Are tweets, statuses, pins, pokes, and pixels dominating your life? This week, as part of our #unplug series, we’re re-posting some of our most popular stories from the archives, with a special focus on the beauty of a tech break, the power of analog, and how a little quiet can kickstart creativity.

New research shows that if you want to purge your mental muck, you should make like a tree and leaf.

Puns aside, a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine evidences that green spaces lessen “brain fatigue”–that familiar (urban?) feeling of being distracted, forgetful, and flighty, as Gretchen Reynolds notes for the New York Times.

All it takes is a stroll

You may be familiar with the clanging clamor of urban life–and psychology helps us understand why it’s so sapping. Pedestrians get drained because they have to remain vigilant of all the madness that’s around them, being forced to use directed mental attention–a limited resource–to get from one block to another without being run over by something with two legs or four wheels. In contrast, the environs of a park, unless there’s a stroller festival afoot, can put you into a state of soft fascination,the aaaaah-inducing feeling of taking in the space around you. By being in a green space, that ever-so-scarce resource of directed attention is able to renew itself.

Leafy prescriptions

Some countries might be ahead of Scotland in the greenery game. Outside Magazine had an amazing feature in December about how doctors in Japan are beginning to prescribe walks in the woods to help the mental health of overloaded urbanites. There’s even a totally adorable word for it, shinrin-yoku, which translates as “forest bathing.”

But you need not be in Edinburgh or Tokyo to get your shinrin-yoku on. The key is to get into the woods, whatever the neck may be, says Jenny Roe, the professor who oversaw the Scottish study. Reynolds has the quote:

…Right about now, you should consider “taking a break from work,” Dr. Roe said, and “going for a walk in a green space or just sitting, or even viewing green spaces from your office window.” This is not unproductive lollygagging, Dr. Roe helpfully assured us.”It is likely to have a restorative effect and help with attention fatigue and stress recovery.”

So do your brain a favor and have a midday stroll. Or, maybe better than that, do your colleagues a favor– make your next meeting a walk in the woods.

“Asking for AIR – Advice, Insights, and Recommendations” by Marc Miller


Frequently, when people use their contacts to try to change jobs or careers, they make one of several mistakes:

– They spend the whole time talking about themselves
– They spend the whole time asking questions the other person doesn’t feel comfortable answering
– They squander the opportunity and forget to meet their primary objectives.

How you present yourself to the people who are helping you furthers your personal brand. If you make one or more of the mistakes above, then you’ve communicated that your personal brand is self-centered, unprofessional or scattered. Whereas if you’re focused, clear and appropriate, that’s what your interviewee is going to walk away saying about you.

Let’s say you are looking for a new position. You want to check out this hot new startup. You did your homework and received an introduction to one of the managers, who we will call Jeffrey.
Do you ask for an informational interview? No…..

What you want to do is ask for A – I – R. You will ask for advice, insights and recommendations.

A – Advice– When you ask for advice it is a compliment. Rarely will anyone ever turn you down when you ask advice. In an e-mail to Jeffrey, ask for 30 minutes of his time to ask for some advice. It could be about how to pursue a position at the company or to learn more about the company. The magic word is “advice!”

I – Insights– Once you meet Jeffrey ask for his insights into how the company functions, the culture and management structure. You might ask him how he was hired or does he like his job. You will want to ask very open ended questions to give Jeffrey to talk. This is NOT ABOUT YOU.

R – Recommendations – This is the part that many people forget. Ask what should I do next? Is there anyone else you would recommend I talk with? Can you introduce me to anyone else within the organization?

You will ask Jeffrey questions and only talk about yourself when asked. It is not about you!
This is all about building the relationship. Asking for advice, insights and recommendations is a great way to initiate and cultivate a lasting relationship.

You have not asked for help to get a job, but you have asked for help in understanding the organization and for further networking opportunities. You are networking to build relationships and not to find a job. The opportunity to interview for a position will come later after you have established relationships.

-Jeffrey will likely provide an introduction to at least one person, if not two, if you made it clear you were interested in him and his perspective.
-You will ask for advice, insights and recommendations from each of the individuals that Jeffrey made introductions.
-When each meeting is complete who you gonna call? Jeffrey.

Well maybe not call, but at least send him an e-mail and let him know how it went. You will also tell him if you received any more introductions. People love to know that they’re helping and that the time they spent with you had some value. They also appreciate knowing that you’re grateful and recognize the time and effort they contributed to your career search.
Now, if a position opens up at this hot startup, Jeffrey will think of you. If you made a favorable impression, he might even call you before the position is posted.
I was hired exactly this way at my last two tech startup companies.

Marc Miller is the founder of Career Pivot which helps Baby Boomers design careers they can grow into for the next 30 years. Marc authored the book Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers, published in January 2013, which has been featured on, US News and World Report, CBS Money-Watch and PBS’ Next Avenue. Marc has made six career pivots himself, serving in several positions at IBM in addition to working at Austin, Texas startups, teaching math in an inner-city high school and working for a local non-profit. Learn more about Marc and Career Pivot by visiting the Career Pivot Blog or follow Marc on Twitter or Facebook.

Read more and connect with Marc here:

How Can You Manage People, And Still Grow Your Company? by Paul B. Brown


You can’t do everything yourself. Yet, the moment you start adding people you have–by definition–people problems. And dealing with people problems keeps you, the entrepreneur/founder, away from the things you are good at–finding new markets and implementing new ideas.

As a result, your company suffers. It loses market share or stops growing because you are forced to spend too much of your time looking inside your company, instead of searching outside for new markets.

Perhaps even worse, you are dealing with personel problems at exactly the same time that the problems of managing growth are coming at you faster than you ever dreamed of.
As a result of all this, you are spending too little time doing what you should be doing, determining how to increase sales and profits.

Obviously, the solution is to create layers of management that free you to think bigger thoughts than who should go on vacation when. But it is not that easy. Even when an entrepreneur is willing to delegate, and actually tries to, there are potential:

1. Communication problems. What you say and what your managers hear are not always the same.

2. Style problems. No two managers are the same. And no manager is exactly the same as the boss.

3. Employee resentment problems (I). When you bring in a new leader, the first reaction from the orchestra is likely to be “why wasn’t I chosen to lead the band?”

4. Employee resentment problems (II). If you join Apple today, you don’t expect to waltz into the CEO’s office any time you choose. But at small companies, it is different. Employees expect that kind of access. That is especially true of an employee who was there when the company was formed. He is not going to like it when he finds the door to the boss’ office is suddenly closed and he is told to see someone else–someone with a less impressive title than CEO.

Interact with Paul at the link below:

Paul B. Brown is the co-author of Just Start published by Harvard Business Review Press.

Two Types of Salespeople by Mike Michalowicz


There are two types of salespeople:

1. The people who can sell.

2. The people who can sell themselves.

There is only one way to distinguish them: Cold, hard numbers.

The salespeople who can sell themselves are masters of cling. They likely clinged to their last job for a couple of years, until they couldn’t sell themselves any more. They are masters at explaining things away. They can always justify why their numbers won’t, can’t, and shouldn’t work. They try to show their value in the “fuzzy” numbers. The numbers don’t justify it, but they cling around as long as they can.

The salespeople who can actually sell, work for companies that cling to them. Salespeople who can sell are masters of process. They are skilled at explaining how their numbers work. Their numbers are never fuzzy. They expect more pay for more performance – no fuzz there.

Your business doesn’t need to feel warm and fuzzy. It needs revenue, so it can deliver the warm and fuzzy to your clients.

Hire salespeople who can sell. Let your competition hire the other guys.

100% Team by Jim Johnson

Image you coach a baseball team, and your team just lost a game.  In the post-game talk, you tell your team that they didn’t give it their all – they played at around coach

Two days later, you arrive for the next game.  You gather your team together for the pre-game pep talk.  Would you say this?

“Ok, team, a couple of days ago I told you that you played at 85%.  I know you can do better.  You know you can do better.  Today, I want 89%!  Now let’s go get ’em!”

No coach I know would ever say that.

An effective coach wants 100% out of their team.  Not perfection, mind you.  But 100%.  Coaches want players to play to their potential.  To give it 100%. 

We’ve all read articles and book where we’re told that most companies see team performance following the 80/20 rule.  What would your team look like it everyone worked at 100%.  Not realistic?  Perhaps.  But why not set that vision?

Refuse to allow your team to live/work to the lowest common denominator.  Give them the vision of higher standards.  Set challenging goals.  Inspect what you expect.  Cheer them on.  Coach them.  Believe in them.

Coaches want their players to play to 100% of their potential.

The Facial Expression That Makes You Money by: Kelsey Tamborrino


Flash those pearly whites: Small business owners who smile are better able to keep customers coming back, according to new research from Kingston’s Small Business Research Centre.

Pretty simple, right? The problem is that the majority of people don’t do it. The study found that only about half of the 1,216 business people flashed a grin.

That’s bad news considering “smiling is the single most important body language cue to indicate friendliness and safety,” according to Patti Wood, author of Snap: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language, and Charisma.

And it can benefit you in an array of other arenas, too. After all, making those around you comfortable is vital to success, says Robert Blackburn, Ph.D., who conducted the study. It’s also a surefire way to become the go-to guy—no one wants to work with a negative Nancy or sign on with a close-minded team.

Use your grin to your advantage: A recent study in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that when men made not-so-pleasant comments, people were more likely to lighten up if they flashed a grin than if they didn’t. When you see a smile, you automatically see that person in a positive light. It’s how your brain is wired.

The 80/20 Rule is 80% Accurate 20% of the Time by Mike Michalowicz


Are you familiar with the 80/20 Rule, often referred to as Pareto’s Rule? Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist in the 19th century, was directed by the King of Italy to determine the distribution of the country’s wealth. Through Pareto’s tedious analysis he determined that:
20% of the Italian population
80% of the country’s wealth.
20% of the country’s wealth was
controlled by 80% of the

This observation can be applied to many facets of business and life. But buyer beware, this formula doesn’t apply all the time. So use it with a dose of your own analytics.

Here’s where the 80/20 Rule often works:

– 80% of the time you wear only 20% of your clothing. That’s a lot of clean shirts sitting there, unused. Hopefully your undies get a little more rotation.
– 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your customers. Check out your accounting, you may be surprised to find this true. Maybe it is time to try bringing in more clients like those in the 20%.
– 80% of the time you drive the same 20% of all roads you have ever driven. This is also called “the commute.”

But here’s where the 80/20 Rule often falls short:

– 80% of your success comes from 20% of your efforts. While small moments can yield huge results, it is the combined package of everything you do that yields success.
– 80% of your profit comes from 20% of your customers. While the top line is affected by your customer base, you control the flow of every penny. Your profit is greatly dictated by your spending. You have the ability to turn every client into a profit center, or fire the ones that aren’t benefiting the bottom line.
– 80% of your colleagues are working 20% of the time. If this is your situation, you have only one person to blame… yourself. Inefficiencies among staff are a result of poor systems and poor leadership

The 80/20 Rule is practical, powerful tool and can be used to get generalizations about how many parts of your business and your life. Just make sure to avoid using it as a hard fact. Do the analysis behind the rule to see where you really stand.