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Big Ideas

Best of 2015: Top Tips, Insights, & Tricks

The best of 2015's insights from 99U's army of writers, thinkers, and speakers.

2015 has been good to the 99U community. We learned how to conquer the life of freelance, that there is more to our career than just following our passions, and that tiring ourselves out doesn’t necessarily mean we’ve done our best work. That’s why, after another great year, we’ve gathered the best ideas from 2015 to get you amped for the year ahead. Fair warning: These insights may make you want to be productive over the holiday.

Feature Posts

1. Nobody Cares How Hard You Work


From childhood, parents and teachers drum into us the moral virtue of effort—and many workplaces still communicate to employees the idea that long hours are the best route to a promotion. But here, Oliver Burkeman debunks the “Effort Trap” myth by shifting the focus to working smarter, not harder.

2. The 4 Types of Productivity Styles

Illustration by Oscar Ramos Orozco.

The first step to becoming more productive is to identify your own “productivity style.” Determine if you’re a Prioritizer, Planner, Arranger, or Visualizer, so that you can work in sync with your natural inclinations.

3. 12 Questions to Ask Your Next Employer


A job interview isn’t a one-way street. Don’t forget that you should also be asking questions of a potential future boss to discern what the corporate culture is like and the breadth of your new role. Here are 12 thought-provoking questions to have at the ready when it’s your turn to ask the questions in a job interview.

4. Stacking Habits: How to Finally Stick Your Morning Routine


Habits are hard to stick to over the long term. Increase your habit-to-ritual odds by taking on new tasks in small doses—as little as five minutes—and stacking different tasks on top of one another.

5. How Siblings Affect Your Success According to Science


Who we become—and how successful we are—is heavily influenced by our siblings, largely in gradual and invisible ways. So the more we know about our sibling relationships and how they influence us, the better we can make informed life choices that promote our—and their—success.  

6. What Should I Charge? How To Justify Your Freelance Rates


Understand the process of charging what you’re worth.


7. The Many, Many Problems With Follow Your Passion


Is “follow your passion” bad career advice? We say yes. Instead of focusing on what you’re good at right now, ask yourself: If you were to invest the time, how good would you become at this career, compared to other careers you might choose?

8. How To Disagree (Without Being A Jerk)


Healthy disagreements make for the creation of some of the best ideas. However, you need to first set the right limits, structure, and roles.  

9. You Are Not Your Job


Don’t tie your identity to your job. Your job is not you, it’s something you do.

10. How To Write An About Me Page That Gets You Hired


Writing an About Me page is trickier than you think. It’s the simple task of telling people who you are, what you do, and why it all matters in about four paragraphs, without bragging. No big deal, right?


Christoph Niemann: How to Overcome the 3 Fears Every Creative Faces

The fear of not being good enough, the fear that our work will be irrelevant, and the fear of running out of ideas—it turns out the very feelings that make creativity painful enable your best work.

Shantanu Starick: How I Went Two Years Without Spending Any Money

Starick explains how removing money out of the creative process led to a wider array of jobs and a much more fulfilling freelance career. Since creatives are rewarded for being specialized, why aren’t jack-of-all- trades rewarded too?

Brené Brown: Why Your Critics Aren’t the Ones Who Count

What would you try if you know you’d receive no criticism? 

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