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Work on Your Empathy and Other Must-Read Business Tips

A look at why not to be like the Wolf of Wall Street, why you should make your workplace more like a video game and more advice for business owners.
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A roundup of the best tips of the week from

High-achieving entrepreneurs, like charismatic con men, tend to be Type-A people who are long on vision and recklessness and short on empathy. It's not that entrepreneurs are bad apples; it's simply that when they are focused on taking care of business, they tend to plow through anyone and anything that stands in their way, without consideration for anyone's feelings.

That can be toxic for a workplace and downright deadly for your business as a whole. "Lack of empathy has recently been on cringe-worthy display among young tech CEOs and programmers," says Michael Coren, founder of digital-publication platform Publet. "It's a deadly flaw for founders who want to build products that people actually buy."

So enough with the tunnel vision already. You may be a "geek" god who finds it hard to put himself in the average consumer's shoes when it comes to tech products. Or you may think you're above it all because you just raised a big Series A round. Whatever the case, says Coren, "if you can't empathize with users and their problems, then others will -- to their success and your failure." More: What Not To Do: Lessons From 'The Wolf of Wall Street'

Make your work place more like a video game.
Nobody beats a video game on the first try. That's why video games allow you to start over and play again. "Games are almost always puzzles and algorithms to solve," says Dmitri Williams, chief executive of Ninja Metrics, a Minneapolis-based game analytics startup. "Solving them takes risk, iterations, and failure." Encourage a similar problem-solving approach in your work place. Everyone likes to praise creativity, but creativity requires risk-taking, and risk-taking can lead to failure. Let your employees know that it's okay to try new things and fail rather than simply performing rote tasks the same way every time. "Making 'do over' acceptable is a good thing," Williams says. More: 3 Things Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Video Games

Give regular positive enforcement.
Some managers may think that year-end performance reviews and employee-of-the-month programs provide sufficient feedback for employees, but they don't. To perform at their best, employees need regular positive enforcement, says Bill Sims, Jr., president of Bill Sims Behavior Change. One of the most powerful positive reinforcers is feeling as if you get to make a different at work. Another is simply hearing your boss thank you for your contributions. "The key to being a great leader is ensuring that your management system provides positive reinforcement for your employees when they do something extra or just do something well," Sims says. "Just like a muscle, this practice needs to be done routinely and repeatedly for the best results." More: Want Your Team to Perform Better? Try Positive Reinforcement.

Stop self-handicapping.
When you're scared to fail, you may have a tendency not to risk as much or to try as hard. That way you can protect your self-esteem with an excuse if you don't succeed. This is known as self-handicapping, and it gets in the way of many people's goals, says writer and entrepreneur Scott Christ. Positive self-talk and better habits can help you to overcome it. "Rather than 'I'm going to fail,' try, 'I'll be fine. Even if the worst-case scenario happens and I do fail, I’ll learn from it,'" Christ says. " You can’t control everything, but you can control how you react and the action you take." More: Are You Holding Yourself Back? How to Use it to Your Advantage.

Use smaller plates for a healthier lifestyle.
Your health is one of your greatest assets as an entrepreneur, and your environment can play a big role in how healthy you are. That's because our environment influences our habits, says James Clear, an entrepreneur, weightlifter and photographer who writes about how to improve your work and health. There are many things you can change to encourage wellness in your life, but one simple idea comes from a study conducted by Brian Wansink, a professor at Cornell University: use smaller plates. Wansink and his team found that if you serve your dinner on 10-inch plates instead of a 12-inch plate, you will eat 22 percent less food over the next year. Because of how your brain perceives size, what seems like a small portion on a large plate actually feels more satisfying to you when eaten off a small plate. More: 10 Simple Ways to Eat Healthy Without Thinking