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Tip Sheet: How to Stay Optimistic & More Best Business Advice

How to stay upbeat in tumultuous times?




MINDSETStay Optimistic

How to stay upbeat in tumultuous times? Nate Zinsser, director of the performance psychology program at West Point, told Bloomberg one of his favorite strategies is to “Flash a Stop Sign.” “When your mind throws you fear or doubt or worry, visualize an actual stop sign. You want to deliberately cease those thoughts and replace them with optimistic thoughts. Talk back to the negativity the same way you would talk back to your obnoxious brother when he’s talking garbage,” Zinsser says.

MARKETINGDriving Business

Dan Reitman of Dan’s Pet Care in New York views his staff as family, but also as potential mobile billboards. He offers his pet sitters and dog walkers the option to wrap their personal cars in his company’s logo, at his expense, and receive $200 a month in exchange. Ten employees have currently taken him up on the offer. Reitman told GCT’s sister publication PETS+: “We get so much business from it, and it adds to the perceived legitimacy of your business in the eyes of the consumer when they see you everywhere.”

TIME MANAGEMENTDeclare an Email Holiday

Need to hunker down to work on an important project? Set up an auto-responder saying you’ll be away for a couple of days, and then tackle whatever you need to get done, writes Chris Bailey in Hyper Focus. (Leave an alternate email address or even phone number for “genuine” emergencies.)


OPERATIONSClear to Neutral

When you enter a kitchen and find the sink piled high with dishes, you’re less likely to want to dive into cooking the day’s meal. The same applies to a dispensary when packages and boxes are scattered around, or even your office when you have to clear a pile of stuff off your desk to start working. Enter the idea of “clearing to neutral”—a ritual where “whenever you finish an activity, you move everything so it is in neutral position.” According to Thanh Pham, at the blog Asian Efficiency, when you return to such an environment, it eliminates all of the friction—both physical and mental—and you can quickly get started with what you need to accomplish.

MANAGEMENTBetter Brainstorm

If you want to foster ideas from your staff, don’t tell them to “be creative.” They’re likely to freeze up. A better approach, according to a recent Businessweek article, is to say: “Do something only you would come up with—that none of your colleagues, friends or family would think of.” This has been shown to yield twice as many creative responses.


Andy Frisella, the social media entrepreneur behind the “75 Hard” self-improvement challenge, recommends labeling negative inner monologues as your “bitch voice” and then replacing them with your “boss voice” to take control. Here, “bitch voice” is the label for the voice that’s saying things like: “Not now,” “maybe tomorrow,” or “I’m not in the right mood.” Having a label like “bitch voice” makes it easier to recognize these thought patterns and turn them into more productive ones, says Frisella. “It allows me to greet them like an old friend (“Oh hey, bitch voice”), smile, and do the exact opposite of what it’s telling me to do,” he says.

SELF-AWARENESSBetter Than Perfect

Perfection isn’t just impossible, it’s counterproductive, notes Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist and author of the bestseller Think Again. “Perfectionists are more likely to burn out and less likely to embrace new challenges. Success depends on high standards, not being flawless. The target is not perfection—it’s excellence.”

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