- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Currency (February 2, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0553419633
- ISBN-13: 978-0553419634
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 110 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #74,658 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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How to Have a Good Day: Harness the Power of Behavioral Science to Transform Your Working Life Hardcover – February 2, 2016
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“How to Have a Good Day is a smart, thorough, and eminently practical book. Just about every page offers a science-based tip to help you become better off — or, in many cases, just plain better.”
—Daniel H. Pink, author of To Sell is Human and Drive
"Behavioral science has come of age in recent years, and it has begged for a world-class translator. Now we have one. Caroline Webb’s peerless translation of the behavioral sciences into tools for shaping the quality of our day is the book we’ve been waiting for. Play with just 2% of the ideas in this book, and you might just end up changing your life's course. Words like 'magisterial' come to mind. Bravo."
—Tom Peters, co-author of award-winning bestseller In Search of Excellence
“Finally, a practical book based on evidence. How to Have a Good Day is grounded in state-of-the-art research on behavior and neuroscience, and animated with vivid examples from professionals who have successfully applied Webb’s advice. It might even leave you looking forward to your next tricky conversation or challenging task as an opportunity to try out her tips."
—Adam Grant, Wharton professor and New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take and Originals
"How to Have a Good Day is an extraordinary book — a wonderful mix of science, practical advice, and stories based on Caroline Webb's years of experience helping a huge range of people transform their professional lives for the better. Every chapter is studded with engaging real-world examples that ring true and illustrate how to make the most of the book's suggestions. Whatever your personal definition of a good day, you'll have more of them after reading this book.”
—Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking and co-founder of Quiet Revolution
"Almost all of us work in environments where our time is stretched far too thin. How to Have a Good Day helps us rise to that challenge, containing ideas and techniques that show us how to be at our own personal and professional best every day."
—Tony Hsieh, New York Times bestselling author of Delivering Happiness and CEO of Zappos.com, Inc.
"Webb has given us a great gift: she has synthesized all the advice coming out of labs around the world, filtered it for quality, and illustrated it with well-chosen examples. The appendices alone will save you dozens of hours per year — particularly on email — and help you create more great days for yourself. This is the only self-improvement book you will need in the next five years."
—Jonathan Haidt, NYU-Stern School of Business, author of The Happiness Hypothesis and The Righteous Mind
"There's a big difference between having a great, productive day and having a bland, ordinary one. Caroline Webb deftly explains how to squeeze the most out of twenty-four hours, to create more of the former. Very useful."
—Sir Michael Moritz, Chairman of Sequoia Capital
“A powerful toolkit to improve both work and wellbeing. From email and meetings to making the most out of every day, Webb shows us not just how to be more productive, but how to be more fulfilled along the way.”
—Jonah Berger, Wharton professor and bestselling author of Contagious and Invisible Influence
"Imagine what your life would be like if you could simply 'choose' to have a good day. Webb makes a powerful case that we can. Best of all, she shows us how. Webb gets her arms around the vast body of information coming at us from behavioral economics, psychology, and neuroscience, and distills the best of it into the kind of practical advice a wise friend might offer. It's the book Daniel Kahneman might write if he'd been working in the business world for twenty years. Masterful."
—Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen, co-authors of the bestselling Difficult Conversations and Thanks for the Feedback
"This is a brilliantly useful book. Caroline Webb has a quite exceptional range of organisational experience. She uses it to review a vast span of the latest academic 'thinking about thinking' in the clearest possible way. And then she applies this wisdom to help us all sort out the frazzle of our own working day. Her approach is utterly straightforward but based in deep insights into how human beings really behave."
—Peter Day, BBC Business Correspondent, Presenter of In Business and Global Business
“Years ago I was a rower, and in sport everyone knows you need to pay attention to yourself, your intent and your mindset, to be at your best. This book reminded me of all I learned from those days about the importance of having the right attitude. I found it a great, practical guide to applying these and other helpful psychological insights in business – something we do all too infrequently. Built solidly on the latest research, brought to life with storytelling, it offers many simple ways to boost your performance and give you a better day at work – and if you’re a leader, it will show you how to make sure that your colleagues are on top form, too."
-—Matt Brittin, President of Google Europe, Middle East & Africa, former rowing World Championship medalist and British Olympic team member
"How to Have a Good Day speaks to every area of your workday and shows how making a few critical adjustments to your everyday behavior will leave you amazed by the results. By applying the lessons in Webb's book, all based on science, you’ll maximize your performance and be more energized than ever."
— Marshall Goldsmith, bestselling author of Triggers, MOJO and What Got You Here Won’t Get You There
“An absolute must read for the millions of people struggling to overcome the challenges and stresses of work and family life. Caroline Webb’s deep dive into ground-breaking new behavioral and neuroscience research gives us the tools to empower everyone to have a better, more fulfilling day, every day. Finally, we can say, ‘Good morning,’ and mean it!”
—Linda Kaplan Thaler, Chairman of Publicis Kaplan Thaler and co-author of Grit to Great
“The quest for self-improvement usually takes place on a well-trodden path, with many different gurus offering guidance. But the advice, in addition to being contradictory, often lacks solid foundations. Fortunately, How to Have a Good Day is the breakout exception to this category. The evidence and examples packed inside its pages leave the reader in no doubt that Webb's advice will make a real difference. Better days lead to better lives, and this extraordinary book will lead to both.”
—Chris Guillebeau, New York Times bestselling author of The $100 Startup and The Happiness of Pursuit
“In How to Have a Good Day, Caroline Webb offers practical advice rooted in the latest science and psychology for anyone who wants to take a more intentional approach to life and enjoy the greater productivity and success that comes from doing so. If you want to stop reacting to your life and start living it, this book will get you moving in the right direction."
—Bryce G. Hoffman, author of American Icon
About the Author
Caroline Webb is a former partner at McKinsey and Company, where she worked for over a decade, before starting her consulting firm, Sevenshift, to help clients be more productive, inspired, and effective at work.
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To be clear on what “How to Have a Good Day” is not: it requires no deep plumbing of the psyche, it pushes no “alternative” way of thinking. The topics are well known. We all know procrastination is bad, we may know multi-tasking is a fallacy. But why? And what can I do about it today? The author, professional career coach, researcher, and reader of 600(!) books on the topic of behavioral science, has distilled the best, most illuminating discoveries to help those of us who know better, but can’t do better. As declared in the title, yes, there is a measure of science-talk, but this is no science text. HTHAGD kicks off with an introductory primer on the concepts in play. Yet rest assured any haughty terminology has been thoroughly humanized, without being cerebrally neutered. Though even the author allows the book is navigable even if you skip chapter one.
The remaining chapters drill down on seven topics, such as productivity, resilience, etc. Each topic is loosely pegged to a real individual’s overcoming of their respective obstacle (e.g. priorities). Webb threads in the most revelatory science and explains why this subject’s course of action worked. She then details the actionable things we can do (a specific breathing technique, a check-list, a mantra, and so on) to bring into our day. All the “tips” are packaged at the end of the chapter. So indeed, the book is built to be revisited by topic, say, two years from now on your worst day ever at work.
An exhaustively comprehensive Rx for our everyday challenges. At once probing of our mental innards, and plainly, wonderfully practical. We know it does us no good to have another wasted day. With this book, we need no longer search in anguish for what to do about it. Fantastically beneficial from the first sit-down.
Nearly impossible. And yet, somehow, Caroline Webb has pulled it off.
“How to Have a Good Day” is a meticulously documented, step-by-step approach to leveraging contemporary research in cognitive science and behavioral economics to solve the real problems that keep us from being effective — and happy — in our day-to-day jobs and lives. And it’s not aimed at helping you “feel” better, but, rather, outlines a rigorously pragmatic approach to actually *doing* better: analyzing situations more effectively, making better decisions, and communicating with others with empathy and impact.
Every piece of advice comes with a footnoted scientific study — often more than one — buttressing its claims. And Webb, a former partner at a management consulting firm, peppers the text with mini-case studies, anecdotes from business leaders across a wide spectrum of industries that reinforce each of the learnings. Taken together, these present a compelling argument that the advice doesn’t just work in the lab, but in the rubber-meets-the-road environments of the shop floor and the conference room.
Webb opens the book with a section on the science. There are some familiar big ideas (the brain’s two-systems of deliberate thought and automatic or pre-conscious process; the fight-flight-freeze response which can keep us open to discovery or shut us down in defensive threat reaction; and the mind-body loop in which influence can go both ways) which Webb will weave throughout the book. If there is a core theme, it would be that by better understanding how our brain processes the world, we can become aware of and avoid the shortcuts and pitfalls of our unconscious biases and blind spots — and in so doing, increase the odds of our having successful interactions. (And that, often, it can be as simple an act as setting intentions that alerts the brain to the salient features it should be picking out.)
If you’re familiar with cognitive science (or phenomenology) some of this may be sound obvious, but Webb’s skill is in taking these insights and showing how they lead to dysfunction in our everyday lives. We do not directly experience the world, but rather offload much of our administrative processing to sub-conscious systems — and therein lies the problem: we make snap judgements, improperly weight data, and can miss things that are literally right in front of our eyes.
One example Webb uses to demonstrate this kind of inattentional blindness is the famous “gorilla in the basketball game” video (if you’re not familiar, here’s a helpful NPR backgrounder: [...] ). Webb offers a variety of tested methods for re-focusing our brain’s attention, keeping us in a creative, open state, and engaging the teams around us in ways that help keep them working at their full potential. Hint: It can be as simple as using the “yes…and” familiar to anyone who’s done improv comedy to keep other team members from going into the “amygdala hijack” of defensive mode.
One weird trick I found particularly compelling was harnessing our social brain to solve abstract logic puzzles. Webb uses the example of the Wason selection task (see Wikipedia: [...]), in which you have four cards, showing D, F, 3, and 7, and are asked which cards you would need to turn over to test the truth of the assertion that any card with a “D” on one side must have a “3” on the other. A majority of people get this wrong. But then Webb suggests reframing it in social terms:
“You’re a bartender. You have to make sure that anyone drinking beer in your bar is over twenty-one, or you could lose your license. Each of the cards below represents information about four of your patrons. One side of the card shows what they’re drinking, and the other side of the card shows their (real) age. Which card or cards to you need to turn over to see if the twenty-one-and-over rule is being violated?” The cards are: Beer, Coke, 25, and 16.
Three times as many people get this right, because they’re leveraging their social knowledge. And as Webb points out, we can easily apply this framing to everyday conceptual challenges to provide extra processing power. And that’s just one cherry-picked example. The 300 pages of this book are packed with equally powerful bits of advice.
Webb conveys this all with style and wit, in prose that is at once warm and unpretentious and yet totally at home with the complexities of the evidence she marshals to support her arguments. It is well-written down to the footnotes, and contains two helpful appendices on applying the book’s insights to the two main productivity killers of the business world, meetings and e-mail. I came away with half-a-dozen ideas for things to do differently (some as simple as single-tasking and batching the times I respond to e-mails) and I can virtually guarantee that you’ll find things that will make your days more productive and, yes, happier.
Full disclosure: I used to work at the same company as Ms. Webb’s husband, but I have never met her.