7 Ways Ignitia is working with you to create a safe working environment in a post Covid-19 world

1. Increased Cleanings- We have doubled the amount of cleaning in our space, eliminated high contact touch points, provided cleaning and hand sanitizers at entrances as well as key locations around our space to keep you safe, healthy and clean.

2. Direct Access, No Elevators- We are a ground floor retail establishment. You never need to walk through a large public space or go upstairs or an elevator to get access to your office.

3. Private offices allow social distancing- Each office is designed to be a small private space with full glass enclosures. Teams can take multiple offices to allow social distancing but not lose the value of being onsite.

4. One way hallways- As we re-open our space our hallways are now one-way directional loops as well as split in half so that you don’t risk bumping into someone and can maintain social distancing.

5. Low population density- Our offices are larger than most coworking spaces per desk and desks can be removed. This allows for a lower population density throughout our space.

6. Isolated HVAC Systems- Our airflow system is set up to be separated into 3 parts. The air is pulled in from the rooftop of the building and is piped individually into each office. The split of different zones keeps air circulating within the space without having to share the air with the entire space.

7. We are working with you- We are all in this together, we will work with you and your team to make special accommodations to make sure you are comfortable and safe.


How to start a business

5 Things To Consider When You Start Your Business

How to start a business

When you set out to build your business you are looking to build a team of people that all have the same vision or end goal. However, you need diverse skill sets.

Most companies are comprised of some or all of the following

  1. CoFounders
  2. Investors
  3. Board Members
  4. Executive Leadership Team
  5. Auxiliary teams

The importance of each part of your team

1. CoFounders

If you choose to start your business with a partner this will likely be the most important and lasting choice you make for your company.

What to look for- The most important trait in a cofounder is integrity. Without integrity, nothing else matters. You need to be working with someone that you can trust.

To quote Warren Buffett "you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you"

Beyond integrity look for someone who you enjoy being around, is smart, has skills that are highly complementary to your weakness and believes in you and the bigger picture.

Keep in mind you don't need a Cofounder or business partner but most of the time the right person is incredibly helpful to have as a partner.

What to avoid- The most obvious things are poor ethics or character. However, you probably don't want a cofounder who has the exact same skill set as you do. If you are amazing at coding and programming you don't need another coder as a cofounder. You might be better off with a sales/marketing expert.

Think about Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Jobs was master of sales and Wozniak was an amazing builder of computers

2. Investors

Not every company needs investors, but if your company does here are some basic tips.

What to look for- You want an investor group that shares your vision, believes in you and has experience investing in your type of business. Ideally, someone who is a "value add" investor that has connections in your industry that can help you with anything from hiring, to raising capital to important introductions.

Professional investors typically have investment classes that they like to invest in. Each class of investment has different pros, cons and expectations.

Examples: A professional early-stage venture capital investor expects that over 50% of her investments will fail and lose 100% of their value. They make a positive ROI on investing because 10% of their investments will yield extraordinary results of 10-1000x.

Thus, a VC investor is much more likely to be ok with taking high risks.

Inversely, a professional real estate investor typically has a much lower risk tolerance but typically can expect to make money on each deal.

Why this is important- A professional investor who invests in your type of business will typically understand your needs and be far more comfortable with the ups and downs of your business. They may be able to help you with specific problems like contractors for real estate or hiring for VC. You will have many challenges along the way building your company. In an ideal world you want to avoid unnecessary challenges associated with an investor who is not familiar with your style of investment.

However, if someone is open to investing but somewhat new to your class this isn't necessarily fatal. The key is to give them a clear understanding of the risks and not give away too much power.

What to avoid- You want to avoid people who do not share your vision and people who have unrealistic expectations. You want to avoid giving up too much control, equity or power to people who don't have your business's best interests in mind. If you feel like an investor is grinding you down during the investment process, that is not likely to change once they are actually an investor. Remember this is a long term relationship not a one night stand. Choose accordingly.

3. Board Members

Your board will be a group of people who will functionally control your company. Not all businesses have board members or a board of directors. This is typically reserved for businesses that have investors

What to look for- Very similar to investors, look for many of the same things.

Composition of a board- There is no perfect way to build your board of directors, however there are certainly some "wrong" ways to build them. Try to keep your board to a reasonable number of people who are actively engaged in each meeting. Having too many people on your board can make decision making challenging. Typically a board will have an odd number of people for voting purposes, consist of investors, executive staff, and a potential outside party.

What to avoid- Avoid board members who don't come prepared to meetings with valuable insight. Remember, even though the board is a form of a corporate governance, their job is to help your company be successful.

Investor and Board Relationships- Often times each class of investors will want at least one board seat. So your seed round, series A, Series B etc. each will likely want a place at the table to help the company grow and control their interests.

4. Executive leadership team

Your executive leadership team will directly relate to the size of your company. As your company grows you will look to add pieces to your executive team.

When a company first starts out a few people wear many hats. However, as your company grows you will hire more specific people. Additionally, as your company grows, you as the CEO should be more focused on managing your executive team and less focus on performing tasks.

When you look to add someone new to the executive team, typically look for what role can have the most positive impact on the overall business and also look at where the company might have a potential weakness.

Make sure each new person brings a divergent viewpoint and has a skillset that enhances the company while sharing the overall vision for the greater picture.

Let people grow- As a side note make sure that the people in your organization have room to grow if they want to do so and are proving the right value for your team. Don't be overly romantic and put someone in a position that they cannot handle, however you don't always need to hire someone outside of the company.

5. Auxiliary Services

Legal, accounting, design, etc.

Get good work and don't get robbed.

Potentially easier said than done. Your legal team will be incredibly important. You will need to find a balance of a highly competent lawyer or lawyers to look over your documents but someone that isn't going to charge you an unreasonable amount of money as a startup.

What to look for- A good lawyer should give you legal advice and some general good business advice as well. They should know best practices for your venture. Bonus points if they can make introductions to valuable people like investors.

The same holds true for the accountants graphic designers etc.

Remember that you are in charge, you run the company and trust your gut instincts to find people that are helping you achieve your goals. At the end of the day you are employing the services and they work for you.

In an ideal world pick people that you have either gotten as references or that have a great reputation.


TED Talk: How to Make Stress Your Friend

In 2013, psychologist Kelly McGonigal Phd. gave one of the most viewed TED Talks of all-time where she reviews her book, The Upside of Stress: Why Stress is Good For You and How to Get Good at It. Today, Ignitia reviews the keys points from this landmark TED Talk now viewed over 17 million times.

Changing Our Perception of Stress

Kelly begins her talk by confessing to the audience that she is a health psychologist and her mission is to help people be happier and healthier, but fears something she’s been teaching for the past ten years is doing more harm than good. For years Kelly's been telling people that stress makes them sick. She was telling them stress increases the risk of everything from the common cold, to cardiovascular disease. Kelly says this approach is counterproductive because it turns stress into the enemy. According to Kelly, she’s changed her mind about stress,and she thinks it will benefit us greatly if we change ours too.

Some Truly Amazing Findings

From here Kelly, introduces us to a study that tracked 30,000 adults in the United States over eight years. According to the study, those people who reported experiencing a lot of stress over the past year had a 43% increased risk of dying. However, this statistic was only true for those who believed stress was harmful to their health. Amazingly, those who reported having a lot of stress but DID NOT view stress as harmful to their health had the lowest risk of dying of anyone in the study. According to research, over the eight years of the study an estimated 182,000 Americans died as a result of their belief that stress was bad for their health. According to Kelly, if that statistic is true it would make believing that stress is bad for you the 15th leading cause of death in the United States - ahead of HIV, skin cancer, and even homicide.

Harvard Proves the Point

This study caused Kelly to ask the question, ‘Can changing the way we think about stress make us healthier?’ According to Kelly, the science was stating that it could. According to Kelly, when you change your mind about stress you can also change your body’s response to stress. To prove this point, Kelly has the audience count backward from 996 in increments of 7, out loud, as fast as they can, while she harasses them. Under these stressful circumstance Kelly explains the typical response may be to feel some anxiety, to feel your hands go clammy, and to feel our hearts race, and to perhaps perspire.

In a study conducted at Harvard which placed participants under similar stress, the participants were instructed to view these physical symptoms of stress as their body’s naturally reaction in preparing to meet the challenge. According to Kelly, when participants were told to view their physical responses to stress - such as a pounding heart or fast breathing - as the body preparing itself to take action. Kelly explains that the participants who were instructed to view their physical stress as helpful experienced a physical response where, even though their hearts were beating faster, the arteries of their hearts remained relax as opposed to constricted. Fascinatingly, this relaxed stated is physically very similar to a person who is experiencing joy.

Making Stress Healthy

According to Kelly, these findings changed her goals as a health psychologist. According to Kelly, her goals are no longer to help her patients get rid of stress but instead to make her patients, ‘Better at stress’. Kelly encourages those with a high level of stress to view the onset of such stress as their body rising to meet the challenge. According to Kelly, when we view stress in this way our bodies believe us and our stress responses become healthier.

Stress Releases Oxytocin

To further emphasize the benefits of these ideas, Kelly offers one more finding - stress makes you social. According to Kelly, when we are in a stressful situation our pituitary glands pump out as much oxytocin as adrenaline. According to Kelly, oxytocin fine tunes our brain’s social instincts, it primes us to do things that strengthen close relationships, and it makes us crave physical contact as well as enhancing our empathy and support of those we care about. As such, when oxytocin is released due to a stress response, it is the biological driver for us to express how we feel to another. According to Kelly, this makes us biologically programmed to crave people who help and support us when we are stressed.

How Human Connection Can Strengthen the Heart

According to Kelly, one of the main roles of oxytocin is also to protect our cardiovascular system from the effects of stress. In fact, oxytocin even binds with receptors in the heart to heal stress induced damage. All of these benefits are enhanced when we reach out to others as well, both when we are under stress, and when we reach out to help those who are under stress themselves. According to Kelly, this means our bodies have a built in mechanism for stress resilience, and that mechanism is human connection.

A Study Showing Caring for Others Helps Us Live Longer

Kelly ends her talk by describing one more study. This study was conducted by the University of Buffalo and tracked 1,000 people between the ages of 85 and 93 years old. The study started by asking the participants how much stress they’d experienced over the past year. They then also asked the participants how much time they spent helping others. Over the next five years, the study then tracked who died. What the study found was that every major life stress - such as financial ruin - increased the risk of dying by 30%. However, those who spent time caring for others saw a 0% increase in the chance of dying from a major life stresses. Once again, the study showed that caring creates resilience.

To conclude, Kelly reiterates the point that how we think and act can transform how we respond to stress. According to Kelly, when we think of stress as our friend, we are saying we can trust ourselves to handle life’s challenges. And we are reminded that we don’t have to face those challenges alone.

https://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend?referrer=playlist-the_most_popular_talks_of_all#t-792059


A Harvard Study: The Science of Happiness

 

In one of the most viewed TED Talks of all-time Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert reviewed the key points from his international bestseller Stumbling on Happiness and  tackled the science behind what makes us happy. Today, Ignitia reviews these findings. 

The Role of Our Pre-Frontal Cortex

Dr. Gilbert begins by stating that over the past 2 million years the human brain has nearly tripled in mass. According to Dr. Gilbert, when brains triple in size they also gain new structures. One of the reasons our brains got so big is because we gained a whole new portion of the brain, the pre-frontal cortex.  According to Dr. Gilbert, one of the most important things the pre-frontal cortex does is to act as an ‘experience simulator'. Dr. Gilbert says this feature of our brains allows us to have experiences in our minds before we try them out in real-life. This is a feature none of our ancient ancestors had, and put us at the forefront of the animal kingdom. To emphasize the effect of this brain function, Dr. Gilbert suggests Ben and Jerry’s doesn’t have a liver-and-onions flavor of ice cream because we can imagine what that would taste like and say ‘yuck’ ahead of time.

Misunderstanding What Makes Us Happy: Impact Bias

When it comes to predicting future happiness in terms of this function, Dr. Gilbert invited the audience to imagine which future they might be happier with: winning over $300 million in the lottery or becoming a paraplegic. Obviously the entire audience laughed at the suggestion, however, surprisingly Dr. Gilbert’s findings suggest that one year after their newfound fortunes, both lottery winners and paraplegics were equally happy with their lives.

Such finds suggests that we may not understand as much as we think we will about what really makes us happy. The cause of such misrepresentation is what Dr. Gilbert calls the ‘impact bias’. An impact bias is the tendency for people to overestimate the effect and outcome will have on our future condition. According to Dr. Gilbert, in study after study, major occurrences in people’s lives - such as losing or winning an election, losing or gaining a romantic partner, losing or ganging a desired job - have far less impact on our long-term happiness than most people suspect.

Our Psychological Immune System

According to Dr. Gilbert’s finding, if a major life trauma happened more than three months ago, it has essentially no impact on a person’s happiness whatsoever. According to Dr. Gilbert, this is because happiness can be synthesized. We all have what Dr. Gilbert calls a ‘psychological immune system’. According to Dr. Gilbert, this is system of cognitive processes that helps us change our views of the world so that we can feel better about the situation in which we find ourselves. We synthesize happiness, and yet we think happiness is a thing to be found.

In order to back up this assertion, Dr. Gilbert offers three examples of individuals who have terrible situations yet, in spite of it all, claim to be extraordinary happy. These individuals included a man who missed out on investing in McDonald’s, a man who was falsely imprisoned for 37 years, and Pete Best, the man who was kicked out of the Beatles before the band gained popularity. Even in this situation, Pete Best said he was happier now than if he would have been in the Beatles.

Synthetic Happiness Vs. Natural Happiness

According to Dr. Gilbert however, when we hear of such cases where people claim to be even happier for having had misfortune befall them we tend to roll our eyes and doubt the sincerity of their statement. In our society we tend to have a belief that synthetic happiness is inferior to natural happiness. According to Dr. Gilbert, natural happiness is what we get when we get what we want; synthetic happiness is what we make when we don’t get what we want.

According to Dr. Gilbert, in our society we have the belief that synthetic happiness is the inferior kind. However, Dr. Gilbert asserts that synthetic happiness is every bit as real as the happiness we stumble-upon when we do get everything we want.

A Case-Study by Claude Monet

In order to demonstrate this, Dr. Gilbert presents an experimental paradigm used to demonstrate the synthesis of happiness for those Dr. Gilbert calls ‘regular folks’. In order to illustrate this, Dr. Gilbert points to a historic study in which participants were asked to rank six Monet prints from most-to-least preferred. After ranking the prints, the participants were then given the choice to take either their 3rd or 4th most liked print home. Obviously all participants chose their 3rd most liked print. However, when participants were asked to re-rank the prints sometime later, in almost all cases, the print they owned was then ranked higher than it's original order, while the one they passed on was ranked even lower than originally stated. This bias toward synthesized happiness has been repeated time-and-time again for over the past fifty years.

Proof Synthetic Happiness is Real Happiness

To take this case even further however, Dr. Gilbert and his colleagues tested this same study in the hospital with a control group of amnesiacs. When Dr. Gilbert and his colleagues returned to ask the patients to re-order the prints - even though the amnesiacs could not recall which of the prints they currently owned - they still preferred to the poster they owned to the same margins of the control patients, even though they had no idea they actually owned it.  According to Dr. Gilbert, this means they truly changed their ‘affective, hedonic, aesthetic reactions to that poster.’ In other words, they weren’t just saying they liked it because they owned it - they didn’t even know they own it.

The Role of Choice in Happiness

According to Dr. Gilbert, ‘freedom, the ability to make-up your and change your mind, is the friend of natural happiness. This is because it allows you to choose among all those delicious futures and find the one you might most enjoy.’ However, according to Dr. Gilbert, this same freedom to choose, this ability to make-up and change your mind, is the enemy of synthetic happiness. Meaning, the psychological immune system works best when we are totally without choice. In other words, when we have no choice in a given situation, we find a way to be happy with the outcome we are given.

A Harvard Study in Support of These Findings

According to Dr. Gilbert, people don’t know this about themselves, and not knowing this can work to our supreme disadvantage. In support of this assertion, Dr. Gilbert sites a study he conducted at Harvard where he created a black-and-white photography course and invited students to learn how to use a camera. He then asked them to take 12 pictures of their favorite things from around Harvard, then asked them to choose their top-two favorites. From these two, Dr. Gilbert then asked the students which of the two final prints they’d like to give-up to the department as evidence of the class project.

According to Dr. Gilbert, half of the students were then told if they changed their minds about the picture at any time in the next four days, they could swap the one picture out for the other. However, the other half of the students were told they had to make a final decision right there on the spot because the other picture would be sent immediately to England.

From there, the student from each group were asked to predict how much they thought they were going to like their choice. The results found that the students who had the ability to reverse their decision thought they would like their selection only slightly more than the students who were not given the ability to change there mind. However, the actual findings found that the people who were stuck with their decision liked their choice very much. Conversely, those who had the opportunity to change their mind were found not to like the picture they chose as much at all. According to Dr. Gilbert, this is because ‘The irreversible condition is not conducive to the synthesis of happiness.’

In order to complete the Harvard study, Dr. Gilbert then brought in a whole new group of Harvard students and told them ahead of time they could either choose to be in the group where they would be stuck with the picture, or in the group which would have the ability to change its mind. What Dr. Gilbert’s study found was that 66% of students said they preferred to be in the study where they would have the chance to change their mind. In other words, 66% of the students choose to be in the group that would ultimately lead to them being deeply dissatisfied in their choice.

We Don't Understand What Makes Us Happy

According to Dr. Gilbert, this is because most people do not understand the conditions under which synthetic happiness is readily achieved. To illustrate this point, Dr. Gilbert quotes the great economist Adam Smith in saying, ‘The great source of both the misery and disorders of human life, seem to arise from over-rating the difference between one permanent situation and another… Some of those situations may, no doubt, deserve to be preferred to others; but none of them can deserve to be pursued with that passionate ardor which drives us to violate the rules, either of prudence or of justice; or to corrupt the future tranquility of our minds, either by shame from the remembrance of our own folly, or by the remorse for the horror of our own injustice.’’

In other words, we should obviously have preferences that will lead us into one future over another, however when pursuing those preferences cause us undo injustice or hardship, we are at risk. According to Dr. Gilbert, when our ambition is bounded, it leads us to working joyfully. However, when our ambition is unbounded, it may lead us to lie, cheat, steal, or hurt others in order to attain what we believe to be our desired outcome. Likewise according to Dr. Gilbert, when our fears are bounded, we are prudent, cautious, and thoughtful. However, when our fears are unbounded and overblown, we may become reckless and cowardly.

A Final Word of Advice

Thus, according to Dr. Gilbert, the lesson he wants to leave us with, based on his data, is that, “Our longings and our worries are both to some degree overblown because we have within us the capacity to manufacture the very commodity we are constantly chasing when we choose experience.” That commodity being, happiness. 

 

https://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy?utm_campaign=tedspread&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=tedcomshare

 


Grit: the Power of Passion and Perseverance

 

In 2013, University of Pennsylvania professor Angela Duckworth Phd. received The MacArthur Genius Award. In that same year, she gave a TED Talk where she reviewed the keys points from her New York Times bestselling work, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. Today, Ignitia reviews her key points. 

IQ Does Not Determine Success

Professor Duckworth began her talk by explaining how at 27 years old she left her very demanding job to teach. What professor Duckworth says she was surprised to find out about her students was how IQ did not determine their success. When professor Duckworth notices some students with lower IQ’s were doing well, and others with higher IQ’s were not doing as well, she began to wonder why.

According to professor Duckworth, she was firmly convinced every one of her students could succeed but that to teach effectively she’d have to take an approach to learning from a motivational and psychological perspective. Professor Duckworth knew in education it is easy to measure IQ. However, professor Duckworth wanted to know the answer to the question: What if doing well in school, and in life, depends on much more than our ability to learn quickly and easily?

Taking it to the Field

To answer this question, professor Duckworth left the classroom and started studying kids and adults in all kinds of super challenging settings. In every one of her studies she asked herself the question: who is successful here, and why? This question took professor Duckworth to West Point Naval Academy, The National Spelling Bee, and even to schools in very bad neighborhoods.

The Single Greatest Predictor of Success: Grit

According to professor Duckworth, in all of these differing contexts, one single characteristic emerged as the single greatest predictor of success: Grit. According to professor Duckworth, “Grit is passion and perseverance for very long term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, and day out, not just for the week. Not just for the month. But for years. And working really hard to make that future a reality.” According to professor Duckworth, Grit is living life like a marathon, not a sprint.

As a case study, professor Duckworth says she then had a class of Chicago high school seniors take a Grit questionnaire then waited for a year to see who graduated. According to professor Duckworth, even when measured against factors like family income, standardized test scores, and even how safe the kids felt while they were at school, what she found was that the greatest indicator of those students who would go on to graduate was grit.

To professor Duckworth's surprise, very few people are ever taught grit. They are never taught work ethic, or how to be motivated for the long run. According to professor Duckworth, one of the best ways to build grit in people is something called a ‘growth mindset’. According to professor Duckworth, growth mindset is the belief that the ability to learn is not fixed and that it can change with effort.

The Need for New Ways to Learn Grit

According to professor Duckworth, when children learn about the brain, and how it can change and grow when they learn, they are much more likely to persevere when they fail because they don’t feel failure is a permanent condition. According to professor Duckworth, this is a great tool to built grit, but it is insufficient. According to professor Duckworth, there are not enough models for success in this field just yet. We need to develop more. But it won’t be easy. It will take a lot of hard work, and dedication, over a long period of time. So in other words, in order to develop new models of what it takes to become more gritty, it is going to take a lot of grit.

 

https://www.ted.com/talks/angela_lee_duckworth_grit_the_power_of_passion_and_perseverance?language=en

 

 

 


The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

 

In his classic book The Four Agreements, author Don Miguel Ruiz imparts traditional Toltec wisdom about the four agreements we must make with ourselves in order to live our best lives. Below is a review of those four agreements.

The First Agreement: Be Impeccable with Your Word

According to Mr. Ruiz, the first agreement is to be impeccable with your word. This means speaking only truth. And never spreading gossip. This also means expressing only self-love. Mr. Ruiz begins this chapter by emphasizing the power of words. Words have the ultimate power to create, and also the power destroy. To emphasize this example, Mr. Ruiz references the beginning of the Bible where it says that by simply speaking, God created all existence.

By being impeccable with one’s words, Mr. Ruiz states that we will express only love. According to Mr. Ruiz, there are only two main forces in the universe: fear and love. Our words should be used only to express love. Which in turn is truth. White magic. In other words, what Mr. Ruiz calls God.

Conversely, Mr. Ruiz illustrates that our words also have the power to destroy. When we gossip, when we tell another person they are ugly, they will hate us and in turn that will not be good for our own wellbeing. Thus, Mr. Ruiz states that the first, and most important agreement we can make with ourselves is to be impeccable with our words. According to Mr. Ruiz, if we can do this, we will begin to foster an attitude of self-love that will permeate our entire being. 

The Second Agreement: Don’t Take Anything Personally

According to Mr. Ruiz, anything anyone thinks is merely a reflection of their own belief system. As such, what others think has nothing to do with you. If someone gossips about you or talks poorly about you, they are sending you 'emotional poison'. However, if you don’t take it personally and you don’t have to take-in this emotional poison. If you don't you will not be effected by it. 

Not taking things personally also applies to compliments however. Everyone is viewing the world through his or her own lens. As such, whether or not someone is pleased or dissatisfied with you is none of your concern. It is more a reflection of the world they are living in at that current moment. If you make the agreement with yourself not to take things personally you will realize the only opinion that truly matters is your own. If you know deep down that you are a wonderful person, you won’t need anyone else to tell you that. And when someone tries to tell you the contrary, if you do not take anything personally you will not be effected by their attempt.

According to Mr. Ruiz, if you make the agreement with yourself to not take anything personally and you are impeccable with your words, you will break 75% of the tiny other agreements that hold you back. If you truly do not take anything personally, you can walk around the world with your heart open, giving  yourself freely and openly without fear of anyone hurting you because you will be immune.

The Third Agreement: Don’t Make Assumptions

According to Mr. Ruiz, all the sadness and trauma we have ever experienced in our lives was rooted in the fact that we made assumptions and took things personally. This is a profound statement, but if you think about it there is some validity to it. According to Mr. Ruiz, when we make assumptions, we are making things up from thin air in our minds. These conclusion are often wrong. Often times making assumptions in our relationships can lead to all kinds of problems as well. When we assume the other person understands exactly what we are thinking, this can lead to us not asking for what we want, and in turn can cause us disappointment and strife.

According to Mr. Ruiz, the biggest assumption we make is that everyone else sees the world in the same way in which we do. The only way we can realize the actual way others view the world is by asking them. But asking makes us vulnerable. Especially when others ask questions of us. However, if we are to have relationships with others based on understanding, we have to be willing and open to one another.

According to Mr. Ruiz, when it comes to love it is far better to find a person who is exactly the way you want them to be rather than to try to change them. Likewise, if a person wants you to change, they don’t really love you in this moment as much as they could. You must find a person who loves you exactly as you are. As such, we need to be 100% honest with others about who we are in order for them to decide to take us 100% as we are, or not. Likewise, we would also hope someone else would be 100% honest with us about who they are so we can accurately judge whether or not they are the right person for us. In order to find this out we must have the courage to ask questions.

Without making assumptions, our words can become impeccable because we have clear information and can speak only truly. By clearly stating what you want, and having another person clearly state what they want, you can have an emotionally honest conversation which leads to true understanding and lasting peace. 

The Fourth Agreement: Always Do Your Best

Finally, according to Mr. Ruiz, the last of the four agreements is to always do our best. According to Mr. Ruiz, we are ever-changing. As such, our best in any given situation is aways changing too. Doing our best means doing our best in our present state and current situation. It does not mean doing the best we ever have. Rather, it means doing our very best with the state we are currently inhabiting. Sometimes are best will be very high-quality, other times it will not be as much. 

Doing our best means taking action. When we are doing our best we take action simply because we love what we are doing. When at the end of the day you can look back and say to yourself that you did your best, your self-critic will be shut down and you can set yourself free. We do our best because we want to do what we are doing. When you are doing our best simply for the sake of it, we will do our best work. 

According to Mr. Ruiz, God is 'Life in action'. So, according to Mr. Ruiz, the best way to say ‘I love you, God’, is to live your life doing your best. And the best way to say ‘Thank you, God’, is by letting go of the past, and living in the present moment.

According to Mr. Ruiz, the first three agreements only work if you do your best. It’s not possible to never misuse your words, to never take things personally, or to never make assumptions, but if you do your best, over time each of these tendencies will improve. Like anything you wish to master, it takes repetition. Thus, if we are constantly trying our best to achieve the four agreements, we will improve. And if we do our best long enough, we will perhaps one day achieve mastery.

To Sum It All Up

According to Mr. Ruiz, if you can master these four agreements and live them daily, you are going to be 100% in control of your life. It is then your charge to transcend this world of suffering. According to Mr. Ruiz, the four agreements is a way to do this. Simply try every day to get through the entire day without breaking any of the four agreements. If you do, that's alright, just try harder the next day. And if you do that, over time, you will see your life improve dramatically! 


The Power of Gratitude

 

More and more today, we hear about the importance and power of gratitude. But does it really matter? And what roles does gratitude and thankfulness play in both business our daily lives? On this Thanksgiving, Ignitia takes the time to examine the roles gratitude and thankfulness play in our lives. 

Why Showing Gratitude Benefits Those Who Receive It

It’s no secret gratitude improves our relationships. It's also no secret one of the greatest human needs is the need to feel appreciated. And nowhere does this applies more than at work. When we feel as though we are being truly appreciated and celebrated for our work we are more likely to work even harder and engage more fully in our given tasks.  This is just human nature. Thus, expressing gratitude empowers those around us. And makes for a healthy more fulfilling workplace. 

Why Showing Gratitude Benefits Those Who Give It

Conversely, showing gratitude benefits the person giving the gratitude as well. By taking time to notice the efforts by others for which we are truly grateful, we become more aware of the people around us supporting and affirming us. By so doing, we see just how many others around us are buying-into what we are do, believe in our mission, and rely on our efforts for their livelihood and well-being. These are quite empowering realizations. 

Does Gratitude Really Attract Gifts?

By now you've heard of the power of attraction. But, is there anything to it? Whether or not you believe in the practice of 'putting what you want out to the universe', there is no doubt that on an interpersonal level, gratitude matters a great deal. As an example, have you ever given someone a gift and had them become incredibly excited for the present? It is a great feeling. When a person reacts with so much genuine gratitude for what we've done for them, our natural response is to want to give them more. This too works as a whole in life. If we are extremely grateful for the gifts life has given us, life will in turn may only want to give us more.

What Oprah and Ariana Huffington Have to Say

According to a recent article, the first thing Oprah says every morning is, ‘Thank you’.  She says this before she’s even fully awake. According to Oprah, she’s not thankful for the wild success she’s had in life, rather she believes being truly grateful is what allowed her to have such success. Oprah is grateful just to be alive, to be present, and just to have the body she does. We don't only need to be grateful for the big gifts we've been given. According to a recent interview, Ariana Huffington states she both begins and ends each day by naming three things she's grateful for. And she says it doesn’t have to be anything big. “It can be the cafe latte you had or a couple of moments with a dear friend, or a song... What we focus on, what we put our attention on really determines how we feel about that particular day or our life in general.”

What Tony Robbins and Jack Dorsey Have to Say

At the end of every day, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey asks himself three questions, “What truth did I discover? Who did I hep? What am I grateful for?”. In answering these questions, Mr. Dorsey says he's able to maintain a steady state that allows him to be more effective. Being grateful also reduces negativity. According to legendary self-help guru Tony Robbins, “You can’t be angry and grateful at the same time. You can’t be fearful and grateful at the same time…. so if you want to conquer those [emotions], maybe it's time to train your nervous system to go into gratitude more naturally.”

By making practicing gratitude a part of our daily live and routine, we will be more appreciative of those around us and all the opportunities in our lives. The more we can embodies these attitudes, the happier and healthier we will be.


How to Improve Productivity at Work

 

 

Jason Fried is the co-founder of 37signals, a company which specializes in developing productivity tools. In 2010, Mr. Fried gave a TEDx Talk in which he reviewed the key points from his New York Times bestselling book, Rework. Below is a summary of Mr. Fried’s talk.

Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work

Mr. Fried opens his talk by stating he is going to talk about why people can’t seem to get work done at work. According to Mr. Fried, often when people are asked where they go to get something done they will answer by saying a certain room in their house, a certain mode of transportation like a train or a plane, or a certain time of day such as very early in the morning. However, what they almost never answer by saying is ‘the offie’. According to Mr. Fried, companies are spending lots of money on offices and are requiring their employees to go to it, yet, there is very little working getting done there.

What happens instead, according to Mr. Fried, is that employees are trading their work days for work moments. According to Mr. Fried, at the office we are able to do work, but only in certain spurts. This is because we are constantly being pulled off our work by our co-workers and bosses. This is a real problem because, according to Mr. Fried, especially with creative people,  what is required to get something done are long stretches of uninterrupted time. Such period of long uninterrupted time in an office are very rare and as a result, Mr. Fried suggests many people, when they really need to buckle-down and do some work, will opt instead to work from home, a private co-working space, or opt to go into the office early or on weekends when they are much less likely to be interrupted.

To make a comparison, Mr. Fried suggested the situation of being constantly interrupted is like being interrupted during sleep. According to Mr. Fried, sleep and work are very closely related. This is because both sleep and work are phase-based, or stage-based events. According to Mr. Fried, there are five phases of sleep and in order to get to the really deep and meaningful later phases, you must transition through the earlier phases uninterrupted. However, when you are interrupted, you return to the earlier phases and when you are constantly interrupted, you never transition to the later, more meaningful phases. According to Mr. Fried, no one would expect anyone to sleep well if they were constantly being interrupted all night. Why then  would anyone be expected to work well if they were constantly being interrupted all day at the office?

Often times, managers are apprehensive about allowing employees to work at home because they are afraid there are too many distractions. However, these distractions at home are what Mr. Fried calls ‘voluntary distractions.’ According to Mr. Fried however, many of the distractions that occur in the office are what he calls ‘involuntary distractions’. According to Mr. Fried, distractions at work like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are not the problem. These are ‘modern-day smoke breaks’. According to Mr. Fried, the real problems are the managers and the meetings. As Mr. Fried points out, all of the places where people say they get the most work done, like their home or on a plane, do not have managers and meetings.

According to Mr. Fried, managers’ jobs are to interrupt people. The top way they do this is by calling meetings. When meetings are called, all work stops. Meetings are where we talk about things we should do later, and meetings often lead to other meetings. Also, according to Mr. Fried, meetings are expensive. If a one hour meeting has ten people attending it, that is ten hours of company time the meeting has cost the company. And often times, when a meeting is scheduled for an hour or a half-hour, this entire time will be used instead of merely using the time required which may be much shorter.

In order to make the office a better place to work, Mr. Fried has several suggestions. First, Mr. Fried suggests that for one day a month, office implement a no-talking policy. For one day a month, no employee is allowed to talk to another employee. According to Mr. Fried, people actually get work done when no one is talking to them, and no one is bothering them. According to Mr. Fried, four hours of uninterrupted time is the most productive gift you can give to someone at work. Mr. Fried suggests this day would be so successful, the policy would likely go from a once-a-month occurrence, to a once-a-week occurrence. The second suggestions Mr. Fried makes is to switch from active communication and collaboration (face-to-face talking, tapping people on the shoulder, etc.) to more passive models of communication such as email and instant messaging. According to Mr. Fried, this will allow these things to become distractions at a time of our own choosing. The last suggestion Mr. Fried has is to cancel all meetings. According to Mr. Fried, if the next meeting you have scheduled was suddenly canceled, what you will find is that everything will go on. And everything will be fine. All of the decisions and discussions that were assumed needed to be had in a meeting, will naturally occur regardless, on their own.

According to Mr. Fried, if managers adopt these suggestions and back-off their employees just a bit, he believes it will pay off for them in the end.

 

https://www.ted.com/talks/jason_fried_why_work_doesn_t_happen_at_work?language=en

 


The Brilliant Approach that Allowed Hims to Reach Unicorn Status in One Year

Though founded just over a year ago, Hims' novel approach to issues of a men’s health has already allowed the company to raise more than $197 million at a reported $1 billion valuation.

A Brilliant Approach to Treating ED

The company, which specializes in men’s healthcare products was able to capitalize on Viagra’s patent expiration and developed its own ED medication using the same active ingredient. Customers consult discreetly with an online physician, then the product is sent directly to the customer’s home. In a move away from Viagra’s targeting of the older male demographic however, Hims markets primarily to a much younger demographic, often under the age of forty, and conveys the common nature of the issue through social media and celebrity sponsored ads in an effort to reduce the stigma surrounding ED treatment.

Addressing Other Men's Wellness Issues

In much the same way as its ED treatment, Hims has also taken a similar approach in manufacturing and marketing its men's hair-loss treatment. Once Merck’s patent on Propecia expired in 2014, Hims was again free to repurpose the active ingredient and sell it as its own treatment. It also doesn't hurt that one of the most common side effects of Propecia is impotence. Along with ED and hair-loss, Hims also addresses the embarrassing problem of cold sores which it combats with a pill containing the active ingredient in Valtrex, whose patent expired in 2009. All of these medications, as well as skin creams and supplements and a new women’s line, are all aggressively targeted in fun and clever ways towards a younger consumer.

An Approach That Pays

So far, the approach seems to be working. It was reported yesterday, Hims will be closing a new round of Series C funding for $100 million. The pre-money valuation of this latest round of funding has reportedly pushed the value of the company over $1 billion. This latest round of funding comes less than seven months after the company closed its last round of funding, a Series B round for $50 million. To date, Hims has raised more than $197 million after eight rounds of funding.

An Optimistic Future

While some investors balked at the $1 billion pre-money valuation, company co-founder and CEO Andrew Dudum remained undeterred. In a recent interview Dudum remarked, ‘We think what we’re building is a $10-20 billion company in the next few years.’ Whether or not the company will reach this valuation remains to be seen, but for now, Hims see,s off to a very good start.


How Dr. Dre Built a Multi-Billion Dollar Music Empire

Dr. Dre is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the music industry. His hustle, work ethic, and skill have taken him from the streets of Compton to a multi-billion dollar exit to Apple. His unyielding drive is what separates him from his contemporaries and makes him one of the best professionals the industry has ever known.

Humble Beginnings

Dre grew up in a rough household with an abusive father. After dropping out of high school, Andre Romelle 'Dr. Dre' Young started his career in the early 80’s DJ-ing at a local Compton nightclub called, Eve After Dark.

From a young age, Dre was crafting his skills in business and sales. After recording one song called ‘Surgery’, Dre managed to sell 50,000 copies of it on his own in and around the Compton area. Soon, Dre found himself hosting his own radio show on the local radio station, KDAY.

The Rise of N.W.A.

In 1986, Dre met fellow rapper Oshea ‘Ice Cube’ Jackson who introduced him to the record label Ruthless Records which was run by rapper, Eric ‘Eazy E’ Wright. Together the three formed the group N.W.A. and two years later, in 1988, released their debut album, Straight Outta Compton. The new harder, grittier form of gangster rap redefined the direction hip-hop would take and the album went triple platinum, selling over 3 million copies. What separated Dre from many others in the industry was an unyielding work ethic.  In 1991, at the behest of his bodyguard Suge Knight, Dre left N.W.A to form his own label with Knight called, Death Row Records.

The Formation of Death Row Records

As a businessman, Dre has was capable of spotting great talent and crafting relationships as well as opportunities. Dre’s first solo album on the label was called The Chronic and featured a young and unknown artist, Calvin ‘Snoop Dogg’ Broadus, as well as Dre’s younger stepbrother, Warren ‘Warren G’ Griffin. The Chronic went multi-platinum and to date has sold over 7.5 million copies. Along with working on his own album, Dre was busy producing for these young artists as well. In 1993, Death Row Records released Snoop's debut album, Doggystyle, which went RIAA certified quadruple platinum and sold more than 4 million copies. Two years later the label signed another young rapper they planned to position as the next big thing, Tupac Shakur.

Pivot Perseverance & Partnership

When Dre was down he never stayed that way for long. In 1995, amid growing concerns that Knight was no longer dealing honestly, Dre left Death Row Records. One of Dre's best skills was knowing when to cut ties in a professional relationship that was no longer profitable.

After cutting ties with Death Row Records, Dre decided to form his own label Aftermath Entertainment, and partnered with legendary producer Jimmy IovineThis was the start of a symbiotic business relationship that would eventually create a multi-billion dollar empire.

But, success didn't come easy, or without perseverance.

In the early days of Aftermath, Dre faced financial difficulties as well as a trademark infringement lawsuit against him. Additionally, after several records that fell short of expectations, critics began to ask if Dre was still relevant. Despite all the negativity surrounding him, Dre pressed on and soon had the insight to sign an unknown young rapper out of Detroit named, Eminem.

Going Platinum Again

Dre produced three songs on Eminem’s debut album The Slim Shady LP, which went quadruple platinum. In 1999, Dre continued to prove he was back when he released his second solo album 2001, which went six times platinum. He also won Producer of the Year at the Grammy Awards that year for it. In May or 2000, Dre released Eminem’s follow-up album, The Marshall Mathers LP, which went certified 10 times platinum.

Over the next few years, Dre would continue to release hit-after-hit including artist 50 Cent’s first two albums Get Rich or Die Trying and The Massacre, which would combine to go eleven times platinum. But by 2011, Dre announced he would be taking a leave from music to focus on his other ventures full-time. Just before doing so however, he decided to finish producing an album for one last up-and-coming young superstar, Kendrick Lamar.

Music Film & More

Along with his music career, Dre easily made the transition from music into film producing and worked on several successful projects including the Academy Award nominated N.W.A biopic, Straight Outta Compton.

Along with recording, producing, and securing endorsement deals with Coors Lights and Dr. Pepper, Dre was also heavily involved in other business ventures as well. In 2001, he reportedly sold a 30% stake in his Aftermath label to parent company Interscope Records for $35 million. This sale, combined with another $17 million from his production work, placed Dr. Dre at #2 on Rolling Stones Magazine’s list of highest paid musical artists that year.

The Birth of Beats By Dre

In 2006, while Dre and Iovine were discussing what they saw as the two biggest problems in the music industry at the time - piracy and the audio quality of Apple’s earbuds - Iovine recalls Dre remarking, ‘"Man, it's one thing that people steal my music. It's another thing to destroy the feeling of what I've worked on."

Despite harsh criticism, and the prevailing belief that very few customers would pay $200 for a pair of headphones, the two pressed on and soon developed their first set of studio quality headphones, Beats by Dre Studio.

According to Iovine, "When you believe in something, the last thing you say to yourself is, 'Well, no one's doing this, so there must be no good reason to do it."'

Utilizing the pool of celebrity talent available to them, the team sent samples to celebrity friends and asked them to wear them to help with advertising. One of the smartest such moves was when Dre sent 15 pairs to Lebron James in 2008. When the US Men's Basketball teams arrived in Beijing for the '08 Olympics, all 15 members of the team wore the Beats headphones.

Growth To Exit

By 2011, Beats had already provided laptop speakers to HP and surround sound audio for Chrysler. In August, Beats accepted a $309 million offer from HTC for a 50.1% ownership stake of the company. The marriage was short-lived however. According to a statement by Beats COO Luke Wood,  “I think that they really wanted to focus on core phones and I think their ambition is to try to build other channels of support with their accessories.”  A little over 2 years later, after already having bought back $150 million in shares from the struggling HTC, Beats bought back the remaining 24.84% in shares owned by HTC, for $265 million.

On the same day the buyback was announced, a concurrent announcement was also made that Beats would sell a minority share of ownership to the Carlyle Group for $500 million. The deal placed the value of Beats over $1 billion.

Then, one year later, on May 28, 2014, it was announced that Apple would buy Beats Electronics for $3 billion. The deal included the purchase of Beats Music's streaming service which was in direct competition with Apple iTunes. The deal consisted of $2.6 billion in cash and another $400 in Apple stock, and marked the largest single acquisition Apple had ever made. After taxes, Forbes estimated that Dre’s cut alone was $620 million, which was the largest single payday for any musician ever.

After all of his shrewd business dealings, today Dre’s net worth sits at an estimated $740 million dollars. Not too bad for a guy who started out as a local DJ.