Justin Mikolay 💻

Justin Mikolay 💻



I’ve served aboard a nuclear submarine, worked at a multi-billion-dollar private tech company, and helped people lead the world’s largest organizations. Here are 20 of the most powerful, non-obvious ideas in professional life:

Over-Engineer Watches, Not Strategies Strategy is setting priorities Be careful when you’re setting priorities not to build a Swiss watch It should be more like an old Russian watch; it works when you get sand in it The parts give so you solve problems w/o chipping gears

Coordinate, Don’t Synchronize In synchronized swimming, the team goes at the rate of the slowest person

Trust Your Indications “In conditions of great uncertainty or stress, people tend to assume events they want to happen actually will happen. This practice of relying on hope, rather than facing facts as they are…is responsible for many nuclear plant casualties.” -Rickover

Solve Multiple Problems at Once Make sure the response to one vexing issue is not the seed of the next, more dangerous problem. Solve multiple issues in succession by integrating strategy across teams

Carry a Message to Garcia Read this on the first day of your professional life:

Bring Solutions, Not Problems Never state a problem without also recommending a solution -State the situation -State what you’re already doing -State what you plan to do next -State what you recommend, including options if necessary

Take Notes – and Write With Them “Nothing so sharpens the thought process as writing down one's arguments. Weaknesses overlooked in oral discussion become painfully obvious on the written page.”

Put the Bottom Line Up Front “When you write, the last thing you discover is what to put first.” -Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)

Take Ownership — and Act That Way “When doing a job—any job—people must feel they own it, and act as though he will remain in the job forever. Too many spend their working lives looking for their next job.”

Avoid Rule by Nobody “Unless you can point your finger at the person who is responsible when something goes wrong, then you have never had anyone really responsible.”

Take Initiative — Every Day In the absence of orders, figure out what they should have been, and execute aggressively.

Start Now French Marshal Lyautey (1854-1934) asked his gardener to plant a slow-growing tree. The gardener complained it wouldn't reach maturity for a hundred years. The Marshal replied, “In that case, there's no time to lose; plant it this afternoon.”

Sustain Focus Nature teaches the power of one concept: patience The animal (person, company) to be afraid of is the one paying attention for a long time, waiting to strike. Bezos: don't congratulate me for this quarter, those results were baked in three years ago

Read...and Learn Through Others' Experiences You won't live long enough to make every mistake yourself

Go To Mental Gym — and Work Out Every day, officers on submarines break down problems into thumb rules and approximate solutions Commit frameworks to memory and practice them – so the next time you're faced with a problem, you know what to do next, faster

Truth is Table Stakes You don’t get a seat at the table if you’re not a fair and honest broker of information across the organization This principle is absolute

List Three Questions Everywhere You Look 1. What do I know? 2. Who needs to know? 3. Have I told them?

Ensure Knowledge is Power Throughout The Breadth and Depth of The Organization The most junior sailors on a nuclear submarine are required to publicly contradict the most senior officers when they’re wrong.

Bring Data, But Live in the Future The culture of innovative organizations in one sentence: Make the world you want to see, not the world that happens to be

Ask Yourself…Why Not?

That's it! Those were 20 of the most powerful ideas in professional life Follow me @jmikolay for more threads on creativity, business, and leverage 🚀🚀🚀

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