What can we learn from Bill Gates, the world’s richest man?

Inspiring Stories

15 April 2019

What can we learn from Bill Gates, the world’s richest man?

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

From humble beginnings to setting up a software empire, his empire has changed the world as we know it and made him worth $89 billion when he stepped down as CEO.

One of the most popular entrepreneurs of all time, Bill Gates is better known as the prodigy who started the technology revolution by launching a software company after dropping out of Harvard in 1974.

His success at Microsoft has earned him the title of one of the richest men in the world. We’ve put together a few of his leadership lessons that we believe can help your business grow

#1 Do not get distracted by success

Bill Gates has said “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose”.

It is but human to get carried away by success, especially when it comes easily, and keeps coming. But that’s not the case with Bill Gates. He never allowed his success to cloud his business judgements. He lacks overconfidence and understands that success cannot supersede business ethics. Yes, he does attribute his initial success as the stepping stone for future triumphs, but he was always prepared for the psychological challenges that success can bring.

#1 Have a vision

Gates never let his role at Microsoft define him. He dreams big, and he dreams beyond the immediate. He kept beating competition because at every point, he kept dreaming bigger and beyond and stayed a step ahead of the rest. He has a rich philanthropic life and that also contributes to his success in his primary career. He is more involved in society at large than just as a software supplier, and that makes it easy to follow him as a leader.

#1 Doesn’t hurt to rate yourself a little higher

Did you know that the contract that established Microsoft was proposed in the air? When Bill told Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS) that he could develop an interpreter for microcomputers, he was overrating himself; he had never done that before. But he was ready to go the extra mile to get it done. Gates and his partner, Allen, worked hard to get the interpreter ready within a few weeks after MITS expressed its interest in their proposal. The result of that effort today is Microsoft.

#1 Be ready to embrace failure

You’ve started your business to be successful, but entrepreneurship comes with its set of challenges. Too much success, for too long, can make anyone complacent and even arrogant about their abilities. Remember that no one is invincible and you should always be prepared for rough patches. Don’t let those bog you down. Instead, get back up, dust yourself and learn from them.

#1 Value time

Gates has said, “no matter how much money you have, you can’t buy more time”. He values every minute of his day and plans his daily activities to ensure the most important tasks never get left undone. He will not attend meetings that don’t really need him. He is immensely successful today, but he knows that he has the same number of hours as everyone else, and has still retained the same value for time as before.

#1 Do your own thing, and be good at it

Every one of us starts with inspiration; some of us even continue to be inspired throughout our careers. However, remember that there is a thin but distinct line between being inspired and trying to replicate what someone else has done. Find your own brand voice and identity to ensure that you stand out among competition.

Gates joined a computer club at 13 and he realised he’d found his calling. He spent hours teaching himself how to program, and with his dedication and foresight turned his passion into a billion-dollar business, something that not many people had believed was possible at that time.

#1 Stop feeling sorry for yourself

“Life is not fair; get used to it.”, Bill Gates. Let’s face it; things are not always going to go your way. And not everything is in your control. You might make a mistake, or the industry might suffer a slowdown. There are very few companies that have grown without facing their share of serious problems. What matters is how you respond to this crisis. Use the negative situation as a learning curve and look for ways to control damage. Perhaps your business can adapt to the situation and come out of it better and stronger.

#1 Care for other people

Bill Gates’ leadership role is not limited to his success alone or that of his team members, but he works hard to ensure that others grow too. His leadership comes through very strongly in his philanthropy and humanitarianism efforts. To sustain his goals, he, along with Melinda Gates, founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, an organization focused on saving lives and improving global health. He believes that his life’s accomplishments would mean less if his energy and talent cannot be used to improve other lives and society at large.

Conclusion

You might have noticed that all the leadership lessons are marked #1. (Did you just go back to check?) That’s because we believe every single one of these points is a valuable instruction and neither one can be rated better than any other. What do you make of these? Do write to us and tell us which one resonated with you the most.

How the lockdown taught us collaboration & other management lessons

Inspiring Stories

07 July 2020

How the lockdown taught us collaboration & other management lessons

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

Unlock 1 has seen many get back to their office spaces and adapt to the new normal of masks and social distancing. It’s a good time to reflect on the many lessons we’ve learnt during the lockdown and how we can apply it to our corporate lives. Sometimes, all it takes for change to take effect is the lack of choice. As we grappled with being locked at home, we geared up to learn new skills, find new ways of entertainment and we collectively managed to remote work effectively. Here’s a look at some lessons we can take back to work with us:

Are we all Digital yet?

Somewhere between forgetting to switch on the mute button and switching off the camera, we all grew up to be digital. The world before the lockdown was divided between the Digital Natives and the Digital not-quite-there-yet. What stopped us from adopting technology which existed to make our lives simpler and help us work more efficiently? And yet, how come when it came to personal usage, we easily figured out Firestick/Chromecast streaming and the latest cell phones? Learning happens out of interest or necessity; and at a company level the interest must trickle top down. The leadership team and managers need to bring in a culture of systemic learning and that begins with them upskilling to lead by example. This serves a dual purpose – one that accepts not knowing everything is normal and second that it’s never too late to learn.

The Key Takeout: For organisations to innovate and evolve, there needs to be a culture of learning. The ‘why fix it if it ain’t broke’ philosophy is the biggest roadblock to innovation.  

Workload equals loads of work?

It’s fascinating how we seamlessly divided house tasks based on innate ability – the younger ones for physically-intense housecleaning, the ones who knew cooking took up kitchen work and the rest did dishes and groceries. Some people rotated duties but each family found its own rhythm. Each person was accountable for their work, knew the others’ tasks and trusted them to do it. Of course, things work differently in the corporate world with its clearly demarcated job profiles and associated qualifications; however, we can take a leaf out of this and relook at how we can assign work beyond qualifications. Align teams to a short-term common goal, clearly define how they’re contributing to it individually and collectively, and acknowledge that effort and result.

The Key Takeout: Working collaboratively by its very nature takes away the sense of ‘it’s not my job’ and builds a system where each one is aware and thus appreciative of the work the others are doing.

Time: Too much of a good thing?

Humans are creatures of habit which is why when faced with what seemed like infinite time, we used it exactly the way we are accustomed to spending it. The workaholics worked, the fitness freaks worked out, TV addicts binged and almost everyone learned to bake! But at some point we got a sense of too much, even if it was something we enjoyed, we started missing the office, the routine. How does this apply in the corporate world? If you let people chill and do what they love for some time, you’ll get them more refreshed and charged up to work rather than restricting them to strictly work during work hours. By forbidding things, we make them more appealing. This is not a carte blanche to slack off but a more lenient work style where half an hour on YouTube or a game of Scrabble is acceptable and doesn’t have to be done behind the boss’ back.

The Key Takeout: If work is no more restricted from 9 to 5, why should fun have set timings? Set boundaries but don’t make work and life mutually exclusive.

Focusing vs flexibility?

The easily distracted, and that’s pretty much all of us, will find a distraction worth their time. Pets and children replaced colleagues, chores replaced coffee breaks and SOs replaced bosses. On the other hand, we were saved from focusing on what to wear, what is she wearing, where to go after work, the meeting that should’ve been an email etc. The lockdown brought home the truth on how much time and energy is wasted on things of little or no significance. Despite the increase in daily chores, the lack of an office environment, and distractions at home; most people reported being more productive while working from home. Should this mean an end to office as we know it? Yes and no. The office as we knew it – singular location, fixed timings, everyone & everyday reporting – needs to give way to a more flexible, work from home and work near home approach. The flexibility may differ between industries, organisations but the core approach needs to evolve.

The Key Takeout: Focus on what’s essential and become a more outcome/goal-oriented workplace. Does it really matter if the person delivers an exceptional presentation wearing trousers or pyjamas?

When the lines between office and home are getting increasingly blurred, there’s merit to introspect and apply learnings from home and family to help teams work better.   The lockdown tested and demonstrated our potential to trust, collaborate and handle a crisis; and it would be a shame to not carry some of this back with us as we head back to office.

Why do Leaders Swear by Thinking Fast and Slow?

Inspiring Stories

27 April 2020

Why do Leaders Swear by Thinking Fast and Slow?

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

According to Daniel Kahneman, human beings have fractional thinking – System 1 and System 2; where System 1 is the gut, intuitive thinking, and System 2 is analytical, problem-solving and reflective decision making. Overall, both aid our judgement, where for some situations system 1 (fast thinking) provides the foundation for System 2 (slow thinking). But in many conditions, these work independently – for example, first impressions are formed solely by fast thinking. However, best decisions are made when both these methods are running simultaneously.

Hence, leaders swear by thinking fast and slow because it provides multiple business advantages such as:

Error Minimisation: Leaders encourage employees to indulge in fast and slow thinking because it reduces errors. If a person applies any of the two independently, there is a higher chance of tilted decisions. For example, when a person thinks too fast, it leads to cognitive biases, leading to erroneous results. For example, A project demands the regional sales of X product. But an employee registers only ‘sale’, conducts a quick search and quotes global sales while providing no figure for region-wide sales.

Enhanced Productivity: When a person effectively balances both slow and fast thinking, productivity rises sharply. This promotes wise thinkers who analyse situations rather than rely on quick judgments. For example, in a team, two employees do not get along and indulge in ruthless competition. A leader, who applies fast and slow thinking, will adopt a sound strategy to form better relations between the two, such as joint mediations or a combined project. But alternatively, in a quick response, if a leader fires the underperformer, it will be a loss to the team.

Rational Decisions: Decision-making is the basis of management and hence, needs to be made rationally. For example, a team needs to vote for a leader. Some employees, instead of carefully assessing the candidates, might make an unreasonable judgement based on superficial qualities. This will lead to the selection of a wrong candidate, which could be avoided through balanced evaluation based on multiple factors, including appearance, attitude, career trajectory, team spirit, etc.

Quick, Calculated Response: Hasty decision making or slow thinking can both result in a disaster independently. Hence, employees need to be quick but also calculated in their responses. Assume a scenario where a client is angry, and the employee reciprocates with the same emotion or worse. In such situations, the employees should be prompt yet calculated with their replies, calm the client and ensure error rectification.

Better Negotiation: For leaders, negotiation is an everyday task. One of the most important factors that can help a leader win a negotiation is how well he/she understands the opponent. The principles of thinking fast and slow help one to better understand the opponent and ultimately win an argument.

Thinking fast and slow advocates a healthy balance of the gut and factual thinking.

How to Harness the Power of Lateral Thinking to Enhance Creativity?

Inspiring Stories

20 April 2020

How to Harness the Power of Lateral Thinking to Enhance Creativity?

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

As working professionals, productivity and creativity come at the apex of keeping a business going. The world out there is competitive, the industry stops for no one, and innovation becomes the key. Therefore, it becomes vital to continually engage with unique techniques to produce out-of-the-box ideas. Lateral thinking can help you work those grey cells and keep the creativity flowing.

What is lateral thinking?
The term was first coined by the famous psychologist Edward de Bono. He summarized the need for lateral thinking by saying, “You cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging the same hole deeper.”
Once you are presented with a problem, how do you get to thinking about its solution? Lateral thinking can help you break the barrier of age-old solution-driven techniques that have become redundant in the modern age. While practising lateral thinking, the answer is searched in indirect and creative light. When your perception about the problem is tweaked, the solution-driven mind is forced to think of alternatives and come up with solutions that are unique to one’s experiences.
Steps to harness the power of lateral thinking
A few things that can help you execute lateral thinking perfectly are –
1. Stay curious. The only way one can look at the question/problem from a new perspective is when they are questioning everything enough. Ask yourself questions about the whole concept before working your mind towards solutions.
2. Since lateral thinking has only one rule, i.e. think outside the box, there are no restrictions on the order in which the thought must proceed. You could also ideate solutions first and then think backwards. It will help you garner creativity.
3. Switch personas. Sometimes thinking differently could be difficult. An effective technique would be to think of yourself as a different person and run your thoughts as if you were someone else.

Why should you practice lateral thinking?
There are many pros to this technique. Some of them include-
1. It pushes you towards alternatives. When you look at the problem in an unusual light, it naturally will invoke newer solutions, something that will be more creative and unique.
2. It boosts productivity. Eliminating redundancy and monotony, lateral thinking will drive impressive ideas, keeping you motivated enough to not give up and keep working.
3. It makes your solution/product a potential game-changer. Most start-ups or early-stage companies rely on products and solutions that can help them impress stakeholders, including investors and consumers. A novel and out-of-the-box idea is sure to grab eyeballs and get the ball rolling for you.
4. It can be used during interviews to test the creative potential of the candidates. A talent that can drive your business towards incredible heights must be screened well!