Harvard Business Review: Nine Things Successful People Do Differently

In an article for the Harvard Business Review, Heidi Grant Halvorson writes:

Why have you been so successful in reaching some of your goals, but not others? If you aren’t sure, you are far from alone in your confusion. It turns out that even brilliant, highly accomplished people are pretty lousy when it comes to understanding why they succeed or fail. The intuitive answer โ€” that you are born predisposed to certain talents and lacking in others โ€” is really just one small piece of the puzzle. In fact, decades of research on achievement suggests that successful people reach their goals not simply because of who they are, but more often because of what they do.

The details of each item can be found here: Harvard Business Review.ย  I didn’t exerpt the entire article, because I don’t copy and paste people’s work. The nine items listed are as follows:

1. Get specific

My response: I’ve assumed that goals I’ve accomplished didn’t require specificity. Yet, now that I think of it, when I was specific (even down to the date of achievement) I got what I wanted. So I will go back to my list(s) and include details.

2. Seize the moment to act on your goals

My response: That is so correct. The years can fly by, especially in my case, when one doesn’t jump on the ball. Even acting on it a few minutes a day gets the goal(s) accomplished.

3. Know exactly how far you have left to go

My response: This is a great project management point: Where am I in achieving this goal(s)?

4. Be a realistic optimistic

My response: So I cannot be a billionaire and master of all domains? Dang. I’ll take off a few zeroes, that should do the trick. ๐Ÿ™‚

5. Focus on getting better, rather than being good

My response: I don’t see myself as a perfectionist. Yet I do get into that mindset of “it has to be much much better than this” and as a result nothing will get started or finished.

6. Have grit

My response: I’m a wimp sometimes. Gotta work on that. ๐Ÿ™‚

7. Build your willpower muscle

My response: Still wimpy.

8. Don’t tempt fate

My response: No! But I’m different! I’m not like everyone else. I’m special! The rules of reality don’t apply to me. ๐Ÿ™‚

9. Focus on what you will do, not what you won’t do

My response: That is perfect. I think a lot of us spend too much time and mental energy on what (or who) we don’t like. I think the hardest thing to do is keep your mind engaged on the positive. Focusing too much on the negative drains your energy, drains your spirit, and then nothing gets done.

Harvard Business Review: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/02/nine_things_successful_people.html

Spring Cleaning

It’s coming! Time to clean out the cobwebs from our mental and emotional closets! ๐Ÿ™‚


My Inner Nerd Gets Excited: IBM’s Watson Wins Jeopardy

If you are not into computers, this topic might put you to sleep. ๐Ÿ™‚

From Valentine’s Day, Monday February 14, until Wednesday February 16, 2011, two former Jeopardy Champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter battled a computer. And not just any computer. It was a machine hundreds of people from IBM and several prestigious colleges across the country worked on for over four years in order to create a Jeopardy Champion.

In hindsight, it sounds almost ridiculous that a massive corporation listed on the NYSE (as it’s still known of as for now) would devote over $30 million for a chance to have its software, hardware, staff and reputation devoted to one challenge: beat humans on a televised game show.

It seemed simple, Watson was going to perform the same feat as Google did for millions, right? You enter a query and it’ll return the first hit. However, the difference is massive. Watson never accesses the internet. It doesn’t phone home. It is a standalone machine. All the data it needs is stored in its database. Practically the entire Library of Congress is stored inside its hardware. That is millions of books. Millions and millions of words. Google finds data based on page ranking, web sites with the most links which determines popularity, and other unknown algorithms.

Plus, Google doesn’t respond with the nice voice that Watson has.

Yeah, that’s one of the key differences with this machine: Watson speaks! He, er, it asks for the next clue when its turn is up! It even says, Please!

Watching the show for the three days it aired, all I thought of was inquisitive HAL from the movie 2001, the Cyborg from the first Terminator movie (that scared the daylights out of me), the fussy sounding, talking car named Kitt from the television show Nightrider, and the informative, perfunctory computer from Star Trek (the original) and Star Trek: TNG.

Watson was able to understand the near intuitive based quirk of a Jeopardy “answer” in order to submit a “question”. It understands natural (spoken) language and the nature of a riddle. I read that the machine used to take two hours to process a question eventually getting down to under three seconds, because it can learn.

After Watson calculated an answer, he ranked it, indicating a level of self-confidence. If it was over a threshold like 50%, Watson pressed the buzzer. The machine also wagered for the last round – the final Jeopardy question.

It received all questions via text, but in the future Watson will be able to listen and probably see. That’s creepy.

I celebrate the technological advance, but I’m also freaked out by it.

I wasn’t surprised to see HAL, er, Watson win. He spanked both men with $77147, much higher than the combined winnings of $24,000 (Jennings) and $21,600 (Ruttner). However, no one went home empty handed. Watson received $1 million, all of which was donated to charity. The two men split their winnings with charity 50-50: Jennings won $300,000, and Rutter won $200,000. I liked the joke Ken Jennings offered during the final question, “I, for one, welcome our computer overlords.”

I don’t know if I do. However, I do appreciate this technological breakthrough in computing power. In a few years, we may all have our own personal Watson on our smart phones, smart pads, and whatever other technological tools come our way. The danger and the reward in this new technology, is that the more it helps us think, solve problems and delves deeper into complex situations – the less human beings and our intuitions are required.

With one hand technology giveth, and with the other it taketh.

I suppose the only way to stay ahead is to adapt, find the areas where we can offer assistance, be innovative, and continue to do things in areas where technology cannot take our place: creativity and ingenuity. Well, at least for now.

Let’s hope they keep Watson from becoming self-aware, emotional … and away from the military. Especially predator drones. ๐Ÿ™‚

Geek Notes: I found out it was mostly programmed in Java and C++. Wow. I had Java and a bit of C++ in school. Those aren’t easy languages to understand. Maybe I’ll take another shot at Java one day.

Update: Video Clip – How Watson Works by Dr. Ferrucci of IBM. Mentions the compter from Star Trek: TNG, which he wanted to emulate.


Our Cinderella Has Blossomed: Monae Gives Us An Update

I love good news. I love to hear when things are looking up for young black women. Monae is a contributorย  from an older thread, For Black Women: Why White Men are a Better Choice. She asked for help and received a delightful outpouring of advice.

Here’s an update from our young lady:

OMG, it’s been so long since I’ve been back here, I’m gonna bring you all up to date RIGHT NOW!

The last time I was here in June last year I wrote this,


Hi everyone!

Just wanted to let you know what happened. I got a laptop because my manager who is a really nice geeky white guy just gave me his laptop when he got a new one! Itโ€™s not even 2 years old and itโ€™s nice! And I interviewed at a couple of places as a temp office employee which lots of times leads to a permanent positon so if that happens I will move out immediately.

Thank you for all of your advice.

Nothing on the dating scene yet. Thanks everybody!


I got a job as a sales assistant as a temp, which was my third temp job and they just hired me as permanent on Jan 2. I’m going to go for the sales coordinator job next which is not that much better than what I’m doing now, but its a step up and I can do it so easy. I’ve been looking at apartments on the Metro line cause I still don’t have a car and won’t have a car for a long time, so I have to take the train or the bus. Apartments are expensive so I’m thinking about sharing an apartment but the three I called are all white girls and I’m scared to room with a white girl. What if I do something that I don’t even know is bad and then she hates me? I mean I’d like to have a white girl for a roomate but I’s afraid it won’t work out. So I don’t know. I haven’t told my mother yet that I’m going to move out, and that is till gonna be a problem, a big problem.

Here’s the biggest news of all though. The second temp job I worked at a white boy asked me on a date when we all went out together after work! We’re still together! He’s my boyfriend now! He’s really nice, he gave me a beautiful coat, boots and a hat for Christmas cause he saw me shivering all the time, and we go to the movies and out to dinner. I haven’t taken him to my neighborhood yet and my mother doesn’t know that I’m dating a white boy but I’ve met his mother and she’s nice. And now I know why people get so crazy about sex but don’t worry he always has protection but wow.

Things are turning around for me but I’m scared cause my mom will just be so mad when she finds out I’m going to move out AND I’m dating a devil white boy. I have to tell her soon.

Thats how it is and thank you again for encouraging me. I feel like I’m on my way up now and all I needed was a chance and I don’t plan on going back down again. My boyfriend says I could do college so easy and I think that’s what I’m going to do next.

{{Big hug.}} Congratulations on your progress and finding a delightful young man, Monae. ๐Ÿ˜€

Please be very very careful with regards to sex. Remember your own emotional and physical protection as well. That’s first and foremost.

As for finding an apartment: it’ll be your hard-earned money contributing to the rent. You are not subordinate or inferior to your potential roommate. Be polite, but keep in mind that she’s your equal, not your judge and jury. ๐Ÿ™‚

Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your future roommate, share what troubles you, and let her tell you what would trouble her. Having a clear line of communication is best. This is justย  another woman you are living with, and you two may learn something from each other. As long as she’s an open minded respectful person, I don’t think there would be a problem.

Ladies, if you have something to add…. ๐Ÿ˜€