The 8 Best Coding Challenge Websites to Help You Level Up Your Skills in 2020

Daniel Borowski

Despite the lowest unemployment rate in decades, analysts expect technology hiring to continue growing steadily into the 2020s.

That’s great news for recent computer science graduates and developers currently working in the field, but that doesn’t mean ambitious engineers can get complacent.

While there will likely be growth opportunities in the market overall, there are still significant changes happening all the time, and a sense of urgency to keep up with the latest trends.

Today, there are more types of technical roles than ever before, and a continued proliferation of new languages, frameworks, and technologies. Technical employees that want to get ahead should routinely test and refine their skills.

To that end, I’ve put together the following list of platforms where you can level up your skills for any number of roles, from data science to developer operations.

1. freeCodeCamp

Helpful links: Website | Forum | Challenges


Let's begin with freeCodeCamp, which is a great website for beginners who are just getting into coding. They offer all sorts of resources on learning syntax, practicing coding, building projects, and preparing for interviews.

They don’t have as many interactive coding challenges as other sites, but they do offer some fun challenges and interview prep for beginners learning JavaScript.

Novices who are just learning to code for the first time. It’s a great place to learn HTML, CSS, and JavaScript in a fun, interactive way.

Pricing / Premium content

freeCodeCamp is completely free.

2. Coderbyte

Helpful links: Website | Blog | | Free Challenges | Premium


My platform, Coderbyte, provides 300+ coding challenges you can solve in an online editor using 10 different programming languages. You can then access official solutions, over 1.5 million user solutions, and read articles on how to efficiently solve the challenges.

Coderbyte is recommended by the top coding bootcamps and companies because of its collection of interview prep challenges.

Coderbyte is perfect for people in the beginner-to-intermediate phase of their careers who are preparing for interviews. There is a library of harder challenges as well for those who like to solve coding problems for fun, but this isn’t primarily a site for competitive programmers.

There are a handful of free challenges on Coderbyte, and then there are hundreds of premium challenges and over 1 million user solutions that are available to members .

3. LeetCode

Helpful links: Website | Discussion | Free Challenges | Premium


LeetCode has a collection of some of the best algorithm challenges online today. The topics they cover require knowledge of data structures such as binary trees, heaps, linked lists, and so on, which is why their challenges are a bit more advanced than some other websites. But the challenges are great if used to prepare for a software engineering interview.

They also have a Mock Interview section that is specifically for job interview preparation. They also host their own coding contests , and they have a great discussion board where people talk about interview questions, jobs, compensation, and other topics related to engineering.

LeetCode is great for intermediate-to-advanced programmers. It might not be the best suited for brand new coders who don’t know how to write basic loops yet, but once you learn the fundamentals this is a great site to practice coding.

There are free challenges available on LeetCode, and they also have a premium subscription which gets you access to more challenges and other features of the platform.

Helpful links: Website | Blog | Challenges


This is the first time Edabit is appearing on our top sites list ( 2018 list , 2017 list )! It has grown in popularity over the last year, and developers seem to really enjoy the challenges. They offer a large collection of over 4,000 challenges that can be solved online in one of several languages.

The site currently only offers online interactive coding challenges — there aren’t any discussion boards, articles, user solutions, or mock interviews like other sites offer, but over time they might be adding some of these.

Edabit is great for beginners looking to practice their coding skills daily by solving bite-sized challenges. Once you reach the intermediate stage, other sites provide harder challenges and more content geared towards competitive programming and job interviews.

All the challenges on Edabit are free, and there is no premium pricing option.

5. Codewars

Helpful links: Website | Blog | Free Challenges | Premium


Codewars provides a large collection of coding challenges submitted and edited by their own community. You can solve the challenges directly online in their editor using 20+ programming languages. You can view a discussion for each challenge as well as user solutions. You can earn points and climb the rankings by solving their challenges.

Codewars is great for people in the beginner-to-intermediate phase. The challenges are created by the community so you get exposed to a lot of different types of coding challenges.

They offer all of their challenges created by the community for free, and their premium subscription gets you access to some cool features on their platform.

6. HackerRank


HackerRank has a large collection of coding challenges tailored towards algorithms and data structures, along with interview prep material, a discussion board for each challenge, and a list of top user solutions. They have challenges for other topics as well like functional programming, AI, Shell, SQL, and more.

HackerRank is great for intermediate-to-advanced programmers who have already picked up the basics of a language and are ready to solve more complicated problems. The challenges are written with mathematical notation and can sometimes be a little confusing, which is why it might not be so great for beginner developers.

All the challenges on HackerRank are free, and there is no premium pricing option.

7. TopCoder


TopCoder is one of the original platforms for competitive programming online. It provides a list of algorithmic challenges from past competitions that you can complete on your own directly online using their code editor.

Their popular Single Round Matches are offered a few times per month at a specific time where you compete against others to solve challenges. Here are some topics that their challenges may cover.

Aside from solving challenges for fun online, they offer sponsored competitions where you can win prizes for writing the best solution.

TopCoder is better suited for advanced programmers who are comfortable solving algorithm challenges dealing with advanced topics like graph search and number theory.

All the challenges on TopCoder are free, and there is no premium pricing option.

8. Codeforces

Helpful links: Website | Discussion | Challenges


Codeforces is now probably the top competitive programming website (a few years ago TopCoder was where most competitive programmers spent their time).

There are problems that you can solve online to practice, but there’s no online editor. Rather, you write your solution in your own editor and then upload it to their system which then tests your code against a suite of test cases.

They also frequently hold contests where the best competitive programmers take part in.

Advanced and competitive programmers who truly enjoy solving difficult algorithm challenges.

All the challenges on Codeforces are free, there is no premium pricing option.

CEO & Founder at Coderbyte.

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10 websites to practice coding problems: Our picks

Whether you're just starting out as a coder or want to advance your coding skills, tackling programming problems is part of the plan. 

Convenient, free, and even fun, coding problem websites challenge your abilities with individual exercises, friendly challenges, and insightful assessments.

Practicing your coding through these websites may increase your knowledge, build your skills, and prepare you for programming job interviews. 

Top websites for practicing your coding skills

Should a humanities major learn to code.

Can a humanities student learn coding? Absolutely. Coding is not strictly for STEM students — it can benefit you no matter your degree.

How hard is it to learn coding ? Starting from scratch can be difficult, but coding challenges designed to test and advance your skills may help. We rounded up 10 great websites for coding problems and listed them alphabetically for you. 

Each website offers a collection of resources for learning coding or advancing what you already know. 

1. CodeChef

CodeChef lets you choose among thousands of problems to practice skills like sorting, data structures, and dynamic programming. Problems are sortable by difficulty. Code Chef's practice problems allow you to answer in one of over 50 programming languages as you prepare for its internal or external monthly contests. 

CodeChef offers self-guided learning opportunities and mentoring programs alongside a community of coders, coding bootcamps, and tech certification programs. 

2. Coderbyte

Designed for coding practice and improvement, Coderbyte offers code challenges and courses aimed at helping you prepare for job interviews. 

Coderbyte had over three million solutions with challenges in more than 25 languages. Starter courses in algorithms, JavaScript, Ruby, and Python accompany interview kits and career resources. 

You can sign up for a free challenge and free trial. A monthly subscription to Coderbyte costs $35 and an annual subscription is $150. Both give you access to all of Coderbyte's resources. 

3. Codewars

Launched in 2012, Codewars provides practice kata, or small coding exercises, that you advance through as you build your skills. Codewars' kata are available in nearly 60 programming languages and in levels from beginner to advanced.

You can develop your own kata, engage with the Codewars community, and master one or multiple languages in the process. Feedback and creative learning facilitate creative thinking and innovation among Codewars' users. Codewars offers resources for educators and companies as well. 

4. CodinGame

With more than 25 supported languages, CodinGame provides challenge-based programming training through games, puzzles, and competitions. 

CodinGame's resources let you build your programming abilities, learn new concepts, and interact with fellow coders through easy, medium, hard, and very hard exercises.

CodeinGame's leaderboard and prizes earn you recognition from your peers and track your progress. Free live streams, blogs, and discussion forums for developers accompany sourcing, screening, and retention programs for recruiters. 

5. Geektastic

With human-reviewed technical assessments, Geektastic lets companies customize coding challenges for talent acquisition and engineering team training. If you have coding experience, you can join Geektastic's reviewer community to create and test those challenges — and get paid to review candidates' performance. 

Code challenges are offered in Java, Python, and PHP. Geektastic also offers skills assessments in Java, Javascript, and basic coding. Joining as a developer comes with no cost, while flexible pricing accommodates businesses of any size. 

6. HackerRank

HackerRank serves as a technical interview platform, but also provides coding practice to over 18 million users. Challenges offered by HackerRank cover topics including algorithms, Java, Python, Ruby, and data structures. 

HackerRank's challenges allow you to test your code, debug it, and win one of its sprint, company, language, or timed challenges. You can also earn certifications in specific skills or complete interview preparation kits. Pricing ranges from $25/month for interview content to $819/month team subscriptions.

7. LeetCode

LeetCode provides more than 2,250 practice problems to its programmer community. Individual challenges in topics like algorithms, database structures, and dynamic programming accompany entire study plans. 

LeetCode's programming skills study plan integrates three modules offered at easy, medium, or hard difficulty levels. LeetCode supports 14 programming languages and houses a playground tool to help you test, debug, and write code. 

Sign-up is free. LeetCode Premium offers access to additional tools and premium content for a monthly subscription of $35 or an annual fee of $159. 

8. Project Euler

Named for mathematician Leonhard Euler, Project Euler began in 2001. Recent and archival content is available for registered users at no cost. 

Project Euler offers computational programming problems combining mathematics with computer and programming skills. With 108 programming languages and more than one million users, Project Euler provides problems with varying difficulty.

Sphere Online Judge, or SPOJ , trains users to code and build efficient algorithms through more than 20,000 practice problems. Scoring categories for problems include challenges, tutorials, and riddles. Rankings and a status board accompany running contests that support more than 45 programming languages and compilers. 

SPOJ offers a flexible testing system to automatically assess user-submitted programs. Users can design their own contests or take part in an online course at all programming levels, but it is ideal for students.

10. TopCoder

TopCoder's community of designers, developers, data scientists, and competitive programmers build their skills, show their expertise, and earn money as they improve their coding abilities. TopCoder pays individuals for their work, sells it to corporate clients, and hosts competitions designed to highlight top coding talent worldwide.

Customers use TopCoder to hire freelancers on-demand, set challenges for the coding community, and find teams for projects.

This article was reviewed by Monali Mirel Chuatico

In 2019, Monali Mirel Chuatico graduated with her bachelor's in computer science, which gave her the foundation that she needed to excel in roles such as data engineer, front-end developer, UX designer, and computer science instructor.

Monali is currently a data engineer at Mission Lane. As a data analytics captain at a nonprofit called COOP Careers , Monali helps new grads and young professionals overcome underemployment by teaching them data analytics tools and mentoring them on their professional development journey.

Monali is passionate about implementing creative solutions, building community, advocating for mental health, empowering women, and educating youth. Monali's goal is to gain more experience in her field, expand her skill set, and do meaningful work that will positively impact the world.

Monali Mirel Chuatico is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network. 

Last reviewed April 21, 2022.

ZDNET Recommends

Achieve mastery through challenge

Improve your development skills by training with your peers on code kata that continuously challenge and push your coding practice.

best websites for problem solving

Sharpen your coding skills

Challenge yourself on small coding exercises called "kata". Each kata is crafted by the community to help you strengthen different coding techniques. Master your current language of choice, or quickly pick up any of the 55+ programming languages supported.

best websites for problem solving

Get instant feedback

Solve kata with your coding style right in the browser and use test cases (TDD) to check it as you progress. Retrain with new, creative, and optimized approaches. Find all of the bugs in your programming practice.

best websites for problem solving

Earn ranks and honor

Kata code challenges are ranked from beginner to expert level. As you complete higher-ranked kata, you level up your profile and push your software development skills to your highest potential.

best websites for problem solving

An engaged software development community

Codewars is a collective effort by its users. They are creators—authoring kata to teach various techniques, solving kata with solutions that enlighten others, and commenting with constructive feedback.

Community members added every month

Kata completed every month

Kata created by our community

Tap into the collective wisdom

Compare your solution with others after each kata for greater understanding. Discuss kata, best practices, and innovative techniques with the community. Have your mind blown by how different other solutions can be from your own.

best websites for problem solving

Create your own kata

Author kata that focus on your interests and train specific skill sets. Challenge the community with your insight and code understanding. Create everything from common developer interview questions to challenges that push the limits of your creativity. Gain honor within the coding dojo.

best websites for problem solving

What can I use Codewars for?

From beginner to expert and beyond...

Get new perspectives

Solve challenges then view how others solved the same challenge. Pickup new techniques from some of the most skilled developers in the world.

Learn new languages

Solve challenges in a language you are comfortable with, then do it in a language you want to improve with. Level up across different languages.

Compete with peers

Compete against your friends, colleagues, and the community at large. Allow competition to motivate you  towards mastering your craft.

Extremely well done and an excellent example of mastery learning.

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Ahmed Omran


Accidentally got addicted to codewars, oops.

best websites for problem solving

Kelly Williams

Build self-confidence

Not sure if you are progressing well as a programmer? Push yourself to your limits and show yourself what you are really made of.

Become a mentor

Lend your expertise to others, either indirectly by contributing great solutions or directly by creating your own kata and reviewing code.

Insights from Codewars staff and community.

What's new in Codewars: April highlights

What's new in Codewars: April highlights

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Introducing the EPIC Challenge 2024

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Codewars is built on.

The world's most advanced coding assessment platform for organizations looking to scale their hiring, upskilling, and certification programs.

Achieve mastery through challenge.

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11 Best Websites to Practice Coding for Beginners in 2024

best websites for problem solving

Coding is not a spectator sport. To develop your skills, you must write it yourself. Here are the best websites to practice coding.

Indeed’s Best Jobs of 2023 ranked America’s most highly prized careers based on demand, pay, and potential for growth. These careers included:

  • Full-stack developer (#1)
  • Data engineer (#2)
  • Back end developer (#6)
  • Site reliability engineer (#7)
  • Director of data science (#25)

That means half of the top ten best jobs in America require coding skills‌. But, if you don’t have coding skills, where do you go to learn them?

At Flatiron School , we help pave the way for your transition into the tech industry. Our comprehensive programs are designed to provide you with the foundational knowledge you need to develop the coding and programming skills that are in such high demand. Our programs help students discover their full potential and pursue the career of their dreams.

But maybe you’re just ready to dip your toe in and explore your options? There are several coding for beginners resources online.   So whether you’re looking to learn a new coding language or try out programming for the first time, it’s worth looking into coding practice sites for beginners.

11 Best Coding Practice Sites

Coding is not a spectator sport. It’s great to watch tutorials and read books on how to code, but to truly develop your programming proficiency, you must write the language yourself. Here are some of the best places to practice your coding skills.

1. Coderbyte

As you begin to develop your coding skills, you may be unsure what to practice first. It helps to work on real-world problems other coding professionals have faced—and Coderbyte has exactly that. With over 2,000 challenges on front and back end development, data structures, and algorithms that professionals have faced in their interviews, you’ll be able to hone your skills on examples that really matter.

Pros of Coderbyte

‌Coderbyte lets you use over 30 different programming languages and has a library of over 3 million solutions you can learn from.

Cons of Coderbyte

Coderbyte has a user interface that’s often complex for new users to navigate, so it might take some time getting used to this site.

2. Pluralsight

If you’re seeking a comprehensive learning platform that allows you to learn at your own pace, go with Pluralsight . You’ll develop a strong skill set in Python, JavaScript, HTML, and CSS, just to name a few. You can also receive learning recommendations based on what you’re focusing on.

Pros of Pluralsight

The platform provides a personalized learning experience as you can customize your training sessions with multiple features, including multiple language support.

Cons of Pluralsight

Users have minimal interaction with course instructors and industry experts, which makes it difficult to gain valuable feedback.   

Unlock over 10,000 interactive coding challenges with Edabit . This free platform provides courses that are simple and practical. You can also access beginner tutorials to make the most of your learning experience. Plus, the challenges are ranked by difficulty, so you know exactly what level you’re at in your programming expertise.

Pros of Edabit

Learners gain access to a code editor that’s built into the platform. That way, users can create a code without having to switch to another application.

Cons of Edabit

You don’t gain a certificate for completing any of the tutorials. Also, some users have stated that the platform used outdated programming languages. 

4. CodinGame

Wanna play a game? CodinGame lets you practice your coding through fun games and code challenges. With single-round matches and both solo and multiplayer modes, this platform gives you a chance to practice coding the fun way.  

Pros of CodinGame

There are over 25 available programming languages.

Cons of CodinGame

Some users take issue with the size of the timers displayed on the programming tests. Unless you look carefully for the timer, you may miss the opportunity to submit your questions on time. 

5. CodeChef

Competition can be the best motivator to learn, and CodeChef offers exactly that. This platform lets users measure their skills by practicing more than 3,000 problems. You can compete against other coders, which creates great coding practice for beginners. But don’t worry—the competition is friendly, and participants often write posts and tutorials to help each other learn.

Pros of CodeChef

CodeChef users will be pleased to know that there is an active, supportive community that encourages growth. 

Cons of CodeChef

Users report that some practice problems lack clarity.

6. Project Euler

Project Euler offers a chance to solve challenging math problems with script. Over 1 million users have solved at least one problem on the site.

Pros of Project Euler

The site offers 111 programming languages.

Cons of Project Euler

If math isn’t your strongest subject, Project Euler may not be for you. The math-oriented programming languages get quite complex as you progress through the challenges.

7. TopCoder

Join a community of 1.7 million technical experts at TopCoder . On the learning side, they have an abundance of weekly challenges and explanations, along with challenging competitions that help you rise to the coding occasion.

Pros of TopCoder

The site is one of the most established platforms with an active user base.

Cons of TopCoder

Some users have experienced difficulty navigating the program’s user interface. Also, if you submit a support request, it may go unnoticed as their support system lacks efficiency.

8. One Month

Learning coding and web development in a span of 30 days with One Month . You can select from a variety of basic courses that cover HTML, Python, SQL, Ruby, and more! You also get to create real-world projects.

Pros of One Month

This user-friendly resource is great if you’re just looking to learn the fundamentals of coding and web development.

Cons of One Month

If you decide to switch to another programming platform, just note that there are no refunds available.

9. Geektastic

With detailed solutions to their multiple-choice and peer-reviewed coding challenges, Geektastic has a wealth of resources for programmers and a growing community of over 26,000 developers.

Pros of Geektastic

In addition to their interactive challenges and competitions, coders that rank high enough might even be allowed to join the review team. Members of this team get paid to review coding submissions for clients seeking a solution to their own coding projects.

Cons of Geektastic

Some users have raised concerns with how the challenges are scored, stating that they don’t reflect a candidate’s programming skills well. 

10. Geeks for Geeks

Made by developers for developers, Geeks for Geeks offers coding content for programmers of all skill levels, including beginners. Exercises in data structures, machine learning, web development, and much more are available.

Pros of Geeks for Geeks

Competitive challenges offer interactivity and a space to share coding solutions.

Cons of Geeks for Geeks

Geeks for Geeks primarily provides information in English, which means non-English speakers could run into trouble with the resources available. The website also has limited multimedia resources, mostly relying on text-based information.  

11. HackerEarth

What’s great about HackerEarth is that users can create and customize their coding assessments for technical positions. 

With HackerEarth, you’ll join a community of 7.6 million developers, participate in several programming challenges and customize your tests for a specific role.

Pros of HackerEarth

Not only does the website offer support in multiple languages, but it also includes AI proctoring to ensure exam results are accurate and reliable. 

Cons of HackerEarth

You might run into trouble navigating to specific problem types because the website has troublesome indexing and prioritization. 

Blogs to Help You Learn

They may be less interactive than competitions and online courses, but plenty of coding for beginners blogs are available to help new students gain programming proficiency. Here are some of our favorites.

1. The Crazy Programmer

This blog isn’t designed to give hands-on coding experience, but there’s a wealth of programming knowledge on pretty much everything else. From useful books and articles to tutorials and Q&As, The Crazy Programmer is a great blog to follow for those just learning to code.

2. The Blog

If you’re looking for courses or content that will grow your coding skills, The Blog will help you look in the right places. Written by a community of programming professionals, this blog is devoted to grading the most useful coding content so readers know they’re relying on quality sources. 

The blog touches on a wide range of topics, though, so those looking for resources on a specific language may find their content hit and miss.

3. Better Programming

As its name suggests, this blog is devoted to improving your programming. With posts on a range of topics in web design and coding, Better Programming features content from multiple industry pros on both introductory and advanced content. There’s truly something for everyone. As with, those concentrating on a specific topic may want something more focused.

Flatiron School: The Ultimate Coding Solution

What makes us different from coding websites? Here at Flatiron School, we work tirelessly to help students gain the foundational coding skills they need to begin a career in the tech industry. Combining flexible program options, industry-leading education, and up to 180 days of Career Coaching upon graduation, Flatiron School gives our students the jumping-off point they need to begin a rewarding tech career.  

Our programs contain a mixture of lectures, group work, instructor guidance, and community support to both equip our students with technical skills and prepare them to work effectively on a team. No matter what level a student begins at, Flatiron School’s Software Engineering program can take you from a complete beginner to industry-ready in as little as 15 weeks. 

If you’re committed to a career in tech, we’ll teach you the skills you need to succeed. 

Apply today to get started . Not ready to apply? No problem – test out our material with Free Software Engineering Prep Work or download the course syllabus .

If you’re an employer looking to bring new talent to your team, check out our tech training solutions and see how you can invest in your company’s growth. 

Disclaimer: The information in this blog is current as of 23 October 2023. Current policies, offerings, procedures, and programs may differ.

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Posted on Aug 12, 2021 • Updated on Sep 12, 2021

11 Websites To Practice You Coding And Your Problem Solving Skills

11 websites to practice your coding and problem-solving skills.

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  • Coding Ninjas Codekaze Interview Experience 2023

Every coder wants to be one of the best! Yes, it’s true. But do you ever think how can someone be considered as the best coder? Okay, suppose there is a guy who wants to be the best racer, so can he do that by just practicing it? Not, what he has to do is to prove himself, get the better of others, and conquer the battle. Similarly, if you want to be the finest coder, you have to face challenges and showcase your programming skills . And, the best way to do the same is Competitive Programming and Coding Competitions . 


The Coding Contests or Competitions provide you the opportunity to analyze your skills and proficiency, and to compare yourself to other programmers across the world. Apart from these, various scholarships , prizes , jobs & internships opportunities are also provided to the participating programmers. There are various platforms (or websites) that conduct these coding challenges online on a regular basis. Best 7 Coding Challenges Websites are listed below along with a brief description.

1. TopCoder

TopCoder is one of the most popular platforms for online programming competitions. Anyone can join the Topcoder Community to participate and compete in challenges. The TopCoder Community has majorly 4 segments – Design , Development , Data Science , and Competitive Programming . The design community deals with Information Architecture and UI/UX/CX Design whereas the Development segment looks into Bug Bash, Code, First-to-Finish (F2F), Quality Assurance and UI Prototype Challenges. There are various data science challenges also named as Marathon Match (MM) , Data Science First to Finish , Data Science Sprint & Ideation and Data Visualization . The Competitive Programming domain of Topcoder community revolves around Single Round Matches (SRMs) offered on weekly basis at a specific time in which all participants compete against each other to solve the problems as fast as possible. Some of the major stats of the TopCoder Community are listed below:

  • There are 5 times more engineers than Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter combined!
  • Around 1,400+ Crowdsourcing challenges are completed per quarter.
  • The Community has around 1.5M members in over 190 countries.
  • Also, nearby 1,800 new members join per week.

2. HackerRank

HackerRank is a leading platform for competitive programming challenges where you have to solve the problems as per the given specifications. HackerRank offers you to solve these programming challenges in any of various programming languages such as C , Java , Python , Ruby , etc. Apart from this, participants can solve the problems in various computer science domains like algorithms, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. You can also earn badges by solving challenges on the HackerRank website and these badges will be added to your profile. The type of contests hosted by HackerRank are listed below:

  • 101-Hack – A monthly algorithmic contest in which five challenges have to be solved within 2 hours.
  • HourRank – The shortest contest format in which 3-4 algorithm challenges need to be solved within 1 hour.
  • Week of Code – A weeklong algorithm contest where one new challenge is offered each day. Also, the challenges become more complicated as the day passes.
  • Ad Infinitum – A 48-hour contest of Mathematics conducted every three months.
  • Real Data/Machine Learning Contests – A weeklong contest focuses on real-world data skills and requires the use of machine learning techniques.
  • Language/Domain Specific Contests – These are the contest based on various programming languages like C, Java, Python, etc.
  • Company Contests – The contests sponsored by specific companies that are looking to hire developers. The nature of this contest varies as per the requirements of the sponsoring companies.
  • World CodeSprint – It is a 24-hour contest having 7-8 challenges to be solved.

3. International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC)

The International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) is one of the most renowned competitive programming competition. However, from 1977 to 2017 , ICPC was held under the authority of ACM and was termed as ACM-ICPC . ICPC contests are team competitions and as per the rules, each team must consist of 3 students representing their university. The ICPC features various levels of competition – Local Contests , Regional Contests , Regional Championships , and The World Finals . Every year, the ICPC regionals start from the local competitions among classmates to find out who may represent their university and the final regional contest determines the teams moving forward to the World Finals. The teams leading at each regional level contest from 6 different continents qualify to compete at the World Finals. During each contest, the teams of 3 are given 5 hours to solve around 10+ programming problems . The solutions must be submitted in C , C++ , Java , Python or Kotlin language. Some of the major stats of the International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) are listed below:

  • It is one of the oldest programming competition in the world.
  • More than 50,000 students are part of the ICPC family.
  • Around 3,000 universities in 111 countries are associated with the ICPC.
  • ICPC has around 400 on-site competitions.

4. CodeChef

CodeChef is a competitive programming website that offers several challenges for aspiring programmers to practice and sharpen their programming skills through various online contests. CodeChef conducts a programming competition at the start of every month and also conducts 2 smaller programming contests at the middle and end of the month. You can submit your solution in any of the programming languages as the contests accept solutions in over 55+ programming languages including C, C++ , Java, and Python. Apart from these contests, CodeChef also offers various algorithm tutorials and forum discussions to make the journey of computer programming more feasible. You can receive points and move up through the CodeChef ranks which is really worthy. There are various coding competitions where you can show your programming skills such as – Monthly Programming Contests, Cook-off and Lunchtime Coding Contests. Some of the major stats regarding CodeChef contests are listed below:

  • CodeChef has around 1,250,000+ programmers from 12,000 institutions.
  • There are approximately 3200+ programming contests with around 92 million+ submissions.
  • The contests have the prizes of around INR 20,000 for Indian Community and $700 for Global Community.

5. Geeks Coding Challenge (GCC)

Geeks Coding Challenge (GCC) is a 3-day coding contest organized by GeeksforGeeks (one of the leading website in the Computer Science domain!). The contest is conducted online where you can solve various coding problems and can compete with other programmers online. You can solve the problems from any of the following programming languages – C++ , Java or Python . Also, the total prize amount for Geeks Coding Challenge is worth more than 6 Lakh Rupees consisting of cash prizes, accessories, courses, etc. One thing to remember here is that the number of seats for the Geeks Coding Challenge (GCC) is limited, so you have to make sure to register yourself before the seats get filled and the registration will be closed. Also, there is not any participating fee for this contest. The contest is divided into 3 rounds which are described below:

  • Round 1 – It is the very first round where all the registered candidates have to appear for a 90 minutes coding challenge. The top 250 candidate s from this round qualify for the next round of the contest.
  • Round 2 – The second round is a 120 minutes coding challenge where the top 250 qualified candidates from the first round compete with each other. The top 100 candidates from the second round qualify for the final round.
  • Round 3 – It is the final round where all the top 100 performers from Round 2 compete for a 120 minutes challenge.

6. LeetCode

LeetCode is the leading platform that offers various coding challenges to enhance your coding skills. It offers various weekly and biweekly programming competitions for the participants. The contests are generally of a duration of 90 minutes. You can solve the challenges in their own online editor (named as Playground) in any one of the supported programming languages. Apart from the Coding Contest, various additional features such as job interview preparation, discussions, etc are also provided on LeetCode. Some of the major stats of the LeetCode are listed below:

  • LeetCode is one of the largest tech communities with millions of active users.
  • You can practice over 1400+ coding problems and the number is increasing day by day!
  • LeetCode supports over 14 popular coding languages that make it more preferable.

Also, at the end of each contest, you will be rewarded with rankings and points which can help you in getting a job in top tech giants.

7. Codeforces

Codeforces is a Russian website that hosts competitive programming competitions where the number of competitive coders across the world competes with each other. The contests conducted by Codeforces allow you to write solutions to the problems that are tested during the contest. Those who pass that set of solution tests receive the opportunity to go through the sources of other contestants, search for mistakes there and suggest the tests on which these solutions do not work. Accordingly, you can hack or challenge others’ solutions and can earn points through it. Then after the contest, all the solutions that pass the pretests and have not been hacked or challenged are tested on the final set of tests. The best thing about Codeforces is that the contests are regularly conducted here as every month they organize nearly 6 contests. Also, participation in the contests is free and open to everybody. Codeforces offers various type of coding challenges and features such as –

  • Short format Contests with a duration of 2 hours .
  • Educational Contests of 2-2.5 hours duration conducted 2-3 times in a month.
  • You can challenge or hack other contestants’ solutions as well.
  • You can also solve problems from previous contests for learning objectives.

Programming needs a lot of patience. Start participating in different competitive programming contests and improve yourself day by day. Show your ranking in your resume and this will also help you in landing a job in top tech companies.

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Problem-Solving Techniques That Work For All Types of Challenges

Essay by Spencer Greenberg, Clearer Thinking founder

A lot of people don’t realize that there are general purpose problem solving techniques that cut across domains. They can help you deal with thorny challenges in work, your personal life, startups, or even if you’re trying to prove a new theorem in math.

Below are the 26 general purpose problem solving techniques that I like best, along with a one-word name I picked for each, and hypothetical examples to illustrate what sort of strategy I’m referring to.

Consider opening up this list whenever you’re stuck solving a challenging problem. It’s likely that one or more of these techniques can help!

best websites for problem solving

1. Clarifying

Try to define the problem you are facing as precisely as you can, maybe by writing down a detailed description of exactly what the problem is and what constraints exist for a solution, or by describing it in detail to another person. This may lead to you realizing the problem is not quite what you had thought, or that it has a more obvious solution than you thought.

Life Example

“I thought that I needed to find a new job, but when I thought really carefully about what I don’t like about my current job, I realized that I could likely fix those things by talking to my boss or even, potentially, just by thinking about them differently.”

Startup Example

“we thought we had a problem with users not wanting to sign up for the product, but when we carefully investigated what the problem really was, we discovered it was actually more of a problem of users wanting the product but then growing frustrated because of bad interface design.”

2. Subdividing

Break the problem down into smaller problems in such a way that if you solve each of the small problems, you will have solved the entire problem. Once a problem is subdivided it can also sometimes be parallelized (e.g., by involving different people to work on the different components).

“My goal is to get company Z to become a partner with my company, and that seems hard, so let me break that goal into the steps of (a) listing the ways that company Z would benefit from becoming a partner with us, (b) finding an employee at company Z who would be responsive to hearing about these benefits, and (c) tracking down someone who can introduce me to that employee.”

Math Example

“I want to prove that a certain property applies to all functions of a specific type, so I start by (a) showing that every function of that type can be written as a sum of a more specific type of function, then I show that (b) the property applies to each function of the more specific type, and finally I show that (c) if the property applies to each function in a set of functions then it applies to arbitrary sums of those functions as well.”

3. Simplifying

Think of the simplest variation of the problem that you expect you can solve that shares important features in common with your problem, and see if solving this simpler problem gives you ideas for how to solve the more difficult version.

“I don’t know how to hire a CTO, but I do know how to hire a software engineer because I’ve done it many times, and good CTOs will often themselves be good software engineers, so how can I tweak my software engineer hiring to make it appropriate for hiring a CTO?”

“I don’t know how to calculate this integral as it is, but if I remove one of the free parameters, I actually do know how to calculate it, and maybe doing that calculation will give me insight into the solution of the more complex integral.”

4. Crowd-sourcing 

Use suggestions from multiple people to gain insight into how to solve the problem, for instance by posting on Facebook or Twitter requesting people’s help, or by posting to a Q&A site like Quora, or by sending emails to 10 people you know explaining the problem and requesting assistance.

Business Example

“Do you have experience outsourcing manufacturing to China? If so, I’d appreciate hearing your thoughts about how to approach choosing a vendor.”

Health Example

“I have trouble getting myself to stick to doing exercise daily. If you also used to have trouble getting yourself to exercise but don’t anymore, I’d love to know what worked to make it easier for you.”

5. Splintering

If the problem you are trying to solve has special cases that a solution to the general problem would also apply to, consider just one or two of these special cases as examples and solve the problem just for those cases first. Then see if a solution to one of those special cases helps you solve the problem in general.

“I want to figure out how to improve employee retention in general, let me examine how I could have improved retention in the case of the last three people that quit.”

“I want to figure out how to convince a large number of people to become customers, let me first figure out how to convince just Bill and John to become customers since they seem like the sort of customer I want to attract, and see what general lessons I learn from doing that.”

Read the books or textbooks that seem most related to the topic, and see whether they provide a solution to the problem, or teach you enough related information that you can now solve it yourself.

Economics Example

“Economists probably have already figured out reasonable ways to estimate demand elasticity, let’s see what an econometrics textbook says rather than trying to invent a technique from scratch.”

Mental Health Example

“I’ve been feeling depressed for a long time, maybe I should read some well-liked books about depression.”

7. Searching

Think of a similar problem that you think practitioners, bloggers or academics might have already solved and search online (e.g., via google, Q&A sites, or google scholar academic paper search) to see if anyone has done a write-up about how they solved it.

Advertising Example

“I’m having trouble figuring out the right advertising keywords to bid on for my specific product, I bet someone has a blog post describing how to approach choosing keywords for other related products.”

Machine Learning Example

“I can’t get this neural network to train properly in my specific case, I wonder if someone has written a tutorial about how to apply neural networks to related problems.”

8. Unconstraining

List all the constraints of the problem, then temporarily ignore one or more of the constraints that make the problem especially hard, and try to solve it without those constraints. If you can, then see if you can modify that unconstrained solution until it becomes a solution for the fully constrained problem.

“I need to hire someone who can do work at the intersection of machine learning and cryptography, let me drop the constraint of having cryptography experience and recruit machine learning people, then pick from among them a person that seems both generally capable and well positioned to learn the necessary cryptography.”

Computer Science Example

“I need to implement a certain algorithm, and it needs to be efficient, but that seems very difficult, so let me first figure out how to implement an inefficient version of the algorithm (i.e., drop the efficiency constraint), then at the end I will try to figure out how to optimize that algorithm for efficiency.”

9. Distracting

Fill your mind with everything you know about the problem, including facts, constraints, challenges, considerations, etc. and then stop thinking about the problem, and go and do a relaxing activity that requires little focus, such as walking, swimming, cooking, napping or taking a bath to see if new ideas or potential solutions pop into your mind unexpectedly as your subconscious continues to work on the problem without your attention.

“For three days, I’ve been trying to solve this problem at work, but the solution only came to me when I was strolling in the woods and not even thinking about it.”

Example from mathematician Henri Poincaré

“The incidents of the travel made me forget my mathematical work. Having reached Coutances, we entered an omnibus to go someplace or other. At the moment when I put my foot on the step, the idea came to me, without anything in my former thoughts seeming to have paved the way for it, that the transformations I had used to define the Fuchsian functions were identical with those of non-Euclidean geometry.”

10. Reexamining

Write down all the assumptions you’ve been making about the problem or about what a solution should I look like (yes – make an actual list). Then start challenging them one by one to see if they are actually needed or whether some may be unnecessary or mistaken.

Psychology Example

“We were assuming in our lab experiments that when people get angry they have some underlying reason behind it, but there may be some anger that is better modeled as a chemical fluctuation that is only loosely related to what happens in the lab, such as when people are quick to anger because they are hungry.”

“I need to construct a function that has this strange property, and so far I’ve assumed that the function must be smooth, but if it doesn’t actually need to be then perhaps I can construct just such a function out of simple linear pieces that are glued together.”

11. Reframing

Try to see the problem differently. For instance, by flipping the default, analyzing the inverse of the problem instead, thinking about how you would achieve the opposite of what you want, or shifting to an opposing perspective.

If we were building this company over again completely from scratch, what would we do differently in the design of our product, and can we pivot the product in that direction right now?”

“Should move to New York to take a job that pays $20,000 more per year? Well, if I already lived in New York, the decision to stay there rather than taking a $20,000 pay cut to move here would be an easy one. So maybe I’m overly focused on the current default of not being in New York and the short term unpleasantness of relocating.”

Marketing Example

“If I were one of our typical potential customers, what would I do to try to find a product like ours?”

12. Brainstorming

Set a timer for at least 5 minutes, and generate as many plausible solutions or ideas that you can without worrying about quality at all. Evaluate the ideas only at the end after the timer goes off.

“I’m going to set a timer for 5 minutes and come up with at least three new ways I could go about looking for a co-founder.”

“I’m going to set a timer for 20 minutes and come up with at least five possible explanations for why I’ve been feeling so anxious lately.”

13. Experting

Find an expert (or someone highly knowledgeable) in the topic area and ask their opinion about the best way to solve the problem.

“Why do you think most attempts at creating digital medical records failed, and what would someone have to do differently to have a reasonable chance at success?”

“What sort of optimization algorithm would be most efficient for minimizing the objective functions of this type?”

14. Eggheading

Ask the smartest person you know how they would solve the problem. Be sure to send an email in advance, describing the details so that this person has time to deeply consider the problem before you discuss it.

“Given the information I sent you about our competitors and the interviews we’ve done with potential customers, in which direction would you pivot our product if you were me (and why)?”

Research Example

“Given the information I sent you about our goals and the fact that our previous research attempts have gotten nowhere, how would you approach researching this topic to find the answer we need?”

15. Guessing

Start with a guess for what the solution could be, now check if it actually works and if not, start tweaking that guess to see if you can morph it into something that could work.

“I don’t know what price to use for the product we’re selling, so let me start with an initial guess and then begin trying to sell the thing, and tweak the price down if it seems to be a sticking point for customers, and tweak the price up if the customers don’t seem to pay much attention to the price.”

“My off the cuff intuition says that this differential equation might have a solution of the form x^a * e^(b x)for some a or b, let me plug it into the equation to see if indeed it satisfies the equation for any choice of a and b, and if not, let me see if I can tweak it to make something similar work.”

“I don’t know what the most effective diet for me would be, so I’ll just use my intuition to ban from my diet some foods that seem both unhealthy and addictive, and see if that helps.”

16. Comparing

Think of similar domains you already understand or similar problems you have already solved in the past, and see whether your knowledge of those domains or solutions to those similar problems may work as a complete or partial solution here.

“I don’t know how to find someone to fix things in my apartment, but I have found a good house cleaner before by asking a few friends who they use, so maybe I can simply use the same approach for finding a person to fix things.”

“This equation I’m trying to simplify reminds me of work I’m familiar with related to Kullback-Leibler divergence, I wonder if results from information theory could be applied in this case.”

17. Outsourcing

Consider whether you can hire someone to solve this problem, instead of figuring out how to solve it yourself.

“I don’t really understand how to get media attention for my company, so let me hire a public relations firm and let them handle the process.”

“I have no fashion sense, but I’d like to look better. Maybe I should hire someone fashionable who works in apparel to go shopping with me and help me choose what I should wear.”

18. Experimenting

Rapidly develop possible solutions and test them out (in sequence, or in parallel) by applying cheap and fast experiments. Discard those that don’t work, or iterate on them to improve them based on what you learn from the experiments.

“We don’t know if people will like a product like the one we have in mind, but we can put together a functioning prototype quickly, show five people that seem like they could be potential users, and iterate or create an entirely new design based on how they respond.”

“I don’t know if cutting out sugar will help improve my energy levels, but I can try it for two weeks and see if I notice any differences.”

19. Generalizing

Consider the more general case of the specific problem you are trying to solve, and then work on solving the general version instead. Paradoxically, it is sometimes easier to make progress on the general case rather than a specific one because it increases your focus on the structure of the problem rather than unimportant details.

“I want to figure out how to get this particular key employee more motivated to do good work, let me construct a model of what makes employees motivated to do good work in general, then I’ll apply it to this case.”

“I want to solve this specific differential equation, but it’s clearly a special case of a more general class of differential equations, let me study the general class and see what I can learn about them first and then apply what I learn to the specific case.”

20. Approximating

Consider whether a partial or approximate solution would be acceptable and, if so, aim for that instead of a full or exact solution.

“Our goal is to figure out which truck to send out for which delivery, which theoretically depends on many factors such as current location, traffic conditions, truck capacity, fuel efficiency, how many hours the driver has been on duty, the number of people manning each truck, the hourly rate we pay each driver, etc. etc. Maybe if we focus on just the three variables that we think are most important, we can find a good enough solution.”

“Finding a solution to this equation seems difficult, but if I approximate one of the terms linearly it becomes much easier, and maybe for the range of values we’re interested in, that’s close enough to an exact solution!”

21. Annihilating

Try to prove that the problem you are attempting to solve is actually impossible. If you succeed, you may save yourself a lot of time working on something impossible. Furthermore, in attempting to prove that the problem is impossible, you may gain insight into what makes it actually possible to solve, or if it turns out to truly be impossible, figure out how you could tweak the problem to make it solvable.

“I’m struggling to find a design for a theoretical voting system that has properties X, Y, and Z, let me see if I can instead prove that no such voting system with these three properties could possibly exist.”

“My goal has been to prove that this property always applies to this class of functions, let me see if I can generate a counterexample to prove that this goal is actually impossible.”

Physics Example

“I was trying to design a physical system with certain properties, but I now realize that if such a system could be realized, then it would allow for perpetual motion, and therefore it is impossible to build the sort of system I had in mind.”

22. Modeling

Try to build an explicit model of the situation, including what elements there are and how they related to each other. For instance, try drawing a diagram or flow chart that encapsulates your understanding of all the important information that relates to the problem.

“I’ve noticed that there are certain situations that cause me to freak out that would not bother other people. So what are the common elements when this happens, and how do they seem to relate to each other and to the way I end up feeling? Let me see if I can draw a diagram of this on paper.”

“What are all the different groups (e.g., providers, payers, patients) involved in the healthcare system, and if we diagram how they interact with each other, will that give us ideas for how we can sell our healthcare product?”

23. Brute forcing

One-by-one, consider every possible solution to the problem until you’ve found a good one or exhausted them all.

Startup example

“We’re not sure the order that these four parts of the user registration process should go in, so let’s make a list of all 24 possible orderings, and examine them one by one to see which makes the most sense.”

“It’s not clear how to pick which of these machine learning methods to use on this problem, but since we have lots of data, we can just try each of the algorithms and see which makes the most accurate predictions on data we’ve held to the side for testing.”

24. Refocusing

Forget about trying to solve the problem, and instead consider why you are trying to solve it. Then consider if there is a different problem you can work on that is aimed at producing the same sort of value in a different way.

Startup Example 1

“Maybe instead of trying increasingly hard to figure out how to get this type of consumer to buy, we need to switch our focus to the problem of how to sell to businesses, since what we actually care about is selling it, not selling it to one particular group.”

Startup Example 2

“I’ve been banging my head against the wall trying to implement this extremely complex feature, but there are lots of features that users would find just as valuable that are much easier to implement, maybe I should focus on those instead.”

25. Sidestepping

Consider whether you really want to spend more time trying to solve this problem and whether you can avoid the problem by instead working on totally different problems that you also care about.

“We’ve tried selling our solution to replace Excel for 12 months without much success, maybe we should go back to the drawing board and consider designing a totally new product. Our assumptions about customer needs seem to simply have been wrong.”

“I’ve spent six months on this math problem with little progress, but there are two other math problems I’m equally excited about, so maybe I should spend some time investigating whether one of those may be more tractable.”

26. Aggregating

Consider whether multiple problems you’re now experiencing might, in fact, be caused by the same source of difficulty, rather than being independent problems.

“I seem to be having conflict with a few different friends right now – could it be that I’m doing something without realizing it that is increasing my chance of conflict with all of them?”

“Three employees have quit in the last month. Perhaps the primary problem isn’t really about convincing this one important employee to stay, which is how I was framing it, but rather, about identifying why people keep leaving more generally.”

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HBR On Strategy podcast series

A Better Framework for Solving Tough Problems

Start with trust and end with speed.

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When it comes to solving complicated problems, the default for many organizational leaders is to take their time to work through the issues at hand. Unfortunately, that often leads to patchwork solutions or problems not truly getting resolved.

But Anne Morriss offers a different framework. In this episode, she outlines a five-step process for solving any problem and explains why starting with trust and ending with speed is so important for effective change leadership. As she says, “Let’s get into dialogue with the people who are also impacted by the problem before we start running down the path of solving it.”

Morriss is an entrepreneur and leadership coach. She’s also the coauthor of the book, Move Fast and Fix Things: The Trusted Leader’s Guide to Solving Hard Problems .

Key episode topics include: strategy, decision making and problem solving, strategy execution, managing people, collaboration and teams, trustworthiness, organizational culture, change leadership, problem solving, leadership.

HBR On Strategy curates the best case studies and conversations with the world’s top business and management experts, to help you unlock new ways of doing business. New episodes every week.

  • Listen to the full HBR IdeaCast episode: How to Solve Tough Problems Better and Faster (2023)
  • Find more episodes of HBR IdeaCast
  • Discover 100 years of Harvard Business Review articles, case studies, podcasts, and more at .

HANNAH BATES: Welcome to HBR On Strategy , case studies and conversations with the world’s top business and management experts, hand-selected to help you unlock new ways of doing business.

When it comes to solving complicated problems, many leaders only focus on the most apparent issues. Unfortunately that often leads to patchwork or partial solutions. But Anne Morriss offers a different framework that aims to truly tackle big problems by first leaning into trust and then focusing on speed.

Morriss is an entrepreneur and leadership coach. She’s also the co-author of the book, Move Fast and Fix Things: The Trusted Leader’s Guide to Solving Hard Problems . In this episode, she outlines a five-step process for solving any problem. Some, she says, can be solved in a week, while others take much longer. She also explains why starting with trust and ending with speed is so important for effective change leadership.

This episode originally aired on HBR IdeaCast in October 2023. Here it is.

CURT NICKISCH: Welcome to the HBR IdeaCast from Harvard Business Review. I’m Curt Nickisch.

Problems can be intimidating. Sure, some problems are fun to dig into. You roll up your sleeves, you just take care of them; but others, well, they’re complicated. Sometimes it’s hard to wrap your brain around a problem, much less fix it.

And that’s especially true for leaders in organizations where problems are often layered and complex. They sometimes demand technical, financial, or interpersonal knowledge to fix. And whether it’s avoidance on the leaders’ part or just the perception that a problem is systemic or even intractable, problems find a way to endure, to keep going, to keep being a problem that everyone tries to work around or just puts up with.

But today’s guest says that just compounds it and makes the problem harder to fix. Instead, she says, speed and momentum are key to overcoming a problem.

Anne Morriss is an entrepreneur, leadership coach and founder of the Leadership Consortium and with Harvard Business School Professor Francis Frei, she wrote the new book, Move Fast and Fix Things: The Trusted Leaders Guide to Solving Hard Problems . Anne, welcome back to the show.

ANNE MORRISS: Curt, thank you so much for having me.

CURT NICKISCH: So, to generate momentum at an organization, you say that you really need speed and trust. We’ll get into those essential ingredients some more, but why are those two essential?

ANNE MORRISS: Yeah. Well, the essential pattern that we observed was that the most effective change leaders out there were building trust and speed, and it didn’t seem to be a well-known observation. We all know the phrase, “Move fast and break things,” but the people who were really getting it right were moving fast and fixing things, and that was really our jumping off point. So when we dug into the pattern, what we observed was they were building trust first and then speed. This foundation of trust was what allowed them to fix more things and break fewer.

CURT NICKISCH: Trust sounds like a slow thing, right? If you talk about building trust, that is something that takes interactions, it takes communication, it takes experiences. Does that run counter to the speed idea?

ANNE MORRISS: Yeah. Well, this issue of trust is something we’ve been looking at for over a decade. One of the headlines in our research is it’s actually something we’re building and rebuilding and breaking all the time. And so instead of being this precious, almost farbege egg, it’s this thing that is constantly in motion and this thing that we can really impact when we’re deliberate about our choices and have some self-awareness around where it’s breaking down and how it’s breaking down.

CURT NICKISCH: You said break trust in there, which is intriguing, right? That you may have to break trust to build trust. Can you explain that a little?

ANNE MORRISS:  Yeah, well, I’ll clarify. It’s not that you have to break it in order to build it. It’s just that we all do it some of the time. Most of us are trusted most of the time. Most of your listeners I imagine are trusted most of the time, but all of us have a pattern where we break trust or where we don’t build as much as could be possible.

CURT NICKISCH: I want to talk about speed, this other essential ingredient that’s so intriguing, right? Because you think about solving hard problems as something that just takes a lot of time and thinking and coordination and planning and designing. Explain what you mean by it? And also, just  how we maybe approach problems wrong by taking them on too slowly?

ANNE MORRISS: Well, Curt, no one has ever said to us, “I wish I had taken longer and done less.” We hear the opposite all the time, by the way. So what we really set out to do was to create a playbook that anyone can use to take less time to do more of the things that are going to make your teams and organizations stronger.

And the way we set up the book is okay, it’s really a five step process. Speed is the last step. It’s the payoff for the hard work you’re going to do to figure out your problem, build or rebuild trust, expand the team in thoughtful and strategic ways, and then tell a real and compelling story about the change you’re leading.

Only then do you get to go fast, but that’s an essential part of the process, and we find that either people under emphasize it or speed has gotten a bad name in this world of moving fast and breaking things. And part of our mission for sure was to rehabilitate speed’s reputation because it is an essential part of the change leader’s equation. It can be the difference between good intentions and getting anything done at all.

CURT NICKISCH: You know, the fact that nobody ever tells you, “I wish we had done less and taken more time.” I think we all feel that, right? Sometimes we do something and then realize, “Oh, that wasn’t that hard and why did it take me so long to do it? And I wish I’d done this a long time ago.” Is it ever possible to solve a problem too quickly?

ANNE MORRISS: Absolutely. And we see that all the time too. What we push people to do in those scenarios is really take a look at the underlying issue because in most cases, the solution is not to take your foot off the accelerator per se and slow down. The solution is to get into the underlying problem. So if it’s burnout or a strategic disconnect between what you’re building and the marketplace you’re serving, what we find is the anxiety that people attach to speed or the frustration people attach to speed is often misplaced.

CURT NICKISCH: What is a good timeline to think about solving a problem then? Because if we by default take too long or else jump ahead and we don’t fix it right, what’s a good target time to have in your mind for how long solving a problem should take?

ANNE MORRISS: Yeah. Well, we’re playful in the book and talking about the idea that many problems can be solved in a week. We set the book up five chapters. They’re titled Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and we’re definitely having fun with that. And yet, if you count the hours in a week, there are a lot of them. Many of our problems, if you were to spend a focused 40 hours of effort on a problem, you’re going to get pretty far.

But our main message is, listen, of course it’s going to depend on the nature of the problem, and you’re going to take weeks and maybe even some cases months to get to the other side. What we don’t want you to do is take years, which tends to be our default timeline for solving hard problems.

CURT NICKISCH: So you say to start with identifying the problem that’s holding you back, seems kind of obvious. But where do companies go right and wrong with this first step of just identifying the problem that’s holding you back?

ANNE MORRISS: And our goal is that all of these are going to feel obvious in retrospect. The problem is we skip over a lot of these steps and this is why we wanted to underline them. So this one is really rooted in our observation and I think the pattern of our species that we tend to be overconfident in the quality of our thoughts, particularly when it comes to diagnosing problems.

And so we want to invite you to start in a very humble and curious place, which tends not to be our default mode when we’re showing up for work. We convince ourselves that we’re being paid for our judgment. That’s exactly what gets reinforced everywhere. And so we tend to counterintuitively, given what we just talked about, we tend to move too quickly through the diagnostic phase.

CURT NICKISCH: “I know what to do, that’s why you hired me.”

ANNE MORRISS: Exactly. “I know what to do. That’s why you hired me. I’ve seen this before. I have a plan. Follow me.” We get rewarded for the expression of confidence and clarity. And so what we’re inviting people to do here is actually pause and really lean into what are the root causes of the problem you’re seeing? What are some alternative explanations? Let’s get into dialogue with the people who are also impacted by the problem before we start running down the path of solving it.

CURT NICKISCH: So what do you recommend for this step, for getting to the root of the problem? What are questions you should ask? What’s the right thought process? What do you do on Monday of the week?

ANNE MORRISS: In our experience of doing this work, people tend to undervalue the power of conversation, particularly with other people in the organization. So we will often advocate putting together a team of problem solvers, make it a temporary team, really pull in people who have a particular perspective on the problem and create the space, make it as psychologically safe as you can for people to really, as Chris Argyris so beautifully articulated, discuss the undiscussable.

And so the conditions for that are going to look different in every organization depending on the problem, but if you can get a space where smart people who have direct experience of a problem are in a room and talking honestly with each other, you can make an extraordinary amount of progress, certainly in a day.

CURT NICKISCH: Yeah, that gets back to the trust piece.

ANNE MORRISS: Definitely.

CURT NICKISCH: How do you like to start that meeting, or how do you like to talk about it? I’m just curious what somebody on that team might hear in that meeting, just to get the sense that it’s psychologically safe, you can discuss the undiscussable and you’re also focusing on the identification part. What’s key to communicate there?

ANNE MORRISS: Yeah. Well, we sometimes encourage people to do a little bit of data gathering before those conversations. So the power of a quick anonymous survey around whatever problem you’re solving, but also be really thoughtful about the questions you’re going to ask in the moment. So a little bit of preparation can go a long way and a little bit of thoughtfulness about the power dynamic. So who’s going to walk in there with license to speak and who’s going to hold back? So being thoughtful about the agenda, about the questions you’re asking about the room, about the facilitation, and then courage is a very infectious emotion.

So if you can early on create the conditions for people to show up bravely in that conversation, then the chance that you’re going to get good information and that you’re going to walk out of that room with new insight in the problem that you didn’t have when you walked in is extraordinarily high.

CURT NICKISCH: Now, in those discussions, you may have people who have different perspectives on what the problem really is. They also bear different costs of addressing the problem or solving it. You talked about the power dynamic, but there’s also an unfairness dynamic of who’s going to actually have to do the work to take care of it, and I wonder how you create a culture in that meeting where it’s the most productive?

ANNE MORRISS: For sure, the burden of work is not going to be equitably distributed around the room. But I would say, Curt, the dynamic that we see most often is that people are deeply relieved that hard problems are being addressed. So it really can create, and more often than not in our experience, it does create this beautiful flywheel of action, creativity, optimism. Often when problems haven’t been addressed, there is a fair amount of anxiety in the organization, frustration, stagnation. And so credible movement towards action and progress is often the best antidote. So even if the plan isn’t super clear yet, if it’s credible, given who’s in the room and their decision rights and mandate, if there’s real momentum coming out of that to make progress, then that tends to be deeply energizing to people.

CURT NICKISCH: I wonder if there’s an organization that you’ve worked with that you could talk about how this rolled out and how this took shape?

ANNE MORRISS: When we started working with Uber, that was wrestling with some very public issues of culture and trust with a range of stakeholders internally, the organization, also external, that work really started with a campaign of listening and really trying to understand where trust was breaking down from the perspective of these stakeholders?

So whether it was female employees or regulators or riders who had safety concerns getting into the car with a stranger. This work, it starts with an honest internal dialogue, but often the problem has threads that go external. And so bringing that same commitment to curiosity and humility and dialogue to anyone who’s impacted by the problem is the fastest way to surface what’s really going on.

CURT NICKISCH: There’s a step in this process that you lay out and that’s communicating powerfully as a leader. So we’ve heard about listening and trust building, but now you’re talking about powerful communication. How do you do this and why is it maybe this step in the process rather than the first thing you do or the last thing you do?

ANNE MORRISS: So in our process, again, it’s the days of the week. On Monday you figured out the problem. Tuesday you really got into the sandbox in figuring out what a good enough plan is for building trust. Wednesday, step three, you made it better. You created an even better plan, bringing in new perspectives. Thursday, this fourth step is the day we’re saying you got to go get buy-in. You got to bring other people along. And again, this is a step where we see people often underinvest in the power and payoff of really executing it well.

CURT NICKISCH: How does that go wrong?

ANNE MORRISS: Yeah, people don’t know the why. Human behavior and the change in human behavior really depends on a strong why. It’s not just a selfish, “What’s in it for me?” Although that’s helpful, but where are we going? I may be invested in a status quo and I need to understand, okay, if you’re going to ask me to change, if you’re going to invite me into this uncomfortable place of doing things differently, why am I here? Help me understand it and articulate the way forward and language that not only I can understand, but also that’s going to be motivating to me.

CURT NICKISCH: And who on my team was part of this process and all that kind of stuff?

ANNE MORRISS: Oh, yeah. I may have some really important questions that may be in the way of my buy-in and commitment to this plan. So certainly creating a space where those questions can be addressed is essential. But what we found is that there is an architecture of a great change story, and it starts with honoring the past, honoring the starting place. Sometimes we’re so excited about the change and animated about the change that what has happened before or what is even happening in the present tense is low on our list of priorities.

Or we want to label it bad, because that’s the way we’ve thought about the change, but really pausing and honoring what came before you and all the reasonable decisions that led up to it, I think can be really helpful to getting people emotionally where you want them to be willing to be guided by you. Going back to Uber, when Dara Khosrowshahi came in.

CURT NICKISCH: This is the new CEO.


CURT NICKISCH: Replaced Travis Kalanick, the founder and first CEO, yeah.

ANNE MORRISS: Yeah, and had his first all-hands meeting. One of his key messages, and this is a quote, was that he was going to retain the edge that had made Uber, “A force of nature.” And in that meeting, the crowd went wild because this is also a company that had been beaten up publicly for months and months and months, and it was a really powerful choice. And his predecessor, Travis was in the room, and he also honored Travis’ incredible work and investment in bringing the company to the place where it was.

And I would use words like grace to also describe those choices, but there’s also an incredible strategic value to naming the starting place for everybody in the room because in most cases, most people in that room played a role in getting to that starting place, and you’re acknowledging that.

CURT NICKISCH: You can call it grace. Somebody else might call it diplomatic or strategic. But yeah, I guess like it or not, it’s helpful to call out and honor the complexity of the way things have been done and also the change that’s happening.

ANNE MORRISS: Yeah, and the value. Sometimes honoring the past is also owning what didn’t work or what wasn’t working for stakeholders or segments of the employee team, and we see that around culture change. Sometimes you’ve got to acknowledge that it was not an equitable environment, but whatever the worker, everyone in that room is bringing that pass with them. So again, making it discussable and using it as the jumping off place is where we advise people to start.

Then you’ve earned the right to talk about the change mandate, which we suggest using clear and compelling language about the why. “This is what happened, this is where we are, this is the good and the bad of it, and here’s the case for change.”

And then the last part, which is to describe a rigorous and optimistic way forward. It’s a simple past, present, future arc, which will be familiar to human beings. We love stories as human beings. It’s among the most powerful currency we have to make sense of the world.

CURT NICKISCH: Yeah. Chronological is a pretty powerful order.

ANNE MORRISS: Right. But again, the change leaders we see really get it right, are investing an incredible amount of time into the storytelling part of their job. Ursula Burns, the Head of Xerox is famous for the months and years she spent on the road just telling the story of Xerox’s change, its pivot into services to everyone who would listen, and that was a huge part of her success.

CURT NICKISCH: So Friday or your fifth step, you end with empowering teams and removing roadblocks. That seems obvious, but it’s critical. Can you dig into that a little bit?

ANNE MORRISS: Yeah. Friday is the fun day. Friday’s the release of energy into the system. Again, you’ve now earned the right to go fast. You have a plan, you’re pretty confident it’s going to work. You’ve told the story of change the organization, and now you get to sprint. So this is about really executing with urgency, and it’s about a lot of the tactics of speed is where we focus in the book. So the tactics of empowerment, making tough strategic trade-offs so that your priorities are clear and clearly communicated, creating mechanisms to fast-track progress. At Etsy, CEO Josh Silverman, he labeled these projects ambulances. It’s an unfortunate metaphor, but it’s super memorable. These are the products that get to speed out in front of the other ones because the stakes are high and the clock is sticking.

CURT NICKISCH: You pull over and let it go by.

ANNE MORRISS: Yeah, exactly. And so we have to agree as an organization on how to do something like that. And so we see lots of great examples both in young organizations and big complex biotech companies with lots of regulatory guardrails have still found ways to do this gracefully.

And I think we end with this idea of conflict debt, which is a term we really love. Leanne Davey, who’s a team scholar and researcher, and anyone in a tech company will recognize the idea of tech debt, which is this weight the organization drags around until they resolve it. Conflict debt is a beautiful metaphor because it is this weight that we drag around and slows us down until we decide to clean it up and fix it. The organizations that are really getting speed right have figured out either formally or informally, how to create an environment where conflict and disagreements can be gracefully resolved.

CURT NICKISCH: Well, let’s talk about this speed more, right? Because I think this is one of those places that maybe people go wrong or take too long, and then you lose the awareness of the problem, you lose that urgency. And then that also just makes it less effective, right? It’s not just about getting the problem solved as quickly as possible. It’s also just speed in some ways helps solve the problem.

ANNE MORRISS: Oh, yeah. It really is the difference between imagining the change you want to lead and really being able to bring it to life. Speed is the thing that unlocks your ability to lead change. It needs a foundation, and that’s what Monday through Thursday is all about, steps one through four, but the finish line is executing with urgency, and it’s that urgency that releases the system’s energy, that communicates your priorities, that creates the conditions for your team to make progress.

CURT NICKISCH: Moving fast is something that entrepreneurs and tech companies certainly understand, but there’s also this awareness that with big companies, the bigger the organization, the harder it is to turn the aircraft carrier around, right? Is speed relative when you get at those levels, or do you think this is something that any company should be able to apply equally?

ANNE MORRISS: We think this applies to any company. The culture really lives at the level of team. So we believe you can make a tremendous amount of progress even within your circle of control as a team leader. I want to bring some humility to this and careful of words like universal, but we do think there’s some universal truths here around the value of speed, and then some of the byproducts like keeping fantastic people. Your best people want to solve problems, they want to execute, they want to make progress and speed, and the ability to do that is going to be a variable in their own equation of whether they stay or they go somewhere else where they can have an impact.

CURT NICKISCH: Right. They want to accomplish something before they go or before they retire or finish something out. And if you’re able to just bring more things on the horizon and have it not feel like it’s going to be another two years to do something meaningful.

ANNE MORRISS: People – I mean, they want to make stuff happen and they want to be around the energy and the vitality of making things happen, which again, is also a super infectious phenomenon. One of the most important jobs of a leader, we believe, is to set the metabolic pace of their teams and organizations. And so what we really dig into on Friday is, well, what does that look like to speed something up? What are the tactics of that?

CURT NICKISCH: I wonder if that universal truth, that a body in motion stays in motion applies to organizations, right? If an organization in motion stays in motion, there is something to that.

ANNE MORRISS: Absolutely.

CURT NICKISCH: Do you have a favorite client story to share, just where you saw speed just become a bit of a flywheel or just a positive reinforcement loop for more positive change at the organization?

ANNE MORRISS: Yeah. We work with a fair number of organizations that are on fire. We do a fair amount of firefighting, but we also less dramatically do a lot of fire prevention. So we’re brought into organizations that are working well and want to get better, looking out on the horizon. That work is super gratifying, and there is always a component of, well, how do we speed this up?

What I love about that work is there’s often already a high foundation of trust, and so it’s, well, how do we maintain that foundation but move this flywheel, as you said, even faster? And it’s really energizing because often there’s a lot of pent-up energy that… There’s a lot of loyalty to the organization, but often it’s also frustration and pent-up energy. And so when that gets released, when good people get the opportunity to sprint for the first time in a little while, it’s incredibly energizing, not just for us, but for the whole organization.

CURT NICKISCH: Anne, this is great. I think finding a way to solve problems better but also faster is going to be really helpful. So thanks for coming on the show to talk about it.

ANNE MORRISS:  Oh, Curt, it was such a pleasure. This is my favorite conversation. I’m delighted to have it anytime.

HANNAH BATES: That was entrepreneur, leadership coach, and author Anne Morriss – in conversation with Curt Nickisch on HBR IdeaCast.

We’ll be back next Wednesday with another hand-picked conversation about business strategy from Harvard Business Review. If you found this episode helpful, share it with your friends and colleagues, and follow our show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. While you’re there, be sure to leave us a review.

When you’re ready for more podcasts, articles, case studies, books, and videos with the world’s top business and management experts, you’ll find it all at

This episode was produced by Mary Dooe, Anne Saini, and me, Hannah Bates. Ian Fox is our editor. Special thanks to Rob Eckhardt, Maureen Hoch, Erica Truxler, Ramsey Khabbaz, Nicole Smith, Anne Bartholomew, and you – our listener. See you next week.

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Promising review: "I am elderly and live in Texas, where we have 100+-degree heat on a daily basis in the summer. This is, hands down, the best and most powerful fan I have experienced. I love it so much that I bought a second one for my sister, who is heat-sensitive. She got rid of the two tower fans she was using as this fan cooled her room." — TJ

Get it from Amazon for   $89.99  (available in two styles).

7. A clever  expanding shower liner  if you feel like the walls are slowly but surely closing in on you while showering. This liner is designed to curve away from you instead of blowing toward  you like a fly you have to keep shooing away.

reviewer photo of their old shower liner and the new expanding shower liner, showing how the top curves away from the shower head

Promising review: "Wow! This is exactly what I was looking for! I have a tiny bathroom in an old apartment building with an untreated window that needs to be covered with a shower curtain inside my shower. Every time you'd shower you would be attacked by curtains from both sides. That is until I purchased this curtain. It gives so much more room in the shower like a curved shower rod, but without all that hardware and work associated with it. It's weighted enough so it doesn't move. I'm no longer attacked by my shower curtains. I 100% would purchase again" — Brittany Hopkins

Get it from Amazon for $44.99+  (available in seven colors).

8. An in-flight foot hammock  when your biggest flying annoyance is the inability to stretch out. Attach this to the arms of your tray table and it'll feel like you waved a magic wand and landed yourself in first class! It can help prevent lower back pain, stiffness, and leg swelling on those super long flights.

side view of reviewer resting their feet on the black foot hammock on an airplane

Promising review: "This is a must for long distance flights. My hips always hurt and I have leg pain from being in one position for so long. This foot hammock is perfect for giving better circulation and positions for my legs! I love it. Its made all the difference when I travel." — Andrea T.

Get it from Amazon for $14.99  (also aailable in multipacks).

9. Some bedsheet tags  for anyone who is tired of playing guessing games when it's time to change the sheets. You'll automatically know which set of sheets are for which bed, and where each corner goes. See? Even the most mundane problems have effective solutions!

four unattached bed corner labels that say

Bed Corner Labels is a woman-owned small business based in Hermosa Beach, California.

These labels can be left on sheets while they're in the washer and dryer. They can also be detached and reattached a limited number of times.

Promising review: "They're easy to attach to sheets and look better than the safety pin I was using to designate the long side of my king-sized sheets." — ESimms5555

Get a set of four labels from Bed Corner Labels on Etsy for $13.75+  (available in larger sets and nine styles).

10. A  toenail brace set  to help correct your nail's natural curve — you know, the one that causes awful ingrowns and makes you want to avoid painful closed-toe shoes  at all costs . This'll straighten things out and finally relieve that pressure.

left: bent, u-shaped nail in september right: normal looking nail by november

This comes with a kit containing 10 toenail braces and tools for application, including a nail file, solvent, and cotton swabs. Each brace lasts 3–6 weeks. 

Promising review: "I never realized how curved my toenails were. I thought the pain I had was just normal and a fact of life. Only when I read about the Curve Correct product, did I realize that I had a major problem, and it could be resolved! Now I'm on the way to normal, flat toenails, that DON'T grow curved into my skin! " — Jamie H.

Get the kit from Amazon for $44.99.

11. A  cooling blanket  you'll probably want to wear around the house as a magic cape once you experience its mind-blowing powers. It's made with special fibers to help absorb body heat for a cool-down sesh that'll put your AC to shame. One side features the Arc-Chill fabric, and the other is 100% cotton, so you can switch it up depending on your mood.

The pale blue cooling blanket with reviewer text

BuzzFeed Shopping editor  Maitland Quitmeyer   says: "I have a similar cooling blanket because the fabric of my couch is gorgeous, but...gets VERY hot in the summer — they can make all the difference!"

Promising review: " Sorcery! I don't know what makes this blanket work, and I don't care. The fact is that IT DOES!!! I overheat at night a lot because I live in Arizona. I got this blanket at the exact right time, and I'm THRILLED!!!" — Amanda Julia Hess

Promising review: "I run really hot and I have tried so many various blankets. Well, I am here to tell you, this is the one you need. I live in the southwest where temps exceed 110 degrees regularly in the summer. I used to wake up sweaty every single morning, even with the AC on. Well, come to this blanket, and WOW, No more waking up sweating; you can ACTUALLY feel the cooling. Almost feels as if the blanket has a built-in AC. This is the blanket to get; stop searching and just order it. I promise you'll like it." — Brantley Rockwell

Get it from Amazon for $35.99+ (available in four sizes and eight colors).

12. A highly effective  mascara remover  so you can stop sleepily scrubbing your eyes in hopes that it'll actually remove all of your day-old makeup. Swipe this on like you would mascara and even the most relentless waterproof makeup will succumb to it.

reviewer photo of the mascara remover, which looks like a tube of mascara and has a wand similar to a mascara wand

BuzzFeed Shopping editor Melanie Aman swears by it: "This stuff is MAGICAL. I have stick-straight Asian lashes that refuse to hold a curl with wetter mascara formulas. As a result, I have to use waterproof mascara, which is a total pain to remove at night. Instead of rubbing my eyes raw with makeup removers that burn, I apply this like mascara, let it sit for a few minutes, and my waterproof mascara MELTS. Then I go in with a micellar water–soaked cotton pad, and my mascara is gone in 1–2 passes."

Promising review: "I was skeptical because I have always struggled with removing waterproof mascara 100% on the first wash/wipe. I applied it to both my lashes and then immediately washed my face with my normal cleanser and I felt nothing on my lashes! Like I never applied anything to them. I am amazed and in shock still from this magical formula and invention! Best creation ever! " — Chrisy

Get it from Amazon for $9.99 .

13. A rapid mac 'n' cheese cooker  that'll come in handy on extra busy days when a lengthy meal prep isn't in the cards. Rather than standing over the stove boiling water, this nifty gadget will have it ready in the microwave in a fraction of the time!

reviewer holding blue square shaped silicone cooker with mac and cheese inside

Here's how it works: Pour in the macaroni and add enough water to the fill line. Then microwave for 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Remove, stir, and microwave for two more minutes, then add the other ingredients per the mac 'n' cheese instructions. Check out a  TikTok of the rapid mac cooker   in action. And btw, people also use this to rapidly cook their ramen! 

Rapid Brands   is a California-based small business that specializes in dishwasher-safe, microwaveable, BPA-free kitchen products. 

Promising review: "No clue what makes the magic happen in this thing, but it is amazing. Macaroni in under five minutes, ramen in like 3.5. Easy, one dish to clean, fast. I wish I had this in my son’s toddler years in his mac phase. " — C. Long

Get it from Amazon for $9.99+ (available in six colors and as a two-pack). 

14. I Dew Care's dry shampoo powder  because it sometimes feels like your roots are trying to sabotage you. Not to worry — this will help revive limp, greasy hair and add volume. It's a fine, hypoallergenic powder that absorbs oil, sweat, and dirt to keep locks looking fresh longer.

A model tapping the puff applicator on their curly hair

Promising reviews: " I almost want to gatekeep. By far THE best dry shampoo I’ve ever used — not sure how this sorcery works, but I’m obsessed! " — Robertson

"I’ve tried a few dry shampoos, from the spray in a bottle to powder. And I’d have to say this one has been my favorite. My very first time using it, I didn’t know how much to put and ended up coating my hair by A LOT. It left my hair feeling very dry and straw-like. I almost returned and got a refund but decided to give it another chance. A LITTLE GOES A LONG WAY. Trust me. You only need a few dabs on your head, and that’s it. You can see the extra volume almost instantly. This stuff works sooo well that I wake up on my third unwashed hair day, and it looks better than the second day when I used the dry shampoo. And let’s not forget to mention how convenient and compact the whole thing is. It’s so nice to just pat it on your head with no mess." — Thuy

Get it from Amazon for $12.99 .

15. Drywall repair putty  to banish all the oopsies living on your walls instead of paying a contractor to do it. Apply it in a circular motion, then paint right over it. DIY project complete *and* security deposit intact.

A reviewer photo of a wall with a long crack on it

Promising review: "This is so much easier to use than a spackling paste. As soon as I opened it, I tried it on a recent nail hole. Now I can't remember where it was because the product made the hole disappear!!  Magic!" —

Deb Christenson

Get it from Amazon for $12.99  (also available as a two-pack).

16. A TikTok-famous  travel-friendly backpack , which honestly deserves an award for being *the* most perfect personal item thanks to its waterproof design, anti-theft pocket, and USB charging port. It's spacious and can hold all your stuff. Plus, it zips fully open like your suitcase does. Yes, there really  is  room for everything!

Person posing with an open, empty backpack showcasing its interior compartments

This one checks all the boxes: super roomy, has plenty of pockets (including one for shoes and a separate wet bag!), and has a strap that slides down over your luggage handle for easy transport. And reviewers say it meets even Spirit and JetBlue 's personal item rules and fits under airplane seats!

Promising review: "One bag handled a week of travel! This bag is like magic! I fit four pairs of shorts, four shirts, underwear, socks, and a couple of workout outfits with sports bras, two pairs of sandals, four bathing suits, a coverup, a sun hat, toiletries, cosmetics, a laptop, a notebook, three device chargers (computer, phone, and Fitbit) and an electric toothbrush. Even when packed to the max, the weight is comfortably distributed so it doesn’t break your back. It fits under the seat perfectly, too. I bought it when it was 50% off, but I’d pay full price knowing how awesome this bag is for travel." — AlexanderK

Get it from Amazon for  $43.99+  (available in three sizes and 24 colors/ styles)

17. A pair of uniquely designed  Wrist Buddy contoured yoga blocks  when your wrists could use a serious break — you'll be able to hold a plank or pose while putting less pressure on your wrist. Plus, less pain means you may be able to grip the block better, so what are you waiting for?

Two yoga block comparison for ergonomic support, one flat and one with contoured design for improved comfort and stability

Promising review: "I typically have pretty bad pain in my right wrist. So, when I wanted to start yoga again, I did not want to aggravate it. These blocks have helped tremendously. I can now do poses like downward dog with no wrist pain at all!" — Cris

Get a pair from Amazon for $39.99 (available in four colors).

18. A pack of duster sponges  if filthy baseboards are the bane of your existence. Dampen the sponge and swipe it across dirty surfaces for easy cleaning. When you're finished, just rinse it clean and casually pretend you didn't just witness the greatest magic trick of all time! 

BTW — These are a great swap for the  Scrub Daddy Damp Duster , which is pretty much *always* sold out.

My colleague  Maitland Quitmeyer  can vouch for these: " I bought a pack of these recently, and so far love dusting with them! All the dust sticks right on, so you don't end up breathing in all the dust you just tried removing. It's great for baseboards, too!"

Promising review: "I rarely review products, but this little sponge literally changed my life! It picks up EVERYthing in one swipe! Hard water marks on your bathroom mirror, no problem! Hair clippings on your sink and counter, one swipe and they are gone! Dusty blinds? Swoosh, swoosh, swipe! And ala-presto ka-bam, like magic, they are perfect and dust-free! I just need one of these for my floors! I love, love, love how the sponge picks up everything, and with a little running water, all the dust, hair, muck, and guck just rinsed away! This will not disappoint! Thank you!" — DayDreamer

Get a four-pack from Amazon for $9.99  (available in five color combos and in packs of two or eight).

19. An anti-humidity spray so you can walk around with an invisible hair shield that protects you from the unwanted moisture that leads to unruly frizz. This mystical *waterproof* coating can last up to 72 hours or through two to three washes.

reviewer with shiny-looking frizz-free hair

Promising review: "I don't usually try all the latest hair things because my hair is very fine and it doesn't like product. But I received it as a sample, and I can't believe how nice it made my hair and how long it lasted. I have to wash every single day, or my hair would be limp and lifeless. You could tell if I didn't wash my hair for one day. This miracle stuff makes it so that I don't have to wash my hair for at least three good days, and it still looks fresh. It also lasts between washes, so I only have to use it every other wash or sometimes not for three or four. I can't live without this now that I found it. It took me till my 50s to find this amazing product. I sure coulda used this in my 20s! " — B.S.

Get it from Amazon for $28  (available in two sizes).

20. A genius  Tineco 2-in-1 cordless vacuum and mop  — a revolutionary cleaning gadget you'll rave to all your friends about because it does both of your most-dreaded tasks  at the same time . Instead of traditional mops, this one retains 90% of dirty water so your floors will *actually* be clean when you're done.

A reviewer showing the dirty water reservoir with text

It's safe to use on sealed hard floors and it self-propels so you just need to steer, no hard pushing!

Promising review: "I confess I can be a lackadaisical housekeeper, which is problematic since my new dog sheds enough in a week for me to build an entirely new dog. What's worse, vacuuming doesn't pick up a lot of his fur. This Tineco is magic, though. Not only does it pick everything up (dust, fur, hair, crumbs, Nature's Miracle, errant Cheerios), but because the wheels are motorized, vacuuming/mopping is a breeze. I get exhausted using my canister vac, but this thing is a blast to use. Here is what I've learned: I always use the 'extra water' feature, which seems to work better. I clean the dirty water holder and parts every time I empty it, and I run the self-clean cycle after every second emptying session. This means I can do my primary bath and my 10x12 TV room before self-cleaning and recharging for a little bit. Or I can do my kitchen, entryway, and hall before self-cleaning, or my living room. In other words, you're not going to do your whole house on one battery charge or without running the self-cleaning feature several times. Of course, the reason you have to run the self-cleaning so often is because this little beauty is picking up So. Much. Stuff. It's magic. If it broke tomorrow (and I don't think it will break for a very long time), I would buy another. " — Tsippi

Get it from Amazon for $209.99  (be sure to clip the $70 off coupon on the product page for this price!).

21. CeraVe Retinol Serum  that helps refine your skin's texture and tone over time. This lightweight serum uses encapsulated retinol to gently reduce the appearance of pores and acne-related marks. If you've been too scared to try retinoids until now, this is a great place to start.

A reviewer's before/after with reduced redness, texture, acne and scarring

And remember, like with any retinol (that actually works) *just do not use it every day.* Start slow and work yourself up if needed, paying attention to your skin. 

Promising reviews: "This product is magic in a bottle!!! I have been struggling to find a good skincare routine that will remove my acne scars and remove dark spots on my face. I will forever buy this product! I’ve only been using this for two weeks and noticed a huge difference right away! I am so excited to clean my face in the morning and night now! I also bought the Cerave hydrating cleanser , moisturizer , and eye cream and they have been amazing as well! CeraVe is the best! Don’t think twice about this product just buy it!!!" — mallory brook bravo

"I've been using this for a month or two! I definitely notice smoother skin and less breakouts. Wish I’d tried this sooner. Currently only using 2–3 times/week!" — Rachy

Get it from Amazon for  $18.68 .

22. Reusable  Nippies silicone pasties  because you shouldn't have to wear an uncomfy bra with tops that look *and* feel better without one! These will help prevent your nips from making an impromptu appearance. Ditch the bra, put these on, then peel 'em off at the end of the night — they can stay in place for up to 12 hours! 

five models display diverse skin tones while wearing the nipple covers

Promising review: "I’ve tried so many nipple covers over the years, and these are just in a league of their own! They stick and don’t move (sweat, clothes, moisturizer, etc. — nothing budges them), but then they peel off so easily. It’s magic. They are completely seamless, and my husband (without prompting) said they looked like a second skin. I’ve got quite 'triangular' boobs, and they completely mold to the shape and look like I just have no nipples lol. Only when I’m suuuuuper cold does any level of nipple start to show through, and even then, it’s minimal. They’re more pricey than others I’ve bought before but so worth it. The others were one and done — these have held up through multiple wears and are still in perfect condition. Will repurchase them as soon as they wear out, without a doubt! No more bras! " — Alison

BuzzFeed editor  Natalie Brown  swears by these pasties! Check out her  Nippies review  to learn more.

Get a set from Amazon for  $26.50+ (available in five shades and two sizes: one that fits cups A–C and one that fits cups D+).

23. Some  towel clips  when you've lost count of how many times you've had to bend over and retrieve a fallen towel. Not anymore!

Close-up of a glass oven knob holder with a red towel hanging on it

Promising review: "This clip is amazing. No more towels falling on the floor. It was becoming a routine thing since my cat thinks it's fun to pull the kitchen towels off the oven. Not now, bad kitty! Great product...wish I had bought one sooner!" — Joanna

Get a three-pack from Amazon for $12.99 .

24. Illuminating nail concealer  to give off luxurious mani vibes with the most subtle, natural look. If you're currently healing weak, brittle nails, these will help give 'em a soft, smooth appearance in the meantime.

reviewer's milky neutral manicure

Reviewers love how buildable this polish is. Additionally, Londontown is a small business that primarily sells nail care.

Promising review:  "I am 52-years-old with a lot of sun damage on my hands. I don’t paint my nails because I don’t like to draw attention to my hands. When I use clear nail polish, my nail beds turn yellow. I saw an ad for this product and thought I would give it a try.  I really, really love it.  When I got it I painted my thumbnail with it and just left it to see kind of how it went.  A week later, it was still totally perfect.  So, I moved forward and used it on all my nails.  It makes my nails look so put together without any fuss. It goes on so easily and dries very quickly and lasts a long time.  I loved it so much I bought it for my mom and my sisters to try as well." — Diane Auten

Get it from Amazon for $20  (available in five shades).

25. An exfoliating First Aid Beauty Bump eraser body scrub  for smooth, healthy skin without any dry patches or bumps ruining your day. Reviewers with keratosis pilaris and other similar skin textures love this stuff for a reason, folks.

A reviewer's before/after showing the bumpy skin that's now smooth with five-star review text

It contains 10% glycolic and lactic acids, and has tiny pumice exfoliants to buff away dead skin for smooooooooooth arms.

Promising review: " The first aid beauty bump eraser is truly magic. I have had tiny, dry-skin bumps on my arms and thighs since I was a child and have never been able to get rid of them. I have tried so many scrubs and moisturizers that failed. I came across this product and it's now on my subscribe and save list. There are TONS of exfoliants in the scrub so it's super effective. Skin feels so soft after using it because it gets ALL of the dry and dead skin cells completely off. I have bought this for friends as a gift and would highly recommend it to anyone." — Doug Kohlenstein

Get it from Amazon for  $11.97+  (available in five sizes and as a two-pack).

26. A  *self-cleaning* grooming brush  you'll wonder how you ever lived without — this tool gently and effectively removes excess pet hair with a few (or several, depending on the pet!) swipes. With the push of a button, the bristles retract for easy dumping of the excess hair into the trash.

A reviewer's dog next to the dog-size pile of hair that the brush removed

Lots of reviewer pets love being brushed by it too!

Promising reviews: "A dog brush that I don't have to pick dog hair out of ... At first, I thought this was some form of dark wizardry. But I don't care because this is awesome!" — MaddSweet

"I've spent hundreds of dollars on toys, treats, houses, scratchers, etc for my cats. This is, hands-down, not even close, the best money I've ever spent! I got so much fur off them, and they loved it! They are looking so sleek and shiny, and they are rolling around like kittens they feel so fresh and happy. My cats are still young (all ages 4 and under) so they were pretty well groomed to begin with. I couldn't believe how many knots and snags were hiding in their fur. The whole time I was brushing them, they were purring and rubbing all over me, trying to get more. The self-cleaning feature is so easy!! A click of a button, and all the hair falls off. The brush itself is bigger than what I anticipated. I thought my cats would be afraid of it, but once they figured out what was happening, they weren't at all. I got the original brush, which I thought would probably feel good (like a good back scratch!) And I was right. They loved it." — Samantha

Get it from Amazon for $12.70  (also available in various other styles/bundles).

27. Bio-Oil  with such a long list of benefits, you'll never run out of uses for it! It's great for evening your skin tone, fading stretch marks, and reducing the appearance of acne scars. It absorbs super quickly so it won't feel heavy or greasy, either. Sorcery or not, that's Bio-Oil for ya!

reviewer's 2-oz bottle of Bio-Oil bottle

Promising review:  "What kind of sorcery is this? I used this for the first time last night on some recent acne scars, and I'm in utter shock. They look like they've been healing for weeks....  this stuff must be made of pixie dust or something. It's way too good to be true.  From now on, I will be putting this all over my skin before bed every night! I don't even care if it means washing my sheets more often — SO WORTH IT!" — Julia Richardson

Get it from Amazon for  $9.95+  (available in two sizes).

28. A pack of towel bands  because I can guarantee your vacation daydreams did *not* include your towel flying off the lounge chair and you hopelessly trying to chase after it.

White towel with a logo hanging on a ship's railing, with deck and lifeboats in the background

Promising review: "Last-minute purchase for a trip to Jamaica. So happy I bought them. They always kept our towels on the chairs correctly. It was also easy to tell our chairs apart from others on the resort. Will definitely be recommending them to others." — RG

Get a four-pack from Amazon for $11.99 (available in four colors).

29. O'Keeffe's Lip Repair  — it's the magic potion you need to help repair your dry, cracked, and/or chapped lips, If you're already familiar with the brand's famous  Working Hands  cream, you know it's the good stuff. Why not give your pout the same royal treatment while you sleep?

A reviewer's before/after showing healed cracks in their lips

Promising review: "When I travel, my lips get so chapped! It's painful. I found this product when I searched for something for extremely chapped lips. I've used other O'Keeffe's products so I trusted the brand. I used this as directed in the morning and before bed, and my lips healed up faster than ever. Also, on the next trip I went on, I took it with me and used it daily. My lips stayed healthy and didn't get chapped at all. This stuff is magic, and I won't go anywhere without it now ." — Anna C. Adams

Get it from Amazon for $7.57  (also available as a two-pack).

30. Retainer Brite tablets  when you need to ~brighten~ up your mouthguard ASAP. Drop a tablet into a glass of warm water and add your mouthguard, retainer, or Invisalign. The stains and bacteria are about to disappear before your eyes!

Mouthguard stained yellow

BuzzFeed Shopping editor Maitland Quitmeyer says : "When I got a night guard (I'm a clencher!), my dentist recommended these very tablets for daily cleaning, and they work great!"

Promising review: "I have Invisalign retainers and had been using other products. My retainers were stained yellow-brown. Even my dentist used their ultrasonic cleaner and couldn't improve them. My hygienist suggested this product, just for my daily use, and voila! my retainers are COMPLETELY CLEAR! They look brand new! I didn't expect this at all! And there is no grainy residue after I've soaked them. It's really magic. So glad I found it!!!" — Amazon Customer

Get a pack of 120 tablets from Amazon for $23.99 .

31. Cosrx Snail Mucin 96% Power Repairing Essence , a refreshing formula made for all skin types and all sorts of skin troubles. Reviewers are rightfully obsessed with how well it helps heal acne scars , fade dark spots, and smooth fine lines .

The bottle with 96.3% snail secretion filtrate

Promising review: "Game changer. I don't know what kind of sorcery this is, but it has literally changed my skin!! The first time I used it, my skin felt tighter and more balanced. A week later, 2x a day, my skin is so much brighter. Better texture and even coloring. Pores seem tighter. Not a single pimple since. It looks so healthy. Whatever magic this is, it works better than any expensive designer skin lab crap that I've tried." — Np

Get it from Amazon for   $15.29 .

32. A ceiling fan carbon filter  so the blades can actively catch dust, pollen, dander, and other allergens while  they spin. You stick it right to the fan blade and forget about it until it's time for a replacement.

The black carbon filter attached to the blade of a ceiling fan

Simply peel it off when it's time for a replacement! Each one lasts about 1 to 3 months after installation depending on your home's allergens.

Promising review: "I wasn't sure what to expect when purchasing these, but now they are a staple in every room of our house. Within three days the air smelled more crisp and was easier to breathe in our home. So simple and effective!" — Haylee Marez

Get a three-pack from Amazon for $19.99 .

33. Mighty Patches  that are ~tiny but mighty~ and can help draw the gunk out of zits. Stick one on at bedtime and behold the amazing results upon waking. Reviewers also love that you can hardly tell you're wearing one!

reviewer showing the patch first applied to their face  / same reviewer showing how the patch pulled gunk out of their zit

BuzzFeed Shopping editor  Amanda Davis  tried these and says:  "I've tried various (countless 😅) pimple patches in the past and The Mighty Patch definitely takes the cake. I stick it on and honestly forget that it's even there.  The adhesive is strong, so it stays on during my tossing and turning at night , but I often wear it during the day, too! I work from home, and it's not noticeable during my video calls which I truly, truly appreciate.  I begin seeing the gunk from my zits after 2–3 hours of having it covered, but I leave it on for at least the full six . When it's removed, it's like the healing time was sped up and what would've taken a couple of days took just HOURS."

Be sure to read the full  Mighty Pimple Patch review  for more deets!

Promising review:  "These little patches are a miracle worker. When I feel a pimple coming on, I slap one of these on and leave it on overnight and the next day it's gone before it's even started. Also have used them on full-blown breakouts and it shortens the healing time. A must-have ." — Chris C.

Get a 36-pack from Amazon for $11.97 .

34. And some  six-hour hydrocolloid nose patches  to help you win the war against excess oil, irritating pimples, and enlarged pores. You'll get immense satisfaction from peeling off the patch to reveal all the stuff that was clinging to your skin.

reviewer photo of their used patch and there are huge white patches to show what the sticker absorbed from their skin

Promising review: " It's gross in the most spectacular way. The amount of disgusting gunk that came out of my face was appalling and I instantly gagged. However, my nose has never felt so clean and smooth for consecutive days . If you have oily skin I definitely recommend washing your face first and applying it to the nose before moisturizing the rest of your face. If I could give this 10 stars I would. Everyone is getting this for Christmas...maybe because it's not cheap." — Justina

Get a 10-pack from Amazon for $16.55 .

35. An Oxo over-the-drain hair catcher if you wanna catch all the evil hair that would otherwise clog your pipes. Place it over your drain and it'll collect all the hair into a neat pile that's easy to clean up. 

reviewer holding drain cover with review quote that says

Promising review: "I've been very impressed! It's tall enough to fit easily over my pop-up drain and (even without suction cups) the weighted top keeps it in place. I have medium-length hair and seem to shed almost as much as my cat, but the drain protector catches it all and the hair is easily removed and tossed away. Best of all, the silicone doesn't hold onto mildew or mold. I have been able to spray and wipe away any grime with very little effort. It looks like this drain protector will last a very long time . This has been a very worthy purchase!" — Suneimi

Get it from Amazon for $11.99  (available in two styles).

36. Or a  "Shower Cat" , an actual lifesaver when you're someone who sheds a whole lotta strands on hair-washing day. Instead of it clogging your drain, the Shower Cat will stash it and you can empty it out when you're done.

A small bristled silicone attachment on a wall with white cat-like ears

Shower Cat  is a small business established in 2021 specializing in products to prevent shower clogs. 

Promising review : "I first saw this product on TikTok and I knew immediately that I needed it. I just moved into a new apartment and I didn’t want to be how I used to be, where I’d just let hair go down the drain and plug it eventually, or peel it off of the drain after each shower. It works great but I probably need some practice with it. I currently just floss my hair through it so it will hold them and there are a few stray hairs that don’t stick. I would recommend to anyone who is tired of putting your loose strands of hair on the shower wall." — Cari Schwartzkopf

Get it from Amazon for $14.95 . 

37. An ultra-thin electrical outlet cover with an attached power strip that'll conceal the chaotic mess of tangled cords you're always side-eyeing from across the room.

Reviewer's before shot of an electrical outlet filled with messy plugs. Reviewer's after shot of the plugs no longer showing because of the product.

Promising review : "Very very nice. I am a renter so putting a huge hole in the wall to hire my wires was not going to happen, after searching for something that can help with the look of the wires in my living room I am glad to have come across this socket! I love love it. I just installed it last night, I’m extremely happy with the look and the adhesive works really good. I highly recommend." — Nliz

Get it from Amazon for  $23.95+  (available in various lengths/configurations).

Reviews in this post have been edited for length and clarity.

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5 concepts from physics that could give you an edge as a startup founder.

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Physics concepts can provide valuable mental models for decision-making, strategy development, and ... [+] problem-solving. So, in this article, we discuss five essential ideas from physics that can be applied to the world of startups and entrepreneurship.

It’s hard to have a competitive edge as an entrepreneur and business manager if you are drawing your information from the same traditional business sources as all other entrepreneurs. Having a diverse knowledge base could help you see situations from a different angle, which could help you see threats and opportunities other founders could miss.

Certain physics concepts can provide valuable mental models for decision-making, strategy development, and problem-solving. So, in this article, we discuss five essential ideas coming from physics that can be applied to the world of startups and entrepreneurship.

1. Newton's First Law (Inertia)

Newton's First Law, also known as the law of inertia, states that an object at rest will remain at rest, and an object in motion will remain in motion unless acted upon by an external force. This principle, discovered by Sir Isaac Newton in the 17th century, describes the resistance of any physical object to a change in its state of motion.

In the context of entrepreneurship, inertia can be seen in the resistance to change within organizations and markets. For startups, overcoming inertia means finding ways to disrupt the status quo and motivate stakeholders to embrace new ideas.

For example, when introducing a disruptive product, entrepreneurs must identify and apply the necessary "force" to overcome market resistance, such as compelling marketing strategies, demonstrations of value, or strategic partnerships.

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Understanding inertia helps entrepreneurs recognize that change requires deliberate effort and energy to shift established patterns and behaviors.

2. Newton's Second Law (F=ma)

Newton's Second Law states that the force acting on an object is equal to the mass of the object multiplied by its acceleration (F=ma). This law quantifies the relationship between an object's mass, the force applied to it, and the resulting acceleration.

For startups, this principle can be translated into the relationship between resources (mass), effort (force), and growth (acceleration). A startup with substantial resources (financial, human, technological) that applies significant effort (strategic planning, execution) will experience faster growth.

Conversely, a startup with limited resources must either find ways to increase efficiency or apply greater force to achieve acceleration. Entrepreneurs can use this model to assess their resource allocation and strategic efforts, ensuring that their actions are sufficient to drive the desired growth and momentum.

Combined with Newton’s first law, it follows that a huge amount of force is necessary to change the trajectory of a big corporation (a high-mass object) due to inertia. This is a big boon for startups, as they can react to shifting market conditions much quicker than established corporations that struggle to overcome their own inertia.

3. Thermodynamics And Conservation Of Energy

The first law of thermodynamics, also known as the law of conservation of energy, states that energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transformed from one form to another. This principle, established in the 19th century, emphasizes the constancy of energy within a closed system.

In a startup context, this concept could be interpreted as a restatement of the economic concept of opportunity cost - there is no free lunch in business. By investing your energy (time, resources, etc.) in something, you are necessarily taking it away from something else. You have a finite amount of energy, which means that you need to use it wisely.

4. Leverage

Leverage, in the physical sense, refers to the use of a lever to amplify force, allowing a smaller force to move a larger load. The concept of leverage has been known since ancient times, with early civilizations using simple machines like levers to perform tasks more efficiently.

In business, leverage refers to using various means to amplify the impact of efforts and resources. This can include financial leverage (using debt to finance growth), operational leverage (scaling processes to increase output), and strategic leverage (forming alliances to enhance market presence).

Entrepreneurs can apply the principle of leverage to identify opportunities where small actions or investments can lead to significant gains. By strategically leveraging resources and capabilities, startups can achieve exponential growth and competitive advantage with minimal initial input.

In fact, this is a crucial concept for early-stage startups. Initially, you have very little force to apply to your project. This means that in order to achieve a significant impact, you need to leverage it. Traditionally, this is done by using other people’s resources (capital) in addition to scalable technology, which presents another form of leverage for your efforts.

5. Momentum

Momentum, a concept from classical mechanics, is the product of an object's mass and velocity. It represents the quantity of motion an object has and is a measure of how difficult it is to stop that object.

In the entrepreneurial world, momentum signifies the progress and traction a startup gains over time. Once a startup begins to build momentum through early successes, customer acquisitions, or funding rounds, it becomes easier to sustain and accelerate growth. Maintaining momentum requires continuous effort and focus, ensuring that the startup does not lose its forward motion. Entrepreneurs should seek to build and sustain momentum by setting achievable milestones, celebrating wins, and maintaining a consistent pace of development and innovation.

Abdo Riani

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