The Smarts – Big little hacks to take you a long way at work” is a short book I have read, while taking notes, for about 1.5 hours.

Let’s start with the initial concepts:

  • the Smarts are the ways of working, behaviours, and hacks that will make you stand out and will give you an advantage
  • people who use the Smarts, they’re called Smarties (like the chocolate product, you’re right).

The author structures the Smarts into 8 categories presented in a simple manner. Moreover, this book contains 60% drawings which will make the content digestible. Let me present you 2-3 Smarts for each category, and I’ll let the rest to discover for yourself.

  1. First Impression
    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Make sure you remember other’s people names. It matters. I know, it’s sometimes hard, but one technique is to repeat the name after you greeted the person to make sure you got it right and you can even ask something about the name – it will help you memorize it.
    • Be the first to show up for a meeting. It will give you time to do all the technical checks and you’ll have some time for an informal chat.
  2. Master keys to communicating
    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Listen to the message, not to the sender. The same message will be received differently depending on if you like or not the person saying it, so try to get the content of that message. It might prove to have useful insights.
    • When you need to give updates on something, give updates on:
      1. Progress: Last week I achieved…
      2. Plan: This week I plan to…
      3. Problems: Where I have an issue is…
      4. (optional) – my opinion – is how the other person can help.
  3. Work well with others
    • Timing is key – observe people’s habits. When you ask for something, make sure that is a favorable moment for them – not when they’re in a hurry, heading to a meeting, etc.
    • Think about thinking – instead of asking “What do you think?” try asking “What are you thinking?”
  4. Become an expert in how you work
    • Be aware of your hook zone (where you’re good and on what you’re more likely to work more). Make sure you keep yourself in check and you challenge yourself. Otherwise, people might give you those sorts of tasks and you don’t get out of your comfort zone. 
    • Reflect every day
      1. What happened today?
      2. Why did it happen?
      3. What is one thing I’ve learned?
      4. What shall I do differently tomorrow?
  5. Be a productivity monster
    • Have a Moving Forward Mindset. That means, be that doer that makes the next step. Be the first to create an action list, book that meeting, make that call, prioritize, or whatever the next step is. When you want to see another person again, find a time and agree on it as soon as possible. 
    • Make sure you review the process and how you do things. Is it something you can do better? Is any way you can automatize parts of your work?
  6. Have some special tools in your box
    • You may find yourself in a discussion that gets long or there are long explanations. Try to summarise them and get a problem statement. See if everyone agrees with that – it will help everyone have more clarity. 
    • Learn about financial concepts. They will help you understand more about the business and the market. Some concepts you might want to explore: Bear and Bull markets, Budget, Forecast, Balance Sheet, Assets, Liabilities, Margin, Profit, EBITDA, and OIBDA.
  7. Know how your brain works
    • Improve your EQ:
      • Self-awareness – What are your strengths, weaknesses, emotions, and needs?
      • Self-regulation  exercise emotional control. How can you be more patient?
      • Motivation – What drives you?
      • Empathy
      • Social skills – How to create rapport or build common ground with other people
    • Recognize your ANTs(Automatic Negative Thoughts) – those thoughts that sabotage you.
    • When you’re stuck or too involved in a situation, ask for an objective opinion from an external person, who really sees things differently.
  8. Always be growing
    • Have a ‘me time’. Get yourself for a coffee or for a long walk. I like doing that at least once a month. 
    • Always be reading – both fiction and non-fiction, as books will expand your reality and your knowledge.
    • Try to invite for a chat these 3 wise ones:
      1. Technical wise ones: these people are great at their jobs and will help you improve your skills.
      2. Problem-solving wise ones: they ask great questions which will help you through tricky situations
      3. Long-gamer wise ones: these are people who will help you look into the future. While they won’t give you answers, they will help you help yourself.

While it is a short book, I really enjoyed it. It’s not just empty words or quotes, but it tries to put them in context, giving almost all the time a short story or an example. Plus, it’s visual. It will stick to your mind. It delivers what it promises.

For all those reasons, I would rate this book an 8/10.

Hope I made you think about some of these hacks, and whatever you try out, give me a shout. I’m curious about how it went. Also, if you want to read more about The smarts, check the official website too.

Images sources: