The 5 Most Important Characteristics of Great Teams

Building a team that exceeds expectations every time is easy when you follow this formula. Don’t leave your team results to chance!

CREDIT: Getty Images

CREDIT: Getty Images

“Talent wins games but teamwork wins championships.” ~Michael Jordan.

In all aspects of our life, teamwork plays a vital role. Whether we’re on a field or in the boardroom, we engage with and depend on others to accomplish virtually every task.

Because we depend so heavily on teams, we don’t want to leave it to chance to construct and manage them.

Fortunately for us, researchers and entrepreneurs Rich Karlgaard and Michael S. Malone distill the process of creating the highest performing teams in their best-selling book, Team Genius: The New Science of High Performing Teams.

Here are five of the most important factors for high-performing teams, along with some unusual findings that may contradict your previous assumptions about successful-team building.

1. Self-awareness at the team level.
While teams consist of individuals, a cohesive team is in fact a stand-alone, unified structure. The book presents a list of 20 questions that a leader should answer when assembling a team. Huffington Post writer Vanessa Van Edwards boils down the 20 questions to five “power questions:”

Are you in the right team in the right moment?

Can your team stay ahead of the changes in your industry?

Are your teams the right size for the job?

Do you have the right people in the right positions on your team?

Is your team prepared for a crisis, disruption, or change in leadership?

2. The right number.
The ideal number of team members is two.

“Pairs are the simplest and most stable bond in chemistry and in life. Humans form pairs in love and marriage and as friends. Adding a third person to a pair often complicates matters, and some trios can be explosive,” says Karlgaard. There are four main categories of team pairings:

Occasion pairs come together for a specific project. They band and disband quickly. They don’t always like each other but they need each other.
Similarity pairs are often ideally paired and work together in complete harmony. They can become too interdependent on each other.
Difference pairs consist of partners that compliment each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They are opposites attracting.
Inequality pairs include leader/follower or mentor/protege pairings. There is always an imbalance among the partners.
For medium-sized teams, five-nine members is the optimal number for building closeness. For larger groups, 11-18 team members is the maximum number of people someone can trust.

For much larger teams, 150 and 1,500 are magic numbers.

3. Strong communication.

Alex Pentland, director of MIT’s Human Dynamics Lab, found in his research that there are three aspects of communication that affect team performance:

Energy: the number and the nature of exchanges among team members. Pentland’s research concluded that 35 percent of the variation in a team’s performance can be accounted for simply by the number of face-to-face exchanges among team members.
Engagement: the distribution of energy among team members. The more evenly-distributed the engagement among team members, the stronger the team.
Exploration: communication that members engage in outside their team. Higher-performing teams seek more outside engagement.

4. Team chemistry.
Chemistry is indisputable. It can never be forced or fabricated. If it’s there, we can’t deny it. If it’s not there, we can’t make it manifest. This applies to our personal relationships as well as team dynamics.

When team members have good chemistry, their brains produce more Oxytocin, which is the hormone that helps us feel more connected to other people. Greater levels of Oxytocin produce more pleasure, deeper trust, and stronger intimacy. Team members that have strong chemistry are deeply unified in their common purpose.

5. Cognitive diversity.
The highest-performing teams consist of people who think differently, who approach problems from different perspectives, and who have varying levels of risk tolerance.

Left-brain thinkers are logical and analytical; right-brain thinkers are creative and intuitive. When you’re building a team, choose “a whole-brain team” with an equal distribution of left-brain and right-brain thinkers.

These five factors are proven to yield powerful teams that can be 40 percent more likely to create a successful breakthrough.

Best of luck in assembling or reconfiguring your next teams.


11 Secrets to Staying Productive and in Control

TalentSmart has tested more than a million people and found that the upper echelons of top performance are filled with people who are high in emotional intelligence (90% of top performers, to be exact). The hallmark of emotional intelligence is self-control — a skill that unleashes massive productivity by keeping you focused and on track.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Image credit: Shutterstock

Unfortunately, self-control is a difficult skill to rely on. Self-control is so fleeting for most people that when Martin Seligman and his colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania surveyed two million people and asked them to rank order their strengths in 24 different skills, self-control ended up in the very bottom slot.

And when your self-control leaves something to be desired, so does your productivity.

When it comes to self-control, it is so easy to focus on your failures that your successes tend to pale in comparison. And why shouldn’t they? Self-control is an effort that’s intended to help achieve a goal. Failing to control yourself is just that — a failure. If you’re trying to avoid digging into that bag of chips after dinner because you want to lose a few pounds and you succeed Monday and Tuesday nights only to succumb to temptation on Wednesday by eating four servings’ worth of the empty calories, your failure outweighs your success. You’ve taken two steps forward and four steps back.

Since self-control is something we could all use a little help with, I went back to the data to uncover the kinds of things that emotionally intelligent people do to keep themselves productive and in control. They consciously apply these behaviors because they know they work. Some are obvious, others counter-intuitive, but all will help you minimize those pesky failures to boost your productivity.

1. They focus on solutions. Where you focus your attention determines your emotional state. When you fixate on the problems that you’re facing, you create and prolong negative emotions which hinder self-control. When you focus on the actions you’ll take to better yourself and your circumstances, you create a sense of personal efficacy that produces positive emotions and improves performance. Emotionally intelligent people won’t dwell on problems because they know they’re most effective when they focus on solutions.

2. They eat. File this one in the counter-intuitive category, especially if you’re having trouble controlling your eating. Your brain burns heavily into your stores of glucose when attempting to exert self-control. If your blood sugar is low, you are far more likely to succumb to destructive impulses. Sugary foods spike your sugar levels quickly and leave you drained and vulnerable to impulsive behavior shortly thereafter. Eating something that provides a slow burn for your body, such as whole grain rice or meat, will give you a longer window of self-control. So, if you’re having trouble keeping yourself out of the company candy bin when you’re hungry, make sure you eat something else if you want to have a fighting chance.

3. They forgive themselves. A vicious cycle of failing to control oneself followed by feeling intense self-hatred and disgust is common in attempts at self-control. These emotions typically lead to over-indulging in the offending behavior. When you slip up, it is critical that you forgive yourself and move on. Don’t ignore how the mistake makes you feel; just don’t wallow in it. Instead, shift your attention to what you’re going to do to improve yourself in the future.

Failure can erode your self-confidence and make it hard to believe you’ll achieve a better outcome in the future. Most of the time, failure results from taking risks and trying to achieve something that isn’t easy. Emotionally intelligent people know that success lies in their ability to rise in the face of failure, and they can’t do this when they’re living in the past. Anything worth achieving is going to require you to take some risks, and you can’t allow failure to stop you from believing in your ability to succeed. When you live in the past, that is exactly what happens, and your past becomes your present, preventing you from moving forward.

4. They don’t say yes unless they really want to. Research conducted at the University of California in San Francisco shows that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout and even depression, all of which erode self-control. Saying no is indeed a major self-control challenge for many people. “No” is a powerful word that you should not be afraid to wield. When it’s time to say no, emotionally intelligent people avoid phrases like “I don’t think I can” or “I’m not certain.” Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to successfully fulfill them. Just remind yourself that saying no is an act of self-control now that will increase your future self-control by preventing the negative effects of over commitment.

5. They don’t seek perfection. Emotionally intelligent people won’t set perfection as their target because they know it doesn’t exist. Human beings, by our very nature, are fallible. When perfection is your goal, you’re always left with a nagging sense of failure that makes you want to give up or reduce your effort. You end up spending your time lamenting what you failed to accomplish and what you should have done differently instead of moving forward excited about what you’ve achieved and what you will accomplish in the future.

6. They stay positive. Positive thoughts help you exercise self-control by focusing your brain’s attention onto the rewards you will receive for your effort. You have to give your wandering brain a little help by consciously selecting something positive to think about. Any positive thought will do to refocus your attention. When things are going well and your mood is good, self-control is relatively easy. When things are going poorly and your mind is flooded with negative thoughts, self-control is a challenge. In these moments, think about your day and identify one positive thing that happened, or will happen, no matter how small. If you can’t think of something from the current day, reflect on the past and look to the future. The point here is that you must have something positive that you’re ready to shift your attention to when your thoughts turn negative, so that you don’t lose focus.

7. They avoid asking “What if?” “What if?” statements throw fuel on the fire of stress and worry, which are detrimental to self-control. Things can go in a million different directions, and the more time you spend worrying about the possibilities, the less time you’ll spend taking action and staying productive (staying productive also happens to calm you down and keep you focused). Productive people know that asking “what if? will only take them to a place they don’t want — or need — to go. Of course, scenario planning is a necessary and effective strategic planning technique. The key distinction here is to recognize the difference between worry and strategic thinking.

8. They sleep. I’ve beaten this one to death over the years and can’t say enough about the importance of sleep to increasing your emotional intelligence and maintaining your focus and self-control. When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, shuffling through the day’s memories and storing or discarding them (which causes dreams), so that you wake up alert and clear-headed. Your self-control, attention and memory are all reduced when you don’t get enough — or the right kind — of sleep. Sleep deprivation raises stress hormone levels on its own, even without a stressor present, which are a major productivity killer. Being busy often makes you feel as if you must sacrifice sleep to stay productive, but sleep deprivation diminishes your productivity so much throughout the day that you’re better off sleeping.

When you’re tired, your brain’s ability to absorb glucose is greatly diminished. This makes it difficult to control the impulses that derail your focus. What’s more, without enough sleep you are more likely to crave sugary snacks to compensate for low glucose levels. So, if you’re trying to exert self-control over your eating, getting a good night’s sleep — every night — is one of the best moves you can make.

9. They exercise. Getting your body moving for as little as 10 minutes releases GABA, a neurotransmitter that makes your brain feel soothed and keeps you in control of your impulses. If you’re having trouble resisting the impulse to walk over to the office next door to let somebody have it, just keep on walking. You should have the impulse under control by the time you get back.

10. They meditate. Meditation actually trains your brain to become a self-control machine. Even simple techniques like mindfulness, which involves taking as little as five minutes a day to focus on nothing more than your breathing and your senses, improves your self-awareness and your brain’s ability to resist destructive impulses. Buddhist monks appear calm and in control for a reason. Give it a try.

11. They ride the wave. Desire and distraction have the tendency to ebb and flow like the tide. When the impulse you need to control is strong, waiting out this wave of desire is usually enough to keep yourself in control. When you feel as if you must give in, the rule of thumb here is to wait at least 10 minutes before succumbing to temptation. You’ll often find that the great wave of desire is now little more than a ripple that you have the power to step right over.
Bringing It All Together

The important thing to remember is you have to give these strategies the opportunity to work. This means recognizing the moments where you are struggling with self-control and, rather than giving in to impulse, taking a look at these strategies and giving them a go before you give in.

Source : 11 Secrets to Staying Productive and in Control

Emotional Intelligence at Work: How Men and Women Interpret Feedback Differently

Knowing the differences can help you develop a personal strategy.

CREDIT: Getty Images

CREDIT: Getty Images

How do you respond to feedback?

A recent study published in the Harvard Business Review sheds some insight into different ways men and women react to the input of their peers. It was conducted by Margarita Mayo, Professor of Leadership at IE Business School in Madrid.

“Research has examined the short-term effects of peer feedback, but little is still known about how long these responses last,” said Mayo. “Because receiving feedback from peers calls into question our self-perceptions, it is not unreasonable to expect that some of us will develop psychological defense mechanisms.”

“In other words, receiving feedback involves some emotional fallout that may block the very same learning processes they are intended to boost.”
The Study

Mayo and her team put that theory to test by investigating how her students reacted to peer feedback about their leadership competencies. The study involved 221 students, 169 males and 52 females, with an average age of 30 and 6.5 years of previous work experience. The students were put into teams that worked together every day, giving them the chance to see one another in action and get to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

At the end of each trimester, students were asked to complete an online survey asking them to rate themselves and fellow team members using a 5-point response format (1 = completely disagree to 5 = completely agree) on the following four attributes:

shows confidence when facing unforeseen situations
knows when to work and when to relax
doesn’t feel stressed or frustrated when doing several tasks at the same time
actively seeks the opinions of others

The week following completion of each survey, students received the results. They could clearly compare their self-rating on the four competencies to the average rating from their teammates.

According to Mayo, all the students initially rated themselves higher than their peers. But over time, self-ratings declined in response to receiving feedback.

“Feedback from others leads us to compare others’ ratings with our own self-evaluations,” said Mayo. “This comparison triggers reflection about ourselves and a readjustment of our own inflated views so as to align them with the more realistic evaluation of others.”

But was there a noticeable difference between how women and men reacted?
How Men and Women Differed

In essence, women were much more sensitive to peer feedback than their male counterparts.

Mayo explains:

We found that women more quickly aligned their self-awareness with peer feedback, whereas men continued to rationalize and inflate their self-image over time…After six months, women perfectly aligned their views of leadership with their peers’ assessment.

In contrast, men continued to inflate their leadership qualities. For example, for self-confidence the pattern was quite different for men than it was for women. For men, it was 3.99 (self-rating) vs. 3.70 (peer rating) in January; 3.92 vs. 3.64 in April; and 3.84 vs. 3.64 in June. These results suggest that women close the gap between self-perception and peer feedback faster than men, demonstrating greater sensitivity to social cues.

Of course, the sample size of this study is small. And as an individual, you may respond much differently than other men and women. Still, the insights gleaned from this study can help you to design an effective strategy for taking feedback into account.

How so?
How Emotional Intelligence Helps

Emotional intelligence (EI or EQ) involves the ability to identify emotions and their influence, and then use that information to guide your decision making. Sharpening your EQ can be useful in applying research like this to your personal situation.

For example, let’s say you are greatly influenced by peer feedback, like the women in the study. This is a strength you can take advantage of. For example, actively seeking feedback will allow you to identify opportunities in which you can maximize use of your stronger attributes and minimize the weaker ones.

On the other hand, identifying the role another person’s emotions plays in giving that feedback may help you adjust your reaction. Perhaps they are being hard on you because they have trouble accepting constructive criticism–criticism that you gave (and they desperately needed).

In that case, their feedback can still help you determine if an adjustment in your delivery style is necessary. But you shouldn’t let your ability to empathize discourage you from taking on new challenges.

What if you overestimate your leadership abilities in comparison with your peers, like the men in the study? Maintaining a positive view in the midst of negativity can give leaders the courage and fortitude they need to move forward. (After all, at times the lone voice is the right one–regardless of what traditional leadership attributes that person possesses.)

However, recognizing others’ perspectives will keep you from overestimating your influence in a given situation. And those outside viewpoints can help you identify blind spots–and work to improve them.

6 Bad Habits That Destroy Your Productivity (and Happiness)

If you want to excel at your work, stop doing these things immediately.



In today’s interconnected and increasingly mobile world, people need no longer be confined to their offices. You can work anytime you like wherever you happen to be. But that very freedom has also resulted in some very bad habits that sap your productivity and can make you miserable at the same time.

That observation comes from productivity expert Maura Thomas, founder of Regain Your Time. Here are the habits she says can hold you back–as well as the people who work for you.

1. Working during your vacation.

“With your office in the palm of your hand, it is easy to check your email, respond to a text or call into the weekly conference call on mute,” Thomas says. Too easy. Not only are you doing yourself a disservice, you’re signaling to your employees that they have to work during their own vacations. “Knowledge work requires a fresh perspective, but you can’t get a fresh perspective if you never step away,” Thomas says.

2. Not using all your vacation time.

There’s quite a lot of scientific evidence that skipping vacations is bad for our productivity, our mood, our relationships, and may even shorten our lives. So make sure to use all your time off, and to unplug from the office while you’re away. Encourage everyone who works with you to do the same. “You’ll get all the restorative benefits of vacation yourself, and you’ll be modeling healthy behavior for employees,” Thomas notes. (If yours is one of the growing number of companies with unlimited vacation policies, make sure you take at least two to four weeks off per year.)

3. Working during evenings and weekends.

We’re all guilty of this–I’m writing this column late in the evening right now. But if you never step away from work, you never get the fresh perspective that only a mental break can give, Thomas warns. Worse, your employees will feel obligated to work similar hours. “Although leaders aren’t looking to make employees feel as if they are tethered to their job at all times, it can easily happen,” she notes.

4. Sending emails and texts outside business hours.

Doing this is absolute proof that you’re working at all hours. And by communicating with employees at such times, you’re encouraging them to answer you instead of taking their own time off. This is why a growing number of countries are making after-hours email to employees illegal. “If the issue isn’t urgent enough to pick up the phone, then think twice about sending emails and texts at night, on the weekend or while someone is on vacation,” Thomas advises.

5. Creating lists of priorities.

“To-do lists that include items with a priority of high, medium, or low don’t give you enough direction,” Thomas says. “A lot of times, we’ll put a task on our to-do list that’s just too big. ‘Research local non-profits sounds’ big and difficult and is more likely to be avoided. Instead, write down: ‘Google non-profits in Texas.'”

This one small change can save you an enormous amount of wasted time wandering around the Internet or trying to figure out how to get started on a daunting project, she says. To really increase productivity, give each task a due date, but be realistic about how much you can get done in a day, and build in time for unexpected tasks or priorities to arise.

6. Multitasking.

There’s plenty of evidence that multitasking is bad for both you and your productivity. Don’t do it! Instead, Thomas advises creating conditions that allow you to focus completely on one thing. “Find the place where your attention is so absorbed in a single task that time moves differently, and you come out on the other side with a genuine feeling of accomplishment,” she says.

This may mean posting an “unavailable” status on your chat clients, logging out of email, closing your office door, turning your mobile phone to airplane mode, and maybe even putting on headphones playing white noise. “Put yourself in a distraction-free bubble so you can single-task, even for just 15 minutes every hour,” she advises. You’ll be more productive, and happier too.

How to Coach People Who Need to Lead But Don’t Want To



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Not every leader is comfortable in their position — especially new leaders. In fact, a 2015 survey of 1,000 employees conducted by Saba Software and Workplace Trends found that only 11 percent of respondents aspire to C-level positions.

So, what happens when an employee who doesn’t want to lead moves into a leadership position? If they never really embrace the role, peers, employees and the company as a whole feel the strain. But with the right coaching, new leaders can feel confident, comfortable and take a more active leadership style. The important caveat here is that the new leader is open to being coached. If the new leader is resistant coaching this can be a symptom of larger issues that exist.

Here are a few signs your leaders are reluctant to lead and how to steer them on the right track:

They’re afraid to speak up.

New leaders and those who are reluctant to lead may not feel comfortable with their new authority. They don’t speak up, give their input or express their opinions because they’re afraid to be wrong or disagree with those higher up the leadership chain.

In addition, they may feel like even if they do give their input, it won’t matter. In fact, a 2015 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey of 600 U.S. employees found that only 37 percent were very satisfied with the consideration managers gave their ideas.

But to be effective leaders, these professionals need to step up and share their insights. These new leaders may need to be reminded that they were promoted because of their skills, insights, and abilities. As such their peers and other leaders are looking to them to share their insight. Let them know that their opinions and feedback improve individual employees, their team and the organization as a whole.

If it’s negative feedback they shy away from, emphasize that feedback is not criticism — it’s collaboration and an opportunity to learn and grow. It’s OK to disagree with a key executive or let an employee know what can they improve upon. This input is constructive and critical.

They shy away from recognition.

Employees thrust into leadership roles are typically afraid of the spotlight. They don’t want to take the credit for their team’s work as they don’t want to seem full of themselves. But recognition is crucial, and new leaders need to understand that their role is important.

In fact, 86 percent of employees said recognition made them feel prouder and happier at work and 70 percent said they have a greater emotional connection to their job, according to a survey of more than 800 U.S. employees conducted by Globoforce in November 2015.

When leaders downplay their work and importance, they won’t take charge and lead — they just fade into the background.

No matter how small a leadership position is, show employees how the role fits into the company as a whole. What impact do they make? How do they drive the company forward and help reach major goals?

When new leaders understand the importance of their role, they’ll be more comfortable receiving and giving recognition. Coaching can help them understand how and when to give credit to their team or specific team members as well as spotlight their personal contributions.

They focus on the negative.

New leaders get overwhelmed easily. They want to take on more responsibility but are afraid of failing in their new role. As they take on new duties, they may feel unable to complete their old ones. After all, 51 percent of employees surveyed by Wrike in 2015 say that prioritizing tasks stresses them out.

These professionals are worried about what they won’t get done, but experienced leaders understand that flexibility is key. Priorities change in an instant, and leaders need to change their plans and focus on what will get done. And when leaders aren’t really leading their team, the situation is worse. The leader tries to do everything themselves, instead of delegating.

Coach leaders to focus on solutions, not problems. When priorities change and work gets crazy, train them to be flexible and lead the team to success instead of feeling the stress of the situation. Give them the right coaching and resources so they feel ready to take control of added responsibilities and feel comfortable during stressful times.

The best 15 states to live in if you want to get rich

Hartford, Connecticut

Hartford, Connecticut

Where do the wealthiest Americans live?

According to a recent report by GOBankingRates, Connecticut is the nation’s richest state.

The personal finance site determined the most financially successful states by analyzing seven factors: the average income of the top 1%; the average income of the bottom 99%; poverty rates; the percentage of the population in the upper, middle, and lower classes; the number of millionaire households; the percentage of millionaire households; and the number of billionaires.

Of course, we can’t promise you’ll strike it rich if you move to — or live in — one of these states, but you’re bound to be surrounded by financially successful individuals.

Here, we’ve highlighted the top 15 states, according to GOBankingRates. Read on to see if yours made the cut.

15. Colorado

Average income of top 1%: $1.1 million

Population in upper class: 22%

Percentage of millionaire households: 5.5%

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Colorado Springs, Colorado

14. Hawaii

Average income of top 1%: $690,073

Population in upper class: 17%

Percentage of millionaire households: 7.2%
Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii M Swiet Productions | Getty Images
Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii

13. New York

Average income of top 1%: $2 million

Population in upper class: 19%

Percentage of millionaire households: 5.8%
New York City Getty Images

Getty Images

Getty Images

12. Minnesota

Average income of top 1%: $1.04 million

Population in upper class: 24%

Percentage of millionaire households: 5.6%
St. Paul, Minnesota Culbertson | Getty Images
St. Paul, Minnesota

St. Paul, Minnesota

St. Paul, Minnesota

11. Wyoming

Average income of top 1%: $2.12 million

Population in upper class: 21%

Percentage of millionaire households: 5.2%
Jackson Hole, Wyoming Price Chambers | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

10. Virginia

Average income of top 1%: $987,607

Population in upper class: 26%

Percentage of millionaire households: 6.6%
Richmond, Virginia Richard Cummins | Getty Images
Richmond, Virginia

Richmond, Virginia

Richmond, Virginia


9. North Dakota

Average income of top 1%: $1.28 million

Population in upper class: 25%

Percentage of millionaire households: 4.6%
Fargo, North Dakota Daniel Barry | Getty Images
Fargo, North Dakota

Fargo, North Dakota

Fargo, North Dakota

8. Alaska

Average income of top 1%: $833,117

Population in upper class: 25%

Percentage of millionaire households: 6.8%
Ketchikan Harbour in Alaska Loop Images | UIG | Getty Images
Ketchikan Harbour in Alaska

Ketchikan Harbour in Alaska

Ketchikan Harbour in Alaska

7. California

Average income of top 1%: $1.41 million

Population in upper class: 19%

Percentage of millionaire households: 6.0%
Los Angeles David Sucsy | Getty Images
Los Angeles

Los Angeles

Los Angeles

6. Washington, DC

Average income of top 1%: $1.53 million

Population in upper class: 34%

Percentage of millionaire households: 6.1%
Washington, D.C. Allen Baxter | Getty Images
Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C

Washington, D.C

5. New Hampshire

Average income of top 1%: $1.01 million

Population in upper class: 23%

Percentage of millionaire households: 6.50%
Portsmouth, New Hampshire Loop Images | UIG | Getty Images
Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

4. Massachusetts

Average income of top 1%: $1.69 million

Population in upper class: 28%

Percentage of millionaire households: 6.7%
Paul Revere in Boston, Massachusetts Paul Giamou | Getty Images
Paul Revere in Boston, Massachusetts

Paul Revere in Boston, Massachusetts

Paul Revere in Boston, Massachusetts

3. New Jersey

Average income of top 1%: $1.45 million

Population in upper class: 25%

Percentage of millionaire households: 7.5%
Jersey City, New Jersey Getty Images
Jersey City, New Jersey

Jersey City, New Jersey

Jersey City, New Jersey

2. Maryland

Average income of top 1%: $1.02 million

Population in upper class: 26%

Percentage of millionaire households: 7.7%
Downtown Baltimore, Maryland Greg Pease | Getty Images
Downtown Baltimore, Maryland

Downtown Baltimore, Maryland

Downtown Baltimore, Maryland

1. Connecticut

Average income of top 1%: $2.4 million

Population in upper class: 27%

Percentage of millionaire households: 7.3%

Hartford, Connecticut

Hartford, Connecticut

19 Tiny Habits That Lead To Huge Results

Success starts with the little things.

CREDIT: Getty Images

CREDIT: Getty Images

Success doesn’t happen in an instant. It happens through the progression of lots of little successes, strung together over time.

If you want to build something big, if you have a vision, a dream, or even just a clearly defined end goal, then the question is not how you can make that happen right now, or tomorrow. The question is: “What habits can I put into place that will allow that end goal to manifest itself?”

1. Do what you say you’re going to do. Step 1 with anything: Less talk, more action.

2. Journal once per day. Even if it’s just a paragraph, or three sentences, or jeez, one sentence, but do a quick check-in to see where you’re at and write it down. Long term, this will keep you grounded and sane. It all starts with acknowledgement.

3. Never lie. As my grandma used to say, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!”

4. Always make time for your closest friends. A buddy of mine manages a few very, very successful music artists, and he told me once, “I’ve seen it: You could have all the money in the world, but if you traded your friends to get there, you won’t be happy.”

5. Practice your craft. What may just be a hobby now could one day be something very special. If you love it, practice it. Don’t be that 40 year old guy that says to every young person he or she meets, “I used to want to be a guitar player!” Well why aren’t you still playing then!

6. Go to the gym. Or the yoga studio. Or run up and down the block. Whatever. Just be physically active. There’s nothing sexy about not being able to walk up a flight of stairs.

7. Surround yourself with people who represent what you ultimately want to become. This is a habit and a choice. If you aren’t happy with where you’re at or where you’re going, take a hard look at the people around you. Chances are, they’re in a similar boat, and as long as you stay in that situation, neither of you are moving any time soon.

8. Read. Seriously. If the only reading you do is then you need to hit up Amazon and buy a Kindle.

9. Don’t just set goals–track them. Do you know what once of the most revealing things I’ve ever done for myself was? I made a project plan for my life. Yes. A project plan. And all the things I wanted to get done in the next 3 months, I planned them out like I would a marketing campaign (I’m not joking). But guess what? It showed me everything I needed to know, when things were due, and how much time I needed to spend on them in order to get them accomplished. Do this more often, and you’ll be amazed at how much you over-promise and under-deliver–and what needs to happen for you to fix that habit immediately.

10. Never eat alone. A great book, and an even better motto to live by. Make use of your lunches and dinners by sharing in conversation with people you can connect with, collaborate with, and learn from.

11. Dress for success. It’s cliché but true–you have more confidence when you feel good about the way you’re presenting yourself. Make it a habit to portray your best self.

12. Meditate & Reflect. In tandem with the journaling habit here, you need to make time to reflect. You can’t always be in go go go mode. Without reflection, you will not be able to properly integrate the lessons you’ve learning along the way.

13. Teach others. Even before you feel like you’re an “expert,” take the knowledge you’ve acquired and pass it along. Not only is it good for humanity, but you will learn whatever it is you’re teaching even more when you have to explain it to someone else.

14. Play. When was the last time you went to the beach? When was the last time you did something crazy, like parasailing? When was the last time you wrote a song on your ukulele? Take care of that inner child of yours and make time to play.

15. Eat healthy. What you eat is a habit. You’re going to set a habit and then repeat that habit daily for a very, very long time. Make that habit healthy for you and take care of you, not drag you down.

16. Check in with people of different ages. Make sure that you keep in touch with those both older and younger than you. They provide a much needed perspective.

17. See art. Nobody gets inspired sitting at a desk all day. Go to museums. Go watch movies. Go listen to live music. Go watch a mime on the street, or an acappella trio in the train station. Go out and get inspired!

18. Wake up when you say you’re going to wake up. When you set that alarm the night before, you’re promising to yourself you’re going to get up at that time. Keep that promise.

19. Read your Chief Aim aloud. Stealing from Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill here, write down whatever it is you want to build for yourself in life. And then every morning and every night, read that aloud. Out loud. Hear it in your voice and in your heart. Welcome it into the world.

What’s The Hardest Part About Being A Writer? This 1 Thing And 1 Thing Only

Who can relate?

CREDIT: Getty Images

CREDIT: Getty Images

Writer’s block.

The phrase has become a cultural symbol–meaning everything from feeling uninspired, to being creatively distraught and incapable of every producing anything worthwhile ever again.

It’s dramatic, to say the least.

But that’s about as far as the conversation typically goes. People proclaim, almost with great pride, “I have writer’s block! I can’t write!” as if this is a symbol of their hard work leading up to this point–their creative well running dry from producing too much brilliance.

Writing is an extremely under-appreciated and over-simplified art. The masses tend to think that writing is really just an extension of “knowing English” (or your native tongue), and that if you can speak, you can write.

While that’s great in theory, that’s like saying anyone with two eyes could be a designer.

The art of writing–and it’s subsequent conflict when the words don’t appear as they should–tends to get reduced down to 1 single component: You either have “writer’s block” or you don’t.

But where does the writer’s block come from?

Why did this imaginary, invisible blockade appear in the first place?

The reason why is as ethereal as the question itself: we all know, in general, where the “writer’s block” comes from–we just don’t want to admit it.

The hardest part about being a writer is the fact that everyone in your life thinks whatever you’re writing is about them.

That’s the truth–and as the artist, it’s a hard pill to swallow.

If you were a musician, and you composed a dark and haunting song in a minor key and played it for your closest friends, I’d wager their first thoughts would not be, “Oh, this in a minor key, and we had a fight last week, and I bet this song is about awful of a person I am!”

But if you’re a writer. Oh my, be prepared–before you’ve even finished the story, the essay, the paragraph even, you can see it in their eyes that they are full of wonder. It’s about them, isn’t it. Yes! It is! It has to be! There’s no way it’s not!

Right out the gate, no matter how much of a buffer you try to create, what with the descriptions and the adjectives and the setting, even still, the parallel will be drawn, and somehow, some way, whatever you’ve written will be, in the minds of each and every audience member, somehow about them.

Writing is unique in that these sorts of projects do not find their way into other art forms–the closest being music, but because of the lyrics–yes, the lyrics are about them!

Lyrics are writing.

When this imaginary “writer’s block” comes up, it’s worth questioning who you are imagining reading your work. Being creatively blocked is not your natural state. Something is trigger you from entering that state of flow where the words just fall onto the paper. So what is it? Who is reading your work? Whose judgment are you preemptively anticipating? Who do you fear will project themselves onto you and your writing, so much so that you can’t even get yourself to write it in the first place?

Like I said, the hardest part about being a writer is the fact that everyone in your life thinks whatever you’re writing is about them.

Sometimes, it is. Of course it is.

But most of the time, it’s not.

And unless your goal is to be a”writer” that never actually “writes anything,” you need to get over that. Fast.

Write from the heart, and let the opinions fall where they may.

How to Immediately Stop Being Average (at Anything)

It’s pretty simple when you think about it.

CREDIT Getty Images

CREDIT Getty Images

People think that being “average” at something is inherent. You’re either born “great” or you’re born average. And worse, once you become average, then you can no longer improve. They believe it’s set in stone and there’s nothing they can do about it. They are just, well, average.

Consider this…

The next time you walk into the office, and that little voice in your head says, “Oh yeah, I said I was going to spend my first 15 minutes organizing my calendar instead of browsing Facebook,” listen to that voice and do it.

And when you walk into your first meeting, and that little voice says, “Oh yeah, I said I wanted to become a better listener,” make it a point to listen to what others have to say before speaking up with your own opinions.

And when you get started on whatever big project you’re facing that day, and that little voice in your head says, “Oh yeah, I promised myself I would work on not being so distracted,” turn off all distractions and put yourself in a position to succeed.

When you leave the office and you think about what to have for dinner, and that little voice in your head says, “Well, I really want McDonald’s, but I said I was going to start eating healthier,” go to the grocery store and buy some chicken and vegetables to cook up instead.

And as you’re eating dinner, and that little voice in your head says, “I know I really should work on my startup idea,” instead of pouring yourself another glass of wine and turning on Netflix, make some tea and get to work.

And as you start to get ready for bed, and that little voice in your head says, “I said I wanted to get fit, but I couldn’t make it to the gym today,” then, even if you’re exhausted, listen to that voice and do four sets of pushups in the middle of your apartment.

When you hop in the shower, and that little voice in your head says, “I really should scrub behind my ears; I never scrub behind my ears,” listen to that voice and just scrub behind your ears, jeez.

As you fall into bed and reflect back on your day, you will see that “greatness” is not a destination. It is not a title. It is not some mountain peak you climb and then one day “attain.”

Greatness is a series of daily habits. It is a choice.

Which means if you want to stop being average, all you have to do is choose, in each and every moment, to listen to that little voice inside of you reminding you to be great.

15 Signs You’re Emotionally Intelligent (Without Even Realizing It)

How many of these describe you?
It’s all too easy to lose control of our emotions.

That’s why emotional intelligence (known as EI or EQ) is so important. The ability to identify emotions (in yourself and others), to understand their powerful effect, and to use that information to guide thinking and behavior, can greatly increase the chances of successfully achieving your goals.

Like any ability, the skills of emotional intelligence are sharpened with practice. But might you already possess a high EQ, without even knowing it?

Take a look at the following statements, and see if they describe your own behavior and habits:

1. You think about feelings. A lot.
EI begins with reflection. You ask questions like, “Why am I feeling this way?” and “What caused me (or someone else) to say or do that?”

By identifying emotions and reactions, you’ve become more mindful and use that information to your advantage.

2. You ask others for perspective.
You understand that others see you much differently than you see yourself. It’s not about right or wrong, rather, understanding how perceptions differ.

3. You say thank you.
It’s surprising how widespread the lack of common courtesy is nowadays.

But not from you. You recognize the power of those two small words to change someone’s day, and to strengthen relationships–and that’s why you always take a few extra moments to express appreciation.

4. You know when to pause.
“The pause” is as simple as taking a moment to stop and think before you act or speak. (Easy in theory, difficult in practice.)

Of course, nobody’s perfect. But the pause has prevented embarrassment on many occasions, made you a better worker, and even saved your relationships.

5. You explore the “why.”
Instead of labeling people, you realize there’s reasons behind everyone’s behavior.

By developing qualities like empathy and compassion, you work to see a situation through another person’s eyes. You ask questions like, “Why does this person feel this way?” and “What’s going on behind the scenes?”

By doing this, you’re able to relate to almost anyone.

6. You’re open to criticism.
Nobody enjoys receiving negative feedback, including you.

But you know well that much criticism contains at least some element of truth, even when it’s not delivered in an ideal manner. Additionally, criticism teaches you much about how others think.

So, you keep your emotions in check and learn as much as you can.

7. You constantly consider how others will react.
From the moment you meet a person, you’re analyzing them. You just can’t help it.

But all of that observation leads to benefits: You realize that everything you say and do potentially affects others. And that means focusing not just on what you say, but how you say it.

8. You apologize.
You know that “I’m sorry” can be the two most difficult words to say in the English language. But you also recognize that they are extremely powerful.

By acknowledging your mistakes and apologizing when appropriate, you develop qualities like humility and authenticity, and naturally draw others to you.

9. You forgive.
While understanding that nobody’s perfect, you’ve learned that refusing to forgive is like leaving a knife in a wound–you never have the chance to heal.

Instead of hanging on to resentment while the offending party moves on with his or her life, you forgive–giving you the chance to move on, too.

10. You have an expansive emotional vocabulary.
By learning to express your feelings, you increase your ability to understand them. When you’re sad, you go deeper in trying to determine why: Am I disappointed? Frustrated? Hurt?

By expanding your active “emotional vocabulary,” you gain insight and learn to take action when necessary.

11. You praise sincerely and specifically.
By consistently looking for the good in others, and then specifically telling them what you appreciate, you inspire them. They feel good about working with you, and are motivated to give their best.

12. You work on controlling your thoughts.
It’s been said: “You can’t stop a bird from landing on your head. But you can keep it from building a nest.”

When you experience a negative situation, you may not have control over your natural, emotional response. But you are in control in what happens next: You choose where to focus your thoughts.

Instead of dwelling on those feelings and thinking about how unfair the situation is, you turn it into a positive–and develop a plan to move forward.

13. You don’t freeze people in time.
Judging others too quickly, without taking context and extenuating circumstances into account, is a very destructive habit.

In contrast, you’re aware that everyone has a bad day, or even a bad year. By refusing to label others, your opinion of them remains fluid, and you get the most of your relationships.

14. You analyze your weaknesses.
It takes self-reflection, insight, and courage to identify weaknesses. But you won’t get better unless you work on them.

By analyzing situations in which you’ve lost control of your emotions, you develop your strategy for encountering those moments the next time.

15. You know that emotions can be used against you.
Just like any ability, emotional intelligence can be used both ethically and unethically. When others increase their skills, they could use that power for manipulative influence.

And that’s exactly why you should sharpen your own emotional intelligence–to protect yourself when they do.

Source : 15 Signs You’re Emotionally Intelligent (Without Even Realizing It)