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My four leadership hacks as Harvard Business School get personal

As many of my classmates have already pointed out (here, here, here and here), our experiences at Harvard Business School during the second half of Professional Leadership Development program focused less on technical knowledge and more on the understanding of our personal attributes.

1. Lockpicking: Are you teaching criminals?

A major change in my attitude was to get out there and teach my fellow executives. What is something simple that I could uniquely offer? Lockpicking. I taught lockpicking with TOOOL for 3 years at DEFCON and have enough training tools that can fit into one of Emily’s old Clinique bags (people are less likely to walk off with an orange makeup bag). Everyone picked at least one lock with Nofi being a particular all-star that opened all the locks I had to offer.

Overall, lockpicking was a huge hit. I was able to host 3 different sessions and 40+ classmates learned something brand new. However, when posting on social media questions about teaching “criminality” arose. This seems bizarre since our lectures involve several in-depth discussions about fraud orders of magnitude above what anyone would ever see from home burglary. I think the critics miss how the takeaway for the students dovetails nicely with our studies. Locks provide a simple tangible process, which is much less abstract than financial fraud, which can be subverted to do something that wasn’t originally intended.

Another benefit was that after our short sessions and I was suddenly inundated by more complex security discussions. Topics were varied including advice for which security vendors to consider, the importance of password management, basic cyber hygiene, and even in one case advice on how to fight a phishing campaign. Without deciding to be a teacher on small things I wouldn’t have been able to drive a conversation on the tougher stuff.

2. Acting with the Ariel group

I never thought I would be taking an acting class. I was in small plays in High School but I never really felt it as a calling. However, on Saturday we all were sitting around being put on the spot for displaying emotions in improvisational scenarios and yelling “hah” at each other. I even told a story about my make-believe cat grooming salon. Most of it reminded me more when I sang in the Navy but we also learned an important framework for telling stories.

I don’t like telling stories and having something both relevant and impactful is tough. A framework was provided to keep things short, maybe ~2 minutes, and telling something visually interesting was a very good exercise. However, I didn’t really buy into it until I heard Noah from my live in group tell his childhood story. It was amazing and left us with goose bumps. As a Quaker, he spoke of fire, fear, and rebirth making me want to jump up and do something, anything, to help him out. His very personal story convinced me of the power of storytelling. Now I am looking at compiling a short set of stories to keep for leadership challenges.

3. Running a case study at AIG: Tunneling my inner Tushman

A very powerful thing we do at AIG is teach what we have learned from our professional development training. There are two benefits, obviously, our team can benefit from the information of an event. More importantly, the attendee is able to summarize what they have learned which galvanizes and better retains that information. So for my training, I purchased a few HBS cases, ordered pizza, and sat 20 people down in a room to go over a case.

It went amazingly well! Our diverse group argued and had healthy debates about the situation as I moderated frantically trying to keep up. I remembered the way the HBS professors would give equal time to both sides, raise pointed questions, and stop people from dominating the conversation. I didn’t even need to cold call anyone! There was always an opinion out there. By mimicking the behaviors of the professors I might not have been able to give a true experience but it got lots of people interested in taking HBS classes.

4. All the sports you could muster

At 3 am I woke up to watch a Rugby match of the AIG All-Blacks playing the Lions. I’m not really good at team sports. When I played soccer I would play with the grass and stare at the planes landing more than the ball. So waking up at 3 am to watch what my roommate Paul said was “a huge match that only happens once every 7 years” I wasn’t that excited but I knew he was I sent a message out to the 140 cohorts inviting us to join, set my alarm and went to bed.

When I woke up at 3 am the lights in the living space didn’t automatically turn on. Even the building knew that it was too early for anyone sane to be still up. Nobody else showed up, but Paul and I were there sitting in the dark, eating potato chips, and going over the finer points of rugby. While I was exhausted the next day, it was extremely fun to see how the match played out and see the AIG All-Blacks pull a huge win.

There was also a baseball game where we watched the Boston Red Socks and suddenly our roles were reversed. I was the sporting expeert and knew tons more about the game than many of our international cohorts. I spent time discussing how strikes, outs, and innings worked to people.

So why were sports important to my studies? I feel it goes back to how important it is to be willing to step into the roles of both a teacher and be a student in groups. Learning something from someone, even something very simple builds comradery, and trust. When a more complex topic comes up we have the tools and relationship to handle new challenges. Sports offered an easily useable stepping stone to deeper conversations.

So here about a month after I left Harvard I have been thinking more about my roles as a teacher, actor, and sports aficionado. Its been very bizarre and almost a completely different experience than the first segment at HBS.I find myself very appreciative to Harvard Business School for designing a program I never knew I needed and very curious on how the next module will transform me.

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Conquer creativity; seize your three golden hours

Budgeting time is a universally popular topic amongst management courses, linkedin articles, and blogs. Time is the universal resource people trade for fun, salary, and sleep. Companies routinely judge employees by the amount of time completed on the job. Man-hours are formally tracked for many companies, work-hours are often explicitly stated, and even informally we are aware of our colleagues who show up late or waste time in meetings. An entire article can be written about how time management is a key component in professional training courses ranging from the military to medical school. Everyone is looking for a way to hack out some additional time in their day.

But I suggest taking a closer look. There are two separate time management issues at hand. The first is the classic triage time management approach of treating work as having different levels of importance. A kid being rushed into the ER is more important than finishing a level on a video game. However, in my own journey to perfect time hacking has led me to a second realization. Certain work is best matched with certain time and understanding that will make you the most effective for yourself, your boss, and your loved ones.

As I was watching my daughter try to shove little triangles and circles into matching holes I realized one of my biggest problems is a misfit of tasks and time. I am less effective when trying to accomplish tasks without properly matching up the best time. Throughout the day my hours have different constraints, I have different emotions, and distractions that impact effectiveness. Intuitively this makes sense. Is 2am a bad time to host a meeting? My co-workers will be grumpy. Should you plan that meeting during the family dinner? The wife starring you down will be grumpy. Are you going to get your best work done at those times? Probably not. But these scenarios are easier to understand because we typically understand if we are inconveniencing others and it is not the best time for them. It is much more difficult to be introspective and discover at what time you will be the most effective.

Different time means different things

I group my time into 3 categories. Creative, routine, and rest. Each one has its own little attributes and quirks that best fit certain tasks.

Creative time, these golden hours, are the most limited and productive times of the day taking swaths of brain power and concentration. This is the good stuff that builds to Gladwell’s 10,000 hours of mastery… and it is draining. Its enjoyable because when I’m there it is almost a trancelike state where I am only concerned about what I am doing in the moment. If everything goes correctly I will slowly shake out of my trance relaxed, tired, and with a sense of accomplishment. Alas there is always some micro disaster going on wanting to pull me out of this state. While there are some ways to eek out more of this time by eliminating distractions (hooray headphones) it is always limited. On a good day I can get about 3 golden hours and my average day will knock me down to about an hour.

Routine time can be seen as a very watered down golden hour. This is basically the 5-6 hours a day where I am participating in meetings, drafting reports, and actively listening to problems. It’s not the best work, it’s not the most creative, but it gets things past the finish line or primes a project to launching point. The conditions are not as sensitive and I do not need to worry too much about being distracted.

Resting time doesn’t mean my brain isn’t working. It can just be extremely passive. Mindless television, driving, listening to audiobooks, big meetings, time with family, childcare, naps and knocking off items on the to-do list are all things that help clear my mind. Often we are able to multitask doing these things. Think of all the people listening to audiobooks on their drive. They do not have to argue with the audiobook or be concerned about optimizing their travel time on the road, they can just enjoy. I use rest time as a method to triage other tasks that require more attention at some point in the future. Audiobooks get bookmarks so that I can go back and listen to the information using my routine or creative time. One of my favorite leaders once said that he always went for a run with a problem in his head. He believed that the oxygen deprivation helped him come to solutions for when he got back to his desk. Thats the perfect use of rest time and I highly recommend it.

Fitting the right peg in the hole

The impact comes from how you can manage these three time types to get the most out of your day. Matching up your current work priorities (classic triage) and how you work best is an extremely difficult personal problem requiring good self awareness. So while results may vary, here is how I look at it.

My most important time is now that creative time that comes either at the beginning of the day or right at the end. My daughter is safe at daycare, no emergencies, and no meetings demanding my immediate attention. It is the perfect time to do difficult problems, get some serious work done, and give myself time to sink into that trance. It is rare, elusive and about impossible to get back into that frame of reference after I get ejected from it.

Routine time is the default time used at work. Its inconvenient to stop or start tasks, but not completely detrimental. I can easily handle small emergencies or shift to tackle small roadblocks that have popped up for the team. Small tasks, hiccups, and work roadblocks that you can do without much thought or concern on autopilot can stay under routine work. The real value of checklists and processes are that they turn the unique into the mundane repeatable items you have done millions of times. When they become so ingrained that no new decision needs to be made it can be completed in your rest time.

Rest time makes up the remainder of the day. There is no need for ritual or preparation and it is best for small tasks that can be broken down. When people are ready to “veg” they are doing these things and are tasks that you can be running on autopilot. Reading light literature (blog posts), sorting emails, swiping left and right on mobile apps, paying pesky bills, doing chores, catching up on your favorite TV shows or with family and friends all fall into this category. If you are tired, unenthusiastic or in bad spirits these are the activities people default to. The most important thing to realize is thats ok. You can’t run full throttle all the time but it is good to place complete your simple tasks. By getting things done you can stay motivated without losing momentum or your mind.

Building a nest for those precious golden hours

DO NOT GIVE UP YOUR GOLDEN HOURS! Fight for them with every action of your day. It will give you that creativity, the work boost, and that sense of accomplishment that will carry over the rest of the day. Set up conditions so that your golden hours will be the best uninterrupted work it can be. Also don’t give it all just to your work. Spend some time working on some personal goals and investing in yourself.

I need some prep work to build my nest and get into the zone. I need to have some coffee, find a new area away from distractions, and just go into tunnel vision. My golden hours are so important that I use my routine/rest time to prep for them. I setup playlists, clean up the coffeemaker, and move things into position so I will not have to be interrupted. I schedule meetings and anticipate problems to make sure updates won’t occur during my golden hours. But that is just me. I know other people who need to have just come out of an exciting meeting or workout session to ride that post accomplishment bliss sitting in a rat’s nest of a workspace. Whatever works. The important part is that you are realizing which time space you are in and which work is accomplished best there.

If you want to identify your golden hours I suggest this:

  1. Describe what your golden hours look like? When do you get your most effective work done and what does the environment look like?
  2. For one week see if your hypothesis meets reality.
  3. For the next week, challenge yourself to add 15 more minutes of that effective work time and keep a quick log of what you get done.

I have found being able to tap into my golden hours has helped me achieve much more than I thought possible in a day. While most of our days aren’t optimal, we should seek to integrate time management to match our most important work to the most effective time slots. We should strive to learn when our golden hours are and how to build ourselves nests to capitalize on them to increase creativity. There is no time to waste to do great and interesting things.

Additional Reading:

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Five reasons Harvard Business School executive education beats out traditional IT certifications

Last September I did something I thought I would never do.

I applied to Harvard Business School.

I never really thought I would be attending. My grades/rankings through high school and college have always been good, just not Harvard good. Additionally, I never pursued the typical route of a Harvard student. I have read more binaries than cash-flow statements and choose discussions on botnet takedowns over hostile takeovers. So being accepted to Harvard Business School’s 6 month PLD program surprised me greatly. Having just completed the second module of Professional Leadership Development I can think of several reasons I am glad I chose this course over a typical IT certification.

1. I did not understand Business

I thought I understood. All my certifications and experiences had me rabidly supporting the notion that the business is king. However, this sentiment in certs and work were just small two sentence blips shoehorned into the much larger core security concepts. Overtime, I grew a bias that my supporting work was essential and everything else was trivial. You could always find someone to do marketing or sales, but IT professionals are enjoying a negative unemployment rate and are swiped up fast. I was much more likely to crack open a book on encryption instead of on business because of my mistaken belief that “business” was easy.

This shifted as I looked for ways to use my Post-9/11 GI Bill. Structured courses have always been a great way to prime the learning pump for topics I didn’t completely understand. As I looked across the diverse range of MBAs and EMBAs, I came across the Harvard Business School’s Professional Leadership Development program. It was a fantastic alternative to other Executive MBA programs for me.

With no understanding of finance, marketing, or accounting, the HBS online curriculum provided immediate immersion for me on day one. I was floored by the presentation and the complex concepts conveyed in a simple manner. The topics got much more difficult over time and I’m not proud of some of my scores, but I learned. I even started to enjoy it! Now a financial statement book is sitting on-top of my reading list.

More importantly, I have learned that businesses are fascinating in ways I had never considered. After staring at cash-flows or income statements for anomalies I started noticing little weird discrepancies popping out at me. The aha moment of seeing aggressive accounting is a very similar feeling to the joy I experience when I find a hidden instructions in malware.

2.    Real understanding of actual business problems

Harvard is famous for their Case Studies that are a fundamental part of the course. Before you arrive on campus for module 2, students read around 40 cases on various subjects. As the HBS website describes it

…the case method is a profound educational innovation that presents the greatest challenges confronting leading companies, nonprofits, and government organizations—complete with the constraints and incomplete information found in real business issues—and places the student in the role of the decision maker. There are no simple solutions…

Cases are tough and I found them extremely fun (in some sick twisted way). Personally, I covered each case three times. I read them the first time to understand the basic concepts, I discussed them the 2nd time with the live-in group, and then finally with a professor in the classroom with 80 of my colleagues each giving unique insights. Every time I learned something new and had a completely different perspective on the case.

The course throws you into the core of problems of businesses we know conversationally. Lots of us have heard of Enron’s downfall, devour Apple products, wear Lululemon, and some may have shopped at Cardullo’s. Each of these cases are relatable enough that you have probably discussed them with friends but the case studies take it to the next level. Each one puts you into the shoes of an executive at a critical decision point. I won’t call it LARPing for business nerds… but it totally is. The case studies we explored provided a different perspective of how an executive led a company to make an extremely pivotal decision. Understanding the issues, deciding how you would act, and seeing the direction the company took is excellent preparation for the next big decision you will make.

3.    You connect with a group not your own merits

A big reason I chose this course was the living group arrangement. Back at the Naval Academy we all lived in one building, Bancroft Hall, and these friendships continue to . HBS does something similar but instead of Bancroft we have Tata. Our groups might be a bit smaller (7-8 instead of 40) but I feel connected to them in a similar manner.

The diversity of these groups is amazing. In the program of 160 only 50 are American and that flowed down into our small groups. My group alone (the prolific 5C) represented Canada, Czech Republic, Kuwait, South Africa, Turkey, and the United States.

In two short weeks:

  • We studied and suffered an incredible packed curriculum for hours.
  • We argued over excessively over cases. Perhaps investing a little much in events that have long since passed.
  • We had our own inside jokes and terminology about chicken banks, “Lars”, plumbers, and other key players from cases.
  • Some of us were cold called (called without warning in class) with very tough questions
  • We even discussed the challenges of being a working parent

I believe The added stress in the environment pulled us together as we didn’t want to let each other down. Plus each of us had our own unique experiences and expertise to add to the group. I would have never understood important aspects of the cases if it weren’t for my fellow members and our short timeframes.

It was a fantastic experience and essential part of the program that is hard to replicate.

4.    Meeting the Former Secretary of the Navy

I never expected that I would be able to meet former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. But in-between classes I was asked to step out with other Navy veterans to speak with him. It was strange to sit across from a man who drastically shaped a majority of my Naval career. More impressively they even invited past Navy PLD Alumni to the small discussion.

The program didn’t have to go out of their way to coordinate this event. Nobody would have noticed if this didn’t occur. It is this unexpected perk and service from the HBS faculty that really drives home their commitment to their student’s current and future development.

5.    Anticipation for the future

The best part of the entire experience is that there is so much more to come. We are only half done. The next module has lots of work for us to accomplish including a personal case, an alumni case, individual development goals, and of course more case studies. I really miss the dedication of the people I was with these last two weeks and am looking forward to seeing them all again in just a few months.

I could not be more pleased with my decision to pursue my goals with Harvard Business School. Now I have a whole host of new tools to push my development in surprising new ways. With this new found experience I feel that I will be equipped with better skills than any IT certification could provide.

One parting word of advice…

Beware the chicken banks

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2016 Hacker Santa and the joy of sharing

Coming to the close of 2016 @InfoSystir was kind enough to set up #HackerSanta which provided an infosec goodie exchange.

My target was @J0hnnyXm4s a hacker who has done numerous infosec talks and helped discuss the risks of TSA keys. After some stalki… open source investigating, I determined that he was probably in the market for a new pelican case, enjoyed lockpicking, and would likely appreciate something repurposed.

Luckily I had a pelican case, some locks, and some things that needed to be repurposed. I chose two locks to secure the goods. This Masterlock is a favorite I have kept around to help humble lockpickers when it became “too easy.” A spare TSA 007 lock would serve as a tip of the hat to Johnny’s research. Everything was coming together nicely.

DomainTools promotional video repurposed

Back in February, DomainTools was kind enough to send me a promotional video in a unique package. The video started to play as soon as you opened the cover. While they have a great product (I encourage everyone to check them out,) I only needed to see it run so many times. So how does this work and what can I use it for?

At first look I could tell there was some type of switch to set it off, a small usb, the controls, and a hidden speaker. However, there was not much else to go on. Time to take it apart! 10 minutes of cutting through adhesive later it looked like this.

Pulling information off the board I was able to find a company selling similar products if I needed to use reference material. However, this was not needed since the USB provided a simple interface and not just for power. After plugging it into my computer I discovered the advertisement was a stored mp4. It was just a simple swap to put in my own mp4.

Fast forward to December, I felt providing a video to Johnny for getting through the locks would be great touch.

The Game is a foot!

All packaged together (including shameless self-promotion) it arrived a little after Christmas. Although I sweated over battery life fears, I was very pleased to see that not just Johnny but a whole host of @BurbsecEast attendees also had fun getting the locks open! Its great to see people come together to solve my silly gift.

Finally it is opened!

So besides from a long awaited Rick Roll you can see how I put it together. The switch is attached to the lid but the magnet is not strong enough to lift the whole screen. Everything sits on top of the foam which will allow Johnny to repurpose both the video player and the pelican case.

What’s the deal with the coin? Ask @Curious_Codes. I received it after completing one of their puzzles at Derbycon and wanted to share the joy I got from it.

I had lots of fun putting this all together. Thanks to @J0hnnyXm4s for providing great documentation of his process and sharing it on twitter. @DomainTools for the promotional hardware. @InfoSystir for setting HackerSanta up. @Curious_Codes for the puzzle within the my puzzle. My HackerSanta @Greenjam94 for the TV-B-Gone. I am excited about next year!

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Some Scenario Solutions to Effective Threat Intelligence

Effective Threat Intelligence includes a number of scenarios designed to help solidify the content. I have invited readers to provide their solutions and was fortunate to have Andre provide his take.

Andre Gironda has an impressive resume including structuring organizations by using models that delegate risk decisions to Cyber Operations teams and has spoken worldwide on risk models, cyber threat intelligence, DFIR, APT hunter-killer teaming, and red-teaming analysis.

You can find his solutions on my site here.

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Effective Threat Intelligence Free for a limited time!

Click here to get the Kindle version free!

Until Tuesday the kindle version of Effective Threat Intelligence is free! I set up this amazing offer as a thanks for participating and to drive up the excitement of launching my very first book! If you were ever reluctant on purchasing the book, now you can get it before you start your workday for free!

If you have already purchased the kindle book during the weekend please email me at jdietle@mindtrinket.com to sort it out.

Have you already bought the book? Looking for other ways to support?

– Purchase other book versions. Both free and paid versions give me a boost on Amazon.
– Give the book reviews on Amazon.
– Share my twitter, linkedin, and website with other infosec professionals.
– If you have purchased the physical copy make sure you also pick up the free kindle copy!

Thanks so much for your support in making this day come. I am amazed at how many people keep coming out to help support this project and i am so happy to share it with you!

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Virtual Book Party for Effective Threat Intelligence!

    Come join me on Google hangouts for a virtual release party to celebrate the launch of my new book! Win 1 of 3 raffled copies, find out how you can get a discounted version on kindle, and help support my launch! Thanks for all the support to get this far! So many people have given their time and energy to help me get this book published!

Join me on Sunday, June 26th at 2 pm Central by clicking here for the event.

The great thing about a virtual party is that I can invite all of my supporters across the world to come visit, discuss the challenges of self-publishing, why threat intelligence is important, or just to see the unique people that know each other. If nothing else little Addy will be making an appearance! I hope you can drop by and celebrate with us!
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Choosing the right place to hunt for threat intelligence

Building a hunt team is becoming popular in the threat intelligence world. Proactively searching for interesting threat information can help detect a SOC detect new threats and problems. Sometimes information from hunting can find something that has been in the environment for years. A successfully hunt is lots of fun and analysts always enjoy bringing back a trophy of something they found.

Hunt programs can also be designed to look for threat intelligence. When discussing a hunt program I like considering where my hunting grounds are. I like to separate hunting into two factions.

– External to the company environment
– Internal to the company environment

Hunting for information external to the environment can be a popular tactic. Bad guys are everywhere and doing interesting things all of the time. Researching them for indicators can lead in many interesting directions including underground and clandestine organizations. However, with all of this exploring you do run into questions of authority. Should you attempt to connect to a malicious website with a sandbox? Should you be purchasing stolen documents to look for company credentials? Overall I tend to feel that this type of activity is best done by research companies and government/law enforcement, because it pretty quickly gets into areas of vague legality and violating personal privacy.

Internal hunting is similar in that you are moving around the environment looking for things that are suspicious. However, it is different because you own the infrastructure. Internal hunting is largely going to net a higher benefit for your organization. If you see something in your environment, you know it will be… attacking your environment, or has already attacked it. Conversely, external threats may never by interested in attacking you. Therefore, it makes sense to concentrate on strange behavior in your environment, and match it up with what is happening outside, rather then solving external problems to prevent them internally.

A great hunt team will be able to notice anomalies and inefficiencies in the network. This indication that something is amiss can be numerous things. Although it could be the next APT breaking down your door, it can also be a misconfigured server. That’s not to say that aspect should be ignored, instead if you can document it and show it to the process owners you can help make the whole system better.

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Tackling the “Gnome in your Home” over the Holidays

For several years SANS has published a holiday Capture The Flag (CTF). The event has technical challenges for infosec enthusiasts of all skill levels, and this year SANS has really outdone themselves.

Cleverly titled “Gnome In Your Home”, the scenario begins after thousands of toy gnomes are bought by loving parents across the world (1,653,325 to be specific). With the help of a pair of bright youngsters, you start uncovering an evil holiday conspiracy involving these “innocent” gnome toys. Challenges range greatly, from firmware analysis to exploiting discovered vulnerabilities.

While juggling all my family obligations of the season I was able to spend a little time hunting gnomes. Although I did not have time to break all 5 of the Super Gnomes, I had a blast learning new skills. I even beat the mini-game!

Victory

For those interested the full challenge is still posted here
https://holidayhackchallenge.com/
My notes for the challenge are posted below.
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Accomplish more by “Game-ifying” your Life

I love to work. I know this because I love games. The realization that a game is just work by another name has allowed me to be very successful at task oriented projects just by shifting my perspective slightly. Games may seem frivolous and immature, and yet some players take absolute delight in creating complex spreadsheets to optimize virtual services and manage intangible revenues. For whatever reason this type of work is interesting, refreshing, and addictive. However, when incorrectly used these mechanisms can cause a negative impact. As a college student I found myself building programs in Java for my computer games while my class projects continued to fall behind. This 3 am realization couldn’t save my report, but it helped set the framework for breaking that cycle.

The essential question for parents, managers, and even for yourself is what compels people to do one task over another. If work is differed for something else, work needs to emulate key characteristics seen elsewhere. People often choose games because the work is measurable, goals are clear, and players are left with a sense accomplishment.

So what are some ways in which we can game-ify our work? One method many people use is creating a rewards system. Treating yourself to a reward after large accomplishments can help cement intangible successes. Society has been doing this for years by presenting stickers, sweets, and golden stars to kids who behave well. But in games people do not receive tangible rewards and continue to spend hours toiling at games to receive virtual prizes. I have been using the “Habitica” to-do list which uses my short terms goals in a game environment. As I do chores and complete real work my avatar levels up. While I concede that wanting pixels to ride an undead dragon is silly; I’m not sure that anyone can argue the 12 hours of exercise, 4 technical books, and 14 home cooked meals it took to receive that dragon wasn’t work.

Clear and obtainable goals can help build momentum and get past the initial hump. Setting a timer has been a classic method for ensuring practice is done. Ray Bradbury attributes the quick competition of his novel Fahrenheit 451 to being forced to use a pay by the hour typewriter. A more modern approach is the pomodoro timer which simply has the person work on something for 25 minutes, and then take a 5 minute break. This can be a great tool for setting up work. As you are planning goals breaking down work into 25 minute bitesize tasks forces them to be clear, such as write for 25 minutes or find 5 citations. Additionally, with a deadline looming, even one that is self imposed, people work harder to “beat the buzzer”.

The sense of accomplishment that the player experiences is perhaps the most compelling aspect of the game. After completing a set of grueling tasks they see that they have changed the environment. The same thing can be said for work. Simply letting people see what they have accomplished, or going out of the way to see what you have just accomplished, is very motivating. If there is not a way for an employee to do this, or way for you to see this they will likely find less meaning in their work.

As the gaming industry continues to advance there are discussions about how to design better games and how to immerse players. Those same rules and designs can form a framework on how you work and motivate yourself in life. While it might not work for everyone, game-ifying my life has helped tremendously.