Becoming the best is simple

Life is full of complicated trade-offs, but when you make the decision to be the best at something you’re saying no to almost everything else.

Only when we commit to being the best can we focus completely and do the necessary work.

That kind of commitment takes courage and most people aren’t willing to act with that kind of courage.

Most people never really commit to ambitious goals. They mention things that they’d like to achieve, but they never actually DECIDE to achieve them. So they don’t. And this results in lower self-confidence and confirmation that they should also aim for less next time around.

Making a real decision cuts off all other possibilities. If you decide to be the fastest runner, you don’t have to decide which days you’re going to train. You’re going to train every day. A lot of little decisions have already been made, so you can get on with it. You can do the work and become the best.

If you decide half-way you might never get anywhere.

So, it’s not easy to become the best, but it’s a simple thing. That decision makes everything simple.

Tim WoodsBecoming the best is simple

Go with your strengths anyway

10 years ago my wife and I shared a house in London with a guy who worked at a major bank. I’ll call him Jack, but that’s not his real name.

fist2-650x650Jack was hired as a writer. He wrote reports. He had credentials from several impressive colleges and he knew almost everything about finance. Unfortunately, Jack was actually not a great writer. He spoke so many languages that he was always making mistakes.

What Jack could do was speak to anyone and make them love him, almost instantly. He was just that kind of guy. He was always authentic and always comfortable. With a CEO, a well-known politician or a little kid he was always the same: comfortable and completely genuine.

But he still had this problem: he wasn’t great at his job.

The thing I learned from Jack is that you need to go with your strengths.

It’s easy to feel like we can’t do the things we want to do. We’ve got obligations filling up the day. But, really successful people find a way to do the things they love anyway.

Jack made sure to take time to meet every client who walked through the office, even though that was not part of his job. He knew that he was great with people and he enjoyed doing it.

Fast forward 10 years. Jack is now in charge of keeping in contact with the bank’s most important clients and important government officials, around the world. He’s perfect for the job because he is someone anyone would be happy to pick up the phone and call and he understands people so well.

The lesson: As busy as you might get, still take time do the things you’re great at. You’ll become even better at them with more practice. And eventually the world will find a place for you at the top.

If you’re an IB student and you’d like some extra support, IBMastery can help.

Tim WoodsGo with your strengths anyway

The CUEGIS Answer Method

Preparation-1I know there are a lot of you (IB Business Management students) who haven’t yet gotten the  full CUEGIS video course, so here is part of it that I know will help you as you prepare for the new concepts of exam question (Paper 2, Part C).

This is my step-by-step method for answering these questions, to make sure you get full marks on the exam. 

Remember, this one question can easily bring you up an ENTIRE GRADE level, if you do it right. It’s worth 10% of the whole course.

In this step-by-step CUEGIS-answer method I’m going to be as succinct as possible. I want to give you a simple model you can use and then I’ll show you can example of a perfect answer. (That’s the sample perfect answer in the online course — which is just $6).

First, know that you will have about 34 minutes for this question. And basically we have to follow an Introduction-Body-Conclusion approach. Nothing too hard so far.

The CUEGIS method

The body will address each concept, but mostly just one concept at a time.

The basic model you’ll follow will be CL + CO + CT + CT.

CL = Case link. Give a fact about your chosen company and the first concept.

CO = Concept link. Tell us something interesting about this concept.

CT = Course theory. Use a keyword or idea from the course to develop your insight.

CT = Course theory. Use another keyword or idea from the course to develop your insight further.

Before you start

You need to carefully read the question and decide how you’re going to approach it. You’ve got basically three choices. Each of these basic approaches help you to look at the concepts and your chosen business from two sides.

Just like in ToK you want to look at things from both sides. The most popular choices are these ones:

  1. These concepts have been HELPFUL and also UNHELPFUL to the business.
  2. This company has been PROACTIVE and also REACTIVE in their approach to these concepts.
  3. This company has BENEFITTED, but also they’ve SUFFERED as a result of these concepts.

The main thing is that you remember to look at the concepts+your business in a balanced way.

The Introduction

Intro – 1 Paragraph (4 minutes)


  • Introductory sentence. Tell us the name of the company and a couple of things about it. What is their scale? What is their industry?
  • Define all the key terms in the question –including the concepts. Obviously you can refer the concepts videos for those.
  • And you should include a hypothesis — Something like, “Company X has generally relied on innovation to improve their competitiveness in an increasingly globalised market.” Make sure your hypothesis is actually an answer to the question because it’s going to be the focus of your essay.

You can use the video lesson and the 2 detailed cases provided in the Cuegis course for all of these details.

The Body

Concept One – Positive and Negative – 2 paragraphs (10 minutes) 


You’ve already explained the concept, but now do do in more depth, linking it to some examples at the company. Tell the story of the company a little bit. Impress us with your knowledge.

In this section you explore how the company’s major experiences with the first concept. Use at least 3 course-keywords in your answer. And explain at least one effect on a stakeholder.

The approach here is: CL + CO + CT + CT.

CL = Case link. Give a fact about your chosen company and the first concept.

CO = Concept link. Tell us something interesting about this concept.

CT = Course theory. Use a keyword or idea from the course to develop your insight.

CT = Course theory. Use another keyword or idea from the course to develop your insight further.

Don’t worry about doing this in the right order. Just remember to keep ticking those specific boxes.

For example you might explain how the the company has really embraced the concept (i.e. globalization) and it’s benefited them, using some true facts about the company. And then show how they could have gone further (i.e. trying to outsource production overseas even more).

Explain something that is true about your company, which clearly relates to this concept. And use some related course theories to explain this from a “textbook perspective.”

When you’re using keywords from the course, don’t just drop them in, but use them to go deeper. Show that you really know what these words mean, by using them to give us some really thoughtful insights about the company. (This means you’ll need to have done your homework –and really learned about your company, or you could just study the case notes I’ve given you).

So for example, don’t just say that the company have used “job production.” Say that:

“They use job production because it allows them to provide a higher quality product, from the customer’s perspective. Customers get exactly what they want and this increases customer loyalty.”

Notice the key words from the course I’ve used in there. Also notice that you need to know not just what the company has done, but also why and how, etc. You need to know your companies really well, so if you’re not getting the CUEGIS course case studies, make sure you gather a lot of details about each concept for each of your companies.

Concept Two – Positive and Negative – 2 paragraphs (10 minutes) 


In this section you do exactly what you just did for the second concept, what you did for the first. 

You explore how the company’s major experiences with the second concept. For example, how it has benefitted from globalization and also suffered as a result of it. 

Again use at least 3 keywords in your answer and follow the approach: CL + CO + CT + CT.

The Conclusion

Stakeholders and Conclusion – 2 paragraphs (10 minutes) 


  • Take a few minutes to explain some conflicts between stakeholder interests.
  • Pull it all together in terms of Concept 1, Concept 2. What is the end result for the company? Are they doing well or not and how is their success or failure related to the concepts? Step-by-Step Method

The Cuegis course contains full video lessons on all of the concepts, detailed case studies on two companies (organised by concept, so it’s easy to study them), a sample perfect answer (and an explanation of why it scored the top grades) and a few more resources to make sure you do well. If you want it, it’s at

Tim WoodsThe CUEGIS Answer Method

How to Answer CUEGIS Questions

www.CUEGIS.comIf you take IB Business Management (HL or SL), you’re probably a bit nervous about the new CUEGIS questions.

The CUEGIS question (Part C, in your final Paper 2 Examination) will be worth 10% of your mark in the course. The difference between a 4 and a 6 in IB Business is 11%, so this one essay could have a huge affect on how well you do.

But people are finding it challenging to prepare for because it’s completely new to the IB. And it’s a very different type of assessment than we’ve had before in IB Business Management. Your teachers haven’t seen these questions before either, so it’s new to everyone.

I’ve created this mini-course, which will teach you everything you need to know about this question in 3 hours or less. 

It’s available at

If you’re already feeling ready for these questions, then this isn’t for you. But if you’re at all unsure about these questions, then this course will get you ready.

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 10.13.26 am

Tim WoodsHow to Answer CUEGIS Questions

A school without limits

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 10.33.10 pmAlmost everyone starts kindergarten full of curiosity, enthusiasm and big opinions about things. And very few graduate that way.

Why is that?

Modern schools make pragmatists of all of us.

As an educator, I consider my primary responsibilities to be building students’ enthusiasm for learning and building their ability to learn on their own. I don’t like thinking that schools themselves are somehow acting against their own aims.

So what would a school look like that was designed by students and run by students? Honestly, I fear it would end up looking a lot like the schools we have already. Because we all, so easily get so used to the way things are already. It becomes hard to imagine successful alternatives. We need not only fresh eyes, but also the insights of geniuses.

The tide is turning though. Ken Robinson’s Ted Talk about school’s killing creativity is the most popular Ted Talk ever. He’s bold, admonishing and hard to disagree with.

Those of us who really believe in the potential of education to empower people need to do as much as we can to make schools places much more about freedom, confidence-building and fun. And perhaps less about pragmatism and assessment.

I’d like my own sons to graduate even more curious, more enthusiastic, more confident and more opinionated than they were going in. And hilarious –I’d like school to make my boys as funny as possible.

Photo credit: Sam Sherratt

Tim WoodsA school without limits

Positive and Negative Motivation


Motivated people find a way. They don’t need everything to be perfect before they can work. They just do it. They push through with what’s available.

Motivated people can handle discomfort for the moment, because they know that what’s coming is worth it.

Is there a way to become motivated if you aren’t motivated already? Yes.

Here’s how.

If you’d like to do this, we’re going to go positive and then go negative. We’re going to heighten your positive and negative emotions around one of your goals. 

I want to warn you that this exercise can be quite powerful. It takes about 10 minutes and it will definitely increase your motivation. Maybe dramatically.

Here we go.

Write down the answers to these questions or say the answers out loud to really lock in the experience. It’s not enough to simply read the questions. The power comes from you really thinking through your answers in a personal way. Take at least a full minute for each question.

Positive Questions

  1. What is a very specific goal you care about achieving?
  2. What will it mean to you to achieve your goal?
  3. What else will be great about achieving your target?
  4. How will that make you feel?
  5. What will other people think about you when you achieve your goal?
  6. What else will be possible for you and for the people you care about when you reach your target?

Negative Questions

  1. In what ways would your life be worse if you didn’t achieve your goal?
  2. What is the worst thing that could happen if you didn’t reach your target?
  3. How would that make you feel?
  4. What else could go wrong if you didn’t achieve your goal?
  5. How would that affect you and the people around you?
Tim WoodsPositive and Negative Motivation

Time to be creative

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 3.32.34 pmEveryone knows that creativity is important. Parents know the value of play for their kids and our most innovative companies know it too.

If it works for our children and for the most-skilled among us, what’s stopping the rest of us?

In a massive IBM survey, 1,500 CEO’s from 60 countries chose creativity as the #1 skill required by leaders. Personally, I was surprised that the managers didn’t choose something like intelligence or the ability to communicate. (The managers I know often talk about feeling pressured to focus on achieving very-specific, narrowly-defined targets.) But they chose creativity.

Creativity, like memory, is a muscle. It won’t grow stronger if we don’t really use it. But as we spend more time with it, it can allow us to smash-through problems our earlier less-creative selves never could have.

It can seem hard to justify taking time-out to journal, to doodle or to go for a walk and ask ourselves some really unusual What-If questions, because we’re busier than ever. And we’re trying to be responsible. But building the habit of exploring all the possibilities in a situation, letting the subconscious mind weigh-in, can help us find the breakthroughs we need.

Life is ambiguous; there are many right answers — all depending on what you are looking for. But if you think there’s only one right answer, then you’ll stop looking as soon as you find one.Roger Von Oech

Success is more a function of the quality of the decisions we make, rather than the resources we have available. It’s not what we have, but what we do with what we have. And it’s hard to find the best answers if we don’t take time to ask the questions.

Tim WoodsTime to be creative

4 Questions Leaders Ask


Dr Martin Luther King Jr

I’m sure you’ve done the exercise before where you look around the room, in search of everything that’s red. You haven’t noticed, but there are lots of red things around you right now. You don’t notice until you look.

When we get clear on what we’re looking for we find it easily.

Leaders change the world around them by focusing on 4 things, over and over again:

  1. They clarify a positive idea about the future.
  2. They decide exactly how we can get there.
  3. They personally commit to building up the habits and skills required to make that future a reality.
  4. And they take immediate, massive action to move forward.

They do this over and over again until they achieve their vision.

So ask yourself:

  1. What do I want?
  2. What is the best path to get there?
  3. What needs to be true about me, if I am going to make this vision a reality?
  4. What can I do right now, to move toward my vision?

If you aren’t looking for the answers to those questions you won’t find them. But if you look you’ll see the answers are all around you and inside of you just waiting for you to notice.

The world is full of distractions and people trying to direct our attention toward things we don’t care about. Television. Advertisements. Fashion. Sports. People trying to stress us out about things that aren’t important. Leaders is about pushing back, making time for your own priorities.

Tim Woods4 Questions Leaders Ask

The best time to work is the worst

headphoneslibraryA while ago I wrote an article called The Straight A Students Time Management Secret. The answer seemed simple: get your work done during your school day.

High achievers do report having this habit. When they’re working, they just work. They don’t spend much time inefficiently –half-doing work and half-socialising at the same time.

The benefits are pretty obvious. More completely-free time in the evenings, they can get more sleep and they can socialise guilt-free and stress-free.

But, actually implementing this advice can seem hard. At work/school, all of our friends are there. It’s distracting. And then suddenly the entire day has passed and we’ve made no progress.

Here are a few techniques that work:

  1. Block out some set-times every week just for working by yourself. Maybe Thursdays at lunch you go to your secret, private spot in the library and work on Math questions. Stick to your own schedule.
  2. Get massive headphones and wear them when you’re working. Obviously, you don’t even need to have music playing. I sometimes listen to waves
  3. Put your phone on silent and shut Facebook, etc. Social media isn’t your friend right now.
  4. Write down three tasks at the beginning of every day that you want to get done that day and don’t leave school/work until they’re done.

Please do me a favour and share this post on Facebook or Twitter!

But then get back to work. :)

Tim WoodsThe best time to work is the worst