FWIW, I’m the person who evaluated applications that had been categorized as personal development (where your hypothetical 5 Easy Things You Can Do To Quadruple Office Productivity article would fit.)
I think most people applied to the Medium Partner Program before any articles had been written. Or in the case of personal development, before I had been brought on board. So there wasn’t very specific guidance about what editors were looking for and therefore a lot of applications were turned down because they didn’t meet criteria that were created after receiving the application.
Specific to my area, I weighted people who could bring applied experience. I don’t want articles that are book reports on someone else’s writing. I want people who actually know the nuance of their topic because they’ve lived it or helped other people live it. That was the most common reason that I turned down strong writers or popular authors.
For example, for an upcoming series on beating procrastination I went with a professor who runs a procrastination research lab, and two behavioral coaches who had both worked with at least 100 clients on productivity habits. The two behavioral coaches have written popular pieces on Medium before — this is definitely a positive in choosing an author. But I think expertise is much more important (virality is less important when writing for Members because Members tend to see all of the paid content right now).
Now that there’s better guidance (from none to some), I’d be happy to relook at personal development pitches. Types of articles, instructions for re-applying, style guidelines all right here.