01 Sep 2017

Ink: Miami’s Dark Neon Era, the Language of Success, and Getting Psyched Up

Re: Tsedal Neeley; Alison Brooks; Michael Norton
by April White



Farzad on the lasting allure of 1980s Miami on the Skydeck podcast

The Bookshelf

Journalist Roben Farzad (MBA 2005) on his new nonfiction tale, Hotel Scarface: Where Cocaine Cowboys Partied and Plotted to Control Miami, and two other amazing, true stories

Hotel Scarface
by Roben Farzad

“There’s so much unresolved about Miami’s cocaine coming-of-age. I found the address where the Cold War crashed into the war on drugs crashed into the cocaine wars crashed into the savings and loan crisis. It’s where three generations of Cuban refugees fought for control of the drug trade in Miami.”


Havana Nocturne
How the Mob Owned Cuba and Then Lost It to the Revolution

by T.J. English

“All these mobsters are dead, but the author, through unbelievable reporting and an unbelievable voice, gives off this kind of omniscience. And you’re reading it thinking, ‘Wow, I’m in the minds of the mobsters.’ ”


Personal Pick
The Notorious Career of Al Dunlap in the Era of Profit-at-Any-Price

by John A. Byrne

“It’s about the rise and fall of this corporate restructuring artist. And it’s a page-turner about a fraud that nobody seems to remember. It is one of the most inspiring and influential books that I’ve ever read.”



“Language can affect every aspect of global organizational life.…A lingua franca is the closest we have to the ‘tongues of fire’ that allow people to hear and comprehend any language as if it were their own. Only by learning to communicate—with words and culture—can we go forward, into the future world and work of global business.”
—Associate Professor Tsedal Neeley in The Language of Global Success, her extensive study of an international company, based in Japan, that successfully introduced English as the lingua franca



Two Things to Do Before Your Next Big Presentation

(from left: photos by Russ Campbell)

In his new book, Psyched Up: How the Science of Mental Preparation Can Help You Succeed, Harvard Business Review senior editor Daniel McGinn interviews athletes, entertainers, soldiers, and executives to understand the ways in which different people deal with performance anxiety. Then he turns to the research to discover why some of these strategies work and some of them fail. Two of his experts, Professor Michael Norton and Assistant Professor Alison Wood Brooks, offer useful advice gleaned from years of research on “reappraisal”—reconsidering a situation to change its emotional force—and ritual.

Get excited
“People have this really strong intuition to try to calm down in stressful situations,” says Brooks. “You hear it all the time. People either actively say, ‘Calm down,’ or they say, ‘Don’t be anxious.’ The hitch is that it seems quite difficult to find strategies to actually do that.”

Instead, Brooks’s research—which, in one study, asked participants to sing the Journey song “Don’t Stop Believin’”—shows that people who channel their nervous energy into excitement are more successful at tasks than those who remain anxious or try to calm themselves. Something as simple as saying “I’m so excited” before singing Journey can measurably improve performance.

Perform a ritual
Norton, who has studied both individual and group rituals, also worked with Brooks’s karaoke singers. In a separate experiment, half of the participants were asked to perform a specific ritual before their song. The instructions: “Draw a picture of how you are feeling right now. Sprinkle salt on your drawing. Count up to five out loud. Crinkle up your paper. Throw your paper in the trash.” Those who completed the ritual—even a seemingly nonsensical one—were less anxious and performed better.

“Perhaps rituals work not because they’re magically amazing,” Norton says, “but they’re just better than what we usually do.”

Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 2005, Section I
follow @robenfarzad

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