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From Becoming A Genius To Going Sugar-Free: September’s Top Leadership Stories

This month’s most popular leadership stories might get you to kick refined sugar, boost your intelligence, and rethink business travel.

This month, we learned what happens to a brain in sugar withdrawal, how frequent business travel can harm your health, and why intelligence isn’t as fixed as we once thought.

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Here are the stories you loved in Leadership for the month of September.

1. How Giving Up Refined Sugar Changed My Brain

It turns out sugar can do as much harm to our brains as it can to our waistlines–and it’s everywhere, from sandwich bread to the condiments you put on it. Neurologically speaking, refined sugar has even proved more addictive than cocaine. This month we learned what happens to your brain when you cut it out of your diet.

2. The Four Best Productivity Tricks I Learned At Google

In the two years the staff at online photo editor Picnik spent under Google’s auspices before relaunching independently, they picked up a thing or two from the tech giant. This month, Picnik–now PicMonkey–CMO Lisa Conquergood shared a few Google-based workflow and productivity tips.

3. How To Become A Genius

Like it or not, most of us have average IQs. But researchers are discovering there’s a difference between IQ scores and intelligence itself, which is actually more malleable than you might think. Here’s what you can do to make yourself smarter.

4. Why Frequent Business Travel Is So Bad For You

You know that friend who’s always posting Instagram photos of the cherry blossoms in Tokyo and the Champs-Élysées in the rain? It might look glamorous, but a recent review of 15 years of major studies on “hypermobility” shows how traveling for work too often can take a serious toll on our health.

5. Productivity Experts Share Their 10 Best Tips for A Morning Routine Makeover

Most of us know firsthand that a good or bad morning can set the tone for the rest of our waking hours. But what makes a great morning routine for one person is a terrible start to someone else’s day. This roundup of morning revamps offers something for everybody.

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6. Lessons From The Early Pitch Decks Of Airbnb, Buzzfeed, And YouTube

Before they were household names, those billion-dollar companies were just scrappy startups like any other. This month, we talked to a VC to find out if these pitches would get them funded today.

7. Why Having Friends At Work Is So Important

Facing well-documented deficits in employee engagement levels, companies are trying out a number of ways to keep their workers happy. But according to the latest research, most perks–from in-office rock-climbing walls to higher salaries–aren’t nearly as effective as just having great relationships at work.

8. Five Career Questions To Ask Yourself Instead Of, “What’s My Passion?”

One of the most common ways young job seekers are taught to chart a career path is by asking themselves what they’re passionate about. But as career expert Allison Jones explained this week, “You need to think more concretely about your motivations, needs, skills, and what you’re willing to do–or give up–in order to find that great opportunity.”

9. Five Leadership Lessons From Pope Francis

Many people around the world have already experienced Pope Francis’s papacy as nothing short of transformational. As one writer explains, that’s thanks in large part to his inclusive leadership style. Here’s what leaders of other organizations–including those much smaller than the Roman Catholic Church–can learn from Francis’s approach.

10. How To Master The Fine Art Of The Follow-Up

Is there a professional way to pester someone? Turns out there is. This month, we caught up with some of the most frequently followed-up-with people to learn how to follow up on a missing payment, a job, or an assignment more tactfully.

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