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Reading to Learn My Complex Relationship With Reading
I’ve never been much of a reader, other than out of necessity. I read in school, of course, and when I first began working at MicroTech, I began my own school of sorts, diving into textbooks full of tech lingo and methods. I didn’t have much of a tech background when I joined the company, so I had to study my butt off. I was just trying to learn as much as I could. About 10 years ago, I realized I wasn’t learning much anymore. I’ve always enjoyed learning, but since I didn’t have anything I “had” to learn anymore, I hadn’t cracked open many books or dug into something new. As I was being reintroduced to books again, I realized that many of the members of my peer group, Entrepreneurs’ Organization, were also readers. That had a big influence on my choices. Like many business owners, I primarily read business books. I often receive a lot of grief at the MicroTech Systems offices for having “self- help” books tucked under my arm, but I don’t see these as self-help books per se. Instead, I see them as an opportunity to learn about myself or a new technique and grow as a person and leader. Sure, some books are better than others, but each one has been worth reading. My family and I were big into audiobooks for a while. In fact, when my middle daughter would play in volleyball tournaments across the neighboring states, we used audiobooks to pass the time. It’s embarrassing to admit now, but we’d be cruising along the interstate
with a teen novel playing through the speakers. She’d be into it. I was into it. We’d get to the hotel and have to turn the book on one of our phones to finish the chapter. We just had to know what happened! That was always a fun time. After that, I had an audiobook habit when I had a long commute from the MicroTech Systems office. I would usually listen to a whole chapter or two — or even the occasional podcast — before and after work. My shorter commute and lofty Amazon bills from buying audiobooks put a stop to that. But lately, I’ve felt less desire to open the business books I so casually read before. My wife pointed out that it wouldn’t hurt me to pick up something just for fun, but I still have that itch to learn. I’ve always been big on other people’s stories and learning about their lives. I read a biography about Benjamin Franklin once and learned that he was quite an astute businessman. That was amazing to me, and I loved reading that book. Maybe those are the kinds of books I need to read more often. I have a unique relationship with reading, to say the least. I enjoy reading for a purpose and getting something out of the books I choose. As long as I find the topic interesting and I can learn, I will keep turning the pages.
HEADS OR TAILS? The Scientifically Smarter Way to Make Business Decisions
You have two options in front of you. They both sound great, are backed by research, and could transform your business for the better, but you can only choose one. Which do you commit to? When you’re faced with two equally worthwhile options, science says the best way to make a decision is to flip a coin. When you flip a coin, you’re not really leaving the decision up to chance; you’re actually calling on your intuition to guide you. The practice is often regarded as unscientific, but there’s a lot of research to support making intuitive decisions. Friederike Fabritius and Hans W. Hagemann, authors of “The Leading Brain: Neuroscience Hacks to Work Smarter, Better, Happier,” explain how we develop that “gut feeling.” Intuitive decisions are driven by two structures in your brain: the basal ganglia and the insula. The basal ganglia are connected to movement and building habits. The insula, part of the cerebral cortex, becomes engaged when you experience pain, feel love, listen to music, or even enjoy a piece of chocolate. Neuroscientists believe the insula is responsible for self-awareness, particularly for recognizing changes in your body.
When you have to solve a problem, your basal ganglia start working on a solution, even if you aren’t consciously thinking about it. If you make a conscious decision that agrees with the subconscious solution of your basal ganglia, your brain gives off a subtle reward. The decision doesn’t have to be logical to feel right — that’s your gut feeling. However, if the conscious and subconscious parts of your brain don’t agree, your insula detects the discrepancy and registers a threat. It’s the “I have a bad feeling about this” response. Fabritius and Hagemann note that gut feelings “represent the most efficient use of your accumulated experience.” According to the authors, flipping a coin is the best way to really listen to your basal ganglia and insula. Your subconscious brain has already made a decision; flipping a coin helps you test your intuition about each option. If the coin lands on heads and you feel relieved, then heads is the right choice. However, if the coin lands on tails and you’re uncertain or want to flip again, then that’s your intuition saying the other option is the better choice. So, the next time you’re caught in a pickle, grab the nearest quarter and put your intuition to the test. See What Our Customers Are Saying “I think MicroTech is great! Each time we have any issues, they are on top of fixing it right away! I definitely recommend using their services!”
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ADecade of Pushing the Limits
HOW TECH CHANGED FROM 2010–2019
In its infancy, the new decade has a promising outlook for the future of technology. But before we can begin to predict what will change in 2020, we have to go back in time and look at how this past decade advanced the industry. Apple broke onto the scene early in the decade by introducing the iPad, a tablet designed to offer the same full functions of a laptop. Though critics warned the iPad was just an oversized iPhone, those warnings didn’t stop consumers. About 8.8 million of the 9.7 million tablets sold in 2010 were iPads.
and its connection to the cloud pushed this data across multiple platforms in 2015, changing the way companies analyze customer data. Small-business technology expanded even further in 2018, with the prevalence of chatbots. By 2016, personal and professional uses for artificial intelligence and reality (AI and AR) and virtual reality (VR) began to change the way we function in our homes, shop, and experience gaming and travel. New businesses that focused on these technologies were built, while Amazon and Google’s devices continue to dominate in many homes. Throughout this growth, privacy was a concern for many experts, especially in 2017, when data and AI prompted heated debates about how much technology is too much technology. As we closed out 2019, these questions still lingered, while many tech companies continue to push forward. We can point to the end of this past decade as an indicator of what to expect in 2020 and beyond. Check back next month as we review 2020’s first quarter in tech and look ahead to the rest of the year. You can also learn more about this past decade and our expectations at MicroTechBoise.com/MicroTech-Blog.
Google’s Chromebook would also stray from the typical in 2011, introducing a system that could function without Microsoft Windows.
We saw the first glimpses of how powerful digital data tracking can be in 2012, and by 2014, wearable technology had completely changed athletics, exercise, and communication. Offering health tracking, communication, and GPS location, wearable technology continues to transform how people interact with the world around them.
Businesses weren’t far behind on the data push. In 2013, cloud computing software became a game-changer for small businesses and their IT needs. Analytics software
Have a Laugh!
Green Velvet Cheesecake Bars This St. Paddy’s Day, try taking a festive spin on a classic staple. If you have red velvet lovers in your family, they’re sure to love this equally decadent treat.
• • • • • •
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup chocolate graham cracker crumbs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract Green sprinkles, optional
1 stick butter, melted
1 oz green food coloring (gel works best) 3 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1. Heat oven to 350 F, and line a 9x9-inch baking pan with parchment paper. 2. In a large bowl, combine crumbs, butter, and food coloring. Press into the baking pan. 3. In a separate bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar together.
4. Add eggs one at a time and stir in vanilla. 5. Pour mixture over the packed crumbs. 6. Bake for 40 minutes or until the center is set. 7. Let cool completely before adding sprinkles and slicing.
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How I Became a Reader
The Science Behind Gut Feelings
How Technology Continues to Evolve
Green Velvet Cheesecake Bars
How Your Vibes Affect Your Business
Are You Vibing With Your Business? Boost Your Company’s Culture With ‘Five Frequencies’
If you dive deep into the tactics of successful businesses and startups, a common thread among them is that culture reigns king. More and more value is placed on fostering an uplifting atmosphere for employees, which allows them to generate better business. The general consensus says great culture is built over time and can take many tries in an attempt to get it “just right.” But one book suggests that you might not need to look very far to pinpoint the biggest influence behind company culture. In “Five Frequencies: Leadership Signals That Turn Culture Into Competitive Advantage,” a team of four authors compile their years of extensive experience working with companies to execute cohesive strategies for building effective culture. Jeff Grimshaw, Tanya Mann, Lynne Viscio, and Jennifer Landis have witnessed company cultures of every type be successful and fail. They concluded that culture doesn’t cultivate from the many but, rather, is affected by the few. In this case, the few are the leaders of the business. The authors assert that leaders are, at every moment, transmitting signals to their team, whether intentionally or not. Teams take cues from those who lead them, so if leaders aren’t dialed into the frequencies
they’re giving off, they could be transmitting troublesome signals. Instead, leaders should always be dialed into their “vibes” and be particularly aware of five specific frequencies: 1. Their decisions and actions 2. What they choose to reward and recognize 3. What they do and do not tolerate 4. The way they show up informally 5. How they compose formal communications
“Five Frequencies” illustrates how correctly tuning into these frequencies can give leaders the tools they need to make bad culture good and good culture great. Full of tried-and-true examples from real companies around the globe, this guide proves that culture is not something tangible you can hold, nor is it a procedural element you can simply implement. It’s something people feel, and it’s built and explained by the behaviors that surround it. This means it can be difficult to manage, measure, and, most importantly, change. But if leaders take the time to look at themselves and the actions they exemplify, they’ll have a solid foundation to start.
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