The Guaranteed Formula for Success

Everday in the morning, before I start the hustle and bustle of the day, I have my “to do lists” ready for me and covering all aspects of life: business, projects, kids, home, etc. Sometimes the number of lists I have and the number of items on these lists scare me as I feel like I am not going to get through it all.  The little story that I have read in Tom Peters’ recent book “The Little BIG Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence” made me appreciate the benefits of living with my to do lists.

I have two notebooks to keep my to do lists and daily notes; one for business, the other one for personal stuff

A man approached J.P. Morgan, held an envelope, and said, “Sir, in my hand I hold a guaranteed formula for success, which I will gladly sell you for $25,000.”

“Sir”, J.P. Morgan replied, “I do not know what is in the envelope; however, if you show it to me, and I like it, I give you my word as a gentleman that I will pay you what you ask.” The man agreed to the terms, and handed over the envelope. J.P. Morgan opened it and extracted a single sheet of paper. He gave it one look, a mere glance, then handed the piece of paper back to the gentleman and paid him the agreed-upon $25,000. The contents of the note:

  1. Every morning, write a list of the things that need to be done that day.
  2. Do them.

It is worth to start preparing your to do lists as the formula is so simple.


P.S. 1: Having to do lists is an important part of effective time management. For further reading, these sites will be interesting for you:

P.S. 2: Tom Peters is best known with his book “In Search of Excellence” (1982) which became a worldwide best-seller. His recent book  “The Little BIG Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence” (2010) has also been viewed as one of the best management books. The book includes 163 tips which are validated through Tom Peters’ experience.

Edited by Neville Wells

Adult Pride

The three of us have been friends for over twenty seven years. Over the years first our spouses joined us and we became a group of six. Then the group further extended with the advent of children. Today we are a total of eleven.  The busy schedules of all six of us have forced us to plan gatherings months in advance. In line with our “social objectives”, last week we had a big dinner all together. We are all from different professions but the common ground we share is the number of years we have spent in business life and the roles we have had either as managers or as subordinates. So the discussions are always very interesting and lively.

This time after discussing various topics, we began to talk about management. One of us asked a series of questions about what good management is about. A deep silence descended as each of us felt a bit too anxious about giving a wrong answer. We suddenly found ourselves waiting for the correct answers from the person who was posing all the questions. The anxiety which made us all silent is because adults participate and learn only in some certain conditions. Since adult learning principles are a part of the “Train the Trainer” training program which I have been facilitating for years, I promised the group that I would make a compilation of adult learning principles and send it to them all.

A great learning experience for me was my training visit to Mayo Clinic, Rochestor-USA in 2002. Acibadem Healthcare team with Mayo Clinic executives

Basically, adult learning is different from child learning which is known as ‘pedagogy’.  Learning principles, which are focused on adults, is known as ‘androgogy’. These can be summarized as follows:

Characteristics of the Adult

Conditions for Adult Learning 

  • Learns if he/she feels the need to do so
  • Must understand how and why learning will take place
  • Has specific needs in mind
  • Wants fast and concrete results
  • Connects what he/she is learning with his/her own personal experience
  • Starts with what he/she knows, his/her own reality by using simple examples
  • Is proud. Must feel independent and self-sufficient
  • Wants to play an active role in the act of learning
  • Is critical of theories, wants to feel the actual experience behind the theory
  • Needs for hearing experience, examples and proofs
  • Learns through practise
  • Desires concrete and realistic applications
  • Wants to successfully complete the tasks he/she is asked to do
  • Motivated by gradually increasing level of difficulty in the activities
  • Needs to feel listened to, understood and supported
  • Always needs to be reassured and encouraged


A guide for adult learning in classroom training:

  • Go from the general to the specific, the easy to the hard, the known to the unknown
  • Give explanations and practical examples
  • Establish a connection with the final objective
  • Give information progressively and in bite-size pieces
  • Show the learner you empathize with him/her,  you are open-minded and want to cooperate
  • Avoid threats and negative criticism
  • Recognize the right to make mistakes, it is an essential part of the learning process
  • Create a safe atmosphere which is conducive for discussion
  • Give the learner the opportunity to try new things
  • Regularly evaluate the learner’s progress
  • Do not give the information too fast
  • Observe and take into account the individual’s non-verbal communication
  • Speak in a pleasant tone of voice

Looking forward to our next meeting, I feel that our lasting friendship makes us feel stronger in our learning journeys which started in the same classroom as teenagers and continues in the adult world.

Meetings with HR colleagues in Mayo Clinic helped me learn about HR practices that make Mayo Clinic on the list of America's "100 Best Companies to Work For"

Mayo Clinic has been near the top of the “US News and World Report List of Best Hospitals” for more than 20 years. On-site experience increased my insights about Mayo Clinic service quality standards
Edited by Neville Wells

He is a Professional So That Makes Me an Amateur

I have an executive level friend with whom I have never worked but occasionally we meet each other in some common business settings. There is something truly remarkable about this friend’s behaviour in the business activities in which I have had the opportunity to observe him. What he does is he walks away from any activity as soon as his manager leaves.

After a while, as he repeated this behaviour several times, it didn’t take long for me to realize that rather than being a coincidence, this was a conscious pattern of behaviour that he had developed. Why is my friend, who has been working for his company for years, behaving in this way? In fact the answer is quite simple ‘he is a professional’. My friend, who looks like he is having such a good time while he is in a corporate environment, is in fact just striving to execute a corporate duty.

Realities in today’s job market have re-emphasized to us phrase ‘office politics’ in order not to be undermined / underappreciated with all your know-how and business acumen. A few years ago, I read the book “100 Tactics for Office politics” written by Casey Hawley. This book is a must-read. The book provides you with the tactics you need to deal with all situations and personality types that you could ever meet in a corporate setting.  While it gives you tactics that help you to advance your career, it also lists the mistakes that you should avoid. In other words, it helps you to take the control of your corporate destiny. What is your first step to build up your strategy? According to the book, before developing your own office strategies, first you should make a self-assessment:

  • How aggressive do you want to be?
  • What kind of corporate culture are you in? Conservative? Start-up? Competitive?
  • What fits with your personality?
  • What will your values and ethics allow you to do comfortably?
  • Which people will be affected by the move(s) you make? What are the risks? Rewards?

100 Tactics for Office Politics by Casey Hawley

The names of the chapters in the book make you realize how seriously office politics should be taken. Chapter titles include:

  • The 25 Critical Moves Every Professional Must Make
  • The 25 Career Blowers to Avoid
  • How to Get Your Boss to Advance Your Career
  • How to Handle the World’s Worst Bosses
  • Building Your Power: Networking and Publicizing Your Accomplishments
  • Major Players in Your Company and How to Get Them to Go to Bat for You
  • Beginning or Exiting a Job: Opportunity for Bridge Building or Disaster
  • How to Handle Your Co-workers and Staff So They Will Make You a Star
  • Answers to Frequently Asked Questions: The Dirty Dozen
  • Your Action Plans for Success

After I finished reading the book, I had a better understanding of my friend’s behaviour. I even thought that most probably he had read the book. I haven’t met him recently, but a mutual friend told me that he had been promoted again a short while ago. I think – with no doubt at all – he will be at the very top in the near future. Personally, I benefited from the book a lot, too. Knowing all about these things made me aware of my limits:-) I became aware that I would rather continue to work like an ‘amateur’ rather than a ‘professional’ because this what I have in my nature!

'Office Politics' painting by Australian artist BJ Price

Related links:

Edited by Neville Wells

Photo Credit: Google Images