The 15 Minute Brain Hack

March 7, 2018 at Pfizer Virtual Summit 2018

We used to think we knew it all.

We used to go to business school and emerge with MBA-style passports to a long and prosperous career. We used to top up our business skills with the occasional workshop, maybe augmented by a business book or two. We used to go through those chaotic moments of “change” when organisations shake up, and then settle down again. We used to become increasingly expert in our chosen field. And do what we do.

But the world isn’t like that anymore.

Change is relentless, everywhere and in everything. More change in the next 10 years than the last 250 years. Technology, but also its applications and consequences. Changing what people want, their aspirations and expectations. Changing how we work, our business models and daily tasks. Changing what success looks like, from productivity and scale, to new measures of impact and progress.

How do we keep pace with this incredible world?

What we learnt 10, maybe even 20 or 30, years ago just isn’t relevant, or even sufficient anymore. The capabilities that made us great have been superseded by new skills or even machines. The ability to keep doing the same thing, or evolving the same model doesn’t work. And as change accelerates, it feels like there is no time for anything – shorter cycle times, faster delivery, instant results.

So when is there time to learn, to develop ourselves?

Taking time out to refuel your mind, to attend a training program, seems impractical and impossible. 4 weeks for an executive program seems like a lifetime. A book is quickly distracted. Even sitting down to watch a TED Talk seems like a luxury. Yet there is a whole new world to explore – new knowledge, new skills, new opportunities.

The problem is not time, it is our mindset.

Too many of us still try to optimise the whole world. To keep doing what we have always done, but better, evolving and adapting, in search of perfection. Instead we need to let go, to adopt a growth mindset, where we constantly seek to explore and experiment. To grow. To move ourselves and our organisations forwards in new ways. To be interested, curious and creative, to learn in everything we do.

So here’s a summary of the 15 minute brain hack:

 We live in an incredible time

  • More change in next 10 years than last 250 years
  • Dramatic advances in healthcare, therapies and devices
  • But change is challenging – keep pace, tyranny of time, the future you want
  • Imagine if you were an entrepreneur – Anne Wojicki at 23andMe

 Winning is a mindset

 Learn to learn everyday

  • 100 year life, 6 different careers, Udacity’s nanodegress – learn to learn different
  • Active learning (realtime, collaborative) beats Passive learning (courses, books)
  • 1% learning every day – not 3.65x better in a year, but 37x better
  • The Netflix way – Outpace the market

 21 quick “brain hacks”

  • Make every day, your first day … says Jeff Bezos from Amazon
    • keep the dream – be excited every morning
    • stay fresh – don’t get dull/bored/tired
    • be optimistic – be the positive one
  • Listen smarter … says Indra Nooyi from Pepsico
    • customer world – start outside
    • the 7 whys – dig deeper to discover more
    • go to the edge – newness is in the margins
  • Be curious … says Mark Parker from Nike
    • ask questions – bigger, better questions
    • be playful – experiment, try new
    • make unusual connections – the da Vinci
  • Share more … says Adam Grant from Wharton
    • give to take – the secret of reciprocity
    • teach others – best way to learn
    • be interested/ing
  • Express yourself … says Jack Ma from Alibaba
    • have a point of view – don’t be bland
    • blog, vlog, tweet, post – be out there
    • build your character not reputation
  • Find your Ikigai … says Elon Musk from Tesla
    • align purpose – match life and work
    • do what love – what do you love
    • find relevance – why you
  • Reinvent yourself … says Clay Christiansen from Harvard
    • disrupt – challenge, reinvent
    • simplify – make things as simple as possible
    • stay ahead – be the disruptor not the disrupted

What will you do? Be bold, be brave, be brilliant.