CM 059: Erika Andersen on Getting Good Fast

blog-post-erika-andersenWant to succeed in work and life? Be bad first.

Do not confuse this with the familiar call to fail fast (so often heard in the startup world in recent years). This is a longer game. It is about getting comfortable with being novices and of committing to learning new, hard skills that take years to acquire. In a world of rapid-fire change, constant connection, and lots of choices, it is a necessary goal.

Erika Andersen, wants to teach us how to do just that. Erika is the Founder of Proteus, author of three books on leadership, and a Forbes contributor. She shares concrete tips and great examples in her latest book, Be Bad First: Get Good at Things Fast to Stay Ready for the Future.

Insights from our interview:  

  • The key skill for success in the 21st century
  • Why being bad first is not about failing fast or failing forward
  • How open are we to learning new ideas? Less open than we say.
  • How we hate being bad at things but love getting good at things
  • How our desire for mastery can work in our favor with new challenges
  • How hard are you clinging to the skills you have? How is that working for you?
  • Four mental skills crucial for learning
  • How Michelangelo successfully navigated being bad first
  • The role innovation plays in getting ourselves to learn new things
  • How to put our self talk to work for us rather than against us
  • How we cannot get the help we need if we do not know our gaps
  • How to revise and reframe our negative self talk
  • What does healthy curiosity look like in adulthood?
  • Confused about curiosity? Watch a 3-year-old!
  • Get curious by unleashing your drive to understand
  • Value the expertise of others enough to ask them questions
  • Expected to be expert in your field? Beware of asking these questions.
  • Want to reclaim your innate curiosity? Start with your hobbies!
  • Anti-curiosity strongly connected to negative self talk
  • Risk-free way to practice being bad first? Write with your non-dominant hand.
  • It is impossible to be good at something you have never done – remember that
  • Learning something new? Find your bridge – the part you know something about.
  • Three things we need to believe in order to change our behavior.
  • When leaders model new behaviors, change goes faster in their orgs
  • Every year, pick something new to be bad at.

Selected Links to Topics Mentioned


Erika Andersen

Rookie Smarts by Liz Wiseman


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