Friday, January 23, 2015

Should you throw down on your mean boss?

A study done at Ohio State by Bennett Tepper, prof of management and human resources at the Fisher College of Business, showed that  returning hostility from a boss can make an employee better off.

There seem to be benefits from reciprocating, in other words.

If bosses belittled, yelled, ridiculed or intimidated workers, the sorkers ignored it or gave half-hearted effort.

In other words--they were passive aggressive.

You can look up the design of the two studies in Personnel Psychcology, if you want.

Employees who did not retaliate--had higher stress.

Employees who responded in some way were less likely to think of themselves as victims.

They may also gain the respect of their coworkers.

But--the profs said--the key was to get rid of hostile bosses.

Oh. I guess that would work, too.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Kids! Monitoring their internet may make them worse

There are dozens if not hundreds of apps and programs to block youngsters from harmful internet sites or monitor their social media.

According to a new study at the Univ of Haifa, over-restrictive monitoring can egg the little devils on to worse excesses.

Kids defy parents and disclose personal info or arrange meetings with skeevy pervs.

Parental efforts were: (1) Supervision--installation of blocking software, recordings of sites visited, or limits on time spent on the internet. (2) Guidance--parents explained risks and proposed ideas on how to be safer. (3) Non-intervention.

The closest monitoring had the most negative results (495 kids).

Families with strong emotional bonds also had less risky behavior.

Surprsingly, the strongest influence on risky behavior, though, was peer opinion. If their friends approved, the kids were more likely to do it. See also--naked selfies.

Boys were also more likely to do dumb things than girls--visiting chat rooms, for instance.

As for the parents, they were more likely to use the second means, guidance, with girls than sons.

I say get rid of those phones--but no one listens to me.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Do you let your kids have some freedom?

There she is--the fiend.
There is a war raging between parents who drive their kids everyplace and hover, and those who let kids do some things on their own.

The latter sometimes get nailed by child protective services for letting grade schoolers walk home from school or sit in a car with a baby asleep while Mom runs in a store to get milk.

Some of this was kicked up by writer Lenore Skenazy, author of Free-Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry).

In the Washington Post Sunday, there was a lively discussion of her decision to let her 9-yr-old son take the DC subway alone. Many commenters were perfectly comfortable with judging her the worst mom ever.

After urging my daughter to call people for movie times, go to salad bars alone, and even run to public restrooms by herself, she rode the DC subway two blocks to parochial school when she was nine. I pointed this out in the Washington Post Sunday and you'd think I sent a toddler to thumb it to pre-school.

My daughter managed to survive and is almost 33--I told her about this discussion and she said, "How stupid, I was fine--of course, you didn't know where I went after I got off the subway."


Skenazy has a reality show starting tonight on Discovery Live--called, of course, World's Worst Mom.

Any brand of parenting can take some jumps on you--my daughter may have gone out on her own then, but she still sticks close to home now.

Go know.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

How to outfox the gatekeeper

You can't just call someone up anymore. That person will be "in a meeting." Darn those meetings--they must be 24/7.

Now the gatekeeper is not some snippy assistant--it's a computer. You may get a bounceback--thanks for applying.

Then silence.


Or you spend hours putting in urls, writing essay responses, and oops--it freezes--try again later.

Liz Ryan,, writes about this.

If a commercial site did this, you would can it. But the job sites know you will try again.

You could try writing directly--yes, on paper--to the hiring manager. Stay with me. A paper letter may sound like ancient history to you--but the other day, I got a response from a production company saying it was "stylish." They did not buy my script--but they noticed it.

How do you know who the hiring manager is? Try Linked In. Ask someone. Read news stories on the company--see who's mentioned.

And don't send the usual blah-blah--cover letter, res...Say something original. Maybe something like--I have used your product for years and would love to work for you. I told a producer I had watched every one of a certain show--and got a response. Again, I did not sell the script--but we had a pleasant exchange.

Your letter should describe how you would alleviate the manager's pain somehow. THINK!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Choosing a new career

I ran a mission at my church in DC--to help people find work. We told youngsters coming in that they would have seven careers--not just jobs--but careers.

This the expression, "Can't hold a career?" Well, maybe you can't or don't want to.

Liz Ryan, job guru, writes in Forbes: Twenty years ago, people ended up in a higher level version of the job they got after high school.

No more.

Some companies are "scaredy cats," she says--they demand industry experience and thus limit their field of candidates.

Career paths ooze and flow around now, she says. You may be burned out, there may not be any jobs---time for a new career.

In business, careers have many things in common. If hiring managers can't see that, then well, she says, basically, the heck with them.

As you come into a new area, see how your old ways of solving that company's "pain" can transfer to the new area.

Sit down and write about the times you had the most satisfaction at work, got the most praise, did the most... These are what she calls your Dragon Slaying Stories.

Read tons of ads--ask yourself--would I enjoy this?

When I was a freelance writer, I used to see jobs writing proposals--I could have done it but did not want to. Or grants--did not attract me. I even qualified as a govt contractor but decided I hated it.

Then try to get to hiring people directly--and keep your Linked In profile broad.

Sound impossible? It's not. And remember, you have have six more careers to go!

Friday, January 16, 2015

The long-distance phone interview

Rachel Zupek Farrell, CareerBuilder, says many companies will not pay you to travel to their site, even though they may be seriously interested in you.

She quotes Sari de la Motte, author of A Firm Handshake, about trying to make a good impression long distance.

The key is ability to communicate. Face to face gives you so many more dimensions. On the phone--you have voice alone.

But--remember--companies want the best people and those people may not live next door.

The biggest mistake you can make as an applicant is to think this contact is less important because it's not face to face. This makes some people slough it off--maybe even interviewing in the bathtub.

Instead, dress well, it will make you feel professional. Find a quiet place.

Prepare to discuss why you are moving to the new location--or would want to. Know something about the area.

Try to put a photo of the interviewer near the screen--this makes it real. (Check LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.)

Keep your resume and cover letter in view for reference.

AND--always ask what the next step is. Ask how well your qualifications matched the need.

Say something like, "This has been a pleasure. I hope to meet you in person. So, I will hear something by next Tuesday? I am really interested in this position."

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Tips for your Kickstarter campaign

You know what a Lean Startup is? You get a cheap, early prototype of your product, see what real consumers think and then proceed to get more funding.

But what new products tend to attract Kickstarter funding?

New Markets adviser David Forbes has some ideas.

Your innovation should not be completely new--it should build off the familiar. For instance, the most successful Kickstarter product was a fancy new cooler--compelte with speakers, blender and other party accessories. People knew what a cooler was--and this was useful to them.

People like products that spare them pain or frustration, so long as these are not too expensive, bulky or hard to use themselves. A devide to inject insulin was too huge to put in a pocket.

You should also try to respond to clusters of trends/ Gamification combined with fitness, fitness on the phone.

I watch Shark Tank almost every night. They always want proof of concept--how many sold in how long, what is the cost of acquiring a customer. By the time people get to Shark Tank, they have done the expensive and taxing job of acquiring patents, finding a manufacturer, getting packaging designed and so on. Even then, they may not be a good bet.

You have to throw yourself into it, but also be sure your idea is filling a recurring need--you don't want people to buy just one.