28 February 17 -

Super8: Eight intriguing articles from February.

In the immortal words of Kermit the frog: ‘it ain’t easy being green’. True, but it’s even worse being blue. If something’s got you down—be it a difficult task, an uncomfortable conversation, or anything else you’re avoiding—there’s one surefire way to move through it. Eat the frog.

I’m not crazy and I’m not talking French delicacies; I’m talking about a productivity tip. So what’s involved in ‘eating the frog’? How can you have more ‘a-ha!’ moments? How is MIT building a watch that helps you gauge the sentiment of conversation? I’ve got all the answers to each of these questions, and more, with Super8 in February. Let’s do it.

1. Adopting these tough morning routines will make you exceptionally successful.

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  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by Elle Kaplan. 
  • Contributor: David Baddock.  

Success starts first thing in the morning, and research shows the most successful people use some interesting techniques to get the day going. As well as eating the aforementioned ‘frog’, Elle Kaplan shares these valuable routines, with techniques borrowed from Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Michelle Obama and more.

Be the early bird and get the worm. Make the time for a hearty nutritious breakfast. Eat the frog and get the jump on your day. Instead of putting things off, and getting exhausted in the process, embrace things head-on. Mark Twain famously claimed:

‘If you eat a frog first thing in the morning that will probably be the worst thing you do all day.’

Check out these tips and create a morning routine that’s primed for productivity.

2. Want to have more creative breakthroughs? Redesign your day.

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  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by Anna Hensel.  
  • Contributor: Steph Little.  

Flash of genius. Creative breakthrough. ‘Aha!’ moment. Whatever you like to call it, we all know someone who has the uncanny ability to bring a mind-blowing idea to the table. As if from nowhere, these moments of inspiration are spontaneous in nature and come only to the gifted. Right?

Well, no. In reality, these lightbulb moments can come to all of us. Boosting creativity can be as simple as making small changes to your daily routine. How’s that for a breakthrough?

3. How to speak up for yourself.

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  • Read the full article here.
  • Presented by: Adam Galinsky. 
  • Contributor: Elliott Grigg. 

Speaking up for yourself can be tough. Even though it’s something we know we should do, and is generally instilled into us from an early age, it can still be a challenge to navigate tricky social situations and make your voice heard. Should I express my opinion? Can I challenge that insensitive joke? Should I confront the person who is stepping on my toes?

In this TED talk, social psychologist Adam Galinsky tackles what it really means to speak up. He believes we can understand our range of acceptable behaviour and expand it, and if we can be compassionate to others and focus outside of ourselves we are likely to see more success.

4. MIT built a wearable app to detect emotion in conversation.

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  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by Natt Garun. 
  • Contributor: Mark Davis.

Despite our best efforts, the sentiment behind our conversation is not always clear. The same story can be understood in many different ways—as sheer excitement, a brag, or a measure of gratitude, depending on the listener’s interpretation.

To help eradicate misinterpretation, a team at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a wearable app that identifies the emotion behind each part of a story.

‘Imagine if, at the end of a conversation, you could rewind it and see the moments when the people around you felt the most anxious’

The research is part of a wider study out of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory to study the science of human emotion detection; it brings a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘wear your heart on your sleeve’.

5. How to get more grit in your life.

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  • Read the full article here.
  • Presented by: Stephen J. Dubner.  
  • Contributor: JD Santiago.  

There’s a hypothesis that suggests anyone can get good at just about anything—with the right amount of practice. If that’s true, and if a person’s ability to stick with something is directly related to their level of success, how do we find the drive to excel, or the grit to commit to practice like that.

In this episode of the Freakonomics podcast, psychologist Angela Duckworth argues that grit is not something we are born with. It can actually be learned, and there are four traits that a gritty person has in abundance: interest, practice, purpose and hope.

6. The five-tool designer.

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  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by: Mike Davidson.  
  • Contributor: Kurt Smith. 

Everyone looks for slightly different things in a designer, but for Mike Davidson, there are five skills that stand above the rest. For Mike, a designer with these five skills in tow is referred to as a five-tool player.

‘Five-tool player is actually a baseball term used to describe someone who can hit for average, hit for power, run the bases, throw, and field.’

Clearly one of the highest compliments you can pay an athlete, Davidson believes the concept can be used to describe the very best designer; a multi-skilled all-rounder at the top of their game.

7. On generous listening and asking better questions.

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  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by: Krista Tippett. 
  • Contributor: Athalia Foo.  

Conversation. Listening. Activities we engage in every single day, but undoubtedly many of us could still improve our skills. In this short read, Krista Tippett, author of ‘Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Art of Living’, introduces the idea of generous listening.

‘Listening is more than being quiet while the other person speaks until you can say what you have to say’.

Krista suggests we should counter the notion that in conversation we need to win or lose, and the key is in asking better questions.

8. Simple rules for a complex world.

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  • Read the full article here.
  • Presented by: Kathleen Eisenhardt. 
  • Contributor: Daniel Banik.  

Finally, here’s another great podcast for your listening pleasure. Kathleen Eisenhardt, a professor of management science and engineering at Stanford University, explains the advantages of developing simple rules for business and life.

Rules matter, and they can both help and hinder companies or individuals, depending on how they’re employed. Eisenhardt’s research draws on examples form the boardroom, government, sports, the media and even nature to illustrate the power of employing simple rules in a complex world.