7 Strategies to Get What You Really Want

It turns out that our brains haven’t evolved enough to keep up with our 24/7, always connected society. According to Bob Nease, former Chief Scientist at Express Scripts, our brains are stuck, evolutionarily, in the past. And this makes it difficult for us to choose to take action when pursuing something important.

In his new book, The Power of Fifty Bits, Nease explains that our brain consumes ten million bits of information per second, yet our conscious brain can only process fifty bits per second. This might explain why our attention span seems to be shrinking—we’ve become a society in a perpetual state of ADD.

While our brains are wired for inattention and inertia, “not for attention and choice,” says Nease, we can seek solutions despite our biology. This requires a shift in our thinking. According to the author/scientist, we do not have an “infinite appetite for information [or] boundless willingness to make decisions.” Instead, we’d rather choose to do something that brings pleasure, or focus on a pressing issue.

Confronting the limitations of our brains, reveals seven strategies that make it possible for you to get what you want. These strategies, according to Nease, help you overcome the limitations of the brain and intentionally create the results you want.

Require Choice

Let’s say you need a colleague to get started on their part of an important project. Where we go wrong, explains Nease, is by focusing on changing the person’s underlying intentions through persuasion or cajoling: “What will it take for you to do this for me?” or, “If you start on the project now, you’ll make us all look good.” Neither of these is going to help you get what you want.

Instead, Bob Nease suggests focusing on their preexisting good intentions to choose your project over their other work. Nease says “activate their preexisting intentions to do the right thing.” How, you ask? Implement active choice.

Active choice is when you stop a person and intentionally ask them what they want: “I need you to tell me if you can start the project work this Friday or next Monday.” The intent with active choice is to interrupt the inattention and force a decision.

Lock in Good Intentions

Essential to this strategy is to “allow people to make decisions today that will lead to better behaviors in the future,” says Nease. Critical to this strategy is precommitment.

Let’s say you want to save for retirement. A precommitment approach would be to have money automatically deducted from your paycheck and put into retirement accounts. Another example from Nease’s book is to remove all the TVs from your house if you want to spend more quality time on hobbies or reading.

Let It Ride

This strategy is about influencing behavior to go with a desired option, but giving people the option to opt-out if they want.

In an interview with the author, he shared an example from the 1980’s. Columbia House record club would send you a certain amount of records for one penny. When you sent in your penny, you automatically were enrolled in the program and had to buy a certain amount of records at full retail price within a year’s timeframe. People could opt out of the program by returning the records The program worked. Early in the company’s history, it commanded 10% of the industry’s record sales.

Get in the Flow

If you want a colleague to call you, you might put a sticky note in the middle of his computer monitor. Manufacturers pay stores extra money to put their products at eye level. This is where consumer’s attention naturally goes.

It is the nature of this strategy: put and arrange something in a manner that follows peoples’ attention.

Reframe the Choices

Getting what you want doesn’t need to be coercive. You can shape the choices people make by framing their options in a way that encourages “better behaviors and decisions,” says Nease.

Consider this example – choose your language purposely when encouraging an employee to step out of her comfort zone: “Would you rather attend classes next quarter to learn how to code or spend time with me learning how to do it?”

Piggyback It

Nease explains that getting what you want could be as simple as piggybacking “a desired choice or behavior to something that is already attractive.”

If you want employees to be healthy, incent them to see their doctor. As an example, a Fortune 100 insurance company adds $100 to employees’ flex spending accounts if they get an annual check-up. They’ll add another $100 if they see their dentist.

Simplify Wisely

Nease explains in his book that this strategy is about helping others make the right choice by making it easy and creating hesitation for the suboptimal choice.

Let’s say you want employees to track time spent on projects. Using this strategy, you could design an easy way for employees to track when they begin and end the project work right from their computers. You would make it difficult for employees to opt-out of capturing time.

Bob Nease’s The Power of Fifty Bits is a practical guide that walks you through the science behind his research and how to apply it to your life. In this era of distraction, short attention spans, and hurried lifestyles, Nease shares actionable insights that counter the realities of the 21st century. They are ideal for leaders, parents, and anyone else who is interested in creating positive results.

A version of this post was first published on

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The Future of Work Is Simple: LIFEworking

LIFE working is about the adventure that so many souls before us have taken to explore with compassion what is possible for us to live fully. The work for each of us is to go deep inside and discover what’s fuels us: to know who you are and what you want to create. People may try to convince you that they know what’s best for you, but you know better. No one has the answers for you, but you. More and more people every day are waking up and realizing we have a real choice to make about how we live our precious moments. We want to follow our own heartbeat.

More People Will Pick Themselves In The 21st Century

Choice is abundant and there is simply a multitude of opportunities and possibilities. That is the exciting new path for people in the human-to-human purpose and experience driven era. Many will no longer wait to be picked for that job, promotion or project. An increasing number of people will start picking themselves and setting their own path as they see life as a daring adventure, where work is just one element of it. LIFEworking will be a way of life. We will start asking ourselves, what’s my enough? And realizing that we want to set our own path and follow our own journey; not someone else’s story.

Over The Next 25 Years, People Will Choose To Join Organizations With Shared Purpose That Values People

Purpose will become much more important to people than mission statements that hang on corporate walls. Trust, relationships and community will be the currencies that matter more in a world where people will choose to focus on business for good. This journey has already begun with a wide range of organizations moving in the direction of being powered by purpose. Today, people are becoming much more conscious of the food they consume as more organizations tell us that the food they produce is poison free. Today’s packaging informs the consumer that their food does not contain harmful ingredients. In the future, more people will question whether working for a certain company will damage their health and wellbeing, as well as whether the company’s practices are good for society and the planet.

Research Has Shown That The Companies That Do Good In The World Return More Profits To Their Shareholders Than Their Counterparts — Those Who Do Harm

Staying competitive in today’s socially conscious climate means more than having good products and being profitable. Not only are people more likely to buy from brands that share their social values, they are willing to spend more on their products, are nearly twice as loyal and employees are more than 50 percent more engaged and nearly 20 percent more productive. As Gina Manis-Anderson of Savii Group tells us, “Turns out doing good is good for business.”

Innovation Should Never Be a Department

In today’s world, many organizations focus on innovation and yet do not have the systems to allow for true innovation which include experimentation that often leads to the failure that is associated with it. In the future of work, we will make choices that sustain us and we will not be constrained by internal systems like incentive plans that restrict our ability to experiment and fail. Innovation will be exciting as it will be in the fabric of how we work and collaborate. With shared purpose, people will bring innovation to their day-to-day practices and have the freedom to create. The artist needs freedom to create. And we are all artists, makers, creators and doers in business.

A Call To Action

Imagine what could happen if we no longer needed to fight for our lives and we simply lived fully and co-created the world we want to live in where business is a force of good? In the 21st century human-to-human era, anything and everything is possible as we have everything we need to create a healthy and humane world. Imagine the possibilities, and find the people who want to co-create in living colors. We are waiting for you to join our journey to business common sense. It’s a conscious choice.

The future of work and life is as simple or complex as you make it. It is about having the mindset of a creator and artists. We will leave you with these two questions: What are you choosing? What’s the story you writing for your future LIFEwork?

A version of this post originally was published on on January 26, 2016 as: The Future of Work: Awakening the Artist Within

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Need a Confidence Boost? Try this Simple Trick.

Even the most self-confident people are not immune to moments of uncertainty, but if you feel like you’ve been facing a crisis of confidence in a specific area of your life, the solution might be simpler than you think.

According to research published by Harvard Business Review, the best way to boost your confidence, while also keeping motivation levels high and staying productive, is to set yourself up for smaller wins as you progress towards a larger goal.

Small achievements can boost confidence and motivation.

We all have at least a few long-term goals, whether at work or in our personal lives, so most of us are all too familiar with the apathy that inevitably sets in after the initial excitement of tackling a new challenge wears off.

But research led by Teresa Amabile, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, and Steven J. Kramer, an independent researcher, writer and consultant, has found that celebrating smaller milestones can put us in the right frame of mind to succeed.

While analyzing more than 230 work diaries, they noticed that on days when workers had made some form of progress, either individually or as a team, they reported being in a more upbeat mood and also said they felt more intrinsically motivated. On days when they had faced some setback at work, however, they reported experiencing more frustration, sadness and fear.

People’s perceptions of work also changed depending on whether they made progress or not. When they felt they’d accomplished something, they perceived more positive challenge in their work and saw their team members and supervisors as more mutually supportive. But when they’d experienced a setback, they felt exactly the opposite way.

Amabile and Kramer dubbed this “the progress principle,” and it doesn’t just apply to big achievements; they found that even relatively minor breakthroughs, such as figuring out why something wasn’t working, helped to boost motivation and left workers feeling more confident, happy and productive.

Take time to recognize your achievements.

The important thing is to recognize all the little milestones and meaningful steps you take along the way to ensure that your progress doesn’t go unnoticed. With this in mind, here are a few ideas for tracking your progress and celebrating smaller milestones as you move toward your goals.

  • Set daily goals

If you want to keep track of your progress, it’s a good idea to break your big goals up into smaller daily goals. Having a clear overview of the smaller steps you’ll need to take every day will help your final goal seem more achievable.

  • Keep a progress diary

Keep a progress diary that you update at the end of each day with details of your smaller achievements and the progress you’ve made as well as what you’d like to do better the next time around. At the end of the week, you’ll be able read back on everything you accomplished and start your new week in the right frame of mind.

  • Use an app to track goals

There are a number of great apps that can help you get things lined up and track each step along the way. For instance iDoneThis sends you an email at the end of each day so you can see what you’ve accomplished, while LifeTick lets you create a list of tasks you’ll need to accomplish to reach your goals and then check off each achievement as you work your way through the list.

  • Reward yourself for smaller achievements

Research shows that when the payoff for our actions is immediate, we’re more likely to stick with our resolutions. So, for example, if you follow through with your daily target, you can reward yourself immediately with something you enjoy, such as a short break from work.

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Fun Times! Work, Games and Culture #TChat Recap

“When a player feels ownership, she innately wants to make what she owns better and own even more. If you feel ownership over your job, you will work harder.”
Gamification Pioneer, Yu-Kai Chou

There’s no denying that work is serious business. When companies fail, everyone loses.

However, that doesn’t mean work can’t be enjoyable. And with employee engagement at an all-time low, adding game dynamics to an organizational culture could be a winning move.

That was the premise for this week’s #TChat Events, featuring two innovators in workplace engagement:

•  Dan Benoni, Co-Founder & Product Director at Officevibe, a social employee engagement platform
•  Mario Coculuzzi, Eastern Canada Regional Director at Microsoft.

(Editor’s Note: See the #TChat Twitter highlights slideshow and resource links at the end of this post.)

How Does Gamification Make A Difference?

When determining how to improve employee engagement, one solution obviously doesn’t fit all environments. Each organization has distinctive cultural attributes that should be a natural basis for change. The challenge starts with understanding the particular motivators that are meaningful and appropriate for your employees. The smartest approaches apply three simple strategies, as one of our community members noted:

Choose Wisely

Once you’re confident about relevant drivers, consider the type of gaming techniques that can shape those dynamics. There are multiple options — but all are designed to enhance human factors, so work “flows” more naturally. At its best, gamification makes work feel more comfortable, enjoyable, fun. It helps individuals and teams attain business goals faster and more effectively — while helping everyone feel more challenged and rewarded as they contribute to overall organizational success. According to another participant:

Games Don’t Cure-All

#TChat-ters agreed that, if the fundamentals are missing, no amount of gamification or other “engagement” devices can compensate. For example, employees deserve the same level of respect, regardless of their title or position. They also need clear, consistent communication — not only about what they’re expected do (objectives), but also about why their work matters to the organization (purpose). These basics can have a powerful impact:

Continuous Commitment Counts

Another important point: Engagement doesn’t stop when a hiring contract is signed. Instead, employees should feel like they’re being recruited on an ongoing basis. How?

“Engaging” organizations encourage employees to develop and challenge themselves and others. Mistakes are leveraged as learning opportunities. And gaming dynamics are woven into the workplace fabric as a way to support and reinforce these cultural strengths.

Leaders can help gamification efforts succeed, by treating employees as a team and yet knowing what makes each individual tick. Moreover, leaders must embrace game concepts, themselves. The more vulnerable and open leaders are willing to be — the more they share stories about their own failures and learning experiences — the more likely employees will engage.

Engagement is the fruit of ongoing relationships and healthy workplace cultures. Gamification merely turns up the volume — but can do so in a big way.

#TChat Week-In-Review: Should Work Be Fun? Really?


Watch the Hangout now

SAT 10/19:

#TChat Preview:
TalentCulture Community Manager Tim McDonald framed this week’s topic in a post that featured a brief G+ Hangout video with one of our guests, Dan Benoni. Read the Preview: “Should Work Be Fun? Really?”

SUN 10/20: Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro suggested how leaders can overcome generational differences. Read: “5 Fresh Trends to Fuse Fun and Work.”

MON 10/21:

Related Post: Industrial Psychologist and LinkedIn Influencer, Dr. Marla Gottschalk, explored the role of Positive Psychology in driving workforce performance. Read: “Where’s Your Inner HERO? Positivity at Work…”

TUE 10/22:

Related Webinar Announcement: We invited the entire world of work community to join Meghan M. Biro and Virgin Pulse President David Coppins at a very special webinar on November 7. Join us at “Empowering Employees in 3D.”

WED 10/23:


Listen to the #TChat Radio show now

#TChat Radio: Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman spoke with guests Dan Benoni and Mario Coculuzzi about how gamification can help transform today’s world of work. Listen to the radio recording now!

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and guests joined the entire community on the #TChat Twitter stream as moderator Cyndy Trivella led us through a fun, freewheeling conversation about 5 related questions. For highlights, check the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Insights: Fun In The Workplace

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Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Dan Benoni and Mario Coculuzzi for helping us explore the role of game dynamics in cultivating workplace culture. Your insights and enthusiasm captured our community’s attention and imagination!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about fun at work? We’d love to share your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week, we dive into another emerging trend — how mobile tools are transforming the recruiting process — with guests Jessica Miller-Merrell and Rayanne Thorn. So save the date (October 30) for a double #TChat treat!

Meanwhile, the World of Work conversation continues. So join us on the #TChat Twitter stream, on our LinkedIn discussion group. or elsewhere on social media. The lights are always on here at TalentCulture, and your thoughts are always welcome.

See you on the stream!

(Image Credit: Stock.xchng)

Empowering Employees in 3D: Webinar with Virgin Pulse

When people go to work, they don’t leave their lives behind — so why do employers expect them to?

This kind of one-dimensional thinking is exactly what led us to the dismal workforce engagement levels we see today.

Fortunately, there are ways to turn this around. Research and real-world examples reveal that when employees are encouraged to develop in mind, body and spirit, they become more focused, productive and committed to their work. It sounds like common sense, but putting it into practice can be a challenge.

VirginWebinar (2)So, what’s the secret? How can business and HR leaders more fully engage employees through cultures that celebrate the “whole person”?

Learn from experts at a special webinar on Thursday, November 7, at 2pm ET/11 am PT:
“Total Quality of Life: A Roadmap for Employee Engagement.”

David Coppins, President, Virgin Pulse Client Services & Member Engagement, and Meghan M. Biro, CEO of TalentCulture will share insights to help you:

•  Build a compelling case for “total quality of life” initiatives;
•  Create a winning employee empowerment strategy;
•  Drive authentic engagement across the workforce.


Register for the webinar now

“Igniting employee passion and performance should be within every company’s reach.” Meghan says. “We’re thrilled to work side-by-side with Virgin Pulse in helping business leaders learn from one another about how to successfully transform their cultures. It’s all about changing lives for good — across the world of work.”

Throughout the webinar, attendees are invited to join members of the TalentCulture community on Twitter, as we share ideas and questions using the #TChat hashtag.

Don’t miss this dynamic informative event! Register now, and join us November 7th.

Participating Organizations

Learn more about Virgin Pulse, and follow @VirginPulse on Twitter.
Learn more about TalentCulture, and follow @TalentCulture on Twitter.