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What 10X Winners Do to Keep Their Chance of Winning High

What 10X Winners Do to Keep Their Chance of Winning High

In 1985, Coca-Cola made the decision to switch their formula, creating essentially a different-tasting soda product. They called it New Coke. The sweeter version was arrived at after 190,000 nationwide taste tests that cost roughly $4 million. The result was not positive. Coca-Cola drinkers didn’t like the new taste — 39% or so were extremely loyal to the original — and Pepsi, their biggest rival, was able to say “The other guy blinked.” (That means Coke had reformulated to taste more like Pepsi.) The entire experiment lasted all of 79 days before Coke switched back to the original formula, which it now was calling Coke Classic.

    Coca-Cola is a very successful company, but in this specific case, they failed badly. Why?

    Fire bullets, then cannonballs

    Coca-cola was confident about their new product so they invested a lot in it and threw this “cannonball” to the market. When customers didn’t like this new product, it means the cannonball missed the target. This brought Coca-cola a great loss at the end.

    If Coca-Cola tested their product carefully, launched the new product in only selective places, like shooting out bullets, they might not fail tremendously like that.

    This idea of “fire bullets, then cannonballs” was developed by Jim Collins in his book Great by Choice.

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    The basic principle is this: during trying times, oftentimes people look for big solutions and giant leaps. They want to show dramatic success to emerge from the failure. But that’s actually the wrong approach.

      Successful people take small steps before making big leaps.

      This isn’t just work. Think about dating, for example, you don’t often just go approach someone and ask to be super serious or get engaged. You try to start to talk to them first, then go on a few dates, and include them when you hang out with friends.

      Or think about when you’re buying a car. Very few people walk into a car dealership with no research done and spend $35,000. They visit several. They talk to friends. They do research.

      In this model, bullets are small steps to test the idea first. Cannonballs are giant leaps to make a great impact.

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      You deal with bullets first, taking small steps to test an idea first e.g. prototype, test, redesign, and test again; when you’ve got enough experience to know this idea works or is welcome by customers, shoot.

      The cannonballs stage is about scaling the idea up, publicly launching it in a wide scale, and making it loud.

      By carefully testing something before you try to make it big, you can prevent big idea failure.

      How to fire bullets

      A bullet is a small empirical test that should meet these criteria:

      • low cost
      • low risk, meaning minimum consequence
      • low distraction, meaning not having great impact on the overall

        A bullet might be a piece of research you find, or a small focus group. They come in different forms.

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        Once you’ve fired bullets and see some results, you enter into this process:

        • Assess: Did your bullets hit anything? What can you learn from the failed bullets to improve other bullets?
        • Consider: Can any of the successful bullets worth turning into a cannonball? Do you need to fire another bullet to make sure it?
        • Convert: When confirmed the success of bullets, concentrate resources and fire a cannonball
        • Terminate: The bullets that show no evidence of eventual success.

          The process of reviewing the bullets is more important than the bullets themselves. Let’s say a student gets an “A” on a test, but he cheated. The “A” might be seen as the cannonball-esque result, but the process is highly flawed and could encourage more negative behavior. Reviewing your process is crucial.

          Now let’s think of all this in terms of the New Coke marketing blunder. Before those 190,000 nationwide taste tests at a cost of $4 million, and before they launched their New Coke, they could have try out bullets e.g. market New Coke as freebies in small size and distributed to only a few shops, use different ways to test out its popularity in different regions first; before they muster all the effort to a big launch of it and had to return to use the original formula of Coke.

          Bullets first, and only then should you fire the big launch cannonball.

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            How can you do this in your life?

            Think of it along these lines:

            Step 1: Find your bullets

            • What small things can you do to test out your ideas?
            • Are they at low cost, low risk and low distraction?
            • Are there any existing ways that you can take reference of/learn from?

            Step 2: Fire your bullets and review them

            • Hit any target? if not, why?
            • What can you learn from the failed bullets?
            • For the successful bullets that hit the target, when is it time to use cannonball to hit the target?

            Again, this is about more than ideas at work. If you’re courting a relationship, bullets might involve learning about the person from their friends, setting up coffee, and sending small trinkets. The “cannonball” would be the relationship itself, but you can’t jump immediately to that. There needs to be some bullets fired first — and some might miss.

            You can learn more in Great by Choice, which argues that while we can’t predict the future, we can shape it through dedicated actions such as bullets before cannonballs.

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            Leon Ho

            Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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            Last Updated on January 13, 2020

            7 Simple Brain Training Habits to Boost Your Brain Power

            7 Simple Brain Training Habits to Boost Your Brain Power

            Throughout the ages, there have been many beliefs in various tricks to boosting brain power, yet when held up to scientific scrutiny, most of these beliefs don’t add up.

            When I was a child, for example, my mother told me if I ate fish it would make me more intelligent. Of course, there’s no scientific proof this is true.

            Today, there is a myriad of games you can download to your phone that claims to improve your brain’s cognitive skills. While we are still waiting for a conclusive scientific verdict on these, recent studies by neuroscientists at Western University in Ontario[1] and researchers from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia appear to contradict these claims.[2]

            So, how can we really boost our brain power? Well, it turns out there are a number of simple things you can do that will improve the function of your brain. Here are seven to get you started.

            1. Do Your Most Difficult Tasks in the Morning

            Our brains work at their best when they are fresh and energized after a good night’s sleep.

            If you have a task to do that requires a lot of thought and focus, the best time to do that task would be first thing in the morning when your brain is at its freshest.

            This is one of the reasons why checking email first thing the morning is not a good idea. You are wasting your brain’s best hours on a simple task that can be done when your brain is not at its freshest

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            Throughout the day, you will find the amount of time you can focus for will fall. Your decision-making abilities will also begin to weaken as the day progresses. This is called “decision fatigue” and that means the decisions you make later in the day will not be as good as the decisions you make earlier in the day.

            It’s far better to do your most difficult, creative tasks early taking advantage of your brain’s higher energy levels.

            Try to avoid meetings first thing in the morning and schedule work that needs higher creative energy and concentration.

            2. Get Enough Breaks

            Our brains are not very good at maintaining concentration and focus for much more than an hour. Once you go beyond a certain amount of time, doing focused work, you will find yourself making more and more mistakes. This is a sign your brain is tired and needs a break.

            Taking the right kind of break is important. Switching from working on a complex spreadsheet to checking your social media feeds is not going to give your brain the right kind of break. Instead, get up from your desk and head outside. If that is not possible, go to the nearest window and look outside.

            Your brain needs a break from the screen, not just the spreadsheet, so leave your phone behind so you are not tempted to look at it and just savour the view.

            3. Read Books, not Social Media Feeds

            There are no shortcuts to improved knowledge and you are certainly not going to improve your general knowledge about anything useful by reading social media feeds. Instead, make reading books a regular habit.

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            When you read good quality books, you increase your ability to use the knowledge you learn to solve problems as your brain will apply the knowledge you learned to existing situations.

            Learn about economic theory, history and psychology. All these topics have real practical applications for us all today.

            4. Exercise Regularly

            Humans did not evolve to be stationary animals. You need to move.

            Had our ancestors spent their days sat around, they would not have survived very long. To survive and find food, our ancestors had to keep moving. Our brains have evolved to function at their best when we are exercised.

            In his book, Brain Rules, Prof.John Medina explains when we exercise, we increase the amount of oxygen in our brains and this helps to sharpen our brain’s functions.

            In studies, when a previously sedentary group of people began a light exercise programme, their cognitive skills improve as well as reaction times and quantitive skills.

            This is why you are more likely to find the solution to a problem when you are walking somewhere or exercising rather than when you are sat at a desk in front of a screen.

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            5. Get Enough of the Right Food

            You probably have experienced the afternoon slump at some point in your life. This is when you feel tired and fatigued in the mid-afternoon. This is a result of the carbohydrates you ate at lunchtime, stimulating your body to produce insulin which then causes a drop in your blood sugar levels.

            When you go into an afternoon slump, concentrating for long periods become almost impossible and you just want to curl up and go to sleep.

            To prevent the afternoon slump, try to eat a protein-rich lunch such as a tuna or chicken salad without pasta, rice or bread. Keep some healthy snacks such as mixed nuts and dried bananas around your workspace and when you feel a little peckish, eat a few of these.

            Not only will you avoid the afternoon slump, but you will also improve your overall general health and feel a lot more energetic.

            6. Drink Enough Water

            Your brain is made up of about 70% water, so without enough water, your brain will not function at its best.

            When you are not drinking enough water, you will find your ability to concentrate, make decisions and stay alert will reduce. You will feel sleepy and lack energy. Your brain functions at its best when it is properly hydrated.

            The solution is to keep a large bottle of water at your work station and sip regularly from it throughout the day. This will increase the number of trips you need to make to the bathroom which is a good thing. It will keep you moving and taking regular breaks from your screen.

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            7. Don’t Deprive Yourself of Sleep

            You probably don’t need a long scientific study to convince you that if you are not getting enough sleep, you are not going to function at your best.

            You just need to go a couple of days without getting enough sleep and you feel your abilities reduce. Your decision-making skills become erratic, your energy levels drop and your ability to stay focused on your work diminishes.

            If you want to improve your brain’s ability to function, then start with getting enough sleep. The number of hours you need will depend on your own circadian rhythms, so find what works best for you.

            Six to eight hours is usually enough for most people so make sure you are hitting that number of hours per night as a minimum.

            The Bottom Line

            Improving our brain power is not difficult. All we need to do is develop a few simple habits such as exercising regularly, getting enough sleep and eating the right foods.

            These seven tips will go a long way to helping you to become more alert, able to focus longer and make decisions. All simple common sense tricks anyone can use.

            More to Boost Your Brain Power

            Featured photo credit: Nicole Wolf via unsplash.com

            Reference

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