Don’t Learn More, Learn Smarter. A Quick Guide to Agile Learning.

Just like your body, your brain needs to be regularly looked after, fed and trained. November 8, 2019 7 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Owning a Business 101: Streamline your operation to provide more value to users. Lately, I’ve been thinking about this idea and how it might apply in the learning context; whether we should apply the same “lean” approach to our knowledge acquisition and squeeze more value from what we learn. It’s a method that experts call agile learning, and it also entails unlearning information that is no longer useful. Learning agility is a more dynamic and smarter approach, trimming the fat and leaving the most valuable information. So when I forget for the umpteenth time where I left my keys, perhaps that’s not a bad thing. Maybe I’m just making room for more useful data. To be competitive, entrepreneurs must be able to learn with agility […]

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Boost Your Creativity — and Your Business — by Decluttering Your Mind

When you declutter your mind, you free up mental space for your next big idea. November 4, 2019 7 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. There’s no denying that in today’s global economy, creativity gives companies a competitive edge. Creativity fuels new ways of thinking, inspires innovation and can lead to new business ventures. Just think, there was a time when brick-and-mortar video shops were the best way to deliver entertainment into people’s homes. Some innovative thinking led one company to try an online platform instead. Netflix now dominates the market, Apple is tossing its hat in the ring, and Blockbuster — well, you know how that story ended. To tap into our creative impulse, however, it’s essential to have a certain level of mental clarity — a state of mind that’s increasingly elusive, with the constant onslaught of information. Related: 5 Powerful Methods to Declutter Your Life From […]

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Why Good Listening Is a Critical Skill for Founders and Entrepreneurs

Here are seven ways to improve your listening skills … and your business. October 31, 2019 7 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Listening can be a matter of life and death. Imagine a distracted hostage negotiator or an airline pilot who tunes out air traffic control. Consider an ER physician who fails to hear a critically ill patient’s symptoms. These are extreme examples, but listening well is also a game-changing skill for leaders and entrepreneurs. Only 10 percent of us listen effectively, research shows. Often, we’re technically listening — remaining silent while someone else speaks — but our minds are busy with other thoughts. As author Stephen R. Covey wrote in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” At my company, JotForm, listening has consistently driven our growth. I do my […]

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Why Mindfulness Matters for Entrepreneurs

Mindfulness techniques help to decrease burnout and minimize staff turnover. October 22, 2019 6 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Take a big, deep breath. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. As you continue breathing deeply, check in with your body from head to toe. Feel the sensations in your head, neck and shoulders, then sweep down to your legs, knees, ankles and feet. Notice the feeling of each breath as it moves in through your nostrils and out past your lips. You’re now in the present moment. Staying engaged with what’s happening, right here and now, is the key to finding greater inspiration, accessing your creativity and living a more meaningful, fulfilling life. Related: How to Create a Program Focused on Mindfulness to Reduce Stress Staying mindful in the midst of business chaos. The breathing exercise you just finished is one example of mindfulness — defined […]

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The Key to Making Your Failures Productive, Not Destructive

Here’s the difference between informative and unnecessary failure. October 21, 2019 8 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Failure used to be a private affair, like eating peanut butter from the jar or dancing in your underwear. Now, many founders wear their failures as a badge of honor. From confessional blog posts to gatherings like startup funerals and FailCon to podcasts and online communities, entrepreneurs have taken the “fail fast, fail often” mantra to heart. “Failure teaches self-confidence and tenacity,” FailCon founder Cass Phillipps told Entrepreneur in 2014. “There are people who fail and take it very, very personally, and that makes it hard to recover from it… We tell people ‘Don’t take this so personally. Failure’s actually really great.’” Statistics show that 70 percent of new tech companies fail, usually about 20 months after their first financing round. A staggering 97 percent of seed- or crowd-funded consumer hardware startups will also fail. These figures make me […]

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‘Systems Thinking’ Fires Up Your Brain’s Ability to Problem-Solve. Here’s How to Do It.

Systems thinking can help you manage and solve problems big and small. October 15, 2019 6 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Being an entrepreneur is about problem-solving. On a granular level, there are dozens of issues to tackle each day. On a higher level, the big question is: how can I do a better job of delivering my product or service to my users? Recently, I’ve discovered a new approach to handling the issues we face as entrepreneurs. It’s called systems thinking and it made me realize how often we go about problem-solving the wrong way — attempting to fix one isolated part, instead of focusing on the underlying system. Take the New York Jets football team. Jets fans hoped that new head coach Adam Gase would bring better luck this season; maybe their team would even make the playoffs. Unfortunately, Gase seems to be following […]

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How Recovery Can Make Entrepreneurs More Resilient – and More Successful

Quality downtime is the key to keeping your mind and body in peak shape and more resilient to adversity. October 7, 2019 7 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. In 2018, Megan Craig suffered a mild traumatic brain injury at an ice rink. A doctor told the associate professor of philosophy and art that to speed her recovery, she had to commit to three months of “brain rest.” That meant no reading, writing, screens or strenuous thinking. If you’re feeling exhausted or overwhelmed as you read this, a few months of prescribed mental downtime might sound ideal – minus the brain injury, of course. But for many hard-driving entrepreneurs, this story strikes fear in their hearts. How could they continue to grind out those long, hyper-focused days? It’s no secret that the startup culture glorifies the 24/7 hustle. We hear that to build resilience, we just need to […]

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Avoiding Negative Emotions Won’t Get You Anywhere

Difficult feelings aren’t the enemy. October 2, 2019 7 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. I’ve been thinking a lot about dessert lately. What’s the most memorable, delicious bite of dessert you’ve ever tasted? Chances are, it wasn’t a store-bought, plastic-wrapped ball of sugar and food coloring. It probably had complex and thoughtful ingredients, designed to delight your senses. The same, I think, is often true outside of the kitchen. While we may be hard-wired for emotional sugar cravings, it’s the more complex parts of life — a dash of salt alongside the caramel — that create a full, meaningful experience. And just as bitter notes can enhance food, challenging emotions, even in the workplace, can improve our lives. The Case for Getting Emotional at Work Addressing anger or sadness at home or in a relationship can be dfficult, but beneficial. Addressing these same things in the workplace can be both difficult […]

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4 Simple Techniques to Remember Everything You Learn

Entrepreneurial education is a lifelong pursuit. October 1, 2019 7 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Aristotle once compared the human memory to a wax tablet that starts out hot and pliable, but cools down to something hard and difficult to impress. For a long time, this was the prevailing view of our ability to learn, i.e. when we’re young, our brains are in prime learning condition, but as we age, we find it increasingly difficult to acquire new skills. In layman’s terms: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks … or can you? Recent research has thrown this long-standing belief into question, demonstrating that other factors, such as an older person’s confidence in their ability to learn, are also at play. So, if we stop thinking that our brain agility is eroding by the minute, we might actually be able to learn something. And in today’s knowledge economy, […]

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How to Create an Amazing Company Culture

From quality hires to quality coffee, every step counts. September 24, 2019 6 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. By now, you’ve probably heard of 23andMe, the biotech juggernaut that’s revolutionized the DNA-testing industry. Though the company has its fair share of critics, one thing is for sure: 23andMe has experienced tremendous growth, claiming more than 10 million worldwide customers as of this writing.  A lesser-known fact is how much its employees love working there. In fact, it was named among Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work for 2019. As one employee review stated: “If you love the intersection between science and tech, you won’t find anywhere else like 23andMe. People are great to work with, company culture is AMAZING, intelligent but humble, great sense of family and mission between teams, and care of both our customers and our employees.” That kind of employee feedback is priceless. It’s also not […]

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Why Today’s Best Business Leaders Look to Stoicism

An entrepreneur’s guide to this ancient Greek philosophy. September 23, 2019 6 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Ask entrepreneurs to name their biggest challenge, and you’ll hear plenty of answers: decision-making, prioritizing, staying positive, maintaining momentum. The list goes on. As you may already know, starting and running a business is not for the faint of heart. Now ask those same entrepreneurs whether they have a framework for managing these challenges, and they might have a tougher time answering. But what if I told you that there’s a school of philosophy dating back to ancient Greece that can help you handle all of these obstacles on a daily basis and, as a bonus, may even enrich your quality of life? And better still, you don’t have to be a scholar to figure out how to use it. It’s called Stoicism, and it’s a practical philosophy that’s used by […]

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How Finding a Hobby Will Make You A Better Entrepreneur

A good hobby is key to increased creativity, productivity, memory and focus. September 15, 2019 7 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. When he isn’t busy working on the company that changed the internet forever, Google co-founder Sergey Brin has some interesting hobbies: ultimate frisbee, springboard diving and flying trapeze, to name a few. The internet entrepreneur encourages his team to take up fun, physical activities, too. He’s reportedly led Google employees on bonding events at the Circus Center, a training facility in San Francisco where students learn high-adrenaline hobbies like — you guessed it — flying trapeze. Circus sports might seem to have nothing to do with Brin’s day job, but as it turns out, they could be boosting crucial career skills. Because not only are hobbies fun ways to pass the time, they also increase our productivity, creativity, memory and mood. Related: How a […]

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Strategies to Stop Overthinking and Start Goal-Setting

You goal-setting plan starts with acknowledging your negative thinking. August 21, 2019 7 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. What do Oprah Winfrey and Mark Cuban have in common? Aside from being hugely successful media moguls (not to mention, billionaires), they didn’t let early-career setbacks block their roads to success. Told that she didn’t have the chops for television news, Winfrey was fired from her first news reporter gig. Cuban was axed from a job as a software salesperson after disobeying his boss in order to make a profitable sale. Important side note — he never worked for anyone else again. Both Winfrey and Cuban went on to build their own empires. Related: The Secret to Successful Goal Setting Resilience is a critical trait for succeeding as an entrepreneur. Rumination, on the other hand — dwelling on negative thoughts and setbacks — can derail you from achieving your […]

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Why More Knowledge Won’t Make You More Successful

An entrepreneur’s guide to learning for quality, not quantity. August 12, 2019 7 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. From the time we’re young, we’re taught that knowledge is power. Our education system evaluates students based on their ability to cram as much information as possible into their heads. Similarly, in today’s startup climate, it’s tempting to think that learning more will strengthen your competitive advantage. And we can satisfy our knowledge craving literally any time of day, through thousands upon thousands of online courses available 24/7 — digital marketing to blindfolded origami, there’s probably a course for it out there. In fact, almost 80% of U.S. companies offer online training for their employees. Related: 8 Success Lessons From the Richest Person on the Planet As CEO of my own company, JotForm, I’m no stranger to the feeling that I should be acquiring some type of informational currency […]

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Why Entrepreneurs Need to Do One Thing at a Time

The most successful entrepreneurs go small, not broad – and avoid distractions at all costs. July 19, 2019 9 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Back in 1897, Spanish neuroscientist Santiago Ramón y Cajal — winner of the Nobel Prize — wrote a book called Advice for a Young Investigator. He argued that instead of spending hours reviewing books, lectures and broad research, scientists should focus deeply on a single object of study. This state, he wrote, “refines judgment, enriches analytical powers, spurs constructive imagination, and — by focusing all light of reason on the darkness of a problem — allows unforeseen and subtle relationships to be discovered.” Credit goes to Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, who introduced many of us to Ramón y Cajal in his 2018 book, Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less. And yes, the founder of modern neuroscience was addressing 19th-century researchers, but his […]

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How to Run Meetings That Won’t Put Everyone to Sleep

Meetings are indispensable, except when they are a complete waste of everyone’s time. July 12, 2019 8 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Last September, more than 70 employees from Honey Stinger – a sports nutrition brand that makes honey-based products – and its sister companies finished a 740-mile trek. Dubbed “the world’s longest staff meeting,” this adventurous group spent nearly three months traversing the Continental Divide Trail from Colorado’s southern border to its northern edge. Logging 90 days together in the wilderness is a dramatic reminder that not all meetings are created equal. “Our team worked together and overcame huge obstacles from forest fires to pushing bikes over 13,000-foot peaks,” marketing director Garrett Mariano wrote in a company blog post. “We’re a stronger team that has a new understanding and respect for each other.” Meetings have become a hot topic in entrepreneurial circles. In a leaked […]

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Why Continuous Learning Is Critical for Entrepreneurs and Their Teams

Staying hungry for new information can give you (and your business) an edge in an ever-changing market May 8, 2019 9 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Shaquille O’Neal. What do you associate with this famous name? Most likely, you rank him among the greatest basketball players of all time. Or, you picture his imposing size: 7ft 1inches (2.16 metres) and 325 pounds (147 kg). Maybe now you think of Shaq as a sports analyst and co-host of Inside the NBA. O’Neal is all these things, but he’s also a lifelong learner. When O’Neal left Louisiana State University in 1992 to join the NBA, he promised his mother that he would eventually finish his education. In 2000, he received a bachelor’s degree from LSU through distance learning courses – while playing with the Los Angeles Lakers. O’Neal later earned an MBA, a PhD, and studied cinematography and […]

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How Idle Time at Work Can Improve Productivity

Regular, pre-planned “microbreaks” can keep you focused and energized, and at the top of your game. April 8, 2019 8 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Professional sports require incredible stamina. If you’ve ever watched a tennis match, for example, you’ve seen how athletes stay in near-constant motion to maintain their energy and laser focus. Hockey players also go all-out during their brief, on-ice shifts before returning to the bench, panting from exertion. Naturally, we focus on what happens during play, but some of the most critical moments happen off-camera, while the athletes are recovering. During the 90-second changeover break, tennis players often bury their heads under a towel to meditate, change rackets, or hydrate with water and energy drinks. Hockey players do diaphragmatic breathing to increase oxygen flow and mentally review their previous shifts. Whatever technique they use, these pro athletes understand the importance of a […]

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How to Work When You Really Don’t Feel Like It

Avoiding daily tasks can crush our happiness, hurt our bank accounts, and even damage our health — but you can learn how to move forward. March 18, 2019 7 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Procrastination hurts. Hitting next episode on Netflix can provide momentary relief, but it’s a fleeting high. Whether you’re avoiding a sink full of dishes, a new presentation deck, or a date with the treadmill, delay has the power to transform a simple task into a Mount Everest of a to-do list. Research shows that in the long term, procrastination significantly decreases our health, wealth, and happiness. For example, in a survey of 10,000 people by Carleton University’s Procrastination Research Group, 94 percent of respondents said that procrastination negatively affects their happiness. A full 19 percent said the effect is extremely negative. The flip side of procrastination is motivation. According to Psychology Today, “motivation is literally the desire […]

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Why Deliberate Practice Matters for Entrepreneurs

Real improvement requires short bursts of focused learning and concentration. February 5, 2019 10 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Ballet is a dazzling art form. Dancers defy gravity as they leap and pirouette across the stage. Every movement is precise; every gesture considered. The world’s most accomplished dancers also make the craft look effortless — like we could all replicate their grace and athleticism. But every day, long before the curtain rises, ballet dancers return to the barre and perform a series of familiar exercises. These movements are more than a warm-up; they’re a form of deliberate practice. Related: 6 Ways in Which You Can Make Your Business an ‘Overnight Success’ From ballet to chess to writing, researchers have long asked several important questions: Is talent innate or can it be acquired over time? How long does it take to become a master of your […]

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