WISDOM – The 5 Most Difficult skills to recruit in 5 books

As I read the 2018 Financial Times Skill Gaps Survey, I was surprised to discover what are said to be the 5 most difficult skills for employers to recruit. Although this study focuses on MBA graduates, I believe anyone would benefit from developing such skill set. Yet, it is not mandatory to get back to Business School to significantly improve your performance in such areas.

Here I wish to highlight 5 books that will definitely build up capabilities in what top recruiters consider today as the 5 most difficult skills to recruit. These books have so far been among the most influential ones to me. I encourage you to spend time to read and study them. Such books are also frequently quoted among most recommended books by successful entreprenors and investors such as Warren Buffet, Bill Gates or Tim Ferris.

1. Ability to influence others

Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

This book taught taught me more than Organizational Behavior module. Its principles, although sometimes simple are the second to none to establish empathy & meaningful conversations, which are the two pillars of trust. What Carnegie teaches is influence lies in one’s ability to listen and develop empathy. It is not, contrary to popular belief, a manipulation playbook.

2. Strategic thinking

Sun Tzu, The Art of War or The Prince by Machiavelli, pick one!

These two strategy masterpieces will not be a straightforward “how to”. Yet, with time to pounder and translate the learnings into your daily situation and reality, they can provide powerful reasoning maps. The main learning outcome remains to focus on second and third order consequences of any action, or absence of action.

3. Drive and resilience

No other than Drive by Daniel Pink offers insights about what truly motivates us. The trilogy Autonomy, Mastery & Purpose provides a useful tool to reframe our job description. Ability to reframe the job in those terms will contribute to a genuine motivation.

4. Big data analysis

Factfulness by Hans Rosling.

This may sound far stretched as Rosling will not actually teach you about Big Data but I believe he builds the most important piece of the data analystics puzzle: the ability to suspend your pre-existing judgement, gather new sets of data, and then take a fresher look the situation. This is a pre-requisit to immerse yourself in the Big Data culture and supersedes to me all the technical elements.

5. Ability to solve complex problems

Ray Dalio’s Principles is a good start.

Complex problems require methodology to be solved, then can not be taken-on head first. Thanks to Dalio’s reasoning system, we are better equipped to face complex situations. The books offers a detailed framework that one can study and adapt to its own personal situations. The main learning element is to develop systematic approach to problem solving.

How did this list help you to identify gaps in your own skills? Share your thoughts in the comments!

References

https://www.ft.com/content/64b19e8e-aaa5-11e8-89a1-e5de165fa619

https://personaloptimum.com/2018/07/20/wisdom-factfulness-by-hans-rosling/

The Unusual Books That Shaped 50+ Billionaires, Mega-Bestselling Authors, and Other Prodigies

Tribe of Mentors — Recommended Books from Mentors and Top Books from Tools of Titans

WISDOM – Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss – book review

Do you think a former FBI negotiator may have something to teach you about negotiation? That is what Never Split the Difference is all about. Here is the summary for the #neverendingbooklist

In no more than 300 words

In Never Split the Difference, former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss shares his field knowledge of high stakes negotiations. Personal experiences illustrate the wide range of skills and techniques that anyone can leverage on. Cornerstone of all techniques is to engage into deep active listening and encourage counterpart to keep talking. To achieve the later, Chris Voss relies on open-end calibrated questions (“how” and “what”), repetition of words just pronounced by its counterpart (mirroring) and empathy expression (labeling). This helps to uncover information about what the counterpart truly wants to achieve. Knowing such piece of information, seldom disclose at first, unarguably gives the upper hand.

Contrary to popular wisdom, Chris Voss encourages to refrain from trying to achieve “yes” answers. Such answer may not signify compliance with your goals, but merely the desire of your counterpart to stop the conversation. On the flip side, he urges to find the “no”, a genuine disagreement. From this clear line, one can use open questions such as “what about this does not work for you?”. Breakthrough is said to happen when you achieve a “that’s right”. This signifies a genuine understanding of your counterpart’s situation.Previously mentioned techniques are designed to achieve this situation.

The book refers at length to Prospect Theory (see Thinking, Fast and Slow for more) and illustrates how to successfully tap on loss aversion and certainty effect. In practice, unfolding negotiation in a way the counterpart can see what he has to lose from a non-deal provides leverage.

Instead of cornering the counterpart into an agreement, it may be more effective to create an “illusion of control”, encouraging them to voice the design of the final solution, which can be achieved through “how” questions.

Finally, two “tips” for effective negotiation. Keeping emotions under control at all time, as rational thinking is only possible when calm and, conscious effort – and training – to use voice inflection. A last word of Chris Voss’ wisdom “no deal is better than a bad deal”.

Three takeaways

  • Frontal negotiation and traditional battle of arguments is unlikely to lead to a true successful negotiation. Research has found more efficient ways of leading someone to comply
  • Cornerstone of a successful negotiation is to uncover key information and to use them in a way that can lead your counterpart to comply. Techniques focus on keeping the counterpart actively engaged and actively speaking. Negotiator needs to pay extreme attention to every single details, including non-verbal ones.
  • Preparation and implantation of negotiation techniques considerably increases probability of successful outcome. Abundant ressources and regulator practices can dramatically increase one’s negotiation skills.

Bridging the implementation gap

  • Make a conscious effort to listen and encourage the counterpart to speak. Rely on mirroring, open-end calibrated question and labeling to keep the discussion going
  • Establish tactical empathy as the “default mode” (which is different from sympathy) and requires to understand the present feeling of the counterparts.
  • Don’t settle for compromise: leverage on the Ackerman model and keep bargaining hard. Keep in mind that “no deal is better than a bad deal”

Personal bonus implementation points

  • My negotiation type is assertive. This means that I tend to come off as harsh. This reduces dramatically the changes of successful negotiation and the chances of collaboration. To reduce this biais, I need to work to intentionally soften the tone of my voice, in order to make it pleasant. Calibrated questions and labels will help me to be perceived as more approachable.
  • Shift from “is this a good time to talk?” To “is this a bad time to talk?

Do I recommend this book? Definitely, especially for all sales professionals

View the book (or ebook) on Amazon: Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

See how Never Split the Difference, ranks on the #neverendingbooklist

Never Split the Difference is part of the Sales toolkit

MONEY – Asset Allocation

The original article on money management lead to a relevant number of question on the specific topic of Asset Allocation. To build up on this fondamental, I decided to share some examples of Asset Allocation, starting with the one that I use. Such allocation can entirely be done via ETFs.

Please let me know any question or suggestion.

DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT A FINANCIAL ADVISOR. PLEASE LOOK FOR A QUALIFIED AND REGULATED FINANCIAL ADVISOR BEFORE MAKING ANY INVESTMENT DECISION. THE ALLOCATIONS STATED IN THIS ARTICLE IS FOR ILLUSTRATION PURPOSE AND CAN NOT BE CONSIDERED AS FINANCIAL ADVICE.

Before giving any example of allocation, there are two rules that stand true among highly successful investors.

Rule number 1: you need to diversify the risk in your portfolio and can not rely on a single asset class, regardless of your personal preference

Rule number 2: limiting downside risk is fundamental. Remember the asymmetry between loss and return (If your portfolio loses 50% of its value, you need 100% performance to get back to where you were.). Preserving a significant secured bucket and looking for asymmetrical risk/reward are two ways to use this rule.

Next Allocation (end of July 2018 rebalancing)

Risk Bucket – 65%

Traditional Equities – Benchmarks only – 30%

US: 6%

Europe: 6%

Japan (FX Hedged): 3%

EM: 10%

China onshore: 5%

Macro Trends – 20%

Solar – 5%

Robots – 5%

China Tech – 5%

Illiquid EM – 5%

Alternatives – 15%

Real Estate – 3%

Commodities – 4%

Crypto: 8%

Defensive Bucket – 35%

Fixed Income – 30%

* US Gov (Nominal and Infla Adjusted): 10%

* Europe Gov (Nominal and Infla Adjusted): 10%

* EM Gov (Local currencies): 10%

Cash – 5%

* USD: 5%

WISDOM – The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

This bestseller by Malcolm Gladwell, a New Yorker journalist and author of several fascinating books, explores a topic all the more interesting in the age of social media: how a trend becomes viral.

In no more than 300 words

In The Tipping Point Malcolm Gladwell invites readers to consider how a trend starts. What makes something go viral is the combination of three rare factors. The initial reason if that a specific information or product encounters three type of very specific people that are labeled as Connectors (imagine your friend who knows everyone), Mavens (your other friend that is always aware of the new technologies and the best places to strike a deal) and Salesmen (the enthusiastic but sometimes annoying friend who stills the attention at diner parties). The second element that makes a viral trend is that the information is packaged into a simple and very efficient way: it sticks. Gladwell exposes how research proves that ability to achieve an outstanding level of information stickiness outsmarts the best possible creative marketing campaigns. Intense practical testing – via focus groups for instance – appears to be the only way (yet exhausting) to reach such efficiency. Finally, environment plays an extraordinarily important role into the unfolding of any trend. However, seemingly negligeable details, such as the immediate context (stressful situation, unfavorable environment, community type of organisation…) carries similar influence to the previous two factors.
In the age of social media, Gladwell provides simple queues to understand how viral content is created, and enables us to break down retroactively and understand existing or past trends. This is a powerful “How-To” that we can leverage on to promote causes dear to us or improve our marketing abilities.

Three takeaways

  • A trend is started by a very small number of highly specific people who fall into three distinct groups: Connectors (who know everyone), Mavens (who genuinely want to help) and Salesmen (who persuade others due to their mesmerizing skills)
  • There is always a simple way of packaging information to make it irresistible. Putting up the hard work to discover the right format is the most effective way to make information stick. There is no shortcut to testing: intuition can not tell you what really woks
  • Environment can have an immense impact on behavior, yet the seemingly little details tend to have the largest impact

Bridging the implementation gap

  • Identify and keep an eye on the Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen in my environment. They can play the role of canaries in the mine and help me spot trends
  • Put marketing strategies and material to test relentlessly. it is the best way to achieve maximum communication efficiency. Creative marketing can not replace this effort
  • Accept that environnement plays a major role in anyone’s behavior, including me. Focus on fixing negatively impacting elements of my environnent to ensure long term success and happiness

Do I recommend this book? It is indeed an interesting read but unless you are fundamentally interested by the research behind the conclusions, I would recommand you stick to the summary and action points

View the book (or ebook) The Tipping Point on Amazon

How does The Tipping point rank on the #neverendingbooklist project?

In this book, Malcolm Gladwell quotes a research paper that I am strongly influenced by. This paper is the Affective Communication Test by Howard Friedman published in 1980. It shows how salesmanship efficiency relies heavily on a quality that is highly difficult to measure: the ability to convey emotions. Research shows that, contrary to our intuition, this is mostly a non verbal process and that it can hardly be faked. In conclusion, charisma appears to be a gift. Friedman built a self test to assess levels of individual charisma. Such test has been proven efficient by many subsequent experience. I encourage any sales professional to use it as part of his recruiting method.
Read the paper: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/f14c/36b4a59112b4dae5b9eed711c565d8ef96e3.pdf

Malcolm Gladwell on TED:

WISDOM – Factfulness by Hans Rosling

Hans Rosling was a doctor and public speaker. He fought two main battles during his life: children mortality and ignorance. If you never had the chance to watch Hans’ TED Talks, give it a look, they are inspiring. I’ll add them after the review. The main reason to read this article – and the book – is that I bet it will make you happier about the current state of the world!

In no more than 300 words

Factfulness was written by Hans Rosling as a digest of his lifelong quest for a fact-based understanding of our world. After countless experimentations and public speaking exercises, Rosling concluded that human living in richest parts of the world tend to imagine a distorted world, through the lence of poverty, violence and fear. Factfulness exposes how we rely on an outdated matrix to make our judgements. Western vs Developping world framework prevents us from realising that most people live today in middle-income countries, 80% of 1-year old children globally have been vaccinated or that Malaysia life expectancy today is comparable to Sweden in 1975. Rosling invites us to consider a 4 income buckets framework. Level 1 corresponds to $1 a day, and encompasses our traditional poverty image: people going barefoot to get water from a well. 1 billion people are today in this category. Level 4 stands for “western” lifestyle, with a daily income over $64, home to another 1 billion individuals. Remaining 5 billions are split between two categories: from $4 daily income for category 2 and $16 a day for level 3.

Rosling warns against use of stereotypes: religion has barely any impact on number of children. Income, and to a second order healthcare and education do. Consider that that number of children per woman is lower in Iran than in USA. As I finished the book, I realised such data-driven exercise opened my eyes to more opportunities. It also calls for lifelong learning: the world is evolving fast, yet the eduction is mostly provided when we are young, by teachers who rely on data from their own twenties. Luckily, data is now available to most of us, and at a very cheap cost. A small effort can grant us a useful framework upgrade.

Three takeaways

  • The world is in much better state that our intuition would let us imagine. A simple look at the facts helps to realise that.
  • The next 1Bn population willl be aged between 30 and 45 years old, while other buckets will remain stable from now to 2030
  • It is very difficult for the brain to get a sense of large numbers, hence using ratios and comparables provide a much better understand of general situations

Bridging the implementation gap

  • Dedicate more time to understand what the majority stands for (in terms of actual distribution) and focus less on averages or extremes that tend to cloud the understanding
  • When facing an urgent situation, instead of acting right away, take an additional look at the data (and get more if not relevant) and assess the second order consequences of action versus non action
  • Beware of statements starting with “in times like this” or “in the world we live in now”. They usually introduce false and overly pessimistic statements.

Do I recommend this book? That is indeed a must read!

View the book or the ebook Factfulness on Amazon

How does Factfulness rank on the #neverendingbooklist project?

See Hans’ TED Talk, Let my dataset change your mindset

WISDOM – #neverendingbooklist

This is my project to sort the books in read over time. My criteria is how much I would recommend my sister and my brother to read the book. This is indeed highly subjective and does not necessarily reflect the quality of the books.

You can follow #neverendingbooklist on social media to get updates on the project

  1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  2. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
  3. Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferris
  4. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  5. The One thing you need to know by Marcus Buckingham
  6. Drive by Daniel Pink
  7. Principles by Ray Dalio
  8. Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi
  9. Factfulness by Hans Rosling
  10. Influence by Robert Cialdini
  11. Act like at Leader, Think like a Leader by Herminia Ibarra
  12. The Everything Story by Brad Stone
  13. Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance
  14. The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington
  15. The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
  16. Why Nations Fail by Damon
  17. Art as Therapy by Alain de Bottom & John Armstrong
  18. Brain Rules by John Medina
  19. Discipline Equals Freedom by Jocko Willink
  20. The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday
  21. How you learn is how you live by Kay Peterson & David Kolb
  22. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
  23. Good to Great by Jim Collins

WISDOM – Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman – book review

What a mastery Daniel Kahneman accomplished by squeezing such an amount of useful knowledge in a single, easy-to-read book. I accept the challenge to sum up my understanding of Thinking, Fast and Slow, in this post for the #neverendingbooklist.

In no more than 300 words

Daniel Kahneman is a renown scholar, behavioral economics specialist, that was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002. In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman compiles the most important breakthrough of behavioral economics and describes their impacts and implication in simple language. Central idea is that the brain is made of two Systems: System 1, that provokes automatic answers and is always operating and System 2, your thinking-self, a little more challenging to use. This split leads people to take sometimes irrational decisions when facing specific situations. Research has documented a number of these situations, across many practical fields, such as Economics, Investments, Healthcare, but also choices related to daily spendings or holiday planning. Kahneman breaks up with the traditional Economics which assume human being as always rational (Econs) and calls for a more complex picture: the situation in which the decision is made influences the way such decision is made. Not patronizing but analyzing, the book illustrates patterns and offers research-backed rational for abnormal behavior. It then introduces systems to reduce biais whenever such behavior results in long term disadvantage. On many occcasions, brain focuses only on the information that are readily available to him, even when such information may be irrelevant to such decision. Another flaw is our propension to “mental accounting”, a silo-type of thinking process. Kahneman reviews the considerable impact of Priming which can be used to substantially orientate your decision making process.
This booked helped me to reframe my vision of how my personal feelings have a direct impact on choices that I was considering rational (investments) and give me ground to develop stronger decision making process.

Three takeaways

  • Your brain is a two gear engine which performs two singularly different functions: the first one is always on and deals with automatic tasks while the second needs a bit of work to engage and enables you to built up more refine analysis
  • Humans are not always rational beings (Econs). Difficulty to engage System 2, the thinking part of the brain, leads to irrational choices under many circumstances. Yet, slower thinking is almost systematically available if we make the conscious effort
  • Experience and memory are significantly different processes. Ultimately memory appears indifferent to the notion of time and favors highlights (peaks). This has a profound impact on our life choices
  • Bridging the implementation gap
    • Whenever assessing a situation, add a simple step. Ask yourself “what is it that I don’t know?” Don’t fall into the focusing illusion that leaves you to consider only the readily available information – (For your brain, “What You See Is All There Is”)
    • Rely on checklists or very simplified algorithm for recurring decision making such as investment portfolio reviews
    • “It is only a slight exaggeration to say that happiness is the experience of spending time with people you love and who love you” & “The easiest way to increase happiness is to control your use of time”. Keep schedule under tight control and leave plenty of time for who and what you love

    Do I recommend this book? Definitely

    View the book (or ebook) on Amazon: Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

    See how Thinking, Fast and Slow ranks on the #neverendingbooklist

  • Thinking, Fast and Slow, is part of the Leadership toolkit