9 Mistakes You Don't Want to Make -- A Q&A with Skip Prichard


Skip Prichard's book, The Book of Mistakes: 9 Secrets to Creating a Successful Future (Center Street, 2018), may be told as fiction, but it's grounded in reality. Intended as a tool for self-improvement, the book identifies nine common mistakes people make at work—and offers ways to avoid them. Prichard's advice is based on interviews with 1,000 successful people, his own experience as a CEO and research into success.

The HR Magazine Book Blog recently spoke with Prichard about the book.

Why did you write this book?

This book is designed to empower and encourage. As a CEO, I've noticed that the only type of motivation that works is self-motivation. We've all read the statistics—two-thirds of employees aren't engaged—and we often respond with new programs, maybe throw in a game room and an employee picnic. The problem is that these engagement tactics are short term. This book is written for those who may not be where they want to be yet and need a boost of inspiration and ideas to get there.

Why did you write it as a story?

It's not only the mistakes and principles in this book that are backed by research, but even the story format. Stanford marketing professor Jennifer Aaker says that "stories are remembered up to 22 times more than facts alone." I've interviewed Paul J. Zak, founding director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies, who teaches how stories can increase oxytocin production in the brain. This increases our ability to persuade and teach and empathize.

Today, most of us are so busy that we have a harder time sitting down and reading a weighty book full of research. I wanted to write something that you could read in one sitting and enjoy, but walk away with ideas that can change your future. There's hidden power in a good story.

If you had to choose, what are the top three mistakes people make on their path to success?

The nine mistakes in this book were carefully selected. They not only work together, but each one enhances the learning from an earlier principle. Let's talk about the first three.

No. 1 is based on research on the dying. Researchers find that those dying often regret not living in a way more true to themselves. That forms the basis of mistake No. 1, which is all about not living someone else's dream.

Mistake No. 2 is allowing others to label us falsely, in a way that limits us. Most of us have allowed these negative labels, even those from an early childhood experience, to influence us.

Mistake No. 3 is accepting excuses. This one really hit home for me when I interviewed Mr. Universe, Rich Gaspari, who is also the CEO of Gaspari Nutrition. I met him after he wrote a powerful book called No Excuses (Dunham Books, 2014). He got back into top shape and appeared on the cover of a magazine decades after the first time, when most of us wouldn't dream of doing something like that. That "no-excuse" mindset applies to many of our goals.

You write that these nine mistakes are timeless. Why are they still prevalent today?

The world is transforming in ways we cannot imagine—from new social platforms, artificial intelligence [and] self-driving cars … [to] 3-D printers [that] can print organs in operating rooms and refrigerators [that] can sense we're low on milk [and] have a drone deliver it to our front door. … Even though our world is changing at an unprecedented rate, success principles do not change. Finding our purpose, whether as an individual or as a team, [and] understanding the "why" behind our actions will be just as important in tomorrow's technological world as it was in our grandparents' day.

If there is one thing you hope HR professionals take away from reading your book, what would it be?

After many of my talks, I am often asked questions that range from how to get promoted to how to handle a difficult boss to how to accelerate business growth. This book is for individuals at inflection points in their lives: a new graduate or [someone starting] a new venture or even [someone facing] a midlife crisis. It's designed to help you reflect on where you are so that you can get to where you want to be.

Skip Pritchard is an author, speaker and accomplished CEO. You can read his Leadership Insights blog at www.skipprichard.com.

Originally posted on SHRM Book blog.



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