Archive for the learning Category

A manual for raising smart kids

Posted in learning, parenting on July 29, 2014 by gohelpyourself
We have to give our kids FEET.

We have to give our kids FEET.

By Anthony O. Alcantara

Let me be clear. I am not the only one who knows something about raising smart kids. What I know may not even be the best way to do it. But I think I share this universal desire of parents to raise a smarter child.

Hence, this short manual. That German genius Goethe once said that children should get two things from their parents: roots and wings. But I say we also give them FEET. Without feet we won’t get anywhere.

It’s an acronym that I just made up, and it succinctly captures what I think will help any child become smarter. Most parents probably know this, but this acronym can help us remember.

1. Food. Without food, we die. With little food, we survive but we still become miserable. With too much food, it’s the same. The right amount and the right kinds of food will help us raise smarter kids.

Then again, most parents don’t know what kinds of food to eat. Most rely on milk formula and vitamin supplements to feed their babies and young children. They think that since milk formula already contains all the vitamins and minerals known to man, and supplements give kids another extra dose, eating right is not a big deal. They can afford to feed their children with not-so-healthy food, right?

There is really no substitute for eating more fruits and vegetables. Eating right will make kids feel good. They become healthier. Healthier children are able to learn much more efficiently and effectively. So making an effort to eat well — and even perhaps spend a small fortune on healthy food rather than supplements, formula, and junk food — is a good idea.

2.Entertainment. We have to keep our kids happy and stimulated. I know that kids rarely get bored and they find joy in simple things such as a hairpin, dried leaves, or even a dead spider. But they also need us to direct them to the right kinds of entertainment.

I think it’s best to treat any form of teaching as entertainment. For a child to learn well, he needs to be interested in what he’s learning. He needs to be entertained. Why make learning a chore?

Here you see that the burden of making learning entertaining lies on the parents. Then again, it doesn’t have to be a chore, too. Parents can actually make teaching a form of entertainment. It’s where creativity comes in.

I lumped giving kids the opportunity to socialize with other kids their age under “entertainment”, too. In order to raise smart kids, this is very important. We all know that we also learn from other people.

3. Exercise. This is essential. Kids need to be physically active to strengthen their muscles and improve their health. That is why playing outside with other kids and even with adults should be part of the regimen.

Most of us know that exercise improves blood circulation in the brain. More oxygen reaches those young neurons. Kids will be better at learning if this happens often.

Exercise also makes children feel better. They feel more energetic and alive. Those feel good hormones called endorphins make children happy. And happy children simply learn better.

4. Technology. When Johannes Gutenberg invented movable type printing in the 15th century, it resulted in a technological revolution of epic proportions. It caused an explosion of learning and knowledge never seen before.

Since that time, there are many more innovations that led to big and small revolutions in learning. And today we have tools we can use to teach young kids. We have the computer and the iPad and other computer tablets. While there are studies that show that exposing young kids to TV, iPads, and other screens can result in diminished intelligence, I believe these gadgets, if used wisely, can be effective teaching tools.

And they’re simply much more fun to use. There are amazing and effective educational apps and software available out there. And add to that the availability of high-speed connections to the internet that make it easy for many people to have access to vast resources for learning.

Of course, parents have to see which of these tools actually work when teaching their children. Not every tool works the same way with everyone.

So we really have to give our children FEET — food, entertainment, exercise, and technology. It’s a simple mnemonic for helping our children become smart.

Give them FEET.

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The power of AND: A PLDT executive’s take on success

Posted in entrepreneurship, learning, optimal performance on March 5, 2012 by gohelpyourself

And the winner is... "AND"! (Photo by Svilen Milev, taken from http://www.sxc.hu).

By Anthony O. Alcantara

We all face hard decisions.

Would you choose to be a high-flying executive capable of leaping mountains of profits in a single bound? Or would you rather be a nurturing parent who is always there for the kids on important school events?

Would you want to be a successful singer? Or would you want to be an impassioned and influential activist?

You can’t have your cake and eat it too, right?

But that’s what author Jim Collins says is the “tyranny of the OR”. You either eat like a pig, be happy, and be very fat, or eat like an ascetic monk, be svelte like Angelina Jolie, and be miserably hungry.

Butch Jimenez, Retail Business Group Head and HR Group Head, wonders why not too many people have the mindset of “and”.

Eat like a pig and be svelte like Angelina Jolie.

Be a rock star executive and be a supportive parent.

Be a popular singing Youtube sensation and an activist willing to pick fights for the sake of justice.

Credentials

Jimenez was one of the Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World Award (TOYP) for Cultural Achievement by the Junior Chamber International 1999 in Cannes, France. He also received the prestigious Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) Award for Multi-Media Achievement in 1998.

He produced award-winning films such as Jose Rizal and Muro Ami. Monster Radio RX-93.1, Trumpets Theater Company, and GMA Films became huge successes under his watch.

And as one of the speakers during the recent “Winning Disciplines for Success” seminar of Francis Kong at SMX, he certainly demonstrated how the use of the word “and” forces us to think and to be more creative. He said it “allows us to be extraordinary”. It allows us to achieve “the impossible.”

I think it’s like John F. Kennedy’s decision to have someone land on the moon. It shows how being “unrealistic” can move mountains. “What? Land on the moon? Are you crazy? We don’t have the technology. We don’t have the money. We don’t have support.” In the end, the dream became a monumental and historic success.

Jobs’s legacy

Jimenez also cited the late Steve Jobs as someone who appreciated the use of “and”. Jobs told his team he wanted a device for storing music, iPod, and an online store for selling music, iTunes. His team said they can make an iPod, but since downloading music was generally free at that time, you couldn’t make money from the music. Still, Jobs insisted, “Let’s sell iPod and sell the music for the device through iTunes.” Now Apple is reaping billions from iPod sales and music downloads from iTunes.

For Jobs, it is form and function, not form or function.

So, in a nutshell, Jimenez tells us that “and” brings us to the top. He believes the word “but” is for below-average people, and “or” sets us up for mediocrity.

During the seminar, he also shared three principles for building leadership success:

1. authority
2. accountability
3. humility

Right timing

You don’t just have to earn your authority. You have to be patient, too. He told the story of David in the Bible. David had two chances to kill Saul so he could become king. Yet he said his promotion should come at the right time.

As for accountability, Jimenez said we should strive to become the go-to guy.

“You have to have a ‘yes’ face, the ‘yes’ attitude,” he said. Unfortunately, many have a “no” face — people who say “no” with their faces even before they have the chance to hear what you have to say.

On humility, Jimenez recommended reading the book Good to Great, that wonderful book by Jim Collins, who, I think, is a freak. Collins monitors the exact amount of time he spends on sleeping, writing, reading, etc., and records them meticulously on a spreadsheet. Talk about discipline. But then Collins is an admirable freak.

Iconoclastic

Anyway, Jimenez said the book, which is based on years of research, teaches us that “you build greatness by applying a blend of humility and professional will.” He also recommends the book iCon Steve Jobs.

Jobs, who is known for being overbearing, has mellowed over the years and, in an act of great humility, has acknowledged the contributions of his people.

And, finally, Jimenez recommends three experiences that people have to try.

1. Own your own business.
2. Become an employee.
3. Lead a volunteer organization.

Valuable lessons

He has accomplished all these and has learned and profited from his experiences. For him, owning your own business will teach you how to lead and manage an enterprise. Becoming an employee will teach you what it feels like to be an employee and how you can contribute to the organization. And leading a volunteer organization will teach you how to lead people without paying them.

Of course there are a lot of other lessons to be learned. Everyone can certainly benefit from these.

But before you quit your job and appoint yourself CEO of I and Me, Inc., think of Jimenez’s advice on the power of “and”. Maybe then you can say, “I am a business owner and an employee and a leader of a volunteer organization.”

It may work.

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(Note: You may wonder why Butch Jimenez has a separate story. Three reasons: 1) I am more into business and self-improvement, especially since I’m an avid reader of business books and I’m always looking for ways to improve myself, 2) I have no background in making movies as the other seminar speakers Jeric and Paul Soriano, though I can relate to their messages in the seminar and I like watching well-made movies, 3) I am not really a fitness buff like the speaker Dyan Castillejo, though I try to keep myself fit and I have a black belt in Aikido. Mr. Jimenez is also one of the sponsors in my wedding. He did not ask me to write this, though. I just hope he likes it. Ok, I think I’m over-explaining already. That’s it.)

Francis Kong disciplines over 2,000 willing and enthusiastic people

Posted in learning, optimal performance on March 1, 2012 by gohelpyourself

A new call for discipline and grit. (Photo by Hector Landaeta, taken from http://www.sxc.hu)

By Anthony O. Alcantara

I know it sounds ridiculous. But that is the truth. Over 2,000 people even paid good money just to have Francis Kong discipline them. They practically begged Francis to do it. I was one of them.

Of course, we are not masochists, and I think Francis Kong is not a gleeful and eager sadist either. His seminar, held at the SMX, was titled “Winning Disciplines for Success.” If you look up the etymology of the word discipline, it comes from the Latin disciplina, which means teaching, learning.

So in that sense, discipline is not so bad. Francis certainly laments the negative connotation of the word. And yet discipline, he says, is what we need to succeed.

There are certain highlights that I would like to share, along with my thoughts. Some of what he said was really funny and insightful at the same time, but I won’t mention them here because it’s best to listen to him instead, if you have the chance.

It’s all right

Francis said right behaviors come from right thinking. Right thinking comes from right concepts. Right concepts come from right ideas. We know this already, but some reminders, especially for some high school students in the audience, are needed.

One idea he mentioned is the idea of retirement. I’ve written my thoughts on retirement before, and how it doesn’t appeal to me. Here’s Francis take on the idea: “Good people do not retire. They re-fire.” I love that. Indeed people don’t have to retire at all. They can always find meaningful and productive things to do.

He also showed us a video clip of a TED talk by Joachim de Posada on delayed gratification. De Posada thinks it is the “most important factor for success”. Here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0yhHKWUa0g (7.15 minutes).

The studies went like this: An experimenter is alone with a 6-year-old in a room. A tasty-looking marshmallow is placed on a table or plate. The experimenter tells the kid that he or she will be left alone in the room for a few minutes because the experimenter needs to take care of a few things. “If you don’t eat the marshmallow, you will get two when I get back.”

Yummy marshmallows

Because of this strong tendency of marshmallows to get into kids’ mouths, most of the marshmallows didn’t survive. Some kids, however, resisted the strong urge to eat the marshmallows. Years later, the kids were tracked down, and, voila, those who exhibited self-control were more successful in terms of grades and other achievements.

I don’t know if Francis knows about the studies of Harvard researcher Angela Duckworth, who found out that self-discipline is only part of the story of success.

You can watch her TED talk here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qaeFnxSfSC4 (18.38 minutes). If you haven’t seen this yet, I encourage you to take a look and let me know what you think.

Duckworth said the other more important factor is “grit”. She defined it as “sustained passion and perseverance.” She said it is necessary for “high-level achievement”.

Grit is it

This reminds me of novelist Haruki Murakami, whose book on running I recently read, and who I think exhibits unwavering grit. Grit, I believe, is also the reason for Francis Kong’s success. After all, he said he has a “PhD”, “Passing high school with difficulty”.

In any case, Duckworth’s video is a nice complement to De Posada’s.

Francis also said creativity is important. For him, the three most important people in business were Henry Ford, who was a consummate entrepreneur, Thomas Edison, who was a brilliant inventor, and Steve Jobs, who was a combination of entrepreneur and inventor. Steve Jobs had the mindset of an artist.

One thing I like about Francis’s seminar was that he invited other speakers to share ideas about discipline.

Jeric and Paul Soriano talked about the creative discipline, the creative mindset. Jeric, the director of the movie Hotshots long ago and who now directs commercials, proposed three steps:

1. Change the way you think.
2. Change the way you speak.
3. Change the way you react.

Words have power

He elaborated on the power of words, saying that we mainly use words to think. Coming from a director, it was unexpected, at least for me. I thought he’d say people think in pictures.

“When you hear words, pictures are being developed,” he said. I agree. But still, we do think in pictures. When we were babies we had no words so we thought in pictures, and also smells, feelings, sounds, Elmo, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

It was only later on that we used words. But yes, words pack a lot of power and we should use them to program our mental “software”, as Jeric said in the seminar.

And as for Paul, Jeric’s son and the boyfriend of Toni Gonzaga, he presented an interesting equation:

Your creativity (IDEA) + passion + heart + soul + body + desire = MAKING IT HAPPEN

Outrunning your doubts

Indeed he knows how to make things happen. He created the film Thelma, an inspirational movie about an impoverished young girl whose quick feet led her to national and international running competitions, and out of poverty. She outran obstacles and difficulties and self-doubts.

At first no one would support Paul. “Why is it that people would watch Petrang Kabayo and Praybeyt Benjamin but not something inspirational?” he said.

So he took matters into his own hands. He became director, producer and co-writer of the film, much like how Bruce Lee would do it. International audiences liked the movie, and they wept, according to Paul.

Sportscaster and former national tennis player Dyan Castillejo was also one of the speakers. She talked about physical discipline. The key take-away from her speech was the power of routines.

Routines, rather than discipline

She didn’t like to call it discipline because of the negative connotation of the word. Routines are somehow less daunting. So if you want to make exercise a part of your life, make it part of your routine. Schedule it. Make exercise as natural as brushing your teeth, or taking a bath.

And take your exercise equipment with you. Dyan brings barbells wherever she goes. I wouldn’t go that far though.

To wrap up this article, just a few more ideas from Francis.

He talked about intellectual, emotional, and spiritual disciplines. Intellectual discipline is simple. Francis said we should read and listen and expose ourselves to things that expand our intellect, things that enhance our creativity.

For emotional discipline, he said we should develop two things: confidence and people skills. He quoted a Stanford survey that revealed success is 87% people skills and only 13% product knowledge.

No wonder smooth-talking idiots can become millionaires. But seriously, it’s not all about  talents.

Change the world

And as for spiritual discipline, Francis reminds us of our spiritual nature, saying, “Don’t just make a difference in this world; make this world different!”

That’s it for now. I was supposed to include ideas from the speech of Butch Jimenez, the Retail Business Group Head and HR Group Head of PLDT. But I’ll have a separate article for that. You’ll know why.

In all, I believe discipline and, much more importantly, grit, can help us make a different world.

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Should we praise our kids for their intelligence?

Posted in learning, optimal performance, parenting on January 5, 2012 by gohelpyourself

Grow neurons, grow! (Photo courtesy of Rodrigo Galindo; taken from http://www.sxc.hu).

By Anthony O. Alcantara
It’s but natural for moms and dads to praise their kids for being smart. What insane parent wouldn’t?Then again, what exactly are we teaching kids when we tell them they are smart, or that they are geniuses?

A few years ago, I interviewed an executive of a company for an article. He was either in his late 40s or early 50s and he just topped the teacher’s licensure exam. I asked him how he did it, considering the demands of his job. I wanted to know if he studied hard for the exam.

“Actually, hindi nga ako masyado nag-aral (Actually, I didn’t really study much),” he said.

Surprised and somehow impressed, I prodded him with more questions. He said he prayed a lot and even sought the intercession of St. Jude before he took the exam. I was about to accuse him of unfair divine intervention. Still, he made it appear the test was a breeze for him. He made it appear he had oodles of IQ points that lower life forms such as myself lack.

But later on, I discovered he was a pretty diligent student in college and graduate school. He even won a scholarship. And he told me he has been teaching college students for many years already.

Aha! So he had some practice and worked hard after all. So why brag about not studying much?

2 mindsets

Dr. Carol Dweck, an expert in developmental psychology in the US, said people generally have two kinds of mindsets: the fixed mindset and the growth mindset.

Those with the fixed mindset believe that intelligence is fixed. It cannot be changed. People are either smart or dumb. And it stays that way forever. A test score on an IQ test is forever. They see that effort is useless because their intelligence is fixed. Their capabilities are wrought in stone.

Those with the growth mindset believe that intelligence can be developed. They believe they can become smarter. They believe that an IQ score, or any score in any test, can be improved. Effort, especially deliberately directed effort, leads to success. They believe they can always improve in anything that they do.

We all exhibit these mindsets in different situations. This is just a simplification to show contrast, and demonstrate the perils of a fixed mindset.

So what?

So what if a child is made to believe that he or she is smart? And what if that child comes to the conclusion that being smart is a permanent thing? What if the child becomes convinced that everything should be easy? Learning numbers is easy. Learning words is easy. Writing is easy. Science is easy. Everything is easy because I’m smart. We are dealing with malleable and impressionable minds after all.

And what if the supposedly smart child suddenly flunks a test? That doesn’t seem to describe a “smart” person, does it? Professor Dweck said the effects of the fixed mindset on children and adults can be subtle, and yet it may affect various aspects of our lives in a powerful way.

Some children with the fixed mindset learn to avoid challenges in order to maintain their “smart” image. They also feel threatened by the success of others. They believe they are better and it should always be like that. Their abilities are fixed, right?

Truly successful and happy people generally have the growth mindset. Manuel V. Pangilinan, one of the most respected businessmen in the country, once said his success is not much a result of his intelligence or ability, but of hard work.

Focus and endurance

Haruki Murakami, one of the world’s greatest novelists from Japan, said a person needs three things to be a successful writer: talent, focus, and endurance. Of the three, he said focus and endurance can make up for the lack of talent most of the time.

So what do we do?

Well, for a start, we can begin by praising our kids more for the effort that they exert, and for the new things they learn. When they complete a puzzle, we say, “Wow, you must have worked hard on that one.”

Praise effort more, rather than intelligence. Recognize improvement rather than fixed qualities. That’s what Dweck recommends. I heartily recommend her book, “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”, which is available in some inconspicuous crevices in bookstores.

Mindsets can change

The good thing about the growth mindset is that it can always be learned at any age. The language and behaviors of the growth mindset can be mastered.

Right now, in order to remind myself of the growth mindset,  I’m praising myself for the effort I’ve exerted to write this.

“Good job, Ton. Hey, I see some neurons growing.”

I hope all of you grow neurons, too.

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Getting it right

Posted in learning, philosophy on October 16, 2011 by gohelpyourself

Being a loser is not a permanent state. (Photo by Michal Zacharzewski, from http://www.sxc.hu)

By Anthony O. Alcantara

What I love about Google is that it has no fear of getting it wrong. Of the hundreds of products and services it has produced in a little more than a decade, only a handful are making money.

But boy, do they generate money. Billions and billions of dollars to fill the coffers of founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

Google is a fearless loser. The company is a loser because a lot of its products failed. And guess what? They loved being a loser. That’s because in the process of losing, they learned, and they eventually came up with winning products.

In a recent talk on “The Future of Communication and Collaboration,” Johan Segergren, Google’s GM for Thailand and the Philippines, revealed that employees at Google thrive on failure.

He said a lot of ideas float around Google. Naturally, many of them died. While most companies are bereft of new ideas and cling to what works, Google encourages people to come up with new ideas.

As you may know, Google still has the 20 percent rule, where employees, using 20 percent of their time at the office, experiment with their own projects and ideas. Google News was developed this way.

“It’s not the ideas,” said Segergren. “It’s the ability to execute.”

In other words, having a lot of ideas is only part of the answer to having great success. It’s having a lot of ideas that you actually execute.

And execution in Google, according to Segergren, is getting the right people to help and cooperate , finding tons of data to support the idea, and seeing what works and what doesn’t.

Google+, which is fast becoming a success, would not have been possible without the failures of Orkut and Buzz. Bradley Horowitz, Google’s VP for products, has got it right this time.

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt was once quoted as saying, “Please fail very quickly–so that you can try again.”

I guess it’s a good idea to be a failure after all. It’s good to not get it right. That way we learn. We soon discover what works.

Only by getting it wrong, will we soon get it right. Take it from a prolific loser like Google.

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What a cockroach can teach us about systems thinking

Posted in learning on July 15, 2011 by gohelpyourself

This diagram shows the relationships in a complex problem such as education in the country. Diagramming is one of the tools of systems thinking.

By Anthony O. Alcantara

The six-legged creature frolicked in a mound of DDT, an insecticide that’s supposed to kill pests. With a squeal of delight similar to that of Mama Dionisia getting her first Hermes bag, the cockroach dives into the DDT with total abandon.

It’s a super cockroach. Not even the powerful DDT — which has massacred untold billions of vermin, won for its discoverer a Nobel, and gained the opprobrium of being a bane to the environment — can kill this insect.

Nicanor Perlas has personally met this super cockroach in a lab. And it was not because he needed an endorser for some future presidential campaign. (Remember him during the 2010 presidential elections?)

Perlas was just citing an example of how quick-fix thinking can lead to short-sighted solutions and disastrous consequences. This was during the recent “Kabata ni Jose: Ka-guro ni Rizal,” A Forum on Education for Sustainability and Systems Thinking in Philippine K-12 Schools at the Crowne Plaza Galleria Manila.

The Rizal Academy for Innovation and Leadership (TRAIL) and the Society for Organizational Learning (SOL) have organized this forum to help the Department of Education to improve education in the country.

How? By introducing systems thinking to public school teachers and students.

Simply put, systems thinking is a perspective, a set of specialized language and a set of tools that will enable a person to consider the consequences of ideas and actions that are inter-related in a bigger system. It’s big-picture thinking applied to complex problems.

Systems are groups of inter-related elements. It could be physical (circulatory system), political (local government units), social (karaoke singers club), etc.

It’s different from the traditional analysis that most people are used to. For example, an insect is eating up your favorite bananas in your small farm. Traditional analysis tells you the insect is the problem. So you use an insecticide to kill that insect.

However, unknown to you, or because you haven’t thought well enough about the consequences of this solution, that insect you just decimated also controls the population of another equally pesky insect. So the low-population insect lords it over your garden, wreaking greater havoc on your bananas and other crops.

Using the systems thinking perspective and simple graphical tools to analyze relationships, you may come up with better long-term solutions.

TRAIL and SOL want to train a few teachers in systems thinking in the US so they can spread the lessons they learned to all teachers in the country. These teachers will then be able to spread the gospel of systems thinking to grade school and high school kids.

It’s a laudable and worthwhile project. Aside from preventing kids to manufacture more super cockroaches, this might help solve our country’s complex problems such as corruption, the convoluted state of peace and order, and the dismal quality of education.

I just hope we won’t be immersed into the idea of systems too much.

During the forum, my group had a limited discussion on the forces that affect the quality of education. I said teachers don’t exert enough initiative in making a difference. I said many find it easier to blame bureaucracy, the principal, and the DepEd for their woes.

Somebody in the group countered that the system, or the bureaucracy, has much to do with the problems in education. Well, I didn’t say that the system has nothing to do with the problems. The problem is that many teachers have given up on starting things on their own.

They already have enough knowledge of what needs to be done. Sadly, action is lacking. Initiative is non-existent in most of the teachers. They prefer to blame the system, thinking that initiative is a one-time thing.

So can systems thinking save our educational system?

Using the systems thinking perspective, I think systems thinking is only a part of the solution. Heck, we don’t even have to study about systems thinking to become systems thinkers. Jose Rizal was considered a systems thinker, and yet he didn’t go to a seminar to study systems thinking.

And yet, with the recurring problems we face, systems thinking is probably a good start. So if you don’t want your kids breeding super cockroaches at home, you can do something about it.

Check out http://www.rizalacademy.com/files/snowball%20invitation.pdf and www.solonline.org. I’m not affiliated with them in any way.

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Follow the leader

Posted in learning, psychology on April 19, 2011 by gohelpyourself

"Follow me." (photo courtesy of http://www.sxc.hu)

By Anthony O. Alcantara
I’m not a leadership guru. And I have a hard time telling the difference between visions and hallucinations. I am therefore not the person to ask if you want to draft a sensible vision statement for your team, or write an inspiring piece on leading an ambitious campaign to wipe out the competition.

But, and that is a very emphatic “but,” my serendipitous research skills can compensate for my utter lack of credibility. Serendipitous because I came upon an interesting article on leadership as I was browsing the newspaper for the latest showbiz gossip while eating a donut, sipping hot chocolate and waiting for my wife to finish a meeting on how to “wear” your baby one Saturday morning. In mommyspeak, that means how to use a baby carrier.

The article is entitled “Top to Bottom, Making a Better Boss” by Adam Bryant of The New York Times. It’s about Google Inc.’s “Project Oxygen,” which sought to crack the leadership code based on some hard-core number crunching and unassailable data analysis.

The results were culled from 10,000 observations about managers and the analysis of more than 100 variables from performance reviews, feedback surveys, nominations for awards, accounts of complaints and other reports.

Indeed those nerds at Google really love data. Maybe they could help my wife and her friends analyze the precise level of happiness of mothers and babies when using baby carriers, and perhaps the precise number of donuts that husbands can eat while waiting for their wives to finish their deliberations.

Anyway, here are the eight directives that Google produced after the study:

1. Be a good coach.
2. Empower your team and don’t micromanage.
3. Express interest in team members’ success and personal well-being.
4. Don’t be a sissy: Be productive and results-oriented.
5. Be a good communicator and listen to your team.
6. Help your employees with career development.
7. Have a clear vision and strategy for the team.
8. Have key technical skills so you can help advise the team.

Now you can print this list and meditate on these directives everyday. Make a checklist if you want. This is perhaps the most compelling distillation of all the world’s wisdom on leadership.

But there’s more. The nerds of Google ranked those eight directives by importance, and they came up with some fascinating results.

Here’s what Bryant wrote:

“What employees valued most were even-tempered bosses who held one-on-one meetings, who helped people by asking questions, not dictating answers, and who took an interest in employees’ lives and careers.”

So if you want to be a better leader quickly, concentrate on those traits. The study also showed that being equal to or better than subordinates in terms of technical expertise is the least important attribute of a leader.

Now please don’t let your boss see you nodding your head vigorously as you read this, okay?

The study also revealed that people cite three distinct reasons why they leave a company. They work in combination too:

1. “I don’t feel a connection to the mission of the company. I feel my work doesn’t matter.”
2. “I have no respect for and I don’t like my co-workers.”
3. “I have a terrible boss.”

The last one, the Google nerds say, is the biggest factor.

When Google applied the lessons they learned from the study, 75 percent of their worst managers showed “significant improvement.” I don’t know how it was done exactly. The author did not elaborate.

But still, Google’s study deserves a good look. Perhaps a similar study can be done here in the Philippines, just to be sure that culture is accounted for.

And if you want to start being a good leader now, go have a pleasant one-on-one chitchat with one of your subordinates. There’s no harm in trying.

(This is a reprint of my editorial in the March issue of PLDT’s ACC:ESS Magazine. The theme is leadership.)
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