https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/284061 by Dan Bova Tired of feeling tired? Here's a proven plan to win that battle. Image credit: Karl Erickson
Are you exhausted? I feel exhausted just typing that question. Luckily, former Green Beret Sergeant Major (retired) Karl Erickson shared withEntrepreneur a military-tested morning plan of attack that boosts energy, productivity and sanity.
"Military morning routines prepare us for combat, but they also transfer well to the office, without a doubt," Erickson told me.
I must admit I was terrified he was going to insist on cutting out coffee when we spoke. Read on to find out if my fears were justified.
1. Get your blood pumping.
"In the movies, you always see members of the military out in the morning running in formation. Yeah, we do that in real life. Why? We do it first thing in the morning because you want to reach and sustain that high target heart rate. It’s not only good for the body, but it boosts your mental awareness. And it clears all of the tequila out of your blood stream from the prior night. Or martinis for those gentle types out there."
2. No, seriously, get your blood pumping.
"Vigorous morning training also prepares the body for stress. The body reacts to stress in different ways, and one of those ways is that your heart rate can skyrocket. So by exercising, you’re preparing your heart to physically handle the stress of the boardroom. Even when we spend a day on the shooting range, we also end a session with a stress test. Get that heart rate up."
3. Some is better than none.
"If you don’t have time to go running before you get in your car or on that train every morning, doing some exercise is better than none. Just doing 100 jumping jacks and five minutes of kettlebell swings will make a difference. You’ve got to make it part of your routine."
4. Just say yes to coffee.
"The military has done tests on every kind of stimulant and depressant out there and they have found that caffeine really doesn’t have any downside. In terms of early morning missions or late night guard posts, caffeine has proven to be the best way to keep alert without adverse side effects. So getting that cup of Joe in the morning will safely and efficiently wake you up and get your brain going.
"If Starbucks prices are making you want to quit coffee, I’d advise you not to do it before an important meeting. You will get a crazy withdrawal headache. I need my caffeine and always have a backup plan. When I’d take my sniper team up on a mountain in Afghanistan, you couldn’t make a cup of coffee because you’d be able to smell that coffee for miles away. So I had a bag of chocolate-covered espresso beans I carried with me to get my fix without letting the enemy know I was coming."
5. Establish a battle rhythm.
"That’s military speak for writing out your goals for the day. Have a list of your objectives, then draw out a plan for how you can achieve them. Do this every day, and you will start to see patterns. That’s how you gain efficiency. Start with your goal and backward plan on how to get to it.
"If I need to get on a plane tomorrow morning at 6 a.m., I need to stop drinking tequila an hour earlier tonight. I'm kidding, but this is how you find that a sustainable battle rhythm. Rather than stumbling through the day from one task to another, you have an established schedule. And make sure that schedule includes exercise! If you leave out exercise, you might as well bow like a sheep. You’ll be like all the other soft people out there. If you want to win on the battlefield, you’ve got to be disciplined."
6. Make lists and lists and lists.
"Make lists of everything you need to do every day, every week, every month. And go over those lists every morning. This helps you prioritizeyour days and eventually those lists of tasks turn into lists of accomplishments. Even if you only accomplish one thing a day, at the end of the month, you’ve completed 30 things you set out to do. Those small things add up and that provides a great mental boost that energizes you to do more."
7. Put on your grown-up pants.
"How you dress and take care of yourself is vitally important to conquering your day. Even in combat zones, you’ll see the soldiers have clean-shaven faces. Special Ops guys might grow beards, but that’s just to blend in with the locals. But their uniforms and equipment are in perfect order, clean and correct. Even in Ranger School, where you live like an animal, hygiene is harped on.
"They did studies that showed that just brushing your teeth will raise your morale 13 percent. So you get up in the morning, you’re all pissed off, you know you have a terrible day ahead of you, but take the time to present yourself as a true professional. When you know that all of your shit is correct, that gives you a big boost of confidence."
8. Turn off your brain.
"Getting enough sleep sounds obvious, but it is something many of us struggle with. The problem with taking drugs like Benadryl or stronger stuff is that yes, they will knock you out, but you won’t get any REM. That’s completely worthless sleep. You might as well just be unconscious.
"If you can’t sleep, get up and exercise, wear yourself out. If you’re mentally strapped, there are many mental games that you can do that are relaxing. People talk about counting sheep, I assemble and disassemble guns. I lay there and mentally take apart a firearm step by step. Now I’m not sure that would work for everyone out there, but the point is that I force my brain to concentrate on a particular task and in doing so, take my attention off what is stressing me out."
9. If you can't sleep now, sleep tomorrow
"The military did studies and eight hours of sleep is optimal. But the military pushes itself a lot and guys often go for long stretches without getting much sleep at all. Just like a lot of entrepreneurs. If you get two hours of sleep for three days straight, you're a zombie. But what these studies found is that if a guy gets little or no sleep for days, but then is allowed to rack out for 16 hours straight, he can regain all of that sleep that he lost. So turn off your phone, get those zzz's andrecharge."
Dr Travis Bradberry
Toxic people defy logic. Some are blissfully unaware of the negative impact that they have on those around them, and others seem to derive satisfaction from creating chaos and pushing other people’s buttons. As important as it is to learn how to deal with different kinds of people, truly toxic people will never be worth your time and energy—and they take a lot of each. Toxic people create unnecessary complexity, strife, and, worst of all, stress.
“People inspire you, or they drain you—pick them wisely.” - Hans F. Hansen
The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control. One of their greatest gifts is the ability to use emotional intelligence to identify toxic people and keep them at bay. It’s often said that you’re the product of the five people you spend the most time with. If you allow even one of those five people to be toxic, you’ll soon find out how capable he or she is of holding you back. You can’t hope to distance yourself from toxic people until you first know who they are. The trick is to separate those who are annoying or simply difficult from those who are truly toxic. What follows are ten types of toxic drainers that you should stay away from at all costs so that you don’t become one yourself. 1. The Gossip “Great minds discuss ideas, average ones discuss events, and small minds discuss people.” - Eleanor Roosevelt Gossipers derive pleasure from other people’s misfortunes. It might be fun to peer into somebody else’s personal or professional faux pas at first, but over time, it gets tiring, makes you feel gross, and hurts other people. There are too many positives out there and too much to learn from interesting people to waste your time talking about the misfortune of others. 2. The Temperamental Some people have absolutely no control over their emotions. They will lash out at you and project their feelings onto you, all the while thinking that you’re the one causing their malaise. Temperamental people are tough to dump from your life because their lack of control over their emotions makes you feel bad for them. When push comes to shove though, temperamental people will use you as their emotional toilet and should be avoided at all costs. 3. The Victim Victims are tough to identify because you initially empathize with their problems. But as time passes, you begin to realize that their “time of need” is all the time. Victims actively push away any personal responsibility by making every speed bump they encounter into an uncrossable mountain. They don’t see tough times as opportunities to learn and grow from; instead, they see them as an out. There’s an old saying: “Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional.” It perfectly captures the toxicity of the victim, who chooses to suffer every time. 4. The Self-Absorbed Self-absorbed people bring you down through the impassionate distance they maintain from other people. You can usually tell when you’re hanging around self-absorbed people because you start to feel completely alone. This happens because as far as they’re concerned, there’s no point in having a real connection between them and anyone else. You’re merely a tool used to build their self-esteem. 5. The Envious To envious people, the grass is always greener somewhere else. Even when something great happens to envious people, they don’t derive any satisfaction from it. This is because they measure their fortune against the world’s when they should be deriving their satisfaction from within. And let’s face it, there’s always someone out there who’s doing better if you look hard enough. Spending too much time around envious people is dangerous because they teach you to trivialize your own accomplishments. 6. The Manipulator Manipulators suck time and energy out of your life under the façade of friendship. They can be tricky to deal with because they treat you like a friend. They know what you like, what makes you happy, and what you think is funny, but the difference is that they use this information as part of a hidden agenda. Manipulators always want something from you, and if you look back on your relationships with them, it’s all take, take, take, with little or no giving. They’ll do anything to win you over just so they can work you over. 7. The Dementor In J. K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series, Dementors are evil creatures that suck people’s souls out of their bodies, leaving them merely as shells of humans. Whenever a Dementor enters the room, it goes dark, people get cold, and they begin to recall their worst memories. Rowling said that she developed the concept for Dementors based on highly negative people—the kind of people who have the ability to walk into a room and instantly suck the life out of it. Dementors suck the life out of the room by imposing their negativity and pessimism upon everyone they encounter. Their viewpoints are always glass half empty, and they can inject fear and concern into even the most benign situations. A Notre Dame University study found that students assigned to roommates who thought negatively were far more likely to develop negative thinking and even depression themselves. 8. The Twisted There are certain toxic people who have bad intentions, deriving deep satisfaction from the pain and misery of others. They are either out to hurt you, to make you feel bad, or to get something from you; otherwise, they have no interest in you. The only good thing about this type is that you can spot their intentions quickly, which makes it that much faster to get them out of your life. 9. The Judgmental Judgmental people are quick to tell you exactly what is and isn’t cool. They have a way of taking the thing you’re most passionate about and making you feel terrible about it. Instead of appreciating and learning from people who are different from them, judgmental people look down on others. Judgmental people stifle your desire to be a passionate, expressive person, so you’re best off cutting them out and being yourself. 10. The Arrogant Arrogant people are a waste of your time because they see everything you do as a personal challenge. Arrogance is false confidence, and it always masks major insecurities. A University of Akron study found that arrogance is correlated with a slew of problems in the workplace. Arrogant people tend to be lower performers, more disagreeable, and have more cognitive problems than the average person. How to Protect Yourself Once You Spot ‘Em Toxic people drive you crazy because their behavior is so irrational. Make no mistake about it—their behavior truly goes against reason, so why do you allow yourself to respond to them emotionally and get sucked into the mix? The more irrational and off-base someone is, the easier it should be for you to remove yourself from their traps. Quit trying to beat them at their own game. Distance yourself from them emotionally, and approach your interactions with them like they’re a science project (or you’re their shrink if you prefer that analogy). You don’t need to respond to the emotional chaos—only the facts. Maintaining an emotional distance requires awareness. You can’t stop someone from pushing your buttons if you don’t recognize when it’s happening. Sometimes you’ll find yourself in situations where you’ll need to regroup and choose the best way forward. This is fine, and you shouldn’t be afraid to buy yourself some time to do so. Most people feel as though because they work or live with someone, they have no way to control the chaos. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Once you’ve identified a toxic person, you’ll begin to find their behavior more predictable and easier to understand. This will equip you to think rationally about when and where you have to put up with them and when and where you don’t. You can establish boundaries, but you’ll have to do so consciously and proactively. If you let things happen naturally, you’re bound to find yourself constantly embroiled in difficult conversations. If you set boundaries and decide when and where you’ll engage a difficult person, you can control much of the chaos. The only trick is to stick to your guns and keep boundaries in place when the person tries to cross them, which they will. Have you bumped into any of these types of toxic people? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.
https://hbr.org/2016/10/how-to-manage-a-toxic-employee?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=harvardbiz by Amy Gallo
There’s that one person on your team — the bad apple who has nothing positive to say, riles up other team members, and makes work life miserable. If you can’t fire him, how do you respond to his behavior? What feedback do you give? How do you mitigate the damage he inflicts?
What the Experts SayThere’s a difference between a difficult employee and a toxic one, says Dylan Minor, an assistant professor at the Kellogg School of Management who studies this topic. “I call them toxic because not only do they cause harm but they also spread their behavior to others,” she explains. “There’s a pattern of de-energizing, frustrating or putting down teammates,” adds Christine Porath, an associate professor at Georgetown and the author of Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace. “It’s not just that Joe is rude. The whole team suffers because of it.” Of course, your first step as a manager should be to avoid hiring toxic people in the first place, but once they’re on your team, it can be hard to get rid of them. “Oftentimes the behavior doesn’t run against anything legal so you can’t fire them if others in the organization don’t agree that a line has been crossed,” Porath explains. Here’s what to do instead.
Dig deeperThe first step is to take a closer look at the behavior and what’s causing it. Is the person unhappy in the job? Struggling in their personal life? Frustrated with coworkers? “You might meet with them and ask how they’re doing — at work, at home, and with their career development,” suggests Porath. If you find there’s a reason for why they’re acting the way they are, offer to help. “A manager can use this information to coach the person, or suggest resources to help address the root of the problem.” For example, adds Minor, if the person is going through a divorce or struggling with a mental health issue, you could offer “counseling resources or time off that could potentially alleviate” the underlying issue.
Give them direct feedbackIn many cases, toxic people are oblivious to the effect they have on others. “Most of the time people don’t realize that they’re as destructive as they are,” Porath says. “They’re too focused on their own behaviors and needs to be aware of the broader impact.” That’s why it’s crucial to give direct and honest feedback — so they understand the problem and have an opportunity to change. The standard feedback rules apply: Objectively explain the behavior and its effects, using specific, concrete examples. “It’s not helpful to say, ‘You’re annoying us all,’” Porath explains. “You have to ground it in the work.” Also discuss what kind of behavior you’d like to see instead and develop an improvement plan with the employee. “What do you expect them to change? Strive for clearly defined, measurable goals,” Porath says. “You’re giving them the chance to have a more positive impact on people.”
Explain the consequencesIf the carrot doesn’t work, you can also try the stick. “We all tend to respond more strongly to potential losses than we do to potential gains, so it’s important to show offenders what they stand to lose if they don’t improve,” says Porath. If the person is hesitant to reform, figure out what they care most about — the privilege of working from home, their bonus—and put that at stake. For most people, the possibility of missing out on a promised promotion or suffering other consequences “tied to the pocketbook” will be a strong motivation to behave in a more civil way.
Accept that some people won’t changeOf course, you should always hope that the person can change but not everyone will respond to the tactics listed above. Minor is currently researching toxic doctors and says that early results indicate that some are either unable or unwilling to change. Porath’s research on incivility has meanwhile found that “4% of people engage in this kind of behavior just because it’s fun and they believe they can get away with it.” In those extreme cases, you should recognize that you won’t be able to fix the problem and begin to explore more serious responses.
Document everythingIf you conclude that you really need to fire the person, you must first document their offenses and any response you’ve offered so far. “You want to establish a pattern of behavior, the steps you took to address it, the information, warnings or resources provided to the employee, and the failure of the employee to change,” Porath says. Include “supporting material” too: formal complaints, relevant information from performance evaluations, such as 360-degree or peer reviews. The idea, says Minor, is to protect yourself and the company and to show your employee exactly why they are being let go.
Separate the toxic person from other team membersEven if you can’t get rid of a bad apple, you can isolate it from the rest of the bushel so the rot doesn’t spread. Minor’s research shows that people close to a toxic employee are more likely to become toxic themselves, but the good news is that the risk also subsides quickly,” he says. As soon as you put some physical distance between the offender and the rest of the team – for example, by rearranging desks, reassigning projects, scheduling fewer all-hands meetings, or encouraging more work-from-home days — you’ll see the situation start to improve. Porath calls this “immunizing” the others. “You’re trying to protect people like you would with a disease,” she says. “You will hopefully decrease the number of run-ins and the cognitive loss.” But make sure to do this with discretion. Let employees come to you with their complaints about the toxic colleague and use “one-on-one conversations” to coach them on how they might minimize their interactions.”
Don’t get distractedManaging a toxic person can eat up your time, energy, and productivity. But “don’t spend so much on one individual that your other priorities fall by the wayside,” says Porath. To counteract the negativity and make sure you’re still thriving, “surround yourself with supportive, positive people” and “look for meaning and purpose in your work,” she says. Also focus on basic self-care. “If someone is draining you, build yourself up by exercising, eating right, sleeping, and taking breaks, both short-term ones and vacations,” she says. “Being healthy and proactive is the one thing we know that buffers people from the effects of toxic behavior.”
Principles to Remember
Talk to the person to try to understand what’s causing the behavior.
Give concrete, specific feedback and offer the opportunity to change.
Look for ways to minimize interactions between the toxic employee and the rest of your team.
Bring the situation up with your other team members. Allow them to mention it first and then provide suggestions.
Try to fire the person unless you’ve documented the behavior, its impact, and your response.
Get so wrapped up in handling the issue that you ignore more important work and responsibilities.
Case Study #1: Give direct feedback and support the rest of the teamChristina Del Villar, the director of marketing at the e-commerce operations software firm Webgility, managed a small team at a start-up earlier in her career. One employee, Sharon (not her real name), a senior marketing manager, was making the rest of the group miserable.
“She was an alcoholic, abused drugs, and had a medical condition,” Christina recalls, Her work was “full of mistakes,” her work ethic was poor — ”she was often out of the office, at least one day a week, if not more” — and she frequently took credit for others’ efforts.
Christina made sure to document the behavior but says she couldn’t fire Sharon because the woman “had threatened to sue for a variety of reasons, including her medical condition” should she be let go. Instead, she worked to prevent “the negativity from seeping into everything” by routinely giving Sharon feedback and direction. “Sometimes people don’t realize the impact they’re having so I like to have a blunt conversation with them about their behavior, what they can do to change it, and how they can work better with the team.” Her approach was “delicate” because, with Sharon “you never really knew who you were going to get on any given day.” But she learned to read her employee’s “state of mind” and “pick days where she would be more accepting of this kind of conversation.”
Christina also supported the rest of the team. “Sometimes it was as easy as saying they were doing a great job or thanking them for stepping up to “fill the void” left by Sharon, she explains. She also encouraged them to focus on themselves and their work, “not on what someone else was or was not be doing.” When they complained about Sharon, she offered advice “while still respecting everyone’s privacy and staying within the law.”
While Christina’s efforts reduced the negative impact Sharon was having, the problem was ultimately solved by circumstance. When their business was acquired by a larger company, Sharon moved to a different department.
Case Study #2: Help him rebuild his reputation Daniel Hanson (not his real name) once managed an IT team at a large multinational that suffered every time it had to interact with Bob (also not his real name), a senior internal consultant. “He had a habit of talking down to people and being dismissive and was blissfully unaware that his behaviors irritated people,” Daniel recalls.
With a little probing, Daniel discovered some of the reasons for Bob’s negativity. “His personal life was a mess between bad relationships and estranged children. Plus he’d realized that he had reached a certain age and hadn’t achieved the professional satisfaction that he wanted and he thought he deserved.”
Still, Daniel made clear to Bob that his behavior needed to change. He recommended a counselor provided by the company and offered up his own time and advice in weekly meetings. “I told him this was his last chance and that the next step was a formal performance management plan and almost inevitably exit from the business,” he says.
Although many managers “hated Bob with a passion,” Daniel encouraged them to stop talking about him behind his back, “to see that he was trying to change and to include him in more senior projects under close observation.” He spoke to people individually and “pointed out that his contribution on numerous projects had been immense.”
“Gradually, as Bob’s behavior changed, their attitudes toward him changed as well,” Daniel says. He’s proud that, when Bob did eventually transfer to another team, it was because he’d wanted to go, not because he’d been forced out.
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/14/us/politics/obama-era-legacy-regulation.html Mr. Obama will leave the White House as one of the most prolific authors of major regulations in presidential history. By BINYAMIN APPELBAUM and MICHAEL D. SHEAR
The Obama Era
Over the next months, The Obama Era will explore the sweeping change that President Obama has brought to the nation, and how the presidency has changed him.
President Obama signing an executive order in February 2014 directing federal contractors to raise their minimum wage for federally funded workers.CreditStephen Crowley/The New York Times
WASHINGTON — In nearly eight years in office, President Obama has sought to reshape the nation with a sweeping assertion of executive authority and a canon of regulations that have inserted the United States government more deeply into American life.
Once a presidential candidate with deep misgivings about executive power, Mr. Obama will leave the White House as one of the most prolific authors of major regulations in presidential history.
Blocked for most of his presidency by Congress, Mr. Obama has sought to act however he could. In the process he created the kind of government neither he nor the Republicans wanted — one that depended on bureaucratic bulldozing rather than legislative transparency. But once Mr. Obama got the taste for it, he pursued his executive power without apology, and in ways that will shape the presidency for decades to come.
The Obama administration in its first seven years finalized 560 major regulations — those classified by the Congressional Budget Office as having particularly significant economic or social impacts. That was nearly 50 percent more than the George W. Bush administration during the comparable period, according to data kept by the regulatory studies center at George Washington University.
An army of lawyers working under Mr. Obama’s authority has sought to restructure the nation’s health care and financial industries, limit pollution, bolster workplace protections and extend equal rights to minorities. Under Mr. Obama, the government has literally placed a higher value on human life.
And it has imposed billions of dollars in new costs on businesses and consumers.
Many of the new rules are little known, even as they affect the way Americans eat, love and die. People can dine on genetically engineered salmon. Women can buy emergency contraceptive pills without prescriptions. Military veterans can design their own headstones.
In its final year, the administration is enacting some of its most ambitious rules, including limits on airborne silica at job sites, an overhaul of food labels to clarify nutritional information, and a measure making millions of workers eligible for overtime pay.
The administration’s regulatory legacy has become an issue in the campaign to replace Mr. Obama, as Donald J. Trump has sharply criticized regulatory overreach and promised to undo many of the new rules. But executive power has expanded steadily under both Republican and Democratic presidents in recent decades, and both Mr. Trump and Hillary Clinton have promised to act in the service of their own goals.
The new rules built on the legislative victories Mr. Obama won during his first two years in office. Those laws — the Affordable Care Act, the Dodd-Frank Act and the $800 billion economic stimulus package — transformed the nation’s health care system, curbed the ambitions of the big banks and injected financial support into a creaky economy. But as Republicans increased their control of Capitol Hill, Mr. Obama’s deep frustration with congressional opposition led to a new approach: He gradually embraced a president’s power to act unilaterally.
History may now judge the regulations to be one of Mr. Obama’s most enduring legacies. At the least, his exercise of administrative power expanded and cemented a domestic legacy that now rivals Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society in reach and scope.
In May, Mr. Obama was asked by a farmer in Elkhart, Ind., to justify the “dramatic increase” in government regulations that affected his business. “I’m not interested in regulating just for the sake of regulating,” Mr. Obama responded. “But there are some things like making sure we’ve got clean air and clean water, making sure that folks have health insurance, making sure that worker safety is a priority — that, I do think, is part of our overall obligation.
Infuriated Republicans describe many of the new rules as unwarranted, resulting in “less jobs, less businesses, less prosperity, lower take-home pay,” in the words of the House speaker, Paul D. Ryan. Business groups, also incensed, have challenged a number of new regulations in court, delaying them or preventing them from taking effect. Some economic experts worry that the accumulation of regulation is contributing to the economy’s persistent sluggishness.
“The big issue that I grapple with is that the regulatory state keeps growing,” said Robert Hahn, an economist and a regulatory expert at the Smith School at the University of Oxford. “And as it keeps growing, when does it become too much?”
Not Inherently a Regulator
Rahm Emanuel, third from right, Mr. Obama’s first chief of staff, and other top aides mapped out an ambitious two-year agenda that included a health care overhaul, new banking laws and a remake of the federal student loan program.CreditTodd Heisler/The New York Times
Mr. Obama entered office in January 2009 determined to make his mark by passing bold new laws, not by tinkering with rules. Rahm Emanuel, his first chief of staff, and other top aides mapped out an ambitious two-year agenda that included a health care overhaul, new banking laws, a remake of the federal student loan program, infrastructure spending and stricter limits on pollution.
The new president had a skeptical streak when it came to the value of regulation, influenced by his friend Cass R. Sunstein, a Harvard Law professor who had long argued that the government should more rigorously assess the benefits of new regulations. Mr. Obama liked that idea so much that he named Mr. Sunstein to lead the White House office that oversees rule-making.
“The president is not somebody who is intuitively or inherently a regulator,” said Howard Shelanski, who followed Mr. Sunstein in that role in mid-2013. He said Mr. Obama conveyed a simple message: “‘If we can get a good result without regulating, let’s do that.’
But after eight years of a Republican administration, many Democrats were eager for the government to lean more forcefully on the levers of regulatory power, and officials within the federal bureaucracy felt emboldened.
The White House did resist some ideas. It shut down efforts by Lisa Jackson, Mr. Obama’s first administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, to increase the regulation of ozone, a decision that environmentalists viewed as a betrayal.
But other rules were allowed to proceed. Kate Hanni, an advocate from Napa, Calif., for the rights of airline passengers, had tried for years to persuade the government to address a series of incidents in which flight delays left passengers trapped for hours on planes that had already left the gate, often in cabins with stinking toilets, weak air-conditioning and no food. The Bush administration put Ms. Hanni on a task force consisting mostly of airline executives, which concluded in the fall of 2008 — over her forceful and repeated objections — that the public was best served by allowing the airlines to make their own decisions.
Weeks after the task force released its report, Ms. Hanni was invited to Washington in December 2008 to meet with Robert S. Rivkin, the head of Mr. Obama’s transportation transition team. Democrats in Congress had introduced legislation to address the issue, but Mr. Rivkin asked Ms. Hanni if she would support new regulations instead. She would back anything enforceable, Ms. Hanni said.
“Right answer,” he replied.
Over the course of the next nine months, Mr. Rivkin and his team of career regulators at the Department of Transportation developed rules prohibiting planes loaded with passengers from sitting on the tarmac for more than three hours.
In meetings with Ray LaHood, Mr. Obama’s first transportation secretary, and his staff, airline representatives argued for flexibility, saying rigid timelines would only increase flight cancellations. They chafed at the regulators’ willingness to see the benefits but not the costs.
Sharon L. Pinkerton, an executive at Airlines for America, the industry’s main trade group, recalled Transportation Department regulators suggesting that “unquantifiable, unidentifiable benefits” would “outweigh the costs” of new rules for the airlines.
“What are we supposed to do with that?” she asked later in an interview.
But Mr. LaHood had himself experienced long waits on the runway during frequent trips home to Illinois. Just days before Christmas in 2009, he announced a Passenger Bill of Rights, which for the first time levied fines of up to $27,500 per passenger on airlines that leave domestic flights stranded for more than three hours. He challenged the major carriers to provide their service “in a way that is halfway convenient” for their customers.
His department, Mr. LaHood said in a recent interview, had a new sense of purpose, independent of any specific directive from the White House.
“They had other fish to fry,” Mr. LaHood said of senior officials at the White House. “We didn’t want to wait around for Congress to take five, 10 years to do this. We could do this by rule and regulation, so we were pretty much off to the races.”
Other agencies were moving too. In its second year, bureaucrats working across the government completed 96 major rules, more than in any subsequent year.
Equal Rights for Everyone
Outside the Supreme Court before its decision in June 2013 allowing same-sex marriage. A number of executive actions and regulatory changes intended to improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people followed.CreditChristopher Gregory/The New York Times
The White House soon began to take a greater interest in regulation.
In May 2009, Mr. Emanuel raised concerns about Janice Langbehn, a social worker featured in The New York Times who was barred from visiting her hospitalized same-sex partner.
Passing legislation to address the problem was unlikely, Mr. Emanuel knew, given entrenched ideological opposition and the White House’s focus on overhauling the health insurance system. But Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the newly created Office of Health Reform, suggested an alternative: The administration had the power to impose conditions on hospitals that got federal Medicare funding.
A year later, the president directed the Department of Health and Human Services to develop regulations requiring hospitals to extend visitation rights to same-sex partners.
“All too often, people are made to suffer or even to pass away alone, denied the comfort of companionship in their final moments while a loved one is left worrying and pacing down the hall,” Mr. Obama wrote in an April 2010 memo.
A focus on similar issues produced more than 100 executive actions and regulatory changes intended to improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, particularly after the Supreme Court in 2013 struck down the federal law that defined marriage as between a man and a woman.
People with H.I.V. were no longer barred from entry into the country; federal housing rules recognized lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families; health insurance companies were barred from discriminating against gay people; labor protections applied to gay couples; married same-sex couples could take family and medical leave; and the Internal Revenue Service started treating same-sex couples no differently.
“These are really lasting things,” said David Stacy, the government affairs director for the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights advocacy organization. “They affect people in their everyday lives.”
The Value of Regulation
As the Obama administration turned toward regulation, it sought to strengthen its hand by changing the estimates of what a life is worth. Those estimates allowed the administration to argue that the benefits of many regulations were greater than previously appreciated. This push was particularly important as a justification for stronger environmental protections.
A White House push to pass a sweeping climate change bill in 2009 failed to pass in Congress, but almost from the outset some of Mr. Obama’s aides were working on a Plan B. Mr. Sunstein and Michael Greenstone, the first chief economist of Mr. Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, created an internal task force to put a dollar figure on the cost of carbon emissions.
The government does not try to quantify all the benefits of proposed regulations. When it came to environmental regulations, the calculation was particularly limited. Analysts often assigned a dollar figure to just one kind of damage — emissions of “small particles” — and then stacked up the costs of the proposal against the benefits of fewer particles.
Quantifying a second kind of damage, from carbon emissions, would broaden the assessed benefits of new regulations — potentially justifying new and stronger restrictions. In 2010, the administration issued a report that estimated the economic impact of global warming, including agricultural disruptions, increased flooding and health problems. It pegged the cost of carbon emissions at $21 per ton. An updated assessment in 2013 raised the price tag to $33.
When the administration announced stricter standards for automobile fuel efficiency in 2011, it cited the reduction in carbon emissions as a key benefit. Those benefits have since been cited in several dozen new regulations, including the hotly debated 2015 rule seeking to restrict emissions from new power plants.
Regulators also revisited a more fundamental concept: the value of life. Not just a theological or philosophical abstraction, that figure is used to assess how much spending the government should require to prevent death or injury.
The Department of Transportation, for example, increased the estimated value of preventing one death from $6.6 million in 2009 to $9.4 million last year, adjusting for inflation. The department made an even larger adjustment for preventing injuries, for example raising the value of averting a broken arm from $103,000 in 2009 to $442,000 in 2015, also adjusting for inflation. The increases have helped to justify new requirements for stronger roofs and rearview cameras on automobiles and seatbelts on buses.
The new carbon cost estimate, in particular, has drawn fire from industry groups who regard it as an arbitrary assessment intended to further an environmental agenda.
Environmentalists, however, argue that the government is still significantly understating the actual impact. A 2014 analysis by economists at Stanford University, published in the science journal Nature, estimated that the cost of carbon was actually $220 per ton, far above the government’s official estimate.
Mr. Greenstone, in a recent interview, defended the government’s number as a result of a technocratic process that was not influenced by political pressures.
“Our job as faceless bureaucrats sitting in windowless rooms was not to do science but to summarize the frontier of science,” he said. “ And I feel that we were faithful to that.”
The Room Where It Happens
Mr. Obama with the House speaker, John A. Boehner, left, and the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, at the White House in July 2011. The three discussed raising the debt ceiling, an issue that almost led to a government shutdown.CreditPhilip Scott Andrews/The New York Times
By the fall of 2011, after a summer standoff between the two political parties nearly caused a government shutdown, it was clear to Mr. Obama that little hope remained for moving his agenda forward in a Congress controlled by Republicans.
Speaking in Las Vegas that October, Mr. Obama expressed disdain for “an increasingly dysfunctional Congress” and pledged: “Where they won’t act, I will.”
That sentiment kicked off a slow-moving realignment as White House officials held a series of strategy meetings that fall in the Roosevelt Room, first with Mr. Obama on Saturdays and later with agency and policy experts, usually on Tuesdays and Fridays. Led by Ms. DeParle, who had become deputy chief of staff, and Dan Pfeiffer, the communications director, they asked: What can we do without Congress?
“It’s certainly true that we learned by about the third year that the answer to every challenge isn’t going to be legislative,” said Cecilia Muñoz, now director of Mr. Obama’s Domestic Policy Council.
The pace of regulation stalled somewhat in 2012, amid political concerns about announcing sweeping new regulations during the campaign. In 2013, Mr. Obama’s team briefly hoped his victory would lead to legislative progress, but Republicans blocked gun control measures and an immigration overhaul, and partisan gridlock shut the government down for 15 days that October.
In early 2014, the moment was finally ripe. Mr. Obama recruited John D. Podesta, then the head of the Center for American Progress, a liberal research and policy institution, to be his counselor in the White House
“The weight, if you will, changed with a very recalcitrant Republican House, and with both the House and the Senate being part of the ‘Nyet!’ caucus,” Mr. Podesta said. “It meant that you had to be seriously concerned with trying to make change happen with the tools that you had available.”
A Year of Action
Mr. Obama at his desk in the Oval Office the day before his State of the Union address in January 2014. “Whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do,” he said in the speech.CreditGabriella Demczuk/The New York Times
In January 2014 a frustrated president stood before Congress and declared “a year of action” — with or without the help of the Republicans arrayed before him.
“Whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do,”
Mr. Obama said in his State of the Union address.
Mr. Obama announced an executive order raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour for several hundred thousand cooks, janitors and other federal contract workers. In subsequent orders, each resulting in a new regulation, the president required contractors to let their workers take paid sick days and banned discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers. He also increased workplace protections for all workers at businesses that held federal contracts — an umbrella covering roughly 29 million workers.
“What the president was ultimately doing was holding up the United States government as a model employer,” said Joseph Geevarghese, director of Good Jobs Nation, a union-backed advocacy group that pressed the administration to embrace its regulatory power. “And it created a ripple effect. Within months of the president acting you had private C.E.O.s — Ikea, Gap, Disney, airlines — saying they too were going to boost minimum pay.”
The new regulations again required the White House to broaden its assessment of regulatory benefits. During Mr. Obama’s first term, administration officials told Mr. Geevarghese and other activists that the government did not have the power to make such changes. But after Mr. Obama’s re-election, they found a way: White House lawyers concluded that the president could impose requirements on contractors in the interest of taxpayers.
Betsey Stevenson, a member of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, took the lead in building a case that contractors who paid higher wages would attract and retain better workers, increasing their productivity.
The theory holds, for example, that if the lunch lines at a federal office building moved a little more quickly because of more competent, motivated cafeteria workers, every employee in those lines would save a few minutes a day and have more time to work, thus increasing productivity.
The idea has its roots in work by George Akerlof, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, and his wife, Janet Yellen, now chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, who decided in the early 1980s to pay their babysitter above-market wages as motivation.
With the president’s blessing, the E.P.A. also became more aggressive. The agency asserted federal authority to protect thousands of waterways and wetlands, proposed to cap carbon emissions at new and existing power plants, raised emissions standards for trucks and airplanes, and called for new limits on methane, mercury and ozone.
“He has been much more ambitious and aggressive on environmental regulation than any other president we’ve had,” said Jeffrey Holmstead, a lawyer pursuing legal challenges to some of Mr. Obama’s signature environmental rules.
Courts have now temporarily blocked the administration’s water rules and delayed the power plant limits on carbon dioxide emissions. The next administration will also have considerable leeway to determine how quickly new rules are carried out, and how strictly enforced.
The Next White House
Mr. Obama before his speech at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last month.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times
Every president promises to prune the federal rule book.
Mr. Obama has tried to formalize the process for reviewing existing regulations, and the two candidates vying to take his place, Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump, have nodded at the need to ease the burdens of regulation.
But the scope of federal regulation has continued to grow, and the trend is likely to continue. Presidents, both Democratic and Republican, have asserted greater power in recent decades to dictate the shape of regulations, while Congress has become less specific in its instructions.
“We live in an era of presidential administration,” Elena Kagan, a Harvard law professor since appointed by Mr. Obama to the Supreme Court, wrote in a 2001 paper that reviewed the expansion of the regulatory state.
Both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump would most likely face significant congressional opposition to their major campaign promises. To sidestep Congress, they now have the legacy of Mr. Obama. Mr. Podesta, now Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman, said the appeal of taking action without Congress is hard to resist.
“You come in with a strategy of going to the Hill, certainly where you can find some cooperation,” Mr. Podesta said. But when that fails, writing regulations “is a way to get much more substantial throw-weight behind solving the problem.”