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The Curse That Causes Promotions to Fail



Written for EO by Dr. Gleb Tsipursky, disaster avoidance expert, speaker and author. 

It’s tragically common for people in organizations to be promoted up the hierarchy to their “level of incompetence,” a concept in management known as the Peter Principle. They are promoted because they did well in their previous job, not based on their potential to meet the needs of the new position into which they are placed, even when the new role requires a wholly different set of skills. Moreover, there’s often no training for the new skills they need to learn to succeed in their new position.

This combination of poor promotion practices and lack of training stem largely from a dangerous judgment error known as the curse of knowledge, referring to the fact that when we learn something, we face great difficulty in relating to someone who doesn’t know it.

In other words, once we gain a set of skills, such as in managing others, we tend to forget what it feels like to lack these abilities; once we acquire relevant knowledge, such as the jargon of our profession, we tend to use it to speak to those who don’t know this jargon, and then wonder why they fail to understand.

As a result, we have difficulties communicating with others about our professional activities, teaching them the skills they need to learn, and collaborating with them in professional settings.

The curse of knowledge error comes from how our brains are wired. It represents one of the many dangerous judgment errors that scholars in cognitive neuroscience and behavioral economics call cognitive biases.

Fortunately, recent research in these fields shows how you can use pragmatic strategies to address these dangerous judgment errors, whether in your professional life, your relationships, or other areas in life.

You need to evaluate where cognitive biases are hurting you and others in your team and organization. Then, you can use structured decision-making methods to make “good enough” daily decisions quickly or more thorough ones for important choices.

How Does the Curse of Knowledge Harm a Growing Company?

What about the curse of knowledge? A case in point: a quickly-growing manufacturing company faced a serious Peter Principle and curse of knowledge challenge. Staff got promoted into supervisory roles based on a combination of seniority and prior performance. Then, newly promoted supervisors were expected to pick up the skills on the job, without training in leadership. The problem stemmed from the curse of knowledge, with most of the leaders in the department of transportation forgetting the difficulties they had in developing their own leadership skills.

A newly-hired HR director, coming in with an outside perspective, recognized this long-standing practice as a serious issue. She convinced the department’s leadership to develop a leadership development training program for newly promoted supervisors. The HR director brought in Disaster Avoidance Experts to consult on creating the leadership development program.

We started with an opt-in pilot training program for supervisors who were recently promoted from the ranks. Through focus groups and assessments of current supervisors, we identified eight core skills required for this role as compared to their previous positions, along with some relevant knowledge.

We then created a training curriculum that conveyed these skills and knowledge, along with a mentor program teaming a new supervisor with one who had more than five years of experience. We also created a method of evaluating success, namely seeing whether the newly promoted supervisors received a rating of “meeting or exceeding expectations” on their six-month performance assessment.

 Leadership Development Training

In the past, an average 63 percent of those promoted met this requirement, providing a clear baseline by which to measure our intervention.

Out of 48 recently promoted supervisors, 21 chose to join the pilot training program. Of these 21, a total of 17—83 percent—received a rating of “meeting or exceeding expectations,” much higher than the baseline. Out of the 27 supervisors who chose not to join the program, only 16 received the same rating, or 59 percent, so around the baseline. Seeing how the new training curriculum substantially boosted performance by new supervisors, the manufacturing company’s leadership endorsed the HR director’s desire to train all newly-promoted supervisors.

I regret that such leadership development training didn’t address the manner in which the Peter Principle determined how supervisors were selected. Unfortunately, the leadership wasn’t willing to discuss this issue, as it would mean challenging the union contract’s promotion guidelines. Still, at least the new supervisors had a much better chance of success due to addressing the curse of knowledge.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is on a mission to protect leaders from dangerous judgment errors known as cognitive biases by developing the most effective decision-making strategies. With over 20 years of experience as CEO of the training, coaching, and consulting firm Disaster Avoidance Experts, he also spent over 15 years in academia as a cognitive neuroscientist and behavioral economist. He’s an EO speaker, a recent EO 360° podcast guest and author of Never Go With Your Gut (2019)The Blindspots Between Us (2020) and The Truth Seeker’s Handbook (2017).

The post The Curse That Causes Promotions to Fail appeared first on Octane Blog – The official blog of the Entrepreneurs' Organization.

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Why Dropshipping won’t last



Over the past few years, the "Shopify+ Aliexpress + Facebook ads + Instagram Influencers + courses = dropshipping" model has really curated an entire wave for anyone to make a substantial amount of money, for absolutely low risk, low overhead, and low cost. This is an absolute dream, and it's one that has rapidly became one of the fastest-growing methods for becoming wealthy. However, this method and the common tools used today are soon going to die off. People say that dropshipping is dead. Well, it's not actually; far from dead, it's completely oversaturated. That oversaturation will be the downfall of the model and practice itself leading towards its disinterest for entrepreneurs.

What most people forget about is that consumers like low prices, abundant of options, fast delivery, and great customer service/experience. Most of which, dropshipping stores are terrible in providing. This is why bigger distribution giants like Amazon, Walmart, and eBay will be stronger long term because they have mastered these models for years. If a customer is willing to purchase a product from your store, then it's invested in the value of the product and timing itself. Most people go as far as creating brands around their stores, but even that can be challenging long term if you aren't focused on it, or you don't have the audience that further support you from another source.

Where most people make their money from dropshipping is from having that "first-mover advantage". This makes sense as being the first to any new market cements your business in a new customer base where you are going to be the most profitable. This goes for any industry where money is to be made. The issue occurs as time wails on, the barrier of entry to be profitable becomes more challenging with requiring more resources. We already see it with the facebook ads becoming more expensive now per impression, than they were 3-4 years ago. Now mostly anyone who operates in the dropshipping space today is only focused on the one thing: selling courses.

Selling a course to further education on any topic is one of the most profitable business models, especially those that bank on the distorted lifestyle that you are guaranteeing to the customers. Let's be real, most of the courses sold are driven by selling you on a dream. Sure, there might be some value gain that better enhances your skillset, but the fact of the matter is you proceed into these guru courses with selfish intentions of making money for YOU which is an absolute dangerous mindset to have. No one cares if you make money. If they do care, it's more of the fact they want to take notes so that they can replicate the same progress, extract some kind of benefit from you, or out of sheer curiosity. IN business you should focus on what you are providing to the customer and the world for the longevity of the business. If you are seeking to solve a problem, no matter how big or small, there is value in it all.

Lastly, I know what some people are thinking, if dropshipping is dying, then what is the next BIG money maker? You honestly would not know until you do that thing to see how it resonated with the world. I know most people here are into software engineering and hope their app that they built would be on the list as the FAANG, which if it goes to that level, congrats; if not, then I'm sorry. But as we see, the more people who flood into an industry specifically for the focus of money creates a dirty bath of people who just absolutely suck and won't make much money from that. All because they were sold on this process, especially if it's one so common everyone is using it. From there, it adds no additional value whatsoever. So get out and create/build something that's actually worth sending you my bitcoin lol.

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How an ex-Googler got 6K+ subscribers in 4 months by teaching neuroscience to entrepreneurs



Hey, Daniel from bringing you another interview

Today's interview is with Anne-Laure Le Cunff from Ness Labs.

Service: Mindful productivity school that teaches neuroscience

Founded: April, 2017

Founders: 1

Employees: 1

Users: 6000+

Hi Anne-Laure! Tell us about yourself and Ness Labs.

Thanks for having me! I’m an ex-Googler turned entrepreneur. After working on several digital health products at Google, I left to build products helping people live healthier and happier lives. I’m also studying neuroscience part-time at King’s College. Ness Labs is a mindful productivity school. We teach entrepreneurs how to apply neuroscience principles so they can achieve more while taking care of their mental health. It’s all about beating procrastination without beating yourself up. I use my experience as an entrepreneur as well as what I study at university to craft content and products bridging the gap between neuroscience and entrepreneurship. Some of our products include Teeny Breaks, a Chrome extension reminding people to take mindful breaks, and Maker Mind, a weekly newsletter about mindful productivity with more than 6,000 subscribers. We also have a library of content around mindful productivity, a shop, and we’re about to launch our first course.

How did you come up with this focus on mindful productivity?

Both at Google and when running my company, I have experienced burnout. It’s pretty hard at first to see the signs. It’s a constant oscillation between exhaustion and exhilaration. We tell ourselves to push through, that we’ll be able to rest after the next deadline, that we just need to make one more effort to get it done. In the end, both our mental health and our productivity suffer. We’re unhappy, and we don’t do our best work. Burnout and mental health in general are still pretty taboo among entrepreneurs, and I want to use what I learn at university as well as my own experience to tackle these topics, and help people not go through the same experience. What I like about Ness Labs is that it’s akin to a sandbox where we can experiment with new products and see which ones are the most helpful.

Interesting. How do you go about launching these new products?

I’m a big proponent of working in public, so I tweet about the creation process. I ask for feedback and get my audience involved very early on. Once I have a first version, I launch on Product Hunt. It’s not necessarily what everyone should do, but it happens that my audience hangouts there too. I also post all of my articles on Hacker News, which can be an important source of traffic if a link hits the front page. I don’t believe in launching once. I constantly re-launch new versions, update things as I go, and iterate to improve on the products.

What has worked so far to attract customers?

Writing content on the blog has so far been the most effective way to grow the audience and thus attract customers. All of the consulting opportunities, the newsletter sponsors, partnerships, the workshops… all of these were inbound. I never did any cold emailing. People read the articles, they reach out using the contact form asking how they can work with Ness Labs. It’s great because you can’t imagine having a more qualified prospect than the one who proactively reaches out to your company.

Describe a moment where you had to overcome a challenge.

The challenge with relying so much on social media as a marketing platform is that it’s very unpredictable. Sometimes a piece of content goes viral, sometimes it brings very few visitors to the website. I still haven’t figured out the magic recipe, so the only strategy I rely on is consistency. If you publish content on a regular basis and make sure to share it, you’re bound to grow your audience.

What tools do you use for your business?

The website is WordPress hosted at DreamHost. I recently switched to them and their customer support is amazing. For the newsletter, I use MailChimp, but I’m exploring alternatives such as ConvertKit. We all work together using the Google suite, it makes it easier to collaborate and that’s what I’m used to. I personally hate Slack, so communication happens via Gmail and Hangouts. For payments, Stripe and Gumroad. I also use VS Code for coding and Adobe Creative Cloud for illustrations and design.

Do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs who are just starting out?

Stop hiding behind your products and put yourself out there! Start a blog or a newsletter and share your creation process. This is an incredible way to learn, grow as a person, and make new connections.

Thanks! Where can we go to learn more about your company?

You can visit our website or follow me on Twitter!


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Why a boring full-time job is… great for entrepreneurs (rant)



A rant I had to share.

In 2019 it has become “cool” to say: “a nine to five job sucks, I am going to start my own business instead”. “Corporate jobs kill creativity”, “starting a business is easier than ever before” and “you can make millions in passive income”. While some of the above is true, it’s about time someone posted a rebuttal to a now common notion that a full-time office job sucks.

Here is an entrepreneur’s rant for “wannabe-entrepreneurs” and younger generations who are about to finish school/college and who are at the crossroads.

Because starting a full-time job is often the best decision you can make if you want to be a founder. (This is just part of the rant, you can read the full rant here).


You have probably heard by now that you need to offer some sort of value to your potential customer, for them to buy any product or service from you. Well, what kind of value could you offer if you have no experience doing anything even mediocre? Do you think you have really tried it all in the job market, just because you worked for 6 months at a coffee shop?

Stop and think again.

Of course you can start your own lawn mowing business. Of course you can deliver newspapers and try scale it up. But, guess what? So can virtually anyone else. The easier it is to do something, the more competition there is in the market. The more competition – the more you will have to slice your prices to attract new clients. If you have experience in a field that is more complicated, requires more thought process and is technically challenging, you would have obtained that unique value that you can offer to your customers.


No money – no food. No food – you die. Simple. You hear and read stories about someone starting their own business, struggling for a bit, and then they make it. Guess what, that “bit” is the make or break period. And if you don’t have enough savings, and you can’t rely on your mommy or your daddy to give you lunch money, you will need to have a full-time job to feed yourself during that time. In many interviews, founders of larger or smaller businesses always skip through this part, and yet it is absolutely crucial.

They might say: “we went through some hard times, but then in October of 2017, we had our first big order”. Do you know how many people give up on their dream, before that first order that makes the business survive? No one knows, because we don’t like to talk about our losses, so this data is not recorded anywhere.

Yes, you can take a loan. Yes, you can use that loan to “stimulate” yourself to achieve an x goal. However, if you have a full-time job, this gives you so many more options:

If you don’t care too much about earning money straight away from your startup you can experiment. This (hopefully) means that you won’t sacrifice quality for cash at the pivotal moment, and so you and your company will win from this crucial decision long-term. You won’t become depressed, simply because you haven’t had any traction for two months. Ideas that seemed genius at the start fail every day. Big deal. With a full-time job, it won’t cost you your house or your family’s well-being. And that’s priceless.

If it doesn’t work out, you have a plan B. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes that “fear of death” drives us to do the most remarkable things. In adversity, human mind works wonders. J.K. Rowling was a single mother, who was raising her kid in poverty when she wrote “Harry Potter”. Would she have been as inspired if she had a loving boyfriend, no baby to take care of, and rich parents? Who knows. However, not every writer is J.K. Rowling, and more importantly – we all fail. And sometimes a plan B – a.k.a. a full-time job – is what we need to fall back on, in order to get back up. You can save money to start a new business. This is perhaps the biggest selling point of a nine to five job. Saving enough money means that you could enter a harder market – i.e. a market that would require you to spend more than an average founder. But, this could also mean higher returns.


One of the top tips for any entrepreneurs is always to find a mentor. If you go into finance, you should find someone who has been making money for the past 30-40 years, to learn their formula for success. If you start a pet toy shop, you need to find someone who ran a small shop previously, and either sold it at high valuation or who is still successfully running it ten years later. We all look for blueprints to follow, consciously and subconsciously. We want to hear success stories.

What better success story than your boss?? That’s right, your boss. The man or woman whom you have viewed as the necessary evil up until now. Ideally, your boss is someone who has their own business and who has been running it for some time now. If they have a business, and they could afford to hire you, surely they must be doing something right?

Here are the things you probably never thought of before, but that you could learn from your boss, no matter how much of an ********* (enter any swear word of your choosing here) they are:

How to maximise profits and minimise expenses.

How to find and learn from clients.

How to start a business and not run it into the ground after two months. (Has it ever occurred to you to ask them how they got started?).

How to hire the right people.

How to stay lean. Believe me, no one more frugal out there than a successful small business owner.

How to optimise your businesses for taxes.

In some cases, how to scale your business.

And last, but not least – you can also learn from their mistakes. Are they being horrible to their employees and so the latter keep quitting? Are they not listening and it’s costing their business? Good, you won’t make the same mistakes when you run your own business/

Your boss could be your best mentor. You don’t have to like them. They don’t have to like you. But their knowledge could be invaluable.

Thank you for your time and go get to work now.

I already mentioned this, but by now you probably forgot about it – the full rant was published originally here.

EDIT: The formatting looked a bit weird towards the end, fixed some of the spaces.

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