Three Reasons Why Labor Day Matters To You

Today, September 2nd, Americans celebrate Labor Day, as they have every year since 1887. This year, they would do well to spend some time thinking about the future of work, and how to prepare themselves to survive and thrive in it. The world of work is changing fast, in ways that will be extremely challenging to many of us.

There are three particularly important issues worth thinking about today.

First, there is a great mismatch between the skills many of us have and the skills required for the sorts of jobs that are coming to dominate the world of work. As I wrote in a special report for The Economist, now available here as an ebook, “The Future of Jobs”, this is creating a two-tier jobs market, in which those who have the right skills can earn more than was ever possible before, whilst those without those skills face the prospect of falling real wages as international competition and technological innovation make the skills they do have ever less valuable.You can see how technology is providing both opportunity and threat by looking at the rapid emergence of global online employment exchanges such as ODesk and Elance, which I wrote about here in The Economist.

The one piece of good news is that it has never been easier to upgrade your skills, thanks to the rapid growth of businesses providing free high quality courses via the internet, known as MOOCs (massive open online courses). You can read an article I wrote in The Economist about the MOOCs here.

Second, trade unionism is showing signs of life. Beneath the headlines about the long-term decline of trade unions, there are two noteworthy signs of life in the labor movement that brought Labor Day into existence. The more positive is the rise of the Freelancers Union, which has seen its membership soar because it focuses on providing its workers with services they need – such as affordable health care – while avoiding traditional union activities such as strikes.

I recently interviewed Sara Horowitz, the founder of the Freelancers Union, at the Nasdaq Marketsite for Newswire.FM. (You can watch a key excerpt from the interview below.)

Unions have always been about people coming together to solve their problems, Horowitz says, and the freelancers union was the result of freelancers coming together to solve problems that are unique to their way of working, which tends to be with lots of different employers and often involves periods of intense activity and other periods when there is little income coming in. She sees this as a ‘new mutualism’ that is a part of the broader ‘sharing economy’ or ‘peer economy’ more typically associated with firms such as Airbnb and RelayRides. The Freelancers Union set about solving the problem of many freelancers lacking health insurance by creating its own insurance company, which last year, its fifth, generated revenues of over $100m. What it was able to do was “aggregate freelancers’ economic power and really start to put it right to their immediate needs”, Horowitz told me.

The less uplifting revival if unionism can be seen in the recent outbreak of strikes by workers at fast food joints around the country. In the past, nobody planned to stay in their McJob long enough to think it worth bothering to unionise. That this is no longer the case is chilling evidence of how tough things are getting at the bottom of the jobs market, where wages have been falling steadily in real terms for over ten years.

Third, more than ever, we need work that helps each of us fulfill our human potential. One thing the millennial generation seems to understand better than the rest of us is the need for work to serve our sense of purpose and to be in balance with all the other things that make life fulfilling. A recent survey by Gallup found that 70% of American workers either hate their job or feel completely disengaged from it.

So while there is a desperate need to create more jobs, it is also important that we figure out how to create better jobs that truly engage workers in what they do. How to do this will be the topic of a conference in New York on September 18th that I am co-chairing with my Economist colleague Adrian Wooldridge. You can find out here about this event, which is bringing together some of the world’s top thinkers on the future of work.

President Teddy Roosevelt observed on Labor Day 1903 that “far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” To me, it is unacceptable that this prize that still remains beyond the reach of most people.

What do you think?

Posted by:Matthew BishopMatthew Bishop

The Business World Can Tear You Apart – If You Let It

I’ve often received calls and emails from former business students of mine who, despite being at a pinnacle of career or financial success, have expressed profound loneliness and despair – the kinds of feelings that might lead to tragedies like the recent suicides of two Swiss executives.

Many young leaders and CEOs say that power and influence come at a steep cost. The more success these people find, the more they feel like targets. It can seem like everyone wants something from them, and even acts of kindness and generosity from others seemed like veiled attempts at manipulation.

So, some leaders gradually lean away from people, creating a self-imposed detachment. In this isolation, they come to feel that they have no one to share their problems with — and at the same time, it makes them seem unapproachable to others. They drift deeper into themselves, and end up far away from the people in their lives.

It’s not only leaders and executives who can come to feel this way. As we know, stress is epidemic in workplaces everywhere. The more of it we face, the greater danger there is of losing touch with the people and values that are important to us. There are always moments of isolation, but by keeping the following ideas in mind, you’ll be better equipped to address them, or avoid them:

1. Get outside  of your head, and your office: The more you stay in one place, both mentally and physically, the more one-sided the world starts to look. That’s when priorities get warped. But high-energy, focused people can often replace one kind of engaging activity with another. Read great novels. Learn to fly-fish (that takes a lot of concentration, I’m told). Try to develop an exercise plan, especially one that takes you out of doors. Richard Branson pilots hot air balloons, Larry Ellison sails. Sergey Brin even learned the trapeze. Think of recreation as “re-creation” of your energy in a different venue.

2. Set Boundaries and stick to them: People who succeed are too often willing to subordinate everything in their lives to their quest for the top job. But once you get started on that path, it’s hard to slow down. So you have to set boundaries. Early in my career, I got a Sunday morning phone call from my boss and mentor who wanted to meet with me at the office about a deal. I was flattered, but I’d already decided that Sundays would be reserved for family. He respected this limit, and I went on to become the Managing Partner of the firm, where I kept Sundays for family for 20 years.

3. Stay close to your friends and family: I tell my business school students that the pop songs aren’t lying: love can be a powerful force if you cultivate it in your family and among friends and colleagues. Love is rooted in security, in self-esteem and in self-confidence. Deeply needy people have a harder time loving – they’re busy concentrating on themselves. But building a support network will help you with your needs, and will allow you in turn to give back to others. This “other-centered” mindset has a way of helping you put your own problems in perspective.

4. Learn to trust, even if it hurts: Trust is a fundamental part of building strong relationships, and avoiding the kind of mental vacuum that makes us feel suspicious and alone. To build trust with someone, you have to believe that he or she is able to put your interests ahead of their own, and that they’ll do what they say they’re going to do. When someone violates your trust, it can be difficult to bounce back and give someone else a chance. But, having been betrayed a few times myself, I’ve learned that it’s worse to recoil in wariness than to keep trying, learning better who to trust and when to trust them. Imagine that it’s your job to be trustworthy and to help others to be the same.

5. Just give: A few months back I agreed to fly halfway across the country to be with returning special operations servicemen entering the work force. When the day arrived, I had so many other pressures and deadlines that I was regretting my commitment. How could I give up an entire day? But by mid-morning, I’d lost myself in the company and good nature of these veterans, grateful to have had a chance to spend time with them, and inspired by their sacrifices. I was also more than a little humbled by the problems they’d taken on, which made mine seem tiny in comparison. With that perspective, I breezed through a very long to-do list when I got home.

Isolation is never the answer – instead, you want to surround yourself with, and reach out to, the people around you. If you start to feel you’re getting tunnel vision from incessant pressure at work, interrupt it. Consider starting with the guidelines above to help you find meaning and connection. We often feel locked into wearisome routines in life. The trick is to find ways to break out of them as soon as you realize you’re in one.

Posted by:Joel PetersonJoel Peterson
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We Need Our Brightest People Working on Our Biggest Problems

A few weeks ago, I got to visit Microsoft’s annual conference of faculty members involved in computer science research at universities around the world. I hadn’t been able to attend the conference since I went full-time at the Gates Foundation, so I took the opportunity to talk about how the researchers’ work might overlap with some of the foundation’s efforts.

A lot of the faculty members wanted to know how they could help and how we can all bring more bright people into the fight against disease and poverty. So I thought I would share a few ideas about how we can help researchers from different fields have an impact on the world’s poorest people.

1. Find ways to apply technology so it helps the world’s poorest people solve problems.

For the poorest 2 billion people, progress in the most important areas — which I argue are health and agriculture — will depend on advances in technology, from computer science to genetics, materials science, and energy.

For example, in health, computer-based disease modeling is a big area. I’m optimistic that we’re going to eradicate polio in the near term, and perhaps malaria and measles in the mid to long term. To eradicate a disease, we need to understand how it’s affected by things like weather or the movement of insect populations (malaria is spread by mosquitoes). A technique called stochastic modeling — which involves running a lot of computer simulations where you randomize different variables and study the outcome — is helping us understand the impact of the various factors so we can get the right mix of tools to fight different diseases.

There are many examples from other fields. Geneticists can help develop crops that are more nutritious, disease-resistant, and drought-tolerant. Someone who’s interested in finance can help drive innovations such as digital currency that reduce transaction costs so that poor people can borrow at five percent a year instead of 15 percent. People with a passion for education can develop software that models what the student knows, interacts with and encourages her, and helps the teacher see what she’s been doing.

So there’s a lot of opportunity. But these advances won’t happen unless bright young people enter these fields. That brings me to the second priority:

2. Attract more of the world’s brightest people into technical fields.

We need a constant stream of new people coming into these fields with fresh energy and ideas. And it needs to draw from a broad range of people — meaning different ethnicities, income levels, and countries. After all, no nation has a monopoly on talent or on the best way of looking at a problem.

I wish rich countries did more to draw their brightest people into the sciences. We also need researchers from developing countries, though that’s hard because few of them have great universities where people can get top training. We need to look at ways to strengthen those schools through partnerships. We can also expand opportunities for young people to study in other countries and then return home to start their careers. And we definitely need to encourage more women to enter technical fields.

As we bring more bright young people into the sciences, there’s a third step to making sure it has an impact for the poorest two billion:

3. Show experts how they can help solve these problems.

As I said earlier, several of the researchers I talked to at Microsoft asked how they could help. Unfortunately, historically the world hasn’t done a very good job of connecting people with expertise to the biggest problems.

For example, a big challenge with vaccines is that they spoil if you don’t keep them cold. This problem has kept a lot of kids from being vaccinated, and it has cost a lot of lives. There are experts in the science of insulation, but no one had explained this problem to them. As soon as we did, they started thinking about how they could help. They got to work on a kind of super Thermos — a way to keep the vaccines cold without using any energy. It’s in development now.

Scientists aren’t the only ones who can help solve problems in the poor world. Savvy people in businesses, non-profits, and governments can find ways to deliver solutions at scale.

Of course there has to be a financial incentive to draw people in. Governments and philanthropy can establish grants and prizes. They can also set up funds to guarantee that there will be a market to pay for advances if they’re developed. The Gates Foundation has a program called Grand Challenges in Global Health, which is designed to help experts from various fields see how they can help save lives in the poorest countries. That’s just one example, though, and the world could use a lot more.

It was great to connect with all the researchers at the Microsoft conference. I hope some of them use their talent to help solve some of these challenges. I’m convinced that getting our brightest minds focused on our biggest problems will save lives and make the world a more equitable place.

Posted by:Bill GatesBill Gates
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Words of Wisdom: 8 Famous Quotes to Help You Embrace Fear and Achieve Success

When offering career advice to young professionals and entrepreneurs, the two things that always top my list are to find a mentor and to read voraciously. Throughout the course of my life, I have been blessed with multiple mentors — mostly teachers, professors, bosses or colleagues. In addition, I have gathered useful advice from reading, and observing the actions of individuals who I identify as some of the world’s best leaders, both past and present. The following are 8 notable quotes from these “leaders” that have inspired me and helped to shape my principles as a business owner.

  • “Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.” – Dale Carnegie
  • “There are only two ways to live life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is.” – Albert Einstein
  • “Do not look for approval except for the consciousness of doing your best.” – Andrew Carnegie
  • “The true measure of a person is how they treat someone who can do him absolutely no good.” – Samuel Johnson
  • “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going because you might not get there.” – Yogi Berra
  • “Expect more than others think possible.” – Howard Schultz
  • “If people aren’t calling you crazy, you aren’t thinking big enough.” – Richard Branson
  • “Never, never, never give up.” – Winston Churchill

To me, the key takeaway is to push yourself through fear and uncertainty and place your best foot forward no matter what happens. I am not embarrassed to admit how frightened I was when I started SkyBridge in 2005. Swirling in my head were all of the things that could go wrong. Of course all of those things happened and, by the way, then there was a financial crisis. The point is — put your plans in motion, work hard and be willing to adapt along the way.

What great leaders and sayings have inspired you?

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How to Handle Difficult People

The path to success can be derailed by clashes with difficult people, and even if the clash isn’t disastrous, it can make your life very unpleasant. Everyone has a store of coping mechanisms that we resort to when we find ourselves in stressful situations. Difficult people force us to fall back on our coping mechanisms. Some of us placate, others confront. Some balk, others become aggressive. When these first-response tactics don’t work, when a difficult person makes you tear your hair out in total frustration, you have to dig deeper into yourself and find a better strategy.

First of all, not every difficult person is the same. There are tyrants, curmudgeons, aggressors, the viciously competitive, and control freaks. A psychologist can outline how each beast might be tamed, but on a day-to-day basis, one can adopt a general approach that’s the same. It’s quite a simple strategy, actually, based on asking three questions.

1. Can I change the situation?

2. Do I have to put up with it instead?

3. Should I just walk away?

When you ask these questions in a rational frame of mind, you will be able to formulate a workable approach that is consistent and effective. Most people are prisoners of inconsistency. Think about the most difficult person in your life and how you have reacted to them over time. You’ll probably find that you sometimes put up with them, sometimes try to get them to change, and other times simply want to stay away. In other words, three tactics have merged in a messy way. You wind up sending mixed messages, and that’s never effective.

So let’s consider each of the three questions in turn.

1. Can I change the situation?

Not all difficult people are beyond change, even though they are stubborn and stuck in their behavior. But there’s a cardinal rule here that can’t be ignored. No one changes unless he wants to. Difficult people rarely want to. If you have a close rapport with the person, you might find a moment when you can sit down and have a candid discussion about the things that frustrate you. But be prepared with an exit strategy, because if your difficult person winds up resenting you for poking your nose where it doesn’t belong, trying to effect change can seriously backfire.

Your best chance of creating change occurs if the following things are present.

– You have a personal connection with the person.

– You have earned his respect.

– You’ve discreetly tested the waters and found her a bit open to change.

– You’ve received signals that he wants to change.

– You aren’t afraid or intimidated.

– The two of you are fairly equal in power. If the difficult person is in a dominant position, such as being your boss, your status is too imbalanced.

A final caveat. Difficult people aren’t going to change just to make you feel better. The worst chance of getting someone else to change occurs when you’re so angry, frustrated, and fed up that you lose your composure and demand change.

2. Do I have to put up with it instead?

When you can’t change a situation, only two options remain, either put up with it or walk away. Most of us aren’t very effective in getting someone else to change, so we adapt in various ways. We are experts at putting up with things. Adaptation isn’t bad per se; social life depends upon getting along with one another. It’s a reasonable assumption that if you have difficult people in your life right now – and who doesn’t? – you’ve learned to adapt. The real question is whether you are coping in a healthy or unhealthy way.

Look at the following lists and honestly ask yourself how well you are putting up with your difficult person.

Unhealthy:

– I keep quiet and let them have their way. It’s not worth fighting over.

– I complain behind their backs.

– I shut down emotionally.

– I don’t say what I really mean half the time, for fear of getting into trouble or losing control.

– I subtly signal my disapproval.

– I engage in endless arguments that no one wins.

– I have symptoms of stress (headache, knots in the stomach, insomnia, depression, and anxiety) but have decided to grin and bear it.

– I know i want to get out of this situation, but I keep convincing myself that I have to stick it out.

– I indulge in fantasies of revenge.

Healthy –

– I assess what works best for me and avoid what doesn’t.

– I approach the difficult person as rationally as possible.

– I don’t get into emotional drama with them.

– I make sure I am respected by them. I keep my dignity.

– I can see the insecurity that lies beneath the surface of their bad behavior.

– I don’t dwell on their behavior. I don’t complain behind their backs or lose sleep.

– I keep away from anyone who can’t handle the situation, the perpetual complainers, gossips, and connivers.

– My interaction with the difficult person has no hidden agenda, like revenge. We are here for mutual benefit, not psychodrama.

– I know I can walk away whenever I have to, so I don’t feel trapped.

– I can laugh behind this person’s back. I’m not intimidated or afraid.

– I feel genuine respect and admiration for what’s good in this person.

If your approach contains too many unhealthy ingredients, you shouldn’t stick around. You’re just rationalizing a hopeless situation. Your relationship with your difficult person isn’t productive for either of you.

3. Should I just walk away?

Difficult people generally wind up alone, embattled, and bitter. They create too much stress, and one by one, everyone in their lives walks away. But it can take an agonizingly long time to make this decision. The problem is attachment. The abused wife who can’t leave her violent husband, the worker who is afraid he can’t find another job, the underling who serves as a doormat for his boss – in almost every instance their reason for staying is emotional. Life isn’t meant to be clinically rational. Emotions are a rich part of our lives, and it’s mature to take the bitter with the sweet – up to a point.

Too many people stick around when they shouldn’t. The main exceptions are competitive types, who can’t bear to be dominated or made to look bad. They instinctively run away from situations that hurt their self-image. The other main personality types – dependent and controlling – will put up with a bad situation for a long time, far beyond what’s healthy. The point, in practical terms, is that you can’t wait until you’ve resolved all your issues with a difficult spouse, boss, boyfriend, buddy, colleague, or employee. Vacillation doesn’t make you a better or nicer person. You are treading water, hoping that the dreaded day will never come when you have to sever ties. The thought of separation causes you anxiety.

But as anxious as you feel, sometimes a rupture is the healthiest thing you can do. That’s the case if you have honestly confronted questions 1 and 2. If you know the difficult person isn’t going to change, and if you’ve examined the unhealthy and healthy choices involved in putting up with them, you have a good foundation for making the right choice: Do I stay or do I walk? I’m not promising that your decision will feel nice. It probably won’t. But it will be the right decision, the kind you will be able to look back on with a sigh of relief and recognition that moving on was healthy and productive.

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Two Key Rules a Leader Should Never Forget

 

The best bosses are the ones who know what is going on in their company at all times, not just at the top but also at the bottom.

It doesn’t matter how big or small the company is, the leader who loses touch with the people who works for them is not only a poor manager but is also more likely to make bad business decisions.

This does come with a health warning – there is a big difference between knowing your business and staff inside out and being the kind of manager who likes to have a say in everything that happens in the organisation. Being a control freak can be an even bigger problem than becoming isolated from the workforce.

However, the people who work at the coalface of the business are the ones who know which services and products work and more importantly which ones do not. They deal directly with the customers and will know before anyone else in the company when there is a problem or an issue. Quite frankly, their thoughts and views are vital when it comes to the future prosperity and performance of the business.

Here are two ways to make sure you stay in touch with your people on the ground.

Be approachable

Being approachable isn’t just about how you talk to people in the office it is about your general demeanour and manner. Some people don’t even know they are doing it but can give off all the wrong signals before they even engage in conservation. Rather than trying to dominate a situation, good bosses try to put people at ease.

It is important to let people know that you are there and ready to listen if employees feel the need to talk to you about an issue or a problem. Obviously, it would be unwise and unprofessional to try and be friends with everyone but at the same time you want people to get the right message from you.

At all the businesses I have owned, I make a conscious decision to not be holed away in my own office on another level or a separate part of the building. I am usually found on the same floor as everybody else, so my staff know they can come and ask me about anything.

 

Make people feel involved

There are obvious ways to keep lines of communication with your staff open including regular meetings in both formal and informal settings. There are certain process such as appraisals and staff reviews that, if done in a positive way, are perfect for talking to staff on a one to one basis.

But I also like to get those who work for me involved in meetings. During meetings I will ask people for their point of view on topics under discussion. There is nothing wrong with giving people within an organisation the chance to have a say and air their opinions provided it is done in a controlled and positive way.

Businesses are not a democracy and of course the management team are there to make the important decisions but I think it is a great idea to let people have their say. If employees know that you are willing to listen to them and value their opinions, then they are likely to respect you even more as a manager or decision maker.

 

The success of your business is clearly linked to the attitude of your workforce. In turn, their attitude is often determined by the message given by the people at the top. A good boss will recognise this and make sure they are constantly in touch with the people on the ground.

Posted by:James CaanJames Caan

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Why Productive People Work On Sundays

Sundays aren’t just for rest and recuperation. When used wisely, they’re actually the perfect way to start your week with a bang.

Mondays often feel like a catch-up day from the weekend. There’s usually a full inbox and things that need your immediate attention as soon as you walk into the office. To avoid thisproductivity-killing situation, I schedule some time for work every Sunday to get my week started with a clean slate.

It’s up to you how long you choose to work on Sunday. But If you’re looking to get more done on Monday and use that momentum to power your week, here are a few thing to accomplish:

Tackle Your Inbox

If you’re like me, you know that managing your post-weekend inbox can take up your entire morning. Save your Monday mornings for more meaningful projects and dive into your inbox on Sunday evenings. Set aside time to sort, read, and answer the emails you’ve received since Friday. You can also draft and send anything that needs taken care of first thing Monday.

Plan For The Week Ahead

Don’t wait until you roll out of bed on Monday to take a look at your calendar. Spend time on Sunday planning for what’s to come the next day and even in the week ahead. This could mean organizing things for a project, doing some research, or even preparing your to-do list for the next day.

Knockout Monday’s Smaller Tasks

Rather than pushing your “busy work” or less important tasks to Monday afternoon, why not take care of them on Sunday evening? This might mean doing some required reading or completing a few smaller steps in a project. If you’ve got a huge project starting on Monday, taking care of some of the initial steps or legwork can lead to much less stressful morning.

Prepare For Meetings

Nothing puts a damper on a day quite like a lengthy unproductive meeting. If you have some big meetings coming up in the week ahead, use your Sundays to prepare agendas, presentations, talking points, or brief yourself on potential topics. This will not only make the meeting run more smoothly for you, but also for anyone else attending.

Clear Out Your Back Burner

Face it, sometimes less important tasks tend to fall to the wayside in the face of a busy week. If there’s anything on your back burner from the week before, use your Sunday work session to finish it. But remember, Sundays shouldn’t be your go-to “catch all” for tasks you’ve previously avoided.

Touch Base With Contacts You’ve Neglected

Networking is a crucial element of a successful career. Sunday is the perfect day to reach out to the contact you may not have had time to speak with all week. Most people go through their email on Mondays, so they’ll be more likely to get back to you before they get busy for the rest of the week.

Let Sundays be your secret ingredient to a more productive Monday — and maybe even the entire week.

Do you work on Sundays? Share some things you like to accomplish!

Posted by:Ilya PozinIlya Pozin
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Happiness Is Not the Most Important Thing at Work

Everybody (including @Richard Branson) says that happiness is the most important thing: the end for which every other end is a means, and which is not a means for any other end.

What if everybody is wrong?

Aristotle affirmed that happiness is the only thing that humans desire for its own sake, unlike riches, honor, health or friendship. He observed that men seek riches, honor, health, or friendship not for their own sake but in order to be happy: “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”

The same Aristotle, however, also declared: “Plato is dear to me, but dearer still is truth.”

I wonder which was dearest to Aristotle: happiness or truth? And, more importantly, which of these is dearest to you?

I bet that you want to be truly happy—we all do. But what if truth doesn’t make you happy?

Would you rather live in an unhappy reality or a happy unreality?

A Happy Thought Experiment

Picture me in front of you, arms extended, palms up, a red pill in one hand, a blue pill in the other: “This is your last chance, (your name here). After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill; your troubles end here. You fall asleep and dream happy dreams for the rest of your life. You take the red pill; you stay awake and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember, all I am offering you is the truth; nothing more.”

Assume that the blue pill will give you a permanent, perfect feeling of happiness. Assume further that this feeling comes without any adverse effects whatsoever. If you take the blue pill, you will always experience exactly what you need to experience to be as happy as you could possibly be, including the “certainty” that you are in control of your “real” life.

Meanwhile your body will be kept in suspended animation, perfectly safe and healthy, for the same amount of time that you would have lived had you not taken the blue pill.

You will not know that you live in a dream. You will forget that you took the blue pill. Wonderland will seem perfectly real to you. You will think, with no chance of ever learning otherwise, that you are, really, really happy.

Would you take the pill?

If you wouldn’t, why not?

If It Makes You Happy, It Can’t Be That Bad…

I wouldn’t take the pill; neither would I give it to my children: Truth is more important to me than happiness.

Yet, when my wife introduced our kids to Santa Claus as if he were a real character, I colluded. I let them take the blue pill without saying a word. I even helped them collect grass for the reindeer! I couldn’t withstand their beaming little faces as they listened in rapture, and as they opened Santa’s presents the next morning.

I wanted them to be happy; even at the expense of the truth.

A few years ago, we decided it was time to give our youngest daughter, Michelle, the red pill. When my wife told her that Santa was not real, she burst into tears. “Mommy!” she cried, “couldn’t you have waited another year to break my heart?” (I am afraid she inherited some of her father’s penchant for drama.)

The girl in the red dress

I regret misleading my children, even for the sake of their happiness. Had I known then what I know now, I would have expressed my love and wonder without resorting to fantasy. Myths brighten consciousness as poetry, but darken it as pseudo-science.

The Truth Shall Set Us Free

I see a myriad of blue pills distributed in companies every day: glowing reviews that rate everybody above average, killer applications that are just vaporware, lofty missions that mean nothing, and so on.

These fabrications, barely more credible than Santa’s, are always justified by an argument from effect. They are good because they make people happy; they are good because they give people energy; they are good because they bring people hope.

That is bondage.

The alternative is an argument from reality. Truth is good because it guides our actions; truth is good because it lets us to manifest who we really are in the real world; truth is good because it allows us to search for meaning. The truth need not make us happy, give us energy, or bring us hope to be good. The truth must only be logical and empirical; it must fit the rationality of our minds and the evidence of our senses.

The true is always good. The good is always true. Knowing reality as it is is moral. It is the ultimate respect for the human soul.

This is freedom.

Take the red pill.

Fred Kofman, PhD. in Economics, is Professor of Leadership and Coaching at the Conscious Business Center of the University Francisco Marroquín and a faculty member of Lean In. He is the author of Conscious Business, How to Build Value Through Values (also available as an audio program.)

Posted by:Fred KofmanFred Kofman
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How to optimise a BYOD environment

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How to optimise a BYOD environment
It’s taking over, so you have to manage it effectively

The use of BYOD (bring your own device) is rapidly expanding. According to a survey by mobility services and Wi-Fi company iPass, 90% of organisations will have to support BYOD by 2014. Indeed, analyst house Forrester predicts that two years later 350 million workers will use smartphones, 200 million of whom will take their own devices to the workplace.

In a white paper on BYOD, Dell states: “To implement a successful BYOD programme, CIOs need to first determine the end objective of implementing the programme and then build it up, so it fits into their larger business and IT strategy.”

This strategy will require a multifaceted approach to BYOD optimisation with several features:

  • Clearly defined security policies – As BYOD will include business and personal information, it is vital that staff adhere to a clearly defined security policy. This will include the use of encryption, virtualisation, virtual private networks and firewalls to protect sensitive data.
  • Application consistency – BYOD brings together apps and other installed software into one device. Which applications can and cannot be used should be clearly defined.
  • Network support – The use of virtualisation and remote access is commonplace with BYOD deployments. Businesses need to ensure their networks can efficiently manage the influx of new devices that BYOD will present.
  • Hardware replacement strategy – To ensure that BYOD is optimised, it is important to properly manage device replacement. Smartphones and tablet PCs change yearly, so it is vital that a clear upgrade policy is developed.
  • Assess the impact on business culture – Preventing BYOD from taking root in a business has been shown to be counterproductive and highly damaging for morale. Embracing BYOD and optimising its use deliver real world advantages.

Benefits and risks

BYOD will evolve hand-in-glove with the technology around it, and there will be new benefits and risks with every evolution and iteration. This makes it essential to adopt a BYOD model and infrastructure components that support the existing desktop now rather than be left behind.

A recent poll of IT executives conducted by Dell concluded: “An estimated three quarters of those polled stated that BYOD can only deliver massive benefits if the specific needs and rights of each user are understood; while only an estimated 17% of organisations encourage BYOD and actively manage any device employees wish to use – showing they really understand the need to empower employees.”

Optimising BYOD is about more than simply ensuring all devices are supported on a network and that robust security protocols are in place. A fully optimised BYOD environment also means a detailed user policy and an understanding of the dangers that it can bring.

Ultimately, empowering a workforce with BYOD means balancing network infrastructure, mobile applications security, regulatory compliance where this applies, and using training and education. These will help to get the most of a burgeoning trend that looks set to transform how businesses use information technology.

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The next wave of computing is perceptual

Perceptual computing seems to be on a lot of people’s minds lately. From a quest to find the Ultimate Coder to the worldwide Intel Perceptual Computing Challenge to a free Perceptual Computing SDK, there are plenty of opportunities for developers to get involved in this cutting-edge exploration of how humans interact with computers.

Editor’s Note:
This is a guest post by Wendy Boswell, technical blogger/writer at Intel. She’s also editor forAbout Web Search, part of the New York Times Company

If you can visualize controlling your computer merely by using your voice or a wave of your hand, rather than a mouse, a keyboard, or even a touchscreen, then you can see just the beginnings of what perceptual computing is capable of. Perceptual computing focuses on natural human interactions with machines in addition to those familiar control apparatuses many of us have literally grown up with: facial recognition, voice commands, gesture swiping, etc.  Responsive computing that is individually tailored to an individual’s unique needs is really what perceptual computing is all about.

There’s a lot of really exciting stuff going on in this space, and in this article, we’re going to focus on just a few of some of the more inspiring and innovative explorations that developers are taking on.

My, Oh Myo

One of the more interesting waves of development that is coming out of the perceptual computing movement is new user interfaces. How about a wearable armband that tracks your arm’s muscle movements and controls your computer via a series of gestures?  Watch the video of Thalmic Labs’ Myo device below:

As you can see from the video, the Myo works with devices that you already have in your home or office. Presentations can be controlled with a flick of the wrist, video games reach a whole new level of interaction, and browsing the web and watching videos is a completely different experience. More about this intriguing device:

What sort of precision does the MYO have

The MYO detects gestures and movements in two ways: 1) muscle activity, and 2) motion sensing. When sensing the muscle movements of the user, the MYO can detect changes down to each individual finger. When tracking the position of the arm and hand, the MYO can detect subtle movements and rotations in all directions!

How quickly does it detect gestures?

Movements can be detected very quickly – sometimes, it even looks like the gesture is recognized before your hand starts moving! This is because the muscles are activated slightly before your fingers actually start moving, and we are able to detect the gesture before that happens.” – Myo FAQ

Use the Force, Luke

Ever wanted to control something with your thoughts, Jedi-style? A team of researchers at the University of Minnesota has put together a four-blade helicopter that can be controlled with the electrical impulses generated by our minds:

More about this amazing technology and how it works:

“The team used a noninvasive technique known as electroencephalography (EEG) to record the electrical brain activity of five different subjects. Each subject was fitted with a cap equipped with 64 electrodes, which sent signals to the quadcopter over a WiFi network. The subjects were positioned in front of a screen that relayed images of the quadcopter’s flight through an on-board camera, allowing them to see the course the way a pilot would. The plane, which was driven with a pre-set forward moving velocity, was then controlled by the subject’s thoughts.” – LiveScience.com, “Tiny Helicopter Piloted by Human Thoughts”

The lead researcher on this project, Bin He, realizes that there are many more uses for this new human-computer interface, including helping those suffering from paralysis:

“Our study shows that for the first time, humans are able to control the flight of flying robots using just their thoughts, sensed from noninvasive brain waves,” said Bin He, lead scientist behind the study and a professor with the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering. “Our next goal is to control robotic arms using noninvasive brain wave signals….with the eventual goal of developing brain-computer interfaces that aid patients with disabilities or neurodegenerative disorders.”

Gesture recognition and Wi-Fi

You’ve probably heard of smart houses, right? Researchers in the University of Washington department of computer science and engineering are going a few steps further with that concept, linking existing wireless technology that most people have in their homes with gesture recognition:

“Forget to turn off the lights before leaving the apartment? No problem. Just raise your hand, finger-swipe the air and your lights will power down. Want to change the song playing on your music system in the other room? Move your hand to the right and flip through the songs. University of Washington computer scientists have developed gesture-recognition technology that brings this a step closer to reality. They have shown it’s possible to use Wi-Fi signals around us to detect specific movements without needing sensors on the human body or cameras. By using an adapted Wi-Fi router and a few wireless devices in the living room, users could control their electronics and household appliances from any room in the home with a simple gesture.” – Washington.edu, “Wi-Fi signals enable gesture recognition throughout entire home”

Watch a video of this technology in action below:

This technology, called WiSee, doesn’t require a complex installation of cameras or sensors in every room; it merely uses existing technology (wireless signals) in a completely new and innovative way. All sorts of household tasks could conceivably be simplified using this technology.

What’s next in perceptual computing?

Innovating on existing technology seems to be a theme with all three of the projects highlighted in this article, with new ways for humans and computers to interact at the forefront.

Recently, Valve’s Gabe Newell sat down with the Intel video team to talk about his impressions of perceptual computing as related to game development. Check out the video below for his views on how new kinds of input – like measured heart rate, perceived emotional state, contextual environmental cues, hand and eye movements, etc. – are shaping where new gaming experiences are going.

What do you think is coming next in perceptual computing? Share with us in the comments.

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Google says outage is over

Brandon Griggs, CNN
By Brandon Griggs, CNN
Users in some parts of the United States could not access Google on Wednesday morning.
Users in some parts of the United States could not access Google on Wednesday morning.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Google’s Web services were down for some users Wednesday morning
  • Reports of outages began about 9:30 a.m. ET and lasted about an hour
  • Google said the issues affected users in four U.S. states but have been fixed
  • Twitter jokester: “Looks like the Mayans were only off by 6ish months… “

(CNN) — Google and related services were inaccessible to some users Wednesday morning, prompting confusion and consternation across the Web.

Reports of outages began by 9:30 a.m. ET and quickly spread on Twitter, with users asking if the problem was affecting others as well. By 10:35 a.m. ET, some users were reporting that Google was back up.

In an e-mail to CNN, Google said it received reports of problems with Google services from users in West Virginia, North Carolina, Nebraska and Georgia.

“However, the issue was quickly resolved and is now over. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused our users there,” Google said in a statement.

Wearable tech

Among the services affected were Gmail, Google Plus, Google Drive and YouTube. Google’s App Status Dashboard said the issues were fixed by 10:40 a.m. ET, but not before jokesters weighed in on Twitter.

Adam Sullivan, in one of many similar comments, tweeted, “If google is down… How will I ever google “why is google down?”

“Oh dear God it’s the end of humanity as we know. Need to go buy bread and milk.#googledown,” added Rebeccah Connelly.

The outage drove some users to rival search engine Bing, while prompting jokes on Twitter about the apocalypse.

“Looks like the Mayans were only off by 6ish months… ” quippedErica Arbetter.

“I feel a great disturbance, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. #googledown,” added Matt Braddick.

Others were stunned that Google, a foundation of the Internet for many users, could be shut down.

“Google is like Walmart and Waffle House. It’s supposed to be open 24/7. #GoogleDown,” wrote Grant McFerrin.

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Iris scans are the new school IDs

By Laurie Segall and Erica Fink @CNNMoney 

Scanning your kid’s eyeballs at school
NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

Kids lose their school IDs but they don’t often lose their eyeballs.

That’s one of the reasons why a growing number of schools are replacing traditional identification cards with iris scanners. By the fall, several schools — ranging from elementary schools to colleges — will be rolling out various iris scanning security methods.

Winthrop University in South Carolina is testing out iris scanning technology during freshman orientation this summer. Students had their eyes scanned as they received their ID cards in June.

“Iris scanning has a very high level of accuracy, and you don’t have to touch anything, said James Hammond, head of Winthrop University’s Information Technology department. “It can be hands free security.”

The college will be deploying scanning technology from New Jersey-based security company Iris ID.

Related story: Hackers’ next target: Your eyeballs

South Dakota-based Blinkspot manufactures iris scanners specifically for use on school buses. When elementary school students come aboard, they look into a scanner (it looks like a pair of binoculars). The reader will beep if they’re on the right bus and honk if they’re on the wrong one.

The Blinkspot scanner syncs with a mobile app that parents can use to see where their child is. Every time a child boards or exits the bus, his parent gets an email or text with the child’s photograph, a Google map where they boarded or exited the bus, as well as the time and date.

Iris-scanning is part of a growing trend called “biometrics,” a type of security that recognizes physical characteristics to identify people. As the technology becomes faster and cheaper to build, several security equipment manufacturers are looking at biometric methods like iris scanning as the ID badge of the future.

In the next year, industry insiders say the technology will be available all over– from banks to airports. That means instead of entering your pin number, you can gain access to an ATM in a blink. Used in an airport, the system will analyze your iris as you pass through security, identifying and welcoming you by name.

One company developing that technology is Eyelock. The company’s scanners are already in use in foreign airports and at high-security offices, including Bank of America’s (BAC,Fortune 500) North Carolina headquarters.

Eyelock’s technology records video of your eyeball and uses an algorithm to find the best image of each eye. Eyelock is also entering the school market, piloting their devices in elementary school districts and nursery schools around the country.

“Imagine a world where you’re no longer reliant on user names and passwords,” Eyelock CMO Anthony Antolino told CNNMoney. “If we’re going through a turnstile and you have authorization to go beyond that, it’ll open the turnstile for you, if you embed it into a tablet or PC, it will unlock your phone or your tablet or it will log you into your email account.”

Eyelock’s airport security technology can process up to fifty people per minute.

“You walk through without stopping, you look at the camera, it recognizes you in less than one second,” Antolino said. “In the case of customs, by the time you approach the customs agent your profile would pull up and present your documents for authorization.”

Though some privacy advocates worry that convenience could be coming at the expense of security.

The iris scanning companies note that the data their scanners collect is encrypted — an outsider would only see 1s and 0s if they went in search of your iris scans. And the companies themselves don’t collect any of the data — the schools, airports and businesses that use them own the data.

“It’s sort of like a brave new world; the new technology is sort of scary,” said Page Bowden, a parent of a student at Winthrop University’s on-campus nursery school. “But when you stop to actually think about it, and think about the level of security that [it] affords you as a parent and your children, it’s worth it.”

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leadership and management training in the UK

Almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of employers agree weaknesses in leadership and management in the UK are holding back company growth, according to new research published by Cranfield School of Management and learndirect.

Despite this, the study out today entitled: The new vocational currency: investing for success – shows only four in ten companies offer their staff training in these crucial skills.

The report examines the value of vocational qualifications to both individuals and employers and also looks at the issue of management skills in the UK, drawing on new research from You Gov.

It found more than two-thirds (68 per cent) of UK employers agree weaknesses in leadership and management skills are also preventing employees from reaching their full potential.

As a result the report recommends making management skills mandatory for all apprenticeship frameworks at level three and above.

Dr Emma Parry, reader in Human Resource Management at Cranfield School of Management and report co-author, said: “This research clearly shows that employers agree a lack of management training is having a negative impact on business growth and yet only four in ten companies offer their staff training in these crucial skills. It is clear from these results that vocational qualifications are strong currency in the UK employment market.

“British businesses have an opportunity to broaden their talent pool by recruiting more people who hold vocational qualifications and may have been overlooked in the past due to not having a degree. This research shows that employers regard vocational qualifications positively, so now has never been a matter time to study a vocational qualification.”

Other recommendations in the report include:

• Improving the status of vocational education and training in the UK – for example through a national government-led campaign and introducing a new duty on schools to provide information, advice and guidance on the full range of vocational options

• The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to work with industry bodies to improve UK management – including ensuring new government ministers and their shadows receive management training

Gill Craven, director of service development at learndirect, said: “There’s no doubt the government focus on vocational qualifications, particularly apprenticeships, is the right one to build a skills base for the UK which is fit to compete in the twenty-first century.

“However, the issue of poor leadership and management is holding back the success of both companies and individuals.  With the huge amounts of public funds being channelled into apprenticeships it makes sense to tackle this issue as well and make management a mandatory element at level three and above.”

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Do You Have a Yes Attitude?

Last week I wrote about How to Achieve Likeability and I want to expand on that theme a bit. There’s an additional piece to becoming truly likeable that I’d like to share: default to a “yes” attitude. This means that your default response to requests is “yes.” This doesn’t mean lying, and it’s not a risky practice because most requests at the beginning of a relationship are simple and easy.

“Always say “yes” to the present moment. What could be more futile, more insane, than to create inner resistance to what already is what could be more insane than to oppose life itself, which is now and always now? Surrender to what is. Say “yes” to life — and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you.” Eckhart Tolle

A “yes” buys time, enables you to see more options, and builds rapport. I learned this from Darct Rezac, author of The Frog and the Prince: Secrets of Positive Networking. He defines good networking as always thinking about how you can help the people when you meet them.

By contrast, a “no” response stops everything. There’s no place to go, nothing to build on, and no further options. You never know what may come of a relationship, and you will never know if you don’t let it begin. At least, think “not yet” instead of “no.”

To make a default “yes” work, you must assume that people are reasonable, honest, and grateful. While everyone isn‘t always reasonable, honest, and grateful, the majority are, and you can live your life in one of two ways: thinking that people are bad until proven good or good until proven bad.

Posted by:Guy KawasakiGuy Kawasaki
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The One Word That Can Catapult Your Career

Do your colleagues have a choice word for you? If not, here’s why you want them to…

Sometimes one word can make all the difference.

I was at a conference and a friend who runs a startup introduced me to one of his friends, who was looking for a new opportunity. “I’d like you to meet Joe,” he said. “He’s great.”

I’m sure Joe is talented. I’m sure Joe is skilled. I’m sure Joe is, in fact, great.

But I only remember Joe because of something that happened a few minutes later. Another friend introduced me to one of his product managers. “This is Michelle,” he said. “She’s relentless.”

In the dictionary, “great” means remarkable in degree or effectiveness. “Great” is a wonderful word, especially when used to describe someone… but like “awesome” and “outstanding,” “great” is used so often to describe people that it has lost much of its meaning. When just about everyone is great… no one is great. Great is no longer impactful or memorable.

When described as “great, however remarkable in degree or effectiveness he may be, Joe seems like – however unfairly – just one of many. He doesn’t standout.

But “relentless” – who can forget relentless? Hear the word and you instantly think of someone so determined, so persevering, so persistent and tenacious that nothing, absolutely nothing, can stand in her way.

A “great” product manager you might forget. A “relentless product manager you remember for a long, long time.

Authentic Positioning Matters – Especially for Individuals

Many companies, as Al Ries describes in his classic marketing book Positioning, try to own a single word or phrase in the minds of customers. For Mercedes it’s “luxury.” For Volvo it’s “safety”. At my company HubSpot it’s “inbound”.

The goal of positioning is to create an immediate and direct connection in the minds of consumers; that’s what branding is all about.

Individuals need to think about positioning, too. Where Tony Hsieh is concerned, that word is “culture.” Where Eric Ries is concerned it’s “lean.”

So imagine you ask a colleague or a boss or a customer for to pick one word that describes you and they aren’t allowed to use words like awesome, fantastic, great, terrific, etc. They have to pick a specific, non-generic word. What word would they choose?

The word they choose – for better or worse and, where you’re concerned, intentional or unintentional – is your positioning in the minds of the people you work with. That’s how they see you. That’s how they think of you.

That is how they remember you.

What is Your Most Important Word?

The cool thing is, you get to choose how people view you. As long as your actions constantly and consistently match your positioning, as long as you are intentional in thought and action, you can determine the immediate and direct connection people make when they see, hear, or think about you.

What one word best describes you? Better yet, what one word do you want to describe you?

Here are a few possibilities – in the right circumstances these are all wonderful qualities:

· Insightful

· Shrewd

· Ferocious (hopefully in a good way)

· Unflinching

· Indomitable

· Irreverent

· Scrupulous

· Relatable

· Determined

So, back to the original question: What is the one word that can transform your career? As you’ve probably guessed — it’s different for everyone. But, if you can find yours, it can have a profound impact on your person brand, and hence your career.

A short, powerful exercise…

Make a list of the adjectives you want people to repeat after they meet you, talk to you, see or read about you… what do you want other people to think of when they think of you?

Make your list. Then boil it down to the one word you want to encapsulate you – and, in effect, your personal brand. (If you don’t, other people will definitely decide it for you.)

Decide how you want to be defined.

Now, share your one word in the comments below. If you can’t quite get it down to just one word, that’s OK (I’m an easy going guy) — pick 2 or 3 words. But, leave them in the comments. We’re not going to hold you to it, but the simple act of writing them down and sharing them is super-helpful. And, it will help others come up with their words.

I’ll kick things with the words I’d like people to associate with me: bold & creative.

Read, think, GO!

Leave your one (or two) words in the comments.

Posted by:Dharmesh ShahDharmesh Shah
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Can Preschoolers Save Our Economy?

We all know the basic elements of an economic development plan: Entice companies to locate in your town or city, create industry and retail friendly zones, promote tourism, and pump up public-private partnerships.

But if you really want to see high returns on the investment of public funds into our economy it might be time to start thinking a little less about opportunity zones and a lot more about preschools.

That’s what Arthur J. Rolnick, senior fellow and co-director of the Human Capital Research Collaborative at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, believes. I heard him speak at the recent meeting of the 2013 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America in Washington D.C., where experts testified on improving early childhood development to boost the health of our nation.

What does that have to do with the national economy? The link between health and early childhood development has become increasingly clear, with a growing body of evidence showing that toxic stress and other adverse experiences can affect the brain development of children, which in turn affects their economic productivity as adults.

The scientific research may be new, but the theory isn’t. And it certainly doesn’t apply only to the United States.

According to a recent article in the New York Times by economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, Japan successfully resolved in 1868, during the Meiji Restoration, to focus on the education and the health care of its people in order to catch up with the economic development of Europe. It did so again after World War II. In fact, Sen argues, poor public health care and poor education, and the lack of public investment in both, are historic reasons that India’s economic growth rate may never be a robust as China’s.

If we want to improve the health and the economic well-being of Americans, it would be wise to start with the youngest and most vulnerable among us.

In his testimony, Rolnick pointed to research indicating that investments in early childhood development made by governments in partnership with private firms and nonprofit foundations can produce “extraordinarily high economic returns” with “benefits that are low-risk and long-lived.”

His examples included cost-benefit analyses of several model preschool programs that have followed the lives of students well into adulthood. Programs such as the Perry Preschool Program in Michigan, North Carolina’s and the Chicago Child-Parent Centers have demonstrated that giving children educational support from birth until the age of 5 makes a significant difference.

“Without support during these early years, a child is more likely to drop out of school, depend on welfare benefits, and commit crime, thereby imposing significant costs on society,” Rolnick said.

The studies showed returns that ranged from $3 to $17 for every dollar invested in early childhood development programs. When adjusted for inflation, that translates into 7 to 18 percent.

“You won’t find a better investment,” Rolnick told the Commission.

I absolutely agree.

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Finding Your Passion In Work: 20 Awesome Quotes

Ask yourself: If you could do anything for 8 hours a day for the rest of your life, and money were no object, what would you do?

Holidays like Independence Day give me the excuse (and reminder) to reflect on what I’m doing with my life and what I’ve done since the last milestone, such as New Year. Am I excited to do what I’m doing every day? And if not, is it me, or something else?

One of the big blessings of living in a democracy is the ability to pursue one’s own path, and the idea that anyone can pick him or herself up by the bootstraps and achieve great things. Of course, survival and success are inescapably connected to work, but we have the luxury of deciding how fun our day-to-day work is going to be. Sometimes that comes as a tradeoff for pay, but spending 1/2 your waking hours doing something you love is often well worth it. And I’m convinced that the people who are best at what they do tend to be the ones that love it the most.

The most important thing for me as a startup founder is knowing that every person I work with is excited to show up to work every day, that each is doing what he or she loves. The most amazing words I could ever hear one of our team member say (and I’m humbled to overhear it occasionally!), is, “This is the best job I’ve ever had.” And if it’s not, I’d rather help him or her find that job than help us do what we love at his or her own expense.

I’m not saying anything loads of great thinkers haven’t already said. But sometimes it’s important to remind ourselves why we’re doing what we’re doing, and to take inventory of our dreams.

As such, below are some of my favorite mushy, inspirational quotes about the intersection of passion and work:

Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”

Theodore Roosevelt

 

Hard work is painful when life is devoid of purpose. But when you live for something greater than yourself and the gratification of your own ego, then hard work becomes a labor of love.”

Steve Pavlina

Never work just for money or for power. They won’t save your soul or help you sleep at night.”

Marian Wright Edelman

Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”

John R. Wooden

Dream big and dare to fail.”

Norman Vaughan

Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.”

Farrah Gray

It is never too late to be what you might have been.”

George Eliot

Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.”

Les Brown

 

 

And in case you’re a procrastinator like me, a bonus quote:

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

Chinese Proverb

(P.S. Happy 4th of July!)

Have you found your passion in work?

What inspires you to do what you do?

Posted by:Shane SnowShane Snow

Get Fired

Be Different, Swing for the Fences, and Ask For Forgiveness.

Do you work at a large enterprise – a place with more than 500 employees? Then your best hope of helping the company — and your career — is to try to get fired. Seriously.

Start-ups and small businesses tend to be more agile and flexible than their larger, corporate siblings. During the nimbler, non-bureaucratic, rat-race of trying to grow or survive, founders, owners, and employees are freer to take risks, be creative, disrupt the old way of doing things, and attempt anything that will help the business be more successful. It’s about making changes today, otherwise, we may not be here tomorrow.

At big companies, that’s not the case. Large corporations focus on managing risk and minimizing downside. The CEO wants to realize growth and innovate, but many CEOs define his or her mission as not losing what has already been gained. Taking big swings for the fence is often not worth the risk. Of course there are exceptions. Apple, Google, Amazon, and Disney are famous for pushing the limits and churning out innovative new products and services.

Which is why as an employee, your willingness to get fired is what will set you apart — and if you are truly skilled — elevate your career and your company to the next level.

Any business worth working for wants its employees to drive the business forward. Here are three ideas that could be game changers:

Be Different. Start small, and replace your boring black, office chair with a green bouncy ball. Invite people to lunch to brainstorm about a big idea you have and start influencing the culture.

Swing for the Fences. If you are told to identify prospects for your company’s new product – don’t stop there – make the sale. Even if that role falls to someone else on the team, it demonstrates that you are not kidding around…and that you can sell.

Ask For Forgiveness. Are you working on a project that is awaiting “approval”? What if you just go do it – and ask for forgiveness later? Could one person at Kodak have changed the company’s fate? Stay nimble in your mindset, and imagine that your actions will make or break the company’s chances of staying afloat.

What’s the worst thing that happens? You get fired? That may be the impetus to get you to launch your own small business or startup. It might open the door to a new company looking to shake things up.

Post a comment below on ways you’ve pushed the envelope and been rewarded for it – or you’ve been fired. I’ll be looking for the latter as I’m always searching for great people to work with.

Posted by:Scott CaseScott Case
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How Successful People Think

I love to give the following puzzle to new team members at our companies, Likeable Mediaand Likeable Local:

Using four straight lines and never taking your finger off of your screen, connect all nine dots below:

 

 

It’s easy, of course, to connect the nine dots with just three lines, if you take your finger off of the screen. But it’s a much harder problem to solve with the rules I gave. Scroll down for the answer to the puzzle, if you can’t solve it or wait. In the meantime, here’s a clue and a story:

Think outside of the box.

Now, the story behind the picture at the top of this post: Today is my seven year wedding anniversary. 7 years ago today, I got married to the love of my life Carrie – at what most people would consider an unusual setting – a baseball game.

Several months prior to July 8, 2006, when we got engaged, we had a problem. I really wanted to have a large wedding – the kind of wedding where I could invite everyone I knew to share in our joyous celebration. But Carrie and I didn’t have enough money to host a traditional New York wedding and invite everyone we knew.

Luckily for me, Carrie, a marketer by trade, had a brilliant out-of-the-box idea: partner with a minor league baseball team to create a wedding-themed promotion, sell sponsorships and get a ballpark wedding paid for – a wedding that we could literally invite thousands of people to attend. Sponsors could get great value in the promotion, which would likely generate buzz and media attention, and we could get a huge wedding paid for. As a diehard baseball fan, I thought the idea was perfect – but it would require willing partners to make it work.

We pitched the Brooklyn Cyclones, a minor league affiliate of the NY Mets, and GM Steve Cohen liked the idea enough to give it a shot. We created the “Our Field of Dreams” promotion and were off to the races. We successfully pitched 1-800-Flowers.com to sponsor our flowers, Smirnoff to sponsor our alcohol, Entenmann’s to sponsor our desserts, After Hours to sponsor our tuxedos, and several other local and national sponsors, totaling about $100,000 in trade value.

We also asked sponsors to donate cash to the David Wright Foundation, and we were able to raise $20,000 for the Multiple Sclerosis Society through our wedding.

And on July 8, 2006, I got married to the love of my life in front of 500 friends and family members (and 5,000 strangers) at the end of a baseball game. We walked underneath the bats held up by the Cyclones team as pictured above. It was an amazing wedding with an amazing partner.

As it turns out, the wedding was also an amazing marketing and public relations promotion for our vendors/sponsors. It generated about $20 million in earned media through coverage on the CBS Early ShowABC World New TonightCNBC’s On The Money, the New York Times, and hundreds of blogs. Our vendors were so thrilled with all of their ROI, in fact, that a couple of them asked us what we could do for them next. We couldn’t get married again, so we started our first company.

An incredible wedding took place, and a company was born – all through one out-of-the-box idea from my brilliant wife Carrie. The lesson here is clear:

Successful people think outside of the box.

Successful people don’t just see problems, they see opportunities. They don’t just see obstacles, they see solutions. And when they don’t see solutions right away, successful people get creative to find solutions.

Remember the puzzle we began with? Successful people think outside of the box, literally, and then find this solution:

Once you think outside the box, this puzzle, and your life, get a lot easier.

Happy Anniversary, Carrie, and here’s to all of you thinking outside the box, getting things done, and becoming more successful.

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How to Evaluate Your Own Emotional Intelligence

What you need now is emotional intelligence,’ was what China’s new president told a graduating class last month at their top tech school.

Now Bloomberg’s Businessweek tells us that Yale’s school of management has added a test of emotional intelligence to its admissions requirements.

And how’s your emotional intelligence?

Just as for IQ, there are several theoretical models of emotional intelligence, each supported by its own set of research findings. The one I’ve proposed — which has fared well in predicting actual business performance — looks at a spectrum of EI-based leadership competencies that each helps a leader be more effective.

Here are some questions that will help you reflect on your own mix of strengths and limits in EI. This is not a “test” of EI, but a “taste” to get you thinking about your own competencies:

1) Are you usually aware of your feelings and why you feel that way?

2) Are you aware of your limitations, as well as your personal strengths, as a leader?

3) Can you manage your distressing emotions well – e.g., recover quickly when you get upset or stressed?

4) Can you adapt smoothly to changing realities?

5) Do you keep your focus on your main goals, and know the steps it takes to get there?

6) Can you usually sense the feelings of the people you interact with and understand their way of seeing things?

7) Do you have a knack for persuasion and using your influence effectively?

8) Can you guide a negotiation to a satisfactory agreement, and help settle conflicts?

9) Do you work well on a team, or prefer to work on your own?

And the good news: emotional intelligence competencies can be upgraded.

Coaches/trainers: What questions would you ask? Leave them in the comment field, or tweet them to @DanielGolemanEI.

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Emotional Intelligence author, Daniel Goleman lectures frequently to business audiences, professional groups and on college campuses. A psychologist who for many years reported on the brain and behavioral sciences for The New York Times, Dr. Goleman previously was a visiting faculty member at Harvard.

Dr. Goleman’s most recent books are The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights andLeadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence – Selected Writings. (More Than Sound). Goleman’s latest project, Leadership: A Master Class, is his first-ever comprehensive video series that examines the best practices of top-performing executives.

Posted by:Daniel GolemanDaniel Goleman
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