4 strategies from Lincoln to make sure what you do matters

Humanity faces existential threats unlike any we’ve ever seen. We need difference makers now more than ever.

Yet few of us drive any meaningful change. It’s not for a lack of trying. But we invest blood, sweat and tears into causes that go nowhere or mean nothing.

Most of us, paralyzed by fear of failure, settle for the safe career path, the certain cause, the guaranteed payday. It’s the voice that tells us it’s better to settle for the sure thing.

This is the path of the engineering…


Lessons from corporate crime on how to be a better person

Corporate crime provides an illuminating glimpse into the darkest and most unsettling aspects of human nature. It shows how easy it is for even the most intelligent among us to be deceived, duped, and defrauded by bad actors. More interestingly, it reveals forces that lead otherwise decent people down a slippery slope toward taking illegal or unethical action — or to stand by while others do so.

Take for example the 1719 South Sea scandal, one of the western world’s earliest financial crises.

Driven by the promise of investing in trade with South America, thousands of Britons poured their money…


Reflections on the life and death of Steve Jobs

The reality myth

Rashomon, the classic Akira Kurosawa film, presents viewers with four competing portrayals of a single event — the rape of a woman and the murder of her husband — as seen through the eyes of each participant and eyewitness. These narratives explicitly contradict each other throughout the film. The film does not address whether this is due to selective honesty on behalf of the storytellers, or an actual difference in how they perceived what occurred.

In doing so, the film speaks to the blurry line between perception and reality, and to…


Lessons from Katharine Graham, the housewife-turned-executive who redefined 20th century journalism

Following her husband’s tragic suicide in the summer of 1963, Katharine Graham was asked to take the helm of the fledgling Washington Post, a local DC metro paper that had been managed by her family for the past three decades.

It is hard to imagine a CEO more set up for failure than Graham.

A full-time housewife for the past twenty years, she had no executive or management experience to speak of. The Post competed in a crowded market where profits were hard to come by, even under the experienced management of Graham’s predecessors.

As a woman, most of the…


My mom’s death in 2009 was the defining event of my 20s. Turning 30 today, I find myself halfway between the age when that tragedy struck my family and the age she was when she passed.

Not surprisingly, it’s invited a fair amount of reflection.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time looking back over the past 10 years, on the triumphs and failures of my twenties, on all the lessons learned — mostly the hard way. …


This post is part 4 of a multi-part series on how to eliminate stress at work with strategies informed by modern scientific research and ancient philosophy. To get instant access to the complete series, you can download the guide here.

Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a number of strong leaders, each with their own unique work style and strengths. But for all their differences, there’s one trait I’ve observed that all of them share.

Emotional mastery.

No matter what the circumstance, the best leaders I’ve worked with never let the highs get them too…


A counter-intuitive strategy to stop feeling overwhelmed at work

This article is part 3 of a multi-part series on how to eliminate stress at work with strategies informed by modern scientific research and ancient philosophy. To get instant access to the complete series, as well as exclusive bonus content that I don’t share on my blog, subscribe to my free Art of Output Insider’s List.

To be honest, I think that trying to “get more done” can be a bit of a waste of time. …


How practicing gratitude daily can make you healthier, happier, and more successful

This article was originally published on The Art of Output, where I write about how people can thrive at work by leveraging insights from scientific research and ancient philosophy.

Thanksgiving’s always been my favorite holiday.

Of course, you have the 3Fs: family, food, and football — which just so happen to be three of my favorite things.

But even more than the celebration and indulgence that go hand in hand with Thanksgiving, what I really love is the holiday’s emphasis on gratitude. …


Introducing stress-reducing strategies that actually work — no matter where you work

This post is part 2 of a multi-part series on how to eliminate stress at work with strategies informed by modern scientific research and ancient philosophy (Part 1 can be found here). To get instant access to the complete series, as well as exclusive bonus content that I don’t share on the blog, subscribe to my free Art of Output Insider’s List.

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As a compulsive Type-A personality, I’ve researched and tested virtually every productivity “hack” and stress reduction strategy under the sun. …


Why reducing stress and doing less can help you unlock peak performance at work

I used to believe that in order to succeed in my career, all I needed to do was work harder and smarter than those around me.

And when I went into sales, still green behind the ears, that’s exactly what I tried to do. Waking up at 5, working til 8pm or later, Monday through Friday, and working 5–10 hours on Sunday to prepare for the week.

I was in for a rude awakening.

After half a year of putting in 60 to 80 hour weeks, in addition to applying virtually every productivity tactic under the sun to get the…

Matt Serna

Technology marketer exploring the intersection of psychology, philosophy, and work at artofoutput.com.

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