JWMI Connect Series: Leadership and Productivity Lessons from “Smarter, Faster, Better”

JWMI Connect Series: Leadership and Productivity Lessons from “Smarter, Faster, Better”

Highly productive people get a lot done quickly and efficiently and earn high praise at work. But how do they do it?

Productivity encompasses skills that you can learn and master to expand your company’s performance. Successful people know how to transform the people around them to achieve more than they can alone. They continually over-deliver—completing projects faster and better.

But how do they consistently excel in today’s world where professionals are online 24/7 and continuously inundated with information?

As part of the Jack Welch Management Institute’s thought leadership webinar series, Lou Melocchi, Financial Management II MBA Professor and Senior Vice President of Corporate Finance at F.N.B. Corporation, shared how anyone can become highly productive using the science-based lessons in the book Smarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg.

Drawing on the latest findings in neuroscience, psychology, and behavioral economics—as well as the experiences of high-pressure professionals like CEOs, four-star generals, FBI agents, airplane pilots, and poker players—Charles Duhigg, provides research-based conclusions to understand professionals’ productivity levels.

Key Productivity Concepts


How can you consistently self-motivate?

“When people believe they are in control, they tend to work harder and push themselves more. They are, on average, more confident and overcome setbacks faster”, said Charles Duhigg. For example, it’s easier to have a difficult meeting if you’ve chosen when and where you want it to occur.

Jack Welch MBA alumni often share similar advice with new students. Those who succeed in the program set schedules and hold themselves accountable to those schedules. They are the most motivated and productive when they are working within their preferred times. “Life throws many curveballs, but if you can establish a routine and stay disciplined, your academic journey will be far easier, and the weeks will fly by,” said Matthew Wilson, 2020 Alumnus.


How do you build the perfect team?

A study performed by Google found that “psychological safety” is the single greatest correlation with a group’s success. Psychological safety is achieved when the following critical behaviors are in place:

  • Equality in conversational turn-taking: Research shows that if everyone is equally engaged during a meeting, the team is much more likely to succeed.
  • Ostentatious listening: Team members must show that they’re listening by repeating what was just said or closing their computers to make eye contact with the speaker. When team members respect each other and genuinely listen to each other’s ideas, the team can be more productive and creative in solving business challenges.


Information overload is something we can all relate to- the amount of information that comes into our lives every day is overwhelming. One of the key commonalities in highly productive people is the ability to selectively focus by constantly prioritizing and asking themselves:

“What are the goals that I should be chasing after right now?”

According to Duhigg, this process starts with mental imagery, which he calls building a ‘mental model’ in your head. Spend time each morning to picture what your day will look like and ask yourself:

  • “What do I need to get done?”
  • “What are the events I can expect to happen today?”
  • “How will I go about doing them?”

Framing the day and creating a blueprint will allow you to ignore the inevitable distractions that come up.

Goal Setting

The most productive and most successful people tend to have only three things on their to-do list:

  1. “The most important thing I want to get done today is…”
  2. “The most important thing I want to get done tomorrow is…”
  3. “If I get through both of those things, the next thing I’d like to accomplish is…”

Instead of merely coming up with a list of mundane tasks, prioritize the most important items first, including a stretch goal. While it may feel like checking smaller items off your list is more efficient to reach a large goal, it can often lead to getting lost in the weeds. Instead, break down your stretch goal using a tool that Jack Welch popularized over four decades ago: SMART goals.

SMART goals allow you to break an overwhelming task into steps that are more likely to get done:

  • (S)pecific
  • (M)easurable
  • (A)chievable
  • (R)ealistic
  • (T)ied to a timeline

Data-driven approaches to achieving goals allow professionals to be more productive and efficient leaders. The Jack Welch MBA teaches students how to build teams and become better leaders. Thought leadership webinars through our student and alumni portal, JWMI Connect, allow students to complement the lessons from the classroom in their professional lives.

To read more from Lou Melocchi’s Leadership Webinar Series, visit:



Lou MelocchiAbout Lou Melocchi:
Lou is a Finance Professor at JWMI as well as a senior financial leader with over 22 years of experience in corporate and divisional finance roles at both Fortune 150 companies and mid-market high growth companies. His functional expertise lies in financial planning and analysis, data analytics, and corporate finance.

Lou spent about half of his career in manufacturing with two large manufacturing conglomerates, Alcoa and Honeywell International, in a variety of information technology and financial/operations analysis roles. The other half of his career has been spent in services industries—primarily education, healthcare, and financial services, in a variety of finance roles. He currently serves as Senior Vice President of Corporate Finance for First National Bank Corporation in Pittsburgh, PA, and oversees finance-operations and investor relations.

Lou prides himself on having a polymodal educational background, and believes that “there are no uninteresting topics… only uninterested people.” He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Management and Accounting from Saint Vincent College, a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Management and Industrial Administration from Carnegie Mellon University, and a Doctorate in Marketing from Argosy University.