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... And Why Three Others Really Matter for a Prosperous New Year

At the start of the New Year, two amazingly confluent appreciable elements came together:Top 10 Swiss Rules

  • In the German speaking part of Switzerland, 10 Rules of "How to Work Better" painted on a wall in English.
  • A University that provided the world 12 Nobel Prize laureates.

For the past 12 months, on my regular commute to Neuhausen Am Rheinfall I've struggled from the train to read the "How to Work Better" rules painted on a grey building north of Zurich. Most days could only discern the top 3.

This past weekend decided it was time to see the entire list from the ground. After meandering through the streets of Zurich Oerlikon finally saw the full 10 rules of "How to Work Better":

  1. Do One Thing at a Time
  2. Know the Problem
  3. Learn to Listen
  4. Learn to Ask Questions
  5. Distinguish Sense from Nonsense
  6. Accept Change as Inevitable
  7. Admit Mistakes
  8. Say it Simple
  9. Be Calm
  10. Smile

The building on which these rules are painted is currently occupied by the University of Zurich Psychology Institute. Founded in 1833, the University of Zurich is currently the 78th world ranked higher education institution. (1) Over the years, 12 Nobel Prize laureates emanated from its halls including Albert Einstein in 1921. (2)

The simplicity of the 10 Swiss business rules led to further research. Turns out this mural is a work of art painted by Fischli and Weiss in 1991. As described in the obituary of David Weiss, 'How to Work Better' is a "manifesto comprising of 10 persuasive but empty sentences, each with the aim of improving workplace productivity and morale." (3)

The "empty sentences" do carry some meaning, but they offer only limited guidance on which to build a prosperous new year. The reality of business life is that there is no magic formula for success. In business and in life, there are three foundational elements that will guarantee your future.

  1. Live life with Passion - The ten rules on "How to Work Better" are common sense simple ideas, but ultimately it is passion for what inspires you that leads to true success. Find your true passion, link it to a business model, and you will prosper the rest of your life.
  2. Take Measured Risks - Fear of failure was and always will be the biggest barrier to success. Test new waters by taking measured risks into new opportunities.
  3. Never Stop Exploring - Age they say brings wisdom. Actually that is not true. Constantly exploring and searching for new ideas is the new critical component to success. Your next successful business model is a few clicks away.

10 simple rules on a mural in Switzerland, in a building whose owner's legacy includes some of the smartest people in history, are not the formula for business success.

Focus on the confluence of passion, measured risks, and constantly exploring new ideas. These three simple strategies will ensure both a successful New Year and a prosperous future.


 (1) (2) (3)

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