8 ideas — week of Jan 5

Eight ideas I came across this week & found worth noting:

1. Write a “user manual” for working with you

From The Tim Ferriss Show episode with Adam Grant

Or Skolnik, a manager at Bain, wrote a one-pager on how to work with him most effectively that he would share with anyone who joined his team. It had four sections:

  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • What triggers bring out the worst in you?
  • What moments bring out the best in you?

He also had his team write their version of his “user manual” so he could compare and identify his blindspots.

2. Use anti-goals for planning

From “The Power of Anti-Goals” by Andrew Wilkinson

Instead of thinking about what you want (and coming up with ways to achieve that), think about what you most definitely don’t want — and come up with ways to avoid it.

For example, Andrew and his business partner came up with their worst day imaginable (tons of meetings, being tired, dealing with people who exhausted them) and then came up with a set of rules to avoid a day like that, including:

Never schedule an in-person meeting when it can otherwise be accomplished via email or phone (or not at all)

No more than 2 hours of scheduled time per day

Never schedule morning meetings, sleep in when needed

3. Perceived Risk = Hazard + Outrage

From Freakonomics

Peter Sandman, a risk-communication consultant, coined the equation Risk = Hazard + Outrage. It means that our perception of how risky or dangerous something is comes from two pieces:

  • Hazard is the technical, objective piece — the raw numbers on how many people fall victim to the danger
  • Outrage is the social, cultural component; it’s how upset people are by the idea of the danger

Outrage often doesn’t correlate to the actual level of hazard, so, as Sandman says, “…the risks that scare people and the risks that kill people are very different.” For example, a parent’s fear of a child playing at a friend’s house that has a gun and getting shot is higher than playing at a friend’s house that has a swimming pool and drowning — even though the latter’s more likely.

Outrage is usually highest when something is seen as dreadful, gruesome, or horrifying, and when it feels more out of our control (like a terrorist attack).

4. Talk differently to “toward” v. “away from” people

From First Round Review & Khalid Halim

“Motivational direction” is what’s driving someone to do something. Based on it, you can categorize people into two general types:

  1. “Toward” people are motivated to achieve goals. They focus on managing priorities and use words like “gain,” “attain,” and “achieve.”
  2. “Away from” people are motivated to solve problems. They focus on what might go wrong and use words like “avoid,” “get rid of,” and “exclude.”

(There are people who are both — research shows about 20% of us — and great leaders are usually able to be and appeal to both.)

If you’re trying to influence someone, understand what type they are and frame your points accordingly. For example, if you‘re trying to persuade your “toward” CEO, tell her what the company gets (more runway) with your idea, not the negative consequences of not doing it (layoffs).

5. Keep asking “why” to fight confirmation bias

From UX Collective

Confirmation bias is a cognitive bias where we hold on to data that confirms our existing beliefs and play down or ignore any that challenges them.

In user research, it’s easy to stop a line of questioning once you get a positive answer or an answer in-line with your hypothesis. You ask, “What actions do you want to take from this webpage?” and the user says, “I want to do X” — and X is exactly what you’ve been planning on building! Perfect, case closed.

That’s confirmation bias kicking in: you’re assuming that the user’s motive for wanting to do X matches your hypothesis. But in reality, you’ve only confirmed what the user wants, not why.

To avoid this, dive a bit further into any confirming responses you get. Ask the user: Why would you want to do that? How many times in the last week have you wanted to do it?

6. Conscientiousness is bad for fluid intelligence

From The Atlantic

There are two types of intelligence: fluid intelligence (the ability to reason and think flexibly) and crystallized intelligence (the ability to use knowledge you’ve acquired through learning or experience).

Many companies have started to hire less specialists in favor of hiring generalists who can quickly adapt to new situations and solve a wide range of problems. Fluid intelligence is especially important for generalists.

Research has shown that conscientiousness — usually a positive quality for job performance — is negatively correlated to fluid intelligence. Because conscientious people want to be dependable and cover everything (they’re the ones who show up early, double-check your work, and return your car with a full tank), they spread themselves too thin trying to do everything even when priorities shift and one is more important than the others.

7. An antipode is a city’s “opposite” on the globe

From infographycs & National Geographic

A visual of the world’s antipodes, from @natgeomaps on Instagram

8. Give candidates micro job tasks for interviews

From First Round Review & Peter Kazanjy

Most employers rely on asking candidates about their past experiences and talking to references to make hiring decisions. Those are both proxies for whether or not someone is capable of doing a job.

Ideally, you’d want the interviewee to demonstrate how good he or she is at the job requirements. To show, not tell.

Kazanjy, the co-founder of a company called TalentBin, did this in his hiring process for sales reps:

I ask candidates to leave me a 30-second voicemail pitching TalentBin as if I were the head of recruiting at Airbnb. This requires the initiative to internalize TalentBin’s value propositions — as well as qualifying Airbnb as an account.

This reminds me of a company called Interviewed (acquired by Indeed in 2017) that created online assessments to go along with interviews. For example, if you were interviewing for a client success role, an Interviewed assessment might include a heated email from an imaginary client and ask you to respond.




I get excited about data 📊, words 📖, storytelling ✨, and combinations of any of the above | 💰 Finance @SonderMind

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Minna Wang

Minna Wang

I get excited about data 📊, words 📖, storytelling ✨, and combinations of any of the above | 💰 Finance @SonderMind

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