12 Ways to Get Smarter in One Infographic
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The level of a person’s raw intelligence, as measured by aptitude tests such as IQ scores, is generally stable for most people during the course of their adulthood.
While it’s true that there are things you can do to fine tune your natural capabilities, such as doing brain exercises, solving puzzles, and getting optimal sleep—the amount of raw brainpower you have is difficult to increase in any meaningful or permanent way.
For those of us who constantly strive to be high-performers in our fields, this seems like bad news. If we can’t increase our processing power, then how can we solve life’s bigger problems as we move up the ladder?
The Key: Mental Models
The good news is that while raw cognitive abilities matter, it’s how you use and harness those abilities that really makes the difference.
The world’s most successful people, from Ray Dalio to Warren Buffett, are not necessarily leagues above the rest of us in raw intelligence—instead, they simply develop and learn to apply better mental models of how the world works, and they use these principles to filter their thoughts, decisions, strategies, and execution.
This infographic comes from best-selling author and entrepreneur Michael Simmons, who has collected over 650 mental models through his work. The infographic, in a similar style to one we previously published on cognitive biases, synthesizes these models down to the most useful and universal mental models that people should learn to master first.
Concepts such as the 80/20 rule (Pareto’s principle), compound interest, and network building are summarized in the visualization, and their major components are broken down further within the circle.
Mental Model Examples
Example #1: Pareto’s Principle (80/20 Rule for Prioritization)
In a recent Medium post by Simmons, he highlights a well-known mental model that is the perfect bread crumb to start with.
The 80/20 rule (Pareto’s principle) is named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who was likely the first person to note the 80/20 connection in an 1896 paper.
In short, it shows that 20% of inputs (work, time, effort) often leads to 80% of outputs (performance, sales, revenue, etc.), creating an extremely vivid mental framework for making prioritization decisions.
The 80/20 rule represents a power law distribution that has been empirically shown to exist throughout nature, and it also has huge implications on business.
If you focus your effort on these 20% of tasks first, and get the most out of them, you will be able to drive results much more efficiently than wasting time on the 80% “long-tail” shown below.
Example #2: Metcalfe’s Law (Network Building)
Metcalfe’s Law is one of network effects, stating that a network’s value is proportional to the square of the number of nodes in the network.
From a mental model perspective, this is a useful way to understand how certain types of technology-driven businesses derive value.
If you have a smart grid that is only connected to one power source, that’s alright—but one connected to many different energy sources and potential consumers is much more useful for everyone on the grid. Each additional node provides value for the rest of the connections.
This mental model can be applied outside of strict technology or business terms as well.
For example, if you build a personal network of connections, each additional relationship can provide more value to the other people in your network. It’s the same principle that Harvard or other prestigious universities operate on: the more value a student can get from the alumni network, the higher price they can charge for tuition.
It’s hard to compete with a fully formed network at scale, as they create massive economic moats for the owner. Modern social networks and messaging apps like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, WhatsApp, and Snapchat all operate with this in mind.
The Power of Mental Models
These are just two examples of how powerful mental models can be effective in making you think clearer and work smarter.
If you want to be a top performer, it’s worth looking into other mental models out there as well. They can help you better frame reality, so that you can harness your intelligence and effort in the most effective way possible—and it’ll allow you to deliver results along the way.
This post was first published in 2018. We have since updated it, adding in new content for 2021.
Mapped: Corruption in Countries Around the World
Which countries are the most (and least) corrupt? This map shows corruption around the world, and the movers and shakers over the last decade.
Mapped: Corruption in Countries Around the World
How bad is public sector corruption around the world, and how do different countries compare?
No matter your system of government, the public sector plays a vital role in establishing your economic mobility and political freedoms. Measuring corruption—the abuse of power for private gain—reveals how equal a system truly is.
For more than a decade, the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) by Transparency International has been the world’s most widely-used metric for scoring corruption. This infographic uses the 2021 CPI to visualize corruption in countries around the world, and the biggest 10-year changes.
Which Countries are Most (and Least) Corrupt?
How do you measure corruption, which includes behind-the-scenes deals, nepotism, corrupt prosecution, and bribery?
Over the last few decades, the CPI has found success doing so indirectly through perceptions.
By aggregating multiple analyses from country and business experts, the index assigns each country a score on a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean.
Here are the results of the 2021 CPI, with the least corrupt countries at the top:
|Corruption Perception by Country||Score (2021)|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||59|
|Sao Tome and Principe||45|
|Trinidad and Tobago||41|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||35|
|Papua New Guinea||31|
|Central African Republic||24|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||19|
Ranking at the top of the index with scores of 88 are Nordic countries Denmark and Finland, as well as New Zealand.
They’ve consistently topped the CPI over the last decade, and Europe in general had 14 of the top 20 least corrupt countries. Asia also had many notable entrants, including Singapore (tied for #4), Hong Kong (#12), and Japan (tied for #18).
Comparatively, the Americas only had two countries score in the top 20 least corrupt: Canada (tied for #13) and Uruguay (tied for #18). With a score of 67, the U.S. scored at #28 just behind Bhutan, the UAE, and France.
Scoring towards the bottom of the index were many countries currently and historically going through conflict, primarily located in the Middle East and Africa. They include Afghanistan, Venezuela, Somalia, and South Sudan. The latter country finishes at the very bottom of the list, with a score of just 11.
How Corruption in Countries Has Changed (2012–2021)
Corruption is a constant and moving global problem, so it’s also important to measure which countries have had their images improved (or worsened).
By using CPI scores dating back to 2012, we can examine how country scores have changed over the last decade:
|Change in Corruption by Country||10-Year Trend (2012-2021)|
|Papua New Guinea||+6|
|Sao Tome and Principe||+3|
|Trinidad and Tobago||+2|
|United Arab Emirates||+1|
|Central African Republic||-2|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||-2|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||-3|
|United States of America||-6|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||-7|
The biggest climber with +18 was Seychelles, Africa’s smallest country and also its least corrupt with a score of 70. Other notable improvements include neighboring countries Estonia, Latvia, and Belarus, with Estonia rising into the top 15 least corrupt countries.
On the opposite side, both Australia (-12) and Canada (-10) have actually fallen out of the top 10 least corrupt countries over the last decade. They’re joined by decreases in Hungary (-12) and Syria (-13), which is now ranked as the world’s second-most corrupt country.
Which countries will rise and fall in corruption perceptions over the next 10 years, and how do your perceptions compare with this list?
10 Ways You Can Build Leadership Communities in a Hybrid World of Work
Feeling disconnected? This infographic teaches you how to build strong leadership communities in your organization in a hybrid working world.
The world has never been more connected. Yet many of us feel more disconnected than ever before.
In particular, CEOs and managers can often feel isolated from their peers, and therefore crave a greater sense of community and belonging. This lack of social connection can have a detrimental impact on both them and their team—putting the future of their company at risk.
Leading in a Hybrid World of Work
This infographic from bestselling author Vince Molinaro dives into the ways you can build a strong community of leaders in your organization, enabling you to more successfully execute on strategy, drive growth, and deliver results.
The Critical Need for Leadership Communities
In today’s world, many leaders have been conditioned to work and lead in a way that is individualistic and hyper-competitive, which leads to problematic outcomes including:
- Limiting innovative ideas
- Causing overwhelm and stress
- Limiting diversity and a sense of inclusion
- Promoting a macho culture
- Creating heroes and zeros in organizations
This outdated model breeds a weak leadership culture. Even though leadership expectations are higher than ever, very few companies boast a strong leadership culture. In fact, just 15% of companies have the culture they need to succeed.
What does a weak leadership look like?
Weak Leadership Cultures
When leaders demonstrate the following behaviors, organizations are at risk of developing a weak leadership culture:
- They lack clarity around strategic priorities.
- They fail to inspire the people they lead.
- They tolerate ineffective and mediocre leadership.
- They demonstrate animosity for the success of other leads, teams, and departments.
- They work at cross-purposes with each other.
- They prop themselves up while downplaying the contribution of others.
- They don’t engage stakeholders.
- They regularly badmouth others and throw colleagues under the bus.
- They withhold information as a way to retain power over their peers.
- They act as bystanders when colleagues need help.
When these negative dynamics become apparent, organizations pay a significant price. According to a report from Qualtrics, 40% of managers see a decline in their mental health, while another study shows that 66% of leaders have checked out entirely.
It is clear that building a strong community of leaders has become critical as the world continues to become even more complex and uncertain. Let’s dive into some of the ways you can build a greater sense of belonging in your organization today.
The Characteristics of Leadership Communities
Here are the 10 characteristics and behaviors that promote a strong community of leaders. Does this describe your organization’s leadership culture?
|1. Have clarity on the strategic direction of the organization||Be determined to deliver on the most important strategic outcomes for the company|
|2. Create excitement about the future||Spread optimism about the company, even through adversity|
|3. Share a common aspiration to be great as leaders||Commit to their roles as leaders and help other leaders thrive|
|4. Lead with a united front and a one-company mindset||Lead in the best interest of the whole organization|
|5. Hold each other accountable by calling out unproductive leadership behavior||Demonstrate the courage to call out misaligned and unacceptable behaviors|
|6. Celebrate success and key milestones||Ignite passion by recognizing others and showing progress towards goals|
|7. Break down silos and collaborate effectively||Identify accountability gaps that weaken the leadership culture|
|8. Keep internal politics and personal agendas to a minimum||Behave in a direct and transparent manner with peers|
|9. Demonstrate resilience and resolve in the face of adversity||Turn to each other while navigating tough challenges|
|10. Support one another and have each other’s backs||Build high-trust relationships with one another|
Most leaders want to be in an environment where there is real clarity, alignment, commitment, and mutual support—it just takes one accountable leader to make it happen.
The Benefits to Creating a Strong Community of Leaders
If done right, the effects of building a strong community of leaders can be extraordinary:
- Promotes a stronger sense of belonging.
- Allows for greater knowledge sharing.
- Encourages higher levels of performance.
- Creates a culture of accountability.
- Improves employee engagement.
Moreover, research shows that employee engagement is directly linked to a company’s culture and value system. In fact, employee engagement levels can reach up to 72% when managers work well with each other.
With the working world transforming before our very eyes, it’s time to establish a new leadership contract so that CEOs and managers can lead their organizations successfully into the future.
Do you have what it takes to be a community builder? Download your Ebook to discover practical strategies you can apply today.
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