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During a demanding negotiation, when interests at stake are radically divergent and it seems that there is no more room for the dialogue, a radical shift in the approach to the pourparler could be the turning point of the whole negotiation, even in case of major discussions over national interests, such as the controversial right of the Islamic Republic of Iran to carry on the uranium enrichment process started in 2006.

In effect, this article highlights how a radical shift of the Iranian negotiators’ approach to the nuclear dossier, which opposed the Islamic Republic to the international community, led to the signature of the so-called Vienna Agreement in July 2015.

By shunning the bombastic and confrontational language that had become the hallmark of the Islamic Republic’s officials, Mr. Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iranian Foreign Minister and chief of the Iranian delegation,  build up a personal relation with foreign diplomats thanks to his easy smile and mastery of English.

In conclusion, when the negotiation is stuck and all options seem inconsistent, a “smile” approach to the negotiation could be more useful than a simple force demonstration, and, in some cases, it could even bring to make an agreement over a nuclear issue possible.


Image source: Flickr wewiorka_wagner  (CC BY-SA 2.0)

5 Mistakes good leaders should avoid


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Steve Cartwright, in this article on Web Design, points out the five common mistakes made by leaders:

  1. Focusing on tasks rather than reaching the ultimate goal. You can’t lead others if you don’t know what you’re striving for, so be sure you’re clear and focused on the vision rather than the small tasks of the job.
  2. Checking up on employees rather than engaging them. Make it a point to get to know your team members: it’s important to get your vision across, and you can’t do that if you merely check in once in a while.
  3. Don’t stick to your own leadership style. You can learn from other leaders in history and in your business, but don’t mimic them when it comes to your leadership style: find your own way and stick to it!
  4. Resist change. Many leaders tend to do what they’ve always done in terms of leading. If you want your business or team to prosper and grow, take some time to expose yourself to new ideas.
  5. Hire people too fast to fill a slot. True leaders take their time when hiring and make sure they can complete the work and grow along with the company or team.


Image source: Flickr nist6dh  (CC BY-SA 2.0)

30 Websites That Will Make You Unbelievably Smarter


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Lolly Daskal, President and CEO of Lead From Within, provides a list of the best websites that can be used for professional and personal development. Instead of chasing after provocative headlines and weird old tricks, why not spend time on sites that will make you smarter in life, shrewder in business, and wiser in leadership?

1. TED Talks 
TED’s tagline is “ideas worth spreading.” TED Talks is a video collection in the form of short, powerful speeches on every subject imaginable (18 minutes or less).

2. Brain Pickings
Brain Pickings has interesting posts drawn from art, science, design, history, and philosophy.

3. 99U
99U’s actionable insights on productivity, organization, and leadership help creative people push ideas forward.

4. Lynda
Lynda has thousands of video tutorials covering technical, creative, and business skills, all taught by industry experts.

5. University of the People 
University of the People is a nonprofit, tuition-free online university based in California and committed to educational access and inclusion.

6. Learnist 
Learnist is a collaborative knowledge-sharing site where users create and curate “learning boards” composed of text, images, video, and audio.

7. Alison
Alison offers free online courses with certification and diploma options.

8. Mental Floss 
Mental Floss tests your knowledge through quizzes, brainteasers, and games.

9. Brain Pump 
Brain Pump lets you learn something new and feeds your curiosity, through a vast library of entertaining videos on topics ranging from chemistry to physics to history.

10. Peer 2 Peer University
Peer 2 Peer University is an open education project in which learners gather in lightly organized circles that meet at public libraries and other accessible sites.

11. Platzi
Platzi offers live-streamed courses–many free–on topics including web and app development, online marketing, interface design, and server administration.

12. edX
EdX, a collaborative project of Harvard University and MIT, provides free online courses and classes from the world’s best universities and other institutions.

13. OpenSesame
OpenSesame is a marketplace for business-oriented online training.

14. Udacity
At Udacity, find free online courses, self-paced with code reviews, when you want to make a career change or get a new job.

15. Coursmos
Coursmos is a micro-course platform with short video lessons on topics ranging from business to lifestyle.

16. Highbrow
Highbrow lets you choose one course and receive new knowledge every morning. Super-brief lessons are delivered to your inbox. Learn, grow, repeat … in all subjects: art, health, history, literature, logic, nature, philosophy, productivity.

17. Coursera
Coursera is a platform where anyone can take free online classes from 120-plus top universities and educational organizations.

18.  University Webinars
On University Webinars and Videos for Blended Learning, top college faculty, staff, and experts in their field share knowledge from their courses and programs, targeted for higher education professionals.

DataCamp is the most engaging way to learn R and data science. Learn in the comfort of your own browser via tutorials and coding challenges. A monthly or annual fee provides access to all courses.

20. CreativeLive 
At CreativeLive, take free live online classes taught by the world’s most inspiring instructors. Choose from video workshops in photography, video, design, business, audio, music, crafting, and software training.

21. Investopedia 
Investopedia is a premiere resource for investing and personal finance education, market analysis, and trading simulators. Access free educational content and tools.

22. Gibbon
Gibbon is a peer-to-peer learning network that connects users who want to teach one another and learn about anything. An enterprise knowledge portal for employee development and learning, individually accessible courses are also available.

23. BBC Languages
BBC Languages provides free online language Learning that includes the alphabet, phrases, vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, activities, and tests. Free interactive tutorials come in 40 languages.

24. Future Learn
Future Learn has free courses in subjects including law, psychology, and teaching, offered in partnership with top universities and specialist organizations in the U.K. and around the world.

25. MIT OpenCourseWare
MIT OpenCourseWare is a web-based publication, open and accessible, of virtually all MIT course content.

26. Project Gutenberg
Project Gutenberg is a digital library of more than 50,000 free e-books to read online or download. Included are book listings, a search engine, a newsletter, articles, and information on how users can help create more free e-books.

27. Quora
Quora: the best answer to any question. On Quora, ask a question on any topic or subject and receive an answer from an expert.

28. Udemy
Udemy is an online education marketplace with limitless variety: more than 30,000 courses, developed by subject-matter experts.

29. Skillshare 
Skillshare is a learning community for creators. Anyone can take an online class, watch video lessons, create projects, and even teach a class.

30. is all about advice, news, tools, and services to help small businesses grow. Everything you read on will make you a smarter leader and entrepreneur.


Image source: Flickr medithIT  (CC BY 2.0)

Introverts and diplomacy: a possible marriage?


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The principle behind the art of public diplomacy is not new: in order to advance your goals you need to engage, listen, discuss, persuade and ultimately influence others.
Now, if all this is true, is there a chance for introverts to be good diplomats?

In this TED Susan Cain suggests a very interesting answer.

First of all, she explains what introversion is. She argues that Western culture misunderstands and undervalues the traits and capabilities of introverted people although some of our leaders in history have been introverts: Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, and Gandhi.

Nowadays, according to Cain, we entered a new culture that historians call the culture of personality and introverts are pressured to act like extroverts instead of embracing their serious, often quiet and reflective style.

In our workplace when we think to leadership, introverts are routinely passed over for leadership positions, even though introverts tend to be very careful, much less likely to take outsize risks and introverted leaders often deliver better outcomes than extroverts do. Introverts tend to be more empathetic, modest, deep-thinking and innovative.

Cain is not seeking introvert domination but a better balance and inclusion of different work styles, acknowledging that big ideas and great leadership can come from either personality type.


Image source: FlickrBill Strain (CC BY 2.0)



Keep Your ‘Good demons’ Awake


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How to make your life ‘flourish’, living up to your potential? Here are three good tips in Aristotelian thought, developed 2.300 years ago:

1. Having to do with our conduct, this is a matter of ethics and you have to cultivate Eudaimonia, which may be translated as ‘having good demons’. This indicates the capacity to raise all the functional, concrete aspects of life of humans as rational creatures who live in societies.

2. What enables you to flourish is also virtue: this essentially means knowing to what extent traits of human personality should be used and exploited on each occasion to achieve an optimal result.

3. You can become more virtuous through education, looking at accomplished, flourished people and through good habits you may develop, which help you flourish.

For more details have a look at this article: The 3 Key Ideas from Aristotle That Will Help You Flourish by Charlie Gilkey


Image source: FlickrJon Wallach  (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Problem solving: analytical and creative thinking



We usually have to face obstacles in our daily life and we must be ready to deal with such challenges in the best and the most effective way.

But which skills are required to be a good and effective problem solver?
According to the article “The skills of problem solving”, both analytical and creative mental skills are required.
 The analytical approach provides a logical framework that allows you to identify the most appropriate solution from those available.
On the contrary, the creative approach  is related to feelings and is more about intuition, invention and innovation. Creativity helps you develop new and uncommon ideas, which probably do not have a logical connection with the problem but are likely to lead you to a solution.
Image source:  FlickrDuncan C (CC BY-NC 2.0)