IIA Magazine Dec 2016

One potential failure of ERM is that of green-washing, this is when crucial risks are pushed down into the larger collection of more trivial risks. Cybercrime is a current buzz risk. The first line of defence needs to take on better accountability for sound risk management and control.

Investors are pushing for more accountability and transparency behind decision-making. Shareholder activism is playing a big role nowadays.

The EU has released new general data protection regulation (GDPR) which intends to strengthen and unify data protection for individuals within the EU. However, most organizations say that they are not well prepared. Organizations should start preparing for this as it will kick off in May 2018.

Client Feedback. Audit performance can be fine-tuned with the right input from stakeholders. Feedback should aid audit performance. Feedback should be to the point and be specific and timely in order to be effective. Useful feedback can increase audit effectiveness. Feedback can be provided during the opening meeting, during the audit or during the closing meeting. The client should take the opportunity to clarify any concerns that they may have. During the closing meeting, IA needs to present the supporting documents and records. A post-audit questionnaire can be sent to the client after the audit.

Must-have Controls for Small Medium Enterprises. 5 controls can help SMEs protect themselves against cyber breaches. Sometimes, they do not have sufficient resources to deal with threats. Firstly, scan the network quarterly and identify vulnerabilities. Train employees on IT security. Protect sensitive information by inventorizing sensitive business processes and reviewing access to information. Learn to segment the network. Deploy extra protection for endpoints and encrypt the data. Learn to monitor the network, manage service providers, protect smart devices and monitor activity related to sensitive information.

A Holistic Approach to IT Risk. The COBIT framework can help auditors understand and address their organization’s technology risks. IT can be very complex but IA needs to evaluate the full range of IT risks. COBIT is valuable for the whole process, from end to end. The 5 key principles are meeting stakeholder needs, covering the enterprise end-to-end, applying a single integrated framework, enabling a holistic approach, and separating governance from management. Internal auditors can use COBIT to understand the nature of IT risks that are unique to their organization.

A Toxic Culture. A department leader creates a hostile work environment by promoting friends and abusing employees and company assets. When many employees leave, there could be a sign of a toxic culture. There was an inadequate internal control system as no one tracked expenses. Critically review turnover data as this is a big red flag. Exit interview results should be reviewed regularly. Access control over reports should be reviewed and approved.

On The Rise. Learning is the key to do well in IA. Get students involved early and you can volunteer as a guest speaker on internal auditing topics. IA an get involved in many projects and act as change agents for the organization. Projects can allow one to build and develop business relationships with stakeholders. One can use data analytics during audit engagements. IA can add as a trusted advisor and perform consulting work. One can learn SQL, which is a tool for managing data. One could take others under their wing and mentor them so that they can grow. Interaction between auditee and IA must be positive. Spread the good word that your team does. IA should be innovative in addressing solutions. It is helpful to distinguish the different roles of EA and IA too. Communication skills are the key for IA’s success.

Growth through challenge. Current and past emerging leaders discuss the tough assignments that helped propel their careers forward. Challenges faced in your career can propel you to be a better auditor. It is good to share with others what are some of the common mistakes. See auditors as people and go in with a customer first mentality. Be client centric. Be prepared when you go for meetings and interviews. Get a mentor, build relationships, learn from your mistakes and learn to network. It is important to preserve independence and objectivity. Influencing mindsets are tough. Building relationships with auditees can be tough when you are new. It is important to have a good audit methodology. The learning curve can be steep especially if the industry is new for you. Some departments are resistant to let the IA perform audits on operations. Talent auditors are always in demand. Once you are good, you can engage the C-suite management easily and without fear. Young auditors are always eager for more opportunities.

It’s all in the delivery. Sharing difficult messages is an unavoidable part of the job for internal auditors. Some audit observations can be difficult to convey. You should always build the relationship before telling the bad news. Telling the bad news right away is unlikely to work. Using weekly updates once the exceptions are noted is the key. Preparation is the key to accomplishing objectives. It is important to be fair and factual. Focus on the process as well as content. If you can, you can tailor the response to the personality of the recipient. During the discussion, one can seek opportunities, offer to help, make it clear and maintain open body language. ‘If the audit report is the first time a client is seeing something in writing, that is the first and biggest mistake. Verbal updates are great, but periodic written updates go a long way. Auditors might get into trouble over their poor soft skills. Focus on the problem, include some positives, have a face-to-face meeting etc. The key is not to beat around the bush. EQ is important in helping good delivery. The key is to deliver bad news but still build a good relationship with the auditee.

Breaking Through. Women in business are taking on the barriers to advancement, and that’s good news for everyone. Diversity is good for the workplace. More women need to be in leadership positions. However, women might face issues like lack of support, exclusion, apathy. There needs to be sufficient support from male leaders. Men should be interested in achieving gender equality. Be You. Seize the Moment. Integrate Your Life. Earn Respect. Stay Behind Facts. Be realistic and practical. Forget silos. Think context before issue. Rethink reporting. Aim at destination with gratitude. Women may also face the motherhood penalty.

Mapping Assurance. Internal auditors can facilitate efforts to document the organization’s combined assurance activities. There are a variety of assurance providers. CAE can use an assurance map to co-ordinate assurance activities. It can also aid to prevent gaps in coverage. IA is well positioned to provide combined assurance. The plan should start with the organization’s strategic plan and the key risks that are associated with the strategic objectives. There should be 3 tiers of defence to provide assurance. IA need to assess the quality and quantity of assurance received.

A Winning Pair. Governance and automated controls must work in tandem to achieve maximum results. Good governance is the key. IA needs to access the current risk profile, mitigation activities and residual risks. Good behaviour requires time and employees should receive reminders in order to conduct good behaviour. Desired behaviour ultimately stems from the top.

The High-Performance Audit Team. Today’s complex, evolving business environment demands more of internal auditors. The world is changing and stakeholder expectations are increasing. IA can also rotate and fill other operational positions. An integrated internal audit function can boost performance. There is a strong need to invest in training and learning. Verbal, leadership, communication skills are very important. A high performance team can evolve to meet new challenges and reinvent itself. We also welcome constructive feedback from staff.

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Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance (Part 2)

For Part 1, click here.

Pain, Suffering and Survival. Downey had heard about Elon Musk. Downey was thoroughly impressed by his headquarters and the SpaceX facility. Everyone seemed excited about their work. Elon had an idea to live by and dedicated himself fully to it. Musk was associated with Iron Man after helping Downey. A lot of people thought Musk was an eccentric man. Musk bought a new house. Elon took part in Hollywood night parties. He realised that he was having too much fun. Musk had a different side to him as well. There was an element of mystery to him. He became the darling of the media. Elon started getting worried about his businesses. Tesla was not doing well. The media found out about the money issues as well. People knew he was ousted as CEO too. People criticized for not staying grounded in reality. Justine suffered from depression in 2007 and their marriage was on the rocks. Justine was a published novelist. Both SpaceX and Tesla were sucking money without producing results. Musk sold his McLaren. Elon didn’t have much time for his family. Justine felt like a trophy wife. In Jun 2008, Musk filed for divorce. Justine kept a blog on her public life. Elon was known to be good at giving ultimatums. The couple decided to split their assets. According to Justine, Elon treated her like a business adversary during the marriage. Elon banned soft toys from his kids as he wanted them to have a hard childhood. Lee introduced Talulah Riley to Musk. She was a pretty waitress. She had a dazzling figure. Riley knew that Musk was a good guy and that he was attracted to her. Riley’s dad, however, thought that Musk was a playboy. Musk and Riley continued keeping in touch and Musk wanted to show her his rockets. Riley agreed to marry him at age 22. Riley has since found their relationship to be difficult. Elon needed money for his companies and was under severe stress and had difficulty paying his employees. Falcon 1 finally launched but it crashed after the first stage. Many employees were downcast. Elon encourage and motivated his workers. SpaceX was running out of cash for a fifth launch for Falcon1. 6 weeks later, Elon was ready for the next launch. This time the launch was perfect. It took 6 years for the project to be successful. Everyone burst into tears. It was one of Elon’s greatest days in his life. SpaceX started building Dragon capsules – which could take supplies up to space. Tesla used up too much funds and spent most of the deposits that customers gave them for their cars. There were many negative articles on SpaceX in the press. Elon thought that he only had enough money to save SpaceX or Tesla. It was 2009 and the financial situation was bad. Elon’s weight fluctuated crazily. Tesla desperately needed another round of funding. Elon was hoping to get the deal to send a capsule to ISS from NASA. Musk mustered all his money and gathered $20 million. Musk was a guy who took incredible risks. Some of the investment firms matched his investments one-for-one. SpaceX finally won a $1.6 billion contract with NASA. Elon had the ability to undergo tremendous stress. The harder things got, the better he was able to make decisions.

Liftoff. Falcon 9 was SpaceX’s workhorse. The rocket was powered by 9 engines. A rocket launch is a big achievement for mankind. Now, SpaceX sends rockets up about once a month. SpaceX is lot cheaper than its competitors like Boeing. It was a commercial launch market. It costs someone about $60 million per launch. Corporates now also send satellites up to space and might use SpaceX’s services. Satellites are becoming ever-present in space. Musk wanted to reduce the costs of sending things up to space. The rockets would also be re-usable and refillable. In 2008, SpaceX is now profitable and is worth around $12 billion. Musk is a very detailed guy. SpaceX’s aim is to advance technology and its rockets are more high-tech than other companies. The Russian technology is very old. Their machines are very old and risky. Musk is more of a general than a CEO. Their interview processes are very strict. Employees are made to write an essay on why they want to join SpaceX. Musk will also tend to meet the candidate individually. Musk was concerned about the candidate’s thought process. Many employees quit SpaceX because of the working hours. Not many were used to his direct working approach. Elon has a very clear vision. The office is quite impressive. There are also top secret zones in SpaceX’s office. Most of the rockets are designed and manufactured in-house. Depending on suppliers was seen as a weakness. Reinventing the wheel for Musk was worth it. They like to streamline the engineering process to cut costs. Standard materials were proven to be good enough for space travel. SpaceX pioneers work on complex hardware systems. A lot of processes are being automated. SpaceX is constantly looking for lighter materials and more efficient processes. Bezos also has a rocket company called Blue Origin and Musk and he are at loggerheads. Musk liked to quiz people so that he could learn about what they were doing. Musk had a fantastic memory as well. His timelines were ridiculous. Due to this, he often couldn’t get products out to the public on time. Musk was simply a very optimistic guy. Elon Musk admitted that his schedules were demanding because he didn’t understand what rocket making required. Elon often asks for very detailed proposals for projects. He has mastered the art of getting the most out of his employees. Elon is smart because he makes people take ownership of their own deadlines by saying things like ‘I need the impossible done by Friday at 2pm. Can you do it?’ Some employees work 16 hours days. The dragon capsule was conceptualized in 4 years. Musk wanted the bulk of the rocket’s computing systems to be $10,000 when the industry average was over $10million. Elon was very hands-on and understood everything. He was too smart and he can outmanoeuvre and outthink you. Elon would send emails criticizing staff for using acronyms. The emails would be stern. He would fire you and take your job and make sure it’s done. Elon often had squabbles with the FAA because their approval process was too slow. Bowersox felt neglected by Elon. Musk didn’t have respect for authority and would call intelligent people ‘idiots’. The way he treated people was a big issue. Shotwell focuses on the overall strategy of SpaceX and has done well. She was an engineer. She pursued a PhD in applied mathematics. She was excellent at negotiating deals and got deals which raked in money for SpaceX. Later, she was made COO of the company. One of SpaceX’s goals was to make flights as often as possible. No one could compete with their pricing. Joining SpaceX was the best way to get into space. She encouraged interns to be productive. Using the best materials and requiring high budgets results in a bloated commercial space industry. SpaceX had to face a lawsuit from ULA on competition issues. Even though Falcon 1 was successful, there were not many orders for it. SpaceX was the first private company to dock with the ISS in 2012. It received $440 million from NASA to keep developing Dragon. Elon later unveiled the DragonV2. It was a spacious capsule. It would be able to dock with the ISS and also return to Earth and not land in the ocean. Re-use was the way to go. Falcon Heavy would be the most powerful rocket built. Elon gets a tremendous amount out of others. Many SpaceX employees wonder when they will receive a big reward. Elon didn’t want the company to be listed yet before he created the Mars transport system.

Even if you’re someone who writes code for your job, you need to understand how mechanical things work. We were looking for people that had been building things since they were little. – Dolly Singh, on HR recruitment in SpaceX

Elon will pick the most aggressive time schedule imaginable assuming everything goes right, and then accelerate it by assuming that everyone can work harder. – Kevin Brogan, a SpaceX engineer

Everything he does is fast. Elon pees fast. It’s like a fire hose – three seconds and out. He’s authentically in a hurry. – Kevin Brogan

The individual doesn’t have to hold meetings, reach a consensus, or bring other people up to speed on a project. He just keeps working and working and working. – Ashlee Vance

The guiding principle at SpaceX was to embrace your work and get stuff done. People who await guidance or detailed instructions languish. The same goes for workers who crave feedback. And the absolute worst thing that someone can do is to inform Elon Musk that what he’s asking is impossible. – Ashlee Vance

There is a fundamental problem with regulators. If a regulator agrees to change a rule and something bad happens, they could easily lose their career. Whereas if they change a rule and something good happens, they don’t even get a reward. So, it’s very asymmetric. – Ashlee Vance

If you hate people and think human extinction is okay, then fuck it. Don’t go to space. If you think it is worth humans doing some risk management and finding a second place to go live, then you should be focused on this issue and willing to spend some money. – Shotwell

Public company stock, particularly if big step changes in technology are involved, go through extreme volatility, both for reasons of internal execution and for reasons that have nothing to do with anything except the economy. This causes people to be distracted by the manic-depressive nature of the stock instead of creating great products. – Elon Musk

The Revenge of the Electric Car. Car manufactures have always been looking for a car with more room etc. The Model S from Tesla was revolutionary. It was quiet and a luxury car. There was a touch screen for controls. It had a constant internet connection and one could access Google maps. You could activate the car by just sitting down. Recharging at Tesla stations was free of charge. Fuel consumption and energy wastage was at an all-time low. Tesla used a direct-sales model. The standard oil changes were not necessary because the car didn’t have an engine. There was a lot of technology being employed in the car. Some early adopters were willing to put down $100,000 on a car even before its launch. It was voted car of the year at Motor Trend. It was more efficient than a Toyota Prius. Musk built the automotive equivalent of the iPhone. There was a raise in car prices as the manufacturing costs turned out to be unexpectedly higher. However, there was a need for a product recall. This happened at least twice. In 2009, Musk was sued by Eberhard. However, they managed to settle out of court. Some people at the Valley thought that Musk was an abrasive blowhard. Electric cars could be fun to drive. There were arguments as to whether Musk was a founder of Tesla. However, there was no doubt that he played a large role in the success of Tesla. Elon hired Henrik Fisker to design the Model S. However, Elon was not happy with Fisker’s initial designs. Later, Fisker started his own car company and wanted to compete with Tesla. Elon sued Fisker but Fisker won the lawsuit. Tesla dismissed a hybrid model. Tesla had limited resources to design a car in-house. Elon’s team transformed a Mercedes CLS into an electric model. Franz von Holzhausen joined Tesla. He had a design career in the automotive industry and had some experience in that area. He worked on the Volkswagen’s Beetle. GM was too large and suffered from red-tape issues. He later left the company. Then, he worked on Mazda’s cars when Tesla said they wanted a chief designer. Tesla was almost bankrupt in 2008. However, he liked the work environment with fearless geeks. Holzhausen had to build his own office. He managed to design Model S in 3 months. He and Musk got quite close on a personal level. Almost everything would be touch-screen in nature. The body would be made out of aluminium as the car needed to be light to house the heavy battery. Elon wanted a 17 inch touch screen in the Tesla. Many of the engineers worked overnight on the project. Finally, in Mar 2009, SpaceX was unveiled to the public. Tesla was way ahead of GM and Nissan. In-house work required higher costs in general. O’Connell later worked in Tesla. The US was too reliant on oil. O’Connell had to find out what tax credits and rebates Tesla might be able to earn. Daimler bought a 10% stake in Tesla for $50 million. The Department of Energy also offered Tesla a $465 million loan. Tesla bought a huge plant that was abandoned by Toyota. In 2010, Tesla was listed as they wanted more funds. Back then, Tesla was still bleeding cash and had many sceptics. Even the people from Toyota were mightily impressed. The engineers knew they had to prepare well before any meeting or risk being fired. Musk had a design eye even though he was an engineer by training. Elon wanted falcon-wing doors. Elon always wanted a perfect car. He constantly pushes people to produce something spectacular. There were massive delays on promised delivery dates. Tesla started people who were sacked from GM and Toyota. Musk and Riley had divorced. He took a vacation to relax now. Tesla went into financial trouble and couldn’t meet increasing demand. Many people started shorting the stock. Tesla unveiled that it had started building charging stations. Some of the features that other luxury brands had were not present on Tesla. Some suppliers didn’t trust Tesla as well. Elon hired Blankenship to work at the service-centre operations. However, their relationship fell apart later on. Negative publicity was everywhere. Elon was in emergency mode and had everyone call customers and deliver the cars. Elon was too desperate and now wanted Google to acquire Tesla. Just before the deal was clinched, a miracle happened and the company sold a huge volume of cars. The talks with Google ended. Elon held a party and he was like a rock star. At the charging stations, you could get a robot to replace a battery for 90 seconds. However, one had to pay for this. The latest supercharged Tesla could go from 0 to 60 miles/hour in 3.2 seconds. Ford was suffering as it was carrying too much baggage and couldn’t change its systems overnight. Tesla was selling customers an image and not just a product. Many car dealers make profits from servicing cars. However, Tesla makes money from the initial sale and then some optional software services. Fisker Automative filed for bankruptcy in 2014.

At Tesla, there was no history, no baggage. There was just a vision of products that could change the world. Who wouldn’t want to be involved with that? – Franz von Holzhausen

I have been optimistic with respect to the timing on some of these things (Tesla Model S car lunch), but I didn’t over-promise on the outcome. I have done everything I said I was going to do. – Elon Musk

The mantra was that one great engineer will replace three medium ones. – Lloyd

The Unified Field Theory of Elon Musk. Everdream was a great technology founded by the Rive Brothers. Lyndon and Musk explored the Black Rock desert. Elon suggested Lyndon to look in the solar energy market. Elon designed and modified a car and drove it. It was the Burning Man event. During a solar energy conference, Lyndon found out that many people were waiting for the cost of panels to drop. People were reluctant to buy because they were expensive and future models were more efficient. SolarCity was founded in 2006. The plan was to buy solar panels and do everything in-house. They analysed whether a house was receiving enough sunlight to make installing a panel worthwhile. Customers could also lease the panels and pay a monthly rate. At the end of the lease, customers could also upgrade their panels. Elon owned at least a third of SolarCity. SolarCity was now the largest installer of solar panels in the country. Even Intel, Walgreen, Wal-mart would be their clients. In 2012, the company went public. The company is worth $7 billion in 2014. Many people pumped money into green energy but failed as they required government support. However, Elon has the two most successful clean tech companies in the US. SolarCity now sells energy storage systems. Buying solar panels was SolarCity’s great advantages. In 2014, it bought over a solar cell maker, Silevo, for $200 million. However, due to excessive demand, SolarCity is now planning to manufacture themselves. The goal would be to be one of the largest supplier of electricity in the US. SolarCity and Tesla complement one another. Even Tesla and SpaceX help one another. When Tesla’s shares rose, SolarCity tended to increase as well. In total, Musk employed 15,000 people at the end of 2014. Tesla plans to introduce Model X in 2015, an SUV. In future, Musk wants to create a submarine car. By 2017, Musk hopes to sell the Model 3 at around $35,000 and make electric cars mainstream. Elon has plans to build a Gigafactory, or the world’s largest lithium ion manufacturing facility. The plan is to increase range on a single charge to 500 miles. Elon wanted to be safe and to raise money just in case something happened. Elon considered building a space rollercoaster from building to building in SpaceX. It is expected that there will be a surge in demand for electric vehicles. Tesla and Solarcity also have a great first-mover advantage. The ultimate goal of Elon is to turn humans into an interplanetary species. There are plans to automate the rocket launch process. He hopes SpaceX can develop something by 2025 to take large groups of people to Mars. It has to be economical as well. Once you get there, it is not that hard to make a pressurized transparent greenhouse to live in. However, Elon does not have a plan on how to heat up Mars to make it warm. Elon wants to be the first man on Mars as well. Both SpaceX and Tesla has the brightest brains there. There is great value in what he is doing. In Aug 2013, Musk unveiled the hyperloop. The bullet trains nowadays aren’t as fast as planes and faster than cars. He wants the Hyperloop to travel faster than a plane at a cost of $6 to $10 billion dollars. After he unveiled it, he knew he wanted to build it. The US President loved it. The company has been formed. The mission takes precedence over your desires. Mart Beth Brown was an executive assistant who worked very hard for Musk for more than a decade. However, when she took a break, Musk found a way to replace her by getting Shotwell’s assistant to perform her work. There are those who criticized Musk for a lack of empathy. However, with family, Musk treats them a lot better. In 2014, Tesla went open-source with its patents. The idea was free for others to copy now. Elon has the ambition of someone like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. Unlike Jobs, Musk does not treat every presentation or media moment as being precious. Musk has his critics as well. Smil feels that the US cannot compete with China and that Tesla is an overhyped toy for showoffs. He also concluded that the Hyperloop idea was mentioned before and was not new. Musk’s companies use vertical integration and control in-house components. Tony Fadell concluded that the smartphone represented the maturity of hardware and software. Many people in start-up admire Musk. Larry Page is one of Musk’s admirers. Elon has always tried to solve difficult problems. The power of human settlement on Mars is really competing. ‘Good ideas are always crazy until they’re not.’ Larry and Elon would meet to discuss crazy ideas. Elon was the key guy you should look up to if you want to emulate.

Honestly, if I never go to space, that will be okay. The point is to maximize the probable life span of humanity. – Elon Musk

Elon’s worst trait by far, in my opinion, is a complete lack of loyalty or human connection. Many of us worked tirelessly for him for years and were tossed to the curb like a piece of litter without a second thought. – Unknown

What was clear is that people who worked for him were like ammunition: used for a specific purpose until exhausted and discarded. – Unknown

Elon came to the conclusion early in his career that life is short. If you really embrace this, it leaves you with the obvious conclusion that you should be working as hard as you can. – Straubel

My kids might have a little adversity at school, but these days schools are so protective. If you call someone a name, you get sent home. When I was going to school, if they punched you and there was no blood, it was like, “Whatever. Shake it off.” – Elon Musk

I would like to die on Mars. Just not on impact. Ideally I’d like to go for a visit, come back for a while, and then go there when I’m like 70 or something and then just stay there. If things turn out well, that would be the case. If my wife and I have a bunch of kids, she would probably stay with them on Earth. – Elon Musk

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How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christensen

If you are stuck in a corporate job and you feel unhappy, please try and understand why. Good theories help because you can predict better etc. Your theories will help you lead a more fulfilling life. Find happiness in your career too. Do not settle for poor jobs. Balance plans with opportunities. There are both hygiene and motivation factors in a job. Compensation is a hygiene factor and not intrinsic motivation. If you give someone who hates his job more money, he won’t hate it anymore but he won’t like it. Motivators include challenging work, recognition, responsibility, personal growth etc. Find a job you love. Know what makes you tick. Learn to try new stuff. Test the validity of your assumptions. Continue to experiment and keep your options open. Spend time on your strategy. What you say doesn’t matter, it’s what you do. Allocate resources to those that you value the most. Never neglect children and parents and friends. Find happiness in your relationships. Be patient and do not expand too quickly. Think long term. Sacrifice is very rewarding sometimes. Do not outsource your core capabilities. Expose your kids to both challenges and activities. Encourage them to stretch and not to be afraid of failure. Culture is very important. Choose something that matters to you. Stick to your principles 100% of the time, and not 98% of the time. You must have a purpose in life. Set goals in your life etc.

 

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Drive (The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us) by Daniel H. Pink

Rewards might only provide short-term motivation and can lead to detrimental effects in the long term. Sometimes, the task or challenge itself can be motivating. Why is open-source encyclopedias like Wikipedia so successful? Creativity stems from intrinsic motivation. Do not turn play into work by providing rewards. Should one be paid for donating blood? Rewards are very addictive. For mechanical tasks, the larger the reward, the better the performance. Give people autonomy over their work. Those fuelled by autonomy, mastery and purpose tend to outperform those that are fuelled by money. Autonomy is the way to go. Time, task, technique, team. Allow for flexible hours etc. Find your own ‘flow’. Always seek to get better. Spend money on others and give back. There is a weak correlation between money and happiness. Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose.

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Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin

 

Key takeaways from the book: Learn to be happy at home and keep resolutions. About 20% of life’s happiness is dependent on life’s circumstances. Use the 4 stage cycle to improve happiness. Happiness is a process, not a destination. Simplify your home and avoid clutter. Create engaging areas in the house, like a study area etc. Be mindful of sentimental items as well. Show appreciation to your other half. Be supportive. Prove love. Enter the interests of others. Be happy yourself and naturally others will feel happy when they are around you as well. Avoid contact with grouches, jerks or slackers. Abstain from things which are bad for you. Start living now and don’t be too caught up with work etc. Do something difficult every day. Seek adventure. Be happy now and do not defer it. Do not try and pursue it too much. It might just come naturally to you. Gratitude is the key to happiness. Giving is a good source of happiness. Grow.

You get more of what you have. When you feel friendly, people want to be your friend. When you feel attractive, people are attracted to you. When you feel loving, others act lovingly towards you. The truth is cruel because so often, you want others to give you what you lack. It’s when you’re feeling friendless that you most want people to be friendly. When you’re feeling ugly, you want someone to tell you how attractive you are. Feeling unloving makes you long to be showered with affection.’

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20 possible reasons why being employed might be good for you

 

  1. A job cannot guarantee financial stability or independence unless the amount it pays is sufficient to cover your own living expenses. That being said, a job provides a source of income which is necessary to do many things in life. Struggling to feed yourself every day is a real pain and can consume much of your willpower you will need for other tasks. 
  2. Money is indeed essential for survival and for sustenance. This is especially so when you have others as your financial dependents. I am sure you have heard phrases like ‘Money is the root of all evil’. However, a certain level is necessary for a decent standard of living. Once you attain all the various necessities in life, one will start fulfilling their ‘wants’ and ‘desires’. However, choose those ‘wants’ which you can afford and live within your means.  
  3. A job helps to occupy your time. With more than 16 waking hours per day to kill, one of the best ways to do so is to get employed. Boredom can kill as you struggle to find activities to occupy your time and keep yourself busy. Imagine the difference you can make if you use your time wisely. It is difficult to embark on any particular project which you have set yourself unless you can have an underlying motivation etc. 
  4. One can find meaning in their job. If you find that the work you do is value adding and is able to benefit other organizations/people/systems etc, it can be extremely rewarding. It will prove that everything you do is worthwhile and that you are able to make a positive impact on others. Meaning is what fuels you and pushes you on even on days you don’t feel like working. Something, it is difficult to see how the end product benefits others due to the lack of visibility etc. However, just thinking about how your work can help others is sufficiently motivating. 
  5. Working can fuel your passion. For instance, if the work you are engaging in is something which you are also pursuing as a hobby or something which you have always dreamt of doing since young, the inner drive will be your motivating factor. You might even be able to attain the state of ‘flow’ during your course of work. This is very crucial as the nature of the work is often a key factor in whether one can last long in a job. 
  6. Subject to many possible factors, it is possible to feel happy about your work. Since work occupies a large part of your day, it matters what sort of feelings you harbor towards your job. Feeling optimistic and happy everyday will ensure that you bring greater energy into your life. The optimal feeling is to look forward to going to work each day and having a positive attitude and mindset. 
  7. Work provides a sense of accomplishment and a sense of progress. Progress is very crucial as one usually derives satisfaction from seeing work moving forward. With that goal in mind, work can generate a certain sense of fulfillment and development. Through progress, one is able to see the end goal. 
  8. Learning is one of the big plus points about working. By learning, it could mean in terms of both technical and soft skills. Learning is a great sign of growth and improvement. I believe no people wants to stagnate and vegetate. Knowledge is power. Knowledge is something which no one can take away from you. 
  9. Humans often like challenges. Although daunting at first, if you establish concrete steps towards tackling them and find out exactly how to achieve them, most challenges can be conquered. A successfully completed challenge provides a sense of triumph and relief which can be very rewarding. 
  10. Work has the ability to cultivate, hone and develop your character. Through overcoming obstacles, one can develop traits like perseverance, determination, resilience etc. Traits can be easily in-built and not before long, you will become a better person. Just like that. 
  11. Having a job usually means a certain form of socializing with others. This prevents one from feeling lonely. Social interactions are very important for man. As the saying goes, ‘No man is an island.’ Man needs to seek understanding and affection from others. I know for a fact that having great and meaningful relationships is a key ingredient for happiness. 
  12. Depending on what you do, work very often gives you the ability to practice on a certain skill. Through spending a lot of time on it, it is possible to be a master at a particular skill. Being a master can be very satisfying and you are able to specialize and be productive. Being better at something, or anything for that matter, is generally the goal for most. I mean, who would want to strive to perform worse at something? 
  13. Work is a good way to measure productivity. For me, I feel great on days where I am productive and can get a lot of work done. For instance, if I am able to complete the tasks I set out every morning by the end of the day, it feels very rewarding. Figure out your sweet spot, such as an ideal time of the time to get work done or a particular place to work in. 
  14. Striking off your daily tasks feels extremely satisfying as one can finally see light at the end of the tunnel. This is also an awesome way to track your productivity and remind yourself of any upcoming deadlines. 
  15. Providing for yourself also allows one to remain financially independent and develop your social stature. The ability to work can be seen as being of value to society. For some, work allows them to develop a sense of well-being and pride. This, in turn, leads to a better sense of confidence to face the world. 
  16. In general, work instils a great sense of discipline. Discipline is the key in achieving a lot of the finer things in life (such as maintaining a strict exercise, diet regime etc). The discipline you inculcate in work can be easily transferred to other aspects of your life. 
  17. Success fuels passion more than passion fuels success. Therefore, as mentioned in point (12), once you are good at a particular skill, everything will seem easier to you. This can further fuel your passion to develop your skills even further, resulting in a positive cycle of improvement. 
  18. Even if you are not able to be a specialist at work, you can still do well as a generalist. As a generalist, your aim is to be good at multiple skills but not be excellent at any. Being good at skills which complement each other allows you to see the big picture and implement unique solutions for your organization. ‘A jack of trades’ person is also highly valued when establishing a business. 
  19. Should opportunities arise, working on projects to improve your organization’s processes is also a form of finding a reason for work. Achieving operational efficiencies and streamlining processes not only saves cost, but it will also save you time.   
  20. Although you might have less time to pursue your other interests in life, the benefits as stated above can more than adequately compensate for a less flexible schedule. As mentioned in point (3), a flexible schedule only works if you know how to occupy your time meaningfully.

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