday.

My Seven Questions

  1. Did I do my best to set clear goals today?
  2. Did I do my best to make progress towards my goals today?
  3. Did I do my best to create meaning for myself or others today?
  4. Did I do my best to be happy today?
  5. Did I do my best to build positive relationships today?
  6. Did I do my best to be fully engaged today?
  7. Did I do my best to be physically and emotionally healthy today?

You’ll notice that Question #3 for me is modified slightly to clarify that meaning can be created for me or for others. Question #7 was added as health and wellness – both physically and mentally – are important pieces for me.

Your questions might look different than mine or Goldsmith’s – and that’s okay. You have different objectives and priorities in your life so making the questions relevant to them is critical to making this “sticky” for you.

Regardless of which questions you end up with, my recommendation is to setup some sort of system – a notebook, an Word document, a spreadsheet, etc. – to help you keep track of your scores. Remember, you’re scoring yourself between a 1 to 10. With 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest.

At a minimum, try these questions out over a period 21 days. Even if you need to stop after 21 days, you’ll get a good baseline of where you stand with your questions. You’ll build awareness of areas in your life that you’ve got under control, that might be a little of out of control, and bring light to areas that you thought were important but maybe not as much as you originally thought.

In Part II of this post (to be released next week), I’ll take you through how to make this process even stickier by introducing the accountability partner, a spreadsheet template, and automation tools to help you remember to record your scores. If you think of this article here as the WHY you should ask these questions, Part II is more of HOW and WHAT of implementing this in your life.

Peter’s Links of the Week (Jan. 17-23)

[Assorted] Links of the week:

Homes built for Millennials – VIDEO (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

The Benefits of Wild Salmon (Bulletproof)

Employee Engagement Low at Eastern Health (VOCM)

Help Your Team Manage Stress, Anxiety, and Burnout (Harvard Business Review)

Productivity tip of the week:

If you duplicate tabs on Google Chrome often, you know that there’s no standard keyboard shortcut that allows you to do it quickly. The Duplicate Tab Shortcut Key is a free extension to set a shortcut (I use alt+shift+k) to create duplicate tabs. Shave off a couple of seconds everytime you have to click and select duplicates!

Quote of the week:

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.

– Albert Einstein

Product/service I’m loving:

Ever had ideas in the shower that went “down the drain” (hohoho) as soon as you stepped out? No longer will that be an issue for you. Aqua Notes is a waterproof notepad that sticks to your shower walls so you can note down any idea that pops up during a shower. There is also science behind why showers or baths are the perfect storm for great ideas.

As always, thank you to those that liked, re-tweeted, or commented on my Tweets. See you on next week’s round up!

Actionable Book Summary: “Manager 3.0” by Brad Karsh and Courtney Templin

“If I know anything about millennials, it is that you have the resolve to change the face of leadership and chart a new course for the way business – and therefore our world – works.”

– Manager 3.0 (page 132)

In early 2015, millennials became the largest generation in the US workforce – surpassing the Baby Boomers and Generation X. Looking ahead into the next few years, millennials will become an important part of the workforce as many will assume leadership positions in their organizations. If you are a millennial looking to take a leadership role, preparing for that opportunity is paramount.

There are a lot of challenges in the world of work today. Only 1/3 of the workforce is “engaged” and people are looking for greater meaning and purpose in the work that they do. As millennials, we have the power to create a workplace that is more collaborative, innovative, and fulfilling. According to Marcus Buckingham, the number one reason people quit their jobs is because of their managers. We can change that. We can provide leadership people are inspired by. It won’t be easy but we’re in a great position to make this happen.

As a millennial manager myself, I found Manager 3.0 to be a helpful resource. The book is written specifically for new millennial managers and provides a ton of great advice and frameworks on how to become a more effective manager. If you’ve done a lot of reading in the leadership development space, you’ll notice that much of the content draws from time-tested strategies on improved leadership and team management.

If you’re currently managing a team at work, this is a book worth picking up. It’s information dense and has tons of practical advice (e.g. types of 1:1 you should have with your direct reports or questions to ask yourself to understand your leadership style) that you can apply immediately to help your personal and team development. In this summary, I’ll take you through the book’s core framework – CONNECT – and focus on one area – Communicate – as it’s often cited as a skill millennials struggle with.

Check out my full summary of the book here. Enjoy!

This summary was written for the Actionable Book Club – a book club where members read a business/leadership/self-help book every month and summarize their biggest takeaways. If you’re interested in learning more about the Actionable Book Club check us out here. To see the full collection of over 800 book summaries – available for free – visit

Peter’s Links of the Week (Jan. 10-16)

Links of the week:

Creating a Culture Where Employees Speak Up (Harvard Business Review)

The Akrasia Effect: Why We Don’t Follow Through on What We Set Out to Do (And What to Do About It) (James Clear)

We Learn More When We Learn Together (Harvard Business Review)

Millennials Do Not Actually Hate Meetings, Survey Says (Small Business Trends)

Cool tip of the week:

You can increase your productivity on your computer with one tweak – increasing your cursor speed. Go to your mouse/cursor settings and double the speed it’s at. It might take a couple hours to adjust but you’ll be way faster navigating your computer. Tip via Noah Kagan on the Tim Ferriss podcast.

Quote of the week:

I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom. – Bob Dylan

As always, thank you to those that liked, re-tweeted, or commented on my Tweets. See you on next week’s round up!

Peter’s Links of the Week (Jan. 3-9)

This week we’ve got articles around #Millennials and #EmployeeEngagement. As more millennials come into the workplace, the employee expectations from employers is changing. If you’re looking to keep your organization attractive to a new generation and provide them to opportunity to stay long-term, it’s worth checking the articles out below.


The Worldwide Employee Engagement Crisis (Gallup)

If you thought employee engagement in the US was bad, according to Gallup only 15% of employees worldwide are engaged. I think the biggest reason engagement numbers are so low is because Human Resources in most companies don’t have enough of a say at the executive table. If HR departments are given a bigger voice and a long-term vision for developing engagement (it’s not a flip of the switch), we’ll see better engagement levels.



College Grads Face Skills Gap in Workplace (Deloitte)


Source: Mind the gaps: The 2015 Deloitte Millennial survey by Deloitte Global

Leadership, sales & marketing, general business knowledge, entrepreneurial skills, and financial skills are areas millennials express employers value/pay for but don’t feel like they are prepared for upon graduation. These are areas higher education can provide more support on for students.


Technology to drive Employee Engagement (Business Standard)


Majority of folks (77%) believe that annual performance reviews will yield to micro/instant feedback programs in the next 5 years. To bridge that gap, companies will need to invest in technology to support their employee engagement effort.


Advantages Millennials Have Over Baby Boomers (Business 2 Community)

Flatter hierarchy, tech savyness, better balance, focus on impact, and outside interests make millennials a different generation compared to the baby boomers. I don’t think it’s “better” but just different. Focusing on “advantages” takes away many of the virtues Boomers bring (e.g. loyalty and face-to-face communication skills) to the workplace.


As always, thank you to those that liked, re-tweeted, or commented on the posts. See you on next week’s round up!

A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation

If you are depressed, you are living in the past. 
If you are anxious, you are living in the future. 
If you are at peace, you are living in the present.
– Lao Tzu

I started to meditate about 3 years ago and it’s become an important part of my daily habits. I must admit, however, that it wasn’t easy getting started and it still isn’t the most natural thing for me to do. It’s taken some experimentation with what works for me and adapting a meditation practice around that. Your meditation practice might look completely different from mine – and that’s okay. The important part is that you put in the time to meditate to help you achieve greater mental control and calmness.

I’ll take you through a bit of my journey with meditation and the process and tools that have worked for me so far. If you already believe in the positive effects of meditation, you can skip Part I and just go right into the techniques and resources that I’ve been using. Either way, Part I will be helpful in helping you understand the WHY behind meditation. So let’s begin!

Part I: Why Meditate?

There are a lot of reasons why it’s beneficial to meditate and in no particular order here are some of the benefits I’ve experienced and heard others experience as well.

  • Helps you move into the present
  • Brings about peace and calm in your mind
  • Builds your perspective and compassion for others
  • Helps you feel like you’re in greater control of your day
  • Helps you detach yourself from situations and outcomes
  • Slows down your day
  • Allows you to cut through the busywork and focus on doing what matters most
  • Creates silence during our noisy, busy days

According to Tim Ferriss, the majority of top performers (80%) he has interviewed through his podcast have some sort of meditation practice. I know some of the above might sound “woo woo” and some of it probably is. But the important part is how meditation affects you personally. If you get even a modicum of peace and calm from a 5-minute meditation, maybe it’s worth it for you? After all, 5-minutes is not a bad tradeoff for that kind of feeling.

Part II: How to get started

I initially struggled to get my meditation practice going. When I first tried to meditate, I read a book called Meditation for Beginners by Jack Kornfield. I listened to the accompanying CD and went through the guided meditation practices but I found the experience to be extremely difficult. In fact, I began to dislike meditating after realizing I wasn’t particularly good at sitting in silence for 15-20 minutes.

Retrospectively, I think I tried to do too much too soon. In my opinion, a 15-20 minute meditation is too long for a beginner (especially without some sort of meditation coach) to do on their own. The key is to start small with a 1 or 2 minute meditation. This way you get a small “hit” of that calm, rewarding feeling to get you going.

The “calm” feeling could be different for you. It might not be a feeling of calm but rather a feeling of inspiration and excitement. It could be a feeling of understanding and love. Try to remember that positive, rewarding feeling so that it brings you back your next meditation session.

Rain Wilson (from The Office fame) talks in a podcast episode about how meditation for him is like watching the ticker symbol of a stock market go by. The symbols are your thoughts and they just scroll past you. You’re not attached to the thoughts, you just observe them and let them by. I think that’s a pretty good analogy. Meditation is not eliminating all your thoughts and getting into a “blank” mindset. It’s about appreciating the thoughts and that they exist, but not getting caught up in it.

So here are a few tips to help you start to meditate and I’ll break them down for you in a bit more detail below:

Start with just 2 minutes.

Meditation is just like any sport or exercise in that the more “reps” that you put in, the better you get at it. You wouldn’t run a marathon for your very first run, right? So it make sense to not make your first meditation session a 60-minute session. Start with something small – like, very small. Start with a 2 minute meditation and see if you’re able to handle that. From there, up the timing to 5-10-15 minutes. But take it really slowly. Don’t rush yourself. It’s one of those things where you won’t just be able to “will” your way to doing more. Mary Meckley, host of the Daily Meditation Podcast, suggests that you meditate just up to the point that where you’re able to continue a little bit longer but you save that “little bit” so you can come back excited to meditate next time.

Learn simple techniques to get you going. (e.g. box breathing technique)

I learned a simple breathing technique called the “box-breathing technique” from Ben Greenfield at a conference in 2015. The technique is simple but surprisingly hard to master. Basically, you slowly breathe in for a count of 5, hold your breathe for a count of 5, exhale for a count of 5, and hold (your empty lungs) for a count of 5. Then repeat. This technique allows you to oxygenate your body while allowing you to focus on your breath – not your distracting thoughts – during your meditation. If you find yourself having difficulty concentrating, this is a good technique to practice. Try it once or twice during your first meditation.

Find out what time of day you are best able to meditate.

I’ve experimented with all sorts of times during the day but early mornings and evenings seem to be the best time for me. For you, it might be different. Try experimenting with a 2-minute meditation at different times during the day to see which one delivers the greatest benefits. When I used to work at a fast-paced sales organization, I would find time to do a quick 5-minute meditation over lunch which created some calm in an otherwise chaotic environment. It was super helpful in helping me reset and get ready for the second half of the day.

Part III: My favourite resources

There is a ton of great resources available to get started with your meditation practice. Books, apps, podcasts, and so much more provide resources that you can often tap into for free. Out of all the resources that I’ve experimented with, here are the two that have allowed me to cultivate my meditation practice.


Calm is a meditation app available on iOS and Android. It gives you the flexibility to do a timed, non-guided meditation or a guided meditation based on different themes like gratitude, happiness, sleep, etc. It’s the first app I used to help me create a meditation habit – starting with a 2-minute meditation. It has a ton of great background sounds that you can choose from and I like how simple it is to use compared to other meditation apps that come loaded with too many extras. Download the app and start with the 1 or 2 minute meditation then go from there.

The Daily Meditation Podcast

This (free) podcast allowed me to take my meditation to the next level. Led by a fantastic meditation teacher, Mary Meckley, a new podcast episode is released everyday. Every episode is unique as there is a new weekly theme and every day of the week features a new style of meditation from affirmations to mudras to walking meditations. When I started getting bored of my 5-minute Calm app meditations, I was looking for alternatives to help me improve my meditation practice and The Daily Meditation Podcast was the perfect fit. I wouldn’t be able to meditate now for 10 to 20 minutes without having learned the meditation techniques Mary teaches through her podcast.


Another notable app is called HeadSpace. I’ve tried HeadSpace in the past and they’ve got a great (and free!) called the Take-10 which provides 10 short meditations with helpful video explanations to get you started.

The good news is current meditation apps are constantly updating and innovating to make meditation more accessible and new apps are being created as more people begin to meditate!

So I hope this gets you started with your meditation practice. It’s a powerful practice to cultivate which impact so many different aspects of your life. Just make sure to be kind to yourself. Your first few weeks or months of meditating won’t be easy. I still struggle to convince myself that it’s worth the time to meditate especially when I’m in the midst of a busy day. But those just might be the days where you need to meditate the most.

Good luck! And feel free to post your personal experiences with meditation. I’d love to hear from you.

Peter’s Links of the Week (Dec. 27 – Jan. 2)

Links of the Week feature the most liked and re-tweeted articles from my Twitter feed this week. Did you know that in 10 years 75% of the workforce in the US will be millennials? If you’re looking at the future, start thinking about how you can begin to invest in your new hires as they might be your organization’s leaders in the future. Check out article #5 for three tips on how you can start preparing your training programs now.


Employee performance management software to loom in 2016 (TechTarget)

2016 looks like it’s going to be a big year for employee engagement and talent management software. More companies – including Accenture, Deloitte, and GE – are moving away from annual performance reviews and more frequent (dare I say more “human”?) feedback methods.


Leadership Mistake: Promoting Based on Tenure (Gallup)

It’s hard to find the right manager talent. According to Gallup, only 1 out of 10 people have the natural talent to be a great leader. That said, managers can still 1. help employees set work priorities and goals 2. be open and approachable 3. focus on employees’ strengths to create better engagement within their team.


Don’t Let Frustration Make You Say the Wrong Thing (Harvard Business Review)

Before you respond with the wrong thing, question the tensions that may be pushing you over the ledge. It’s often not “the crime” that causes you to lash out but the bystanders (real or not real) that make you feel like you deserve to lash out.


3 startups that want to get millennials saving money (The Seattle Times)

I’m really passionate about millennials getting ahead with saving money. Acorns, Digit, and Stash (mentioned in the article) are good examples of low cost index/ETFs that can help you start doing just that.


3 Ways to Make Millennials Manager Material (Digiday)

Mobile-first training, micro-learning content, and instant feedback are what Millennials will look for as they step into leadership roles in the next 10 years. Great article highlighting the trends happening in the learning and development world.


As always, thank you to those that liked, re-tweeted, or commented on the posts. See you on next week’s round up!

My Ship List 2015

There’s only 6 hours until 2016!

I’m borrowing a page from Seth Godin’s book to share with you my 2015 “Ship List”. The Ship List is anything that you “shipped out” over the course of the year (I’ve cheated a bit to include milestones in this one). Seth compiles his list every year and it’s a great tradition.

Here is my 2015 ship list which includes some personal and professional milestones. The process of compiling the list was actually quite interesting. It allowed me to take a moment and reflect about my year and scroll through my calendar. It’s helpful because it makes you appreciate how much you can accomplish in 365 days.

Jan – Joined Actionable Books as Client Engagement Manager.
Mar – Completed the Art of Charm Rapport Program in Los Angeles.
Apr – Moved into an apartment to live on my own for the first time.
May – Attended the Less Doing Live Conference in New York City and implemented Less Doing methodologies to my day-to-day.
Jun – Created a Mastermind Blueprint and launched a 10-week Mastermind POD program with Actionable Consultants.
Oct – Oversaw the planning of the East Coast Tour for ACP recruitment.
Oct – Received my first capoeira belt.
Oct – Wrote and gave a speech on failure at my high school.
Dec – Oversaw the planning of the New York City Tour for ACP recruitment.
Dec – Celebrated the one-year anniversary with my girlfriend.
Dec – Published 30 new posts on my blog in 2015.

Here’s to making your 2016 a highly productive year!

#Millennials #EmployeeEngagement Links of the Week (Dec. 20-26)

Happy holidays everyone! Hope you’re enjoying your break and had an opportunity to recharge for the new year. Here are some of the top links that were shared this week:


What Facebook Knows About Engaging Millennial Employees (Harvard Business Review)

Great insights and anecdotes about how Facebook is engage their own millennial employees. Written by Lori Goler who is the Head of People at Facebook.


IDEO’s Employee Engagement Formula (Harvard Business Review)

Another great article about how a top design firm in the world – IDEO – and engage their employees. Permission to play; a common purpose, tailored; a social contract; and bottom-up innovation all contribute to keeping IDEO ahead of the curve.


Millennials have gotten royally screwed: That’s why they’re voting for Bernie Sanders (Salon)

Millennials have had it tougher than previous generations. The highest student debt, a poor economy, and a political system that doesn’t seem to be doing its job. It’s no wonder millennials are looking for alternatives like Sanders to “express” their frustration.


Beyond Satisfaction: On Engaging and Thriving as Leaders (globoforce)

The term “engagement” is still a pretty nebulous term. Catherine Flavin, Managing Partner at Thrive Leadership, gets that engagement is beyond just a level of satisfaction or “good vibes” people have at work. Recognizing and cultivating an engaged workforce means helping employees play to their strengths and achieve a state of “flow” in their day-to-day work.


Inside the editorial meeting: How Mic chooses the news for millennials (Digiday)

Surprisingly – it doesn’t seem much different from how they choose headlines and news from “traditional” media outlets. It’s a bit depressing actually.


The Best Business Articles of 2015 on Winning Customers (Gallup)

How do e-commerce businesses engage their customers online? With more shopping being done online, it’s important that e-commerce businesses keep up with customer engagement online as well as offline.

As always, thank you to those that liked, re-tweeted, or commented on the posts. Catch you on next week’s round up!