Stanford Executive Briefings: Personal Growth and Development

There's more to life than the bottom line. Enjoy the collected wisdom from some of the country's most successful business people, respected and innovative psychologists, cutting-edge researchers, and star athletes who have lessons that can help all of us become better versions of ourselves.

Leadership Lessons from the Gridiron

Giving us glimpses of his experience on the field—from ignominious interceptions to come-from-behind wins—with self-deprecating humor and passion for the game, Steve Young shares his lifelong takeaways.

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Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers

Tackling the serious topic of stress in his famously entertaining manner, Robert Sapolsky sets the stage on a Kenyan savannah, with a hungry lion in hot pursuit of a terrified zebra. As he explains, the zebra’s fight-or-flight response channels essential energy to its survival effort by shutting down and even damaging nonessential biological functions—in a temporary, short-term response.

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Why Don't We Naturally Make Good Decisions?

We rarely study—much less apply—the fundamental thinking processes that should be undertaken before we make important decisions. Dr. Howard describes the elements of high-quality decisions and tells how to increase our clarity of action in the personal and professional decisions that shape our lives and organizations.

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Influence: How to Build Effective Relationships and Allies

It is necessary for you to influence people at all levels of your organization in order to get your job done. Carole Robin explains how the effective use of influence helps you deliver on your promises and produce excellent results, making you one of the "go-to" people in your organization. And this in turn makes your circle of influence grow ever larger.

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The Mastery of Speaking as a Leader

Terry Pearce demonstrates ways in which a leader can elevate a speech into a more powerful and ultimately productive experience for both speaker and listener. Pearce explains three rules that set the stage for consistently engaging presentations: speak on topics you care about, incorporate personal experiences, and structure your speech as a story.

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Building Personal Networks

Networks can be powerful career tools, helping to drive performance and build influence. But they benefit organizations as well, enhancing productivity and improving communication between disparate business units and functions. Professor James Baron offers concrete suggestions for building an effective and efficient personal network.

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Preparing for Long Life in the 21st Century

Leaders of organizations need to understand how cognitive processing, decision making, memory, and motivation change as they, their employees, and their customers age. Dr. Carstensen shares research findings on motivation grounded in the uniquely human perception of time horizons and the theory of “socioemotional selectivity,” in which our values and goals change over time.

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Power: How to Get It, Use It, and Keep It

Getting a job, having control over your work, and holding on to a job all require more than simply excelling at what you do. They require an understanding of power. According to Professor Pfeffer, individual power comes from political skill, which is characterized by social astuteness, networking ability, interpersonal influence, and “apparent” sincerity. And power comes from knowing the rules of the game, recognizing the power of others, and—most of all—being willing and able to play the game.

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The Psychology of Power

While there are many benefits that come from having power, there are also many risks. Deborah Gruenfeld explains how a lack of consequences can allow powerful people to make serious errors in judgment that have far-reaching impacts on themselves and on their organizations.

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Emotion vs. Analytics

Is it best to be emotionless and analytical in decision making? When our goal is to be decisive, the answer is a resounding No. Instead, harnessing the power of emotions is critical. Studies of the neural underpinnings of decision making show that our brains start by evaluating options analytically. But very soon—usually based on first impressions—we create an emotional front-runner.

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Happiness Matters

Tony Hsieh discusses the different ingredients used by Zappos.com to build a long-lasting enduring brand, including the importance of customer service and company culture.

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Creative Confidence

David Kelley, founder and chair of IDEO, discusses human-centered “design thinking,” which requires building empathy for the end-users of whatever product, service or environment you are creating. But empathy alone is not enough. If you want to innovate routinely, you must have a process.

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