Weekly Learnings Roundup (Apr 3, 2016)

Welcome to the first April 2016 edition of the Weekly Learnings Roundup! Happy spring… or, at least here in Toronto, happy mid winter? We’re getting a nice little blast of snow this weekend to kick off April.

Lots of interesting links this week. The two I want to highlight are from HBR and Inc 42. Both around organizational development. The HBR article, A Manager’s Job Is Making Sure Employees Have a Life Outside Work, is super relevant for anyone working in Silicon Valley or any particularly demanding job. It’s really nice to hear from VCs who believe in the importance of a balanced life and a 80 hour workweek is not an ideal or a badge of honour. The Inc 42 article comes from Kevin Kruse who has written extensively about Employee Engagement. I love the way he simplifies the philosophy of engagement into a single sentence. I won’t spoil what it is – but I think every organization should consider making it their mantra.

That’s about it from me this week. If you like this post, please leave a comment below with your thoughts or give it a like. It’s nice to know that I’m providing some morsel of value through these posts. Have a great week!

Favourite links from the week:

Organizational Development

A Manager’s Job Is Making Sure Employees Have a Life Outside Work (Harvard Business Review)

The One Sentence Employee Engagement Plan For Startups (Inc 42)

Career development most important driver for employee engagement (Workplace Insight)

28 Years of Stock Market Data Shows a Link Between Employee Satisfaction and Long-Term Value (Harvard Business Review)

Enough of the ‘why’ on employee engagement, give me some ‘how’ (Fast Casual)

This is What Engaged Organizations Do Differently (Huffington Post)

Personal Growth

On The Shortness of Life: An Introduction to Seneca (Tim Ferriss)

Why You Need a “Deloading” Phase in Life (Tim Ferriss)


A Cambridge professor on how to stop being so easily manipulated by misleading statistics (Quartz)

6 Reasons Platforms Fail (Harvard Business Review)

What you think about Millennials says a lot about you, nothing about them (Boing Boing)

Productivity tip of the week:

Using your email as a to-do list

Here’s my email inbox setup with tasks like a to-do list.

I’ve tried a lot of to-do list systems in my life. Count me in as having been a user of Evernote, Trello, Things, Post-It Notes, etc. Despite my best attempts at trying to incorporate them in my life, the habit just didn’t stick. Now, I know a ton of people who have incorporated to-do list apps and systems (e.g. Getting Things Done) successfully. But the biggest issue for me in incorporating a to-do list was the time it took to manage the list. I probably spent more time managing and organizing my lists than actually getting things done. On top of that, I was trying to incorporate a system that I didn’t use other than for the purpose of organizing the to-do list. Which mean I was having to go out of my way to manage my to-do list.

Over the past year, I’ve switched my to-do list items from the aforementioned list applications to my email. “Email? It’s already cluttered enough in there. Why would I make it a to-do list as well?” It’s a fair point. But I would argue that email is probably one of the most used everyday tools. I’m basically on email already so why wouldn’t I try to maximize my value from it?

Now, if you’re someone who is dealing with email overwhelm, this tactic may not be for you. However, if you’re someone who is consistently reaching Inbox 0 to 10, this system can be ideal. Besides, your email inbox IS a to-do list already anyways. You need to reply, defer, or delete emails coming in. Much like how you need to complete, defer, or cancel tasks.

Next time you have something to do, try writing an email to yourself starting with the subject line “Task: (enter task name)”. It’ll be way better than having to flip-flop between all the other tools you use.

Product/service I’m loving:


I’ve talked about this service before and I still believe hands-down it is one of the most useful add-ons I have for my email. FollowUp.cc allows you to follow-up with emails without any manual searching through inboxes for you. All you need to do is put a specific date or amount of time in the BCC column of your email (e.g. “Sunday, March 31st” or “1 week from now”) and have the email pop back up in your inbox at the requested time.

It’s an immensely helpful tool for me when I’m sending client emails or looping back on tasks that I’ve sent to my team members. It’s even helpful with personal emails with friends and family that I want to make sure I hear a response from. The less you have the remember the better it is. FollowUp.cc lets you do that.

Documentaries/books I’m enjoying:

Built to Sell by John Warrilow

This is an awesome book for anyone building a business that they want to sell at some point. It’s written in a realistic story format which makes it a breazy read and highly informative. Even as a non business owner myself, the tips are eye-opening and very helpful in understanding what makes a business sustainable and attractive to buyers. There is knowledge in this book that you likely won’t be able to find anywhere else unless you go through the process yourself. Highly recommended!

A quote that’s inspiring me:

“To escape criticism: do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.” —Elbert Hubbard

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. 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 www.actionablebooks.com.

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!

#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!

#Culture #EmployeeEngagement – Links of the Week (Dec. 6-12)

The Links of the Week are the top articles from my Twitter feed along with some handpicked articles that I think are #MustReads. My favourite this week was #3 – an interview with Shawn Murphy about optimistic workplaces. There are a lot of actionable tidbits you can apply in your workplace from that article. Enjoy!


The Secret to Building a Startup Culture that Lasts (Forbes)

Resilience – or the ability to reframe challenges and minimize the negative impacts of stress – is a vital component of any startup culture.

It costs a lot to replace someone on a team and it hurts even more when you’re in a startup. This article has some good advice on how you can create a resilient culture by establishing your values early, being transparent, and fostering connections.


The Two Sides of Employee Engagement (Harvard Business Review)

For the most part, companies oversimplify things by viewing personal satisfaction as a proxy for engagement. As a result, they miss key behavioral signals.

Just because Mary feels good about her manager doesn’t mean it’s converting into higher productivity. It’s important that engagement isn’t just measured as low-medium-high because it misses the impact that engagement is having on a company’s goals and metrics.


Creating an Optimistic Workplace — Interview with Shawn Murphy (Actionable Books)

Leaders have the greatest influence on employees’ work experience. So it’s natural that they be the solution to the problems that ail the modern workplace.

In a 2014 LinkedIn study that surveyed 18,000 people, only 15% of the respondents said they were satisfied with their jobs. It’s a big challenge Shawn Murphy has some great ideas on how we can create a more optimistic and meaningful workplace. Leadership is a big part of the solution.


What Every Millennial Can Learn From Steve Jobs About Success (Fortune)

Looking back, I would give myself the same advice offered by the late Apple founder, Steve Jobs: “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

Following your passion is important but remember that it’s a journey. Your passion may require to learn, fail, and grow in different ways before you fully realize a career that allows you live your passion. Be curious and stay curious.


Excel in Employee Engagement During Onboarding for Better Performance (Business 2 Community)

Almost 50% of potential employees explore company materials (like their careers website) to get a feel for the company’s values and cultural fit. For employers, this means “cultural onboarding” needs to start long before an employee starts working for you

Great onboarding can be the difference between retaining all-star talent or a short, disappointing stint for the employee. A more proactive, friendly, and longer onboarding could hold they keys to a better onboardin experience.

Some great articles this week. Thank you to those that liked, re-tweeted, or commented on the posts. Looking forward to next week’s roundup!

#Leadership #Millennials Links of the Week (Nov. 29 – Dec. 5)

Links of the Week


The Links of the Week rounds up the top articles on my Twitter feed. Great articles this week from the Harvard Business Review on leadership, the truth about millennials from The Atlantic, and lessons from a six-year-old entrepreneur. Enjoy!


What Amazing Bosses Do Differently (Harvard Business Review)

The common denominator is attentiveness. Pay close attention to your employees as individuals. Take that extra bit of time to build their confidence and articulate a vision; to provide constant, ongoing, high quality feedback; and to listen to their ideas. And ensure that your own messages are consistent.  Is it hard work? Yes. But it’s worth it.

My favourite article from the week. Must read for any manager looking to lead people better.


Do Millennials Make for Bad Employees? (The Atlantic)

2013 survey from Ernst and Young found that a growing number of workers believed that Millennials were the best-suited generation to lead businesses in the coming decade, thanks in large part to their tech skills and commitment to diversity.

The stereotypes of millennials being narcissistic and lazy are overblown. The fact is many hiring managers and HR are noticing many young millennials are willing to pay their dues and work hard for their organizations.


New Ideas for Employee Engagement: Just Ask (Business 2 Community)

One of the four key conclusions from the Gallup study is that “managers are primarily responsible for their employees’ engagement levels,” and that “companies should coach managers to take an active role in building engagement plans with their employees, hold managers accountable, and ensure they continually focus on engaging their employees.”

Majority of respondents to the survey in this article (although the sample size is uber small) reported that they feel empowered when asked by their manager,”How do you want to be coached?” It’s a good question and one that needs to be framed properly so it doesn’t seem like you’re forcing coaching upon the employee.


The Best Leaders Are Constant Learners (Harvard Business Review)

…leaders must scan the world for signals of change, and be able to react instantaneously. We live in a world that increasingly requires what psychologist Howard Gardner calls searchlight intelligence. That is, the ability to connect the dots between people and ideas, where others see no possible connection.

Leaders who can test, learn, and adapt will be the most successful in the future. Great story in this article about the Juan Manuel Fangio and how he avoided a potentially catastrophic mistake in the 1950 Mocaco Grand Prix through observation and learning.


Five Key Lessons From A Successful Six-Year-Old Entrepreneur (Forbes)

Gaddis: What have you learned from face-to-face meetings?

Kinnane-Petersen: I really enjoy seeing and talking with the people who sell my necklaces… like the nice people at Barneys. I learn a lot. They treat me like an adult.

It’s refreshing when we’re all “treated like adults” isn’t it? Read books, ask for help, and meet people. Good lessons from a six-year-old entrepreneur.

Some great articles this week. Thank you to those that liked, re-tweeted, or commented on the posts. Looking forward to next week’s roundup!

#EmployeeEngagement #Millennials Links of the Week (Nov. 22-28)

Links of the Week


Links of the Week is a collection of links that were most liked or retweeted by my Twitter followers or ones that I thought were interesting. If you only have time to read through one of the links, I highly recommend the Teaching Millennials to Be Leaders article. It’s a great piece for both millennials and those that manage millennials to read through. Enjoy!


Teaching Millennials How To Be Leaders (Business 2 Community)

Millennials can learn to be great leaders if their education starts early.
Early, active education will give more Millennials the knowledge, tools, and experience to become the next generation of great leaders.

Good piece on how millennials see themselves and how we can prepare to train millennial leaders – in the 21st-century way.



10 New Studies On The Benefits Of Gratitude (globoforce)

A 2015 study published in the International Business Research journal showed that collective gratitude is important for organizations. Among other things, said researchers, gratitude can reduce turnover intention, foster employees’ organizational commitment, lead to positive organizational outcomes, and help in “eliminating the toxic workplace emotions, attitudes and negative emotions such as envy, anger and greed in today’s highly competitive work environment.”

I definitely need help in this area. So often I focus on “what’s next” that a forget about the “what’s here”. In part reflection and in part self awareness, gratitude is a key habit to be practicing every day. How do you go about practicing gratitude?



Mark Zuckerberg Plans to Take 2 Months of Paternity Leave (Inc.)

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg says he’s planning on taking two months of paternity leave when his daughter is born…He said in a Facebook post that “outcomes are better for children and families” when working parents take time off to be with their newborns. He called the decision “very personal.”

As a preeminent millennial today, it’s great to see Zuckerberg lead the way and prioritize family over work. Facebook is also leading the way in parental leave with up to four months of paid leave.



Why Companies Should Think A Hundred Years Ahead (Inc.)

According to [Marc] Mertens [CEO of A Hundred Years], “A long-term focus allows for new inventions and radical innovations instead of incremental improvement of the status quo. Sometimes that innovation can unlock new markets and significant new business opportunities. A long-term focus constantly clarifies what an organization is uniquely positioned to do, while bringing a deeper sense of purpose and meaning into the core activities of the organization.”

I love this idea of having a 100 year business plan. Think of organizations like Nasa, Tesla, Evernote, or Virgin. They’re all thinking not about the next 5 years but about the next 100 – I’m guessing they’ll more likely to be in business by 2100 compared to companies focused on maximizing short-term returns.



Employee engagement: are your happy workers disengaged? (Personnel Today)

Engagement is an active state, whereas happiness is not. When employees are happy but not engaged, they often unconsciously resist change as they don’t want to upset the status quo or change the conditions that are making them happy.

But when they’re engaged, they recognise where change is needed and have the appetite, ambition and determination to push through barriers that those less engaged believe to be insurmountable.

There is a difference between happiness and engagement. Engaged workers are definitely happy workers but they’re more willing to challenge the status quo and be more creative. In the end, they care about driving the business forward (even if it comes with risk) rather than maintaining their happiness.


As always, thank you to everyone on Twitter that liked, re-tweeted, or commented on the posts. Have a great week!

Links of the Week (Oct. 11-17)


Links of the Week is a selection of articles and blog posts about #EmployeeEngagement and #Millennials that were the most popular on my Twitter feed this week. I’ve added some personal thoughts and opinions to the links below as well.


12 Powerful Lessons You Learn at Stanford Business School (Inc.)

A large part of your role is to inspire and motivate your employees, and people will look to you for confidence,” Wyndowe says. “If you were on a plane with engine problems, you don’t want the pilot to say, ‘I am exploring a number of options and hope that… .’ You want him to say, ‘I will do whatever it takes to land this plane.'”

I really like this lesson above – Put on “the cloak” of leadership. Being the kind of guy who likes assessing all the options, I can relate to the quote above. But being a great leader is more about having others know you’ll do whatever it takes to make things a success.


Report shows flexible work options leads to higher employee engagement (Calgary Herald)

Research, presented Wednesday at a Calgary Economic Development event [by Stone-Olafson], indicated an 89 per cent increase in high engagement if the work location is flexible.

I’m really not surprised by these numbers. Earlier this year, I started a job that is completely remote with each team member working from their homes/home offices. The flexibility that I’ve gained in my life to take care of personal tasks has really made it a dream job. Obviously, I make sure to get what I need to get done completed but I feel like I have more control of my life now. And that’s one of the greatest gifts that my organization has given me through a flexible work option.


What Ants Can Show You About Employee Engagement & Customer Centricity (Business 2 Community)

Independent research shows that customer focus plays a role in employee engagement … In customer-centric cultures, two-thirds of employees are engaged, and one-in-four are fully engaged.

The ant analogy is a little misleading in the article but the insight around customer-centric companies having higher engagement scores is no joke. If you’re struggling with low engagement scores, find ways for your employees to interact with your customers and add value to your customers’ experience. Both parties will thank you for it.


You Can Now Learn to Code From Your Couch (and Be Guaranteed a Job) (Inc.)

The Flatiron School, a New York City education startup, is rolling out a new developer course. It takes about 800 hours to complete — at the pace of your choosing — and costs $1,000 per month.

This sounds like a great program. From a student perspective, the fact that 98% go onto find jobs that average a $74,000 salary is comforting. From an employer perspective, finding new hires from a program like this can guarantee better quality.