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Level Up Your Knowledge with These 6 Excellent Websites

Level Up Your Knowledge with These 6 Excellent Websites

Building knowledge: For some people it is a passing interest, for others it is a hobby, while for some it is an obsession. Regardless of where you stand on the spectrum, chances are that from time-to-time you look to learn something new. Luckily, for all of us there are a series of websites that can help us learn a thing or two about… well, anything. You are likely find an answer at one of these websites no matter what your interest or need is.

TED

If you are not just looking for information, but also inspiration, then TED.com is the website that will fulfill your needs. The Technology, Education, and Design oratory forums that take place in California are a collecting of inspiring and innovative minds. In fields ranging from architecture, dance, science, history, sociology, to philosophy and beyond, TED invites all great minds to present their concepts in 20-minute presentations.

It is hard to find a single TED oration that is not filled with inspiring concepts, motivating ideas, and worthwhile tidbits of information. As a whole, TED is a great way to both learn and be inspired to learn more. That is more, with TED gaining popularity, there is only more and more information being presented to feed the curious mind.

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If you’re keen to learn more Finance-related information, do check out post on “16 Great Personal Finance Resources & Blogs”.

Answerbag.com

While a rather informal website, Answerbag.com provides a great service to anyone who “just can’t remember how buoyancy works,” or “Am not sure who was the best baseball player of the 1970s.” Answerbag has a very simple concept and the right answer will be found sooner or later.

It is a committee source website, which allows anyone to answer any question. Think of it as a worldwide way of just shouting out a random question to a group of friends. The best part is that when a proper answer comes across, it is likely multiple people will verify that it is the case.

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One of the best parts of Answerbag.com is that since it is informal, you do not have to be embarrassed if your question is rather random or silly. The thousands of individuals who frequent Answerbag likely have either an answer, or some useful insight.

How Stuff Works

For those who are scientifically or design-oriented minds, HowSTuffWorks.com is a great site to answer the fundamental questions. You can simply type in your inquiry on the search page, and more than likely there will be a like, or similar, question that has already been answered. You can also browse through a great range of topics and areas of study. For the inquisitive mind, this site is a treasure-trove of interesting and practical facts.

    Khan Academy

    For those with a thirst for learning, who just found the lectures and dedication to be too much work, KhanAcademy.org has found the answer. Fit into small YouTube-sized videos are now information that is ever-growing, presented by the founder Mr. Kahn. You can learn about astronomy, how RNA turns to DNA, or learn about art history.

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    The library of the Khan Academy is growing each week. With the growing of the site, so to can your knowledge grow.  Of course, these “classes” should not take the place of actual education, but they are great for studying for tests. There are also fantastic brainteasers, which test the mind and general knowledge.

    Project Gutenberg

    For those who have a love of reading, Gutenberg.org is a true Godsend. With over 38,000 books on tap, each is fully free and available for anyone to read at any time. With the advent of Kindles and IPads, which allow for comfortable digital reading, there has never been a better time to have the literary bug.

    There truly is a book for any genre and style of writing one could hope for. Not only can one read great classics, but there are thousands upon thousands of lesser-known books spanning across literary time. This adds an element of true excitement for the bibliophile.

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    Brain Pickings

    If you are feeling like rolling the dice on what it is you might learn, then brainpickings.com is the site for you. Made by an MIT fellow, BrainPickings is a hodgepodge of art, history, science, anthropology, and so on. While the site itself may be a bit off-putting due to its rather highbrow nature, the site truly carries quite a punch when it comes to knowledge.

    Articles like “7 Must-Read Books on Emotions and the Brain” and “Mapping European Stereotypes” will entertain as well as inform. Soon, one will forget all about the “highbrowness” of the site and be thankful such well-informed individuals are also capable of quality writing.

    Photo credit: Idea via Shutterstock

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    Last Updated on March 15, 2019

    How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

    How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

    When I began managing people 15 years ago, I thought having a fancy title was synonymous with influence. Over time, I learned that power is conferred based on likeability, authenticity, courage, relationships and consistent behavior. When leaders cultivate these attributes, they earn power, which really means influence.

    Understanding influence is essential to professional growth, and companies rise and fall based on the quality of their leadership.

    In this article, we will look into the essentials of effective leadership and how to be a leader who is inspiring and influential.

    What Makes a Leader Fail?

    A host of factors influence a leader’s ability to succeed. To the extent that leaders fail to outline a compelling vision and strategy, they risk losing the trust and confidence of their teams. Employees want to know where a company is going and the strategy for how they will get there. Having this information enables employees to feel safe, and it allows them to see mistakes as part of the learning journey versus as fatal occurrences.

    If employees and customers do not believe a company’s leadership is authentic and inspiring, they may disengage, or they may be less inclined to offer constructive criticism that can help a company innovate or help a leader improve.

    And it is not just the leadership at the top that matters. Middle managers play a distinct role in guiding teams. Depending on the company’s size, employees may have more access to mid-level managers than they do members of the C-suite, meaning their supervisors and managers have greater influence on the employee and the customer experience.

    What Is Effective Leadership?

    Effective leadership is inspiring, and it is influential. Cultivating inspiring and influential leaders requires building relationships across the company.

    Leaders must be connected to both the teams they lead as well as to their own colleagues and managers. This is key as titles do not make a person a leader, nor do they automatically confer influence. These are earned through trusting relationships. This explains why some leaders can get more out of their teams than others and why some leaders experience soaring profits and engagement while others sizzle out.

    Eric Garton said in an April 25, 2017, Harvard Business Review article:[1]

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    “… inspiring leaders are those who use their unique combination of strengths to motivate individuals and teams to take on bold missions – and hold them accountable for results. And they unlock higher performance through empowerment, not command and control.”

    How to Be an Inspiring and Influential Leader

    To be an inspiring and influential leader requires:

    1. Courage

    The late poet Maya Angelou once said,

    “Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”

    Courage is required in the workplace when implementing new strategies, especially when they go against professional norms.

    For instance, I heard Lisa TerKeurst, bestselling author and founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries, explain her decision to move away from her company’s magazine. While the organization had long had a magazine, she saw a future where it didn’t exist.

    In order to make the switch, she risked angering her team members and customers. She took a chance, and what started out as a monthly newsletter, has grown into a multi-dimensional organization boasting half a million followers. Had Lisa not found the courage to change the direction of her organization, they undoubtedly would not have been able to experience such exponential growth.

    It also takes courage to give and receive feedback. When leaders see employees who are not living into the company’s mission or who are engaging in behavior that may undermine their long-term success, one must risk temporary angst and speak candidly with the colleague in question.

    Similarly, it takes courage to hear constructive criticism and try to change. In business, as in life, courage is necessary for being an inspiring and influential leader.

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    2. A Commitment to Face Your Internal Demons.

    If you feel great about yourself, enter a leadership position. You are likely to be triggered in ways you didn’t think possible. You are also likely to receive feedback that may leave you second-guessing yourself and your leadership skills.

    The truth about leading others is that you get to a point where you realize that it is difficult to take people to places where you yourself haven’t gone.

    To be an influential and inspiring leader, you have to face your own demons and vow to continually improve. Influential leaders take their personal evolution serious, and they invest in coaching, therapy and mindfulness to ensure that their personal struggles do not overshadow their professional development.

    3. A Willingness to Accept Feedback

    Inspiring and influential leaders are not afraid to accept feedback. In fact, they actively solicit it. They understand that everyone in their life has a lesson to teach them, and they are willing to accept it.

    Inspirational leaders understand that feedback is neither good nor bad but rather an offering that is critical to growth. Even when it hurts or is an affront to the ego, influential leaders understand that feedback is critical to their ability to lead.

    4. Likability

    Some people will argue that leaders need not worry about being liked but should instead focus on being respected. I disagree. Both are important.

    When team members like their boss and believe their boss likes them, they are more likely to go the extra mile to fulfill departmental or organizational goals. Likable leaders are moved to the front of the line when it comes to being influential.

    Relatedly, when colleagues feel management dislikes them, they experience internal stress and can spend unnecessary time focusing on the source of their manager’s discontent versus the work they have been hired to do.

    So, likability is important for both the leader and the people she leads.

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    5. Vulnerability

    Vulnerability is critical for being an inspiring leader. People want the truth. They admire leaders who can occasionally demonstrate vulnerability. It promotes deeper relationships and inspires trust.

    When leaders can showcase vulnerability appropriately, they destroy the illusion that one must be perfect to be a leader. They also demonstrate that vulnerability is not a dirty word; they too can be vulnerable and ask for a helping hand when necessary.

    6. Authenticity

    Authenticity is about living up to one’s stated values in public and behind closed doors.

    Influential leaders are authentic. They set to live out their values and use those values to guide their decisions. The interesting thing about leadership is that people are not looking for perfect leaders. They are, in part, looking for leaders who are authentic.

    7. A True Understanding of Inspiration

    Effective leaders are inspirational. They understand the power of words and deeds and use both strategically.

    Inspiring leaders appropriately use stories and narratives to enable the teams around them to see common situations in an entirely new light.

    Inspirational leaders also showcase grit and triumph while convincing the people around them that success and victory are attainable.

    Finally, inspiring leaders encourage the teams they lead to tap into their own genius. They convince others that genius is not reserved for a select few but that most people have it in them.

    As explained in the article True Leadership: What Separates a Leader from a Boss:

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    “A leader creates visions and motivates team members to work together towards the same goal.”

    8. An Ability to See the Humanity in Others

    Inspiring and influential leaders see the humanity in others. Rather than treating their teams as mere tools to accomplish organizational goals, they believe the people around them are unique beings with inherent value.

    This means knowing when to pause to address personal challenges and dispelling with the myth that the personal is separate from the professional.

    9. A Passion for Continual Learning

    Inspiring and influential leaders are committed to continual learning. They invest in their own development and take responsibility for their professional growth.

    These leaders understand that like a college campus, the workplace is a laboratory for learning. They believe that they can learn from multiple generations in the workplace as well as from people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

    Influential leaders proactively seek out opportunities for learning.

    The Bottom Line

    No one said leadership was easy, but it is also a joy. Influencing others to action and positively impacting the lives of others is a reward unto itself.

    Since leadership abounds, there is an abundance of resources to help you grow into the type of leader who inspires and influences others.

    More Resources About Effective Leadership

    Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Harvard Business Review: How to Be an Inspiring Leader

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