How to React to Tough Feedback According to John Mayer


You have to be able not to get your way. Cry a little bit. Take a bump.  And let it send you back to the lab. Even if you have to say “I’ll show him!” It’s all gonna be better for it – John Mayer.

I watched an inspiring video today with one of my musical heroes, John Mayer. He’s doing a Q&A at Oxford and there are some insightful bits in the 50-minute long interview. You can watch it here. If you’re pressed for time, this outtake about his friendship with Steve Jobs really resonated with me.

I really like the part about tough feedback where John describes how Steve Jobs or any good manager could kill off bad ideas down with just one rhetoric question. That’s how a great leader acts, he doesn’t say NO! – he poses a question that lets you find “no” yourself, which strengthens you and your ideas immensely.

John then talks about how the “independent” artist world can be too soft, where the artists have too much say and that’s why the end product is poorer. You can obviously argue this back and forth, but even as an independent author I have to admit that there’s something there. To develop as an artist/individual/employee/whatever you need feedback, you need to hear when your stuff’s not up to par. And when you have the power to cut out that vital criticism and just go ahead and do what you want anyway, there’s a risk that the art/you/everybody suffers.

Everyone needs a filter. Or like John says:

“I miss bosses in general, I miss editors, I miss people who tell me – don’t do that! We wanted it and we got it and I don’t think it’s that great for an artist to have a manager whose job is to filter out all of the ideas and then meet them out accordingly with patience and grace.”

That’s not the way to do it. Take criticism for what it is, and be honest, then go back to the lab and improve.

Remember: everybody benefits from that.

Rework – Jason Friedman


We’ve used the project tool Basecamp at work and it’s pretty good. When I found out the creators of Basecamp wrote a book about the new way to start and run a business I just had to read it and I found out it is great too.

You can buy Rework here

Things I really liked:

* Workaholics are over-rated.
* The expression asap is bad because it doesn’t really say anything.
* Meetings are toxic.
* Interruption is the enemy of productivity (damn, right!)
* Growth is not necessary for profitability
* Planning is guessing
* Failure is not a rite of passage  (learning from mistakes is overrated)

My Intervals: an excellent project management system

I’ve been an ardent follower of 37 signals excellent product Basecamp for a bit over a year. The system has worked pretty well for our creative and marketing department and visually it’s top notch.

What I haven’t been convinced by is the Basecamp’s todo-list function. As a department focusing mostly on smaller projects with few responsible people and with a need to prioritize and include a lot of information at a glance, the Basecamp todo view is a bit sparse. I know they focus on simplicity but for our use it’s been a little bit too simple and resulting in the need to keep everything in the “Messages” view.

When someone in my Linkedin group recommended me My Intervals I was a bit skeptical, because I’ve tried so many task and project management systems, liked them and then just to find out that there’s one key missing feature or problem with it. My Intervals isn’t a great looker, but when it comes managing tasks and project it has pretty much everything you could ask for. It’s fast and logical and can be tailored to your liking. I wouldn’t have hesitated to start using it for the team if it wasn’t that all our tasks are pretty much entrenched in Basecamp. We’ll see if we manage to take the leap in the future. I wouldn’t need many improvements to Basecamp’s todo-function to be lured in by their far more attractive design, but My Intervals is definitely a super strong contender.


Tom Peters Re-imagines Business

I’m soon about to finish Freedom by Jonathan Franzen and I was lusting for something non-fiction. In the end I picked up Business guru Tom Peters book Re-Imagine!: Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age at one of the local bookstores in Sliema. It seems pretty good although after checking back on Amazon I saw that I should probably have bought The Little Big Things: 163 Ways to Pursue EXCELLENCE instead.

So who’s Tom Peters then? I suggest you check out his personal blog where you for example find this short biography:

Tom Peters is co-author of In Search of Excellence—the book that changed the way the world does business, and often tagged as the best business book ever. Sixteen books and almost thirty years later, he’s still at the forefront of the “management guru industry” he single-handedly invented. What’s new? A lot. As CNN said, “While most business gurus milk the same mantra for all its worth, the one-man brand called Tom Peters is still reinventing himself.” His most recent effort, released in March 2010: The Little BIG Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence. Tom’s bedrock belief: “Execution is strategy—it’s all about the people and the doing, not the talking and the theory.” (Keep up with Tom at, ranked #9 among “The Top 150 Management and Leadership Blogs.”)

I will be back on the blog later with a review but from thumbing through it in the store it seems pretty interesting. One thing is for sure, Tom’s communicative style is very American and you’ll find a lot of CAPITAL letters and exclamation marks. It’s a guy burning for business, that’s for sure.

The Daily Carrot Principle

I’m currently reading a book about recognition as a powerful management tool on my Kindle. It’s called the The Daily Carrot Principle and it’s written by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton (where do people get these cool names?).

Quoting from AmazonFrom the authors of the smash bestseller The Carrot Principle comes an inspiring and lively page-a-day guide to harnessing the remarkable power of the carrot—taking yourself and your team to new heights of success in work and life.Based on their twenty years of experience teaching leaders at Fortune 100 companies, as well as one of the largest research studies ever conducted on workplace satisfaction, Gostick and Elton share a wealth of wisdom about simple but amazingly effective ways to boost your productivity and work satisfaction by setting clear goals, communicating effectively, building trust, and offering recognition in ways that make others feel appreciated and motivated.

I really enjoy the book and it’s easy to understand the value of recognition and to be specific, concise, and generous with the feedback to your employees.

I’ve been reading a lot of management books over the years and many of them do trend to drag on and on without really saying anything new. The Daily Carrot Principle focuses on a topic that can be used as much in your daily life as in the business world and does it in a very reader friendly and constructive way. The book truly demonstrates recognition as the accelerator to the four basics of leadership; goal setting, building trust, communication, and accountability.


The Secret Laws of Management

The Secret Laws of Management is one of the best books I’ve read about management. Short, to the point and with a lot of excellent advice and observation.

You can buy this excellent Management book here and read more about Stuart Wyatt and the book here

This is what people say:
“The Secret Laws of Management distils the 40 simplest yet sacred truths about business for supervisor and subordinate, trainee and old hand.” & The Wall Street Journal

“There’s more truly useful content in this concise resource than much lengthier management books that I’ve read.” Steve Brazier, Director of Education, Promethean Ltd.

“They should’ve had us read this book in business school (instead of teaching us the perfect market theory). This is the most valuable book on management that I have ever read.” Darrell Benatar, CEO,