Friday, July 31, 2015

Six things savvy 20-somethings should do this summer

I like your shoes.
Samantha Sharf,, keeps an eye on the younger crowd. She says younger people still think of summer as play time and September as get-serious time (hey, I do, too).

Starting now, she says, young people need to track their spending. They may spend a lot in summer--weddings, eating out. If you have been overdoing it, cut back ASAP.

Boosting retirement savings is also a good move. Try to ramp up to 12-15% in the IRA or 401(k).

Ask for a raise or plan to. Make this about a year from the last time you asked.

Look at your housing situation. Most people move between May and September--your lease may be about up.  If you need more, see if you can afford more--be realistic--remember, you may say you won't eat out, but you will sometimes.

Check on student loans. If you graduated in May--you will be starting to pay back those loans about now. No one will hold your hand. See what you are looking at. Didn't get a headsup from the lender--no excuse--you still need to pay, so look into it.

Prepare for next summer. Look up travel deals far in advance.  Watch the eating out budget, too.

Easy-peasy? Nah. It's that stupid grownup thing.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

New job--same company

Debra Auerbach, CareerBuilder, writes about how to score a new job at your company.

If you find out about a new job opening or being created, there is no reason you should not apply, but you need to follow some guidelines and be respectful of your current manager and teammates.

First, be sure you are qualified and not just bored. Be sure you don't have to be in your job a certain amount of time before switching and also be sure you have no disciplinary actions against you.

You have an advantage over an external candidate because you know the company and can gauge what your role would be. Check out the other teammates--maybe take them to lunch.

You may be nervous about telling your present boss, but your company may have a rule on this or you may want to anyway. The new chief will ask your present boss about you. Tell your present boss this is a career advancement opportunity for you. Offer to be onboard for a certain period.

To actually apply, have a formal resume, tailored to the new opportunity. Don't cut corners. This is a big step.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Two "fun" nerd gifts

Julie Huffman and Jenavieve Brown run ShopGibberish--they are mother and daughter. Julie teaches HS chemistry Her daughter is about to enter college.

I gather they are sciency.

One of their creations is called Periodic Thoughts ($10.99). It's 30 bound postcards you can tear out and send--with sayings on them written partly in abreviations from the periodic table. The accompanying drawings are witty and somewhat dark...It's hard to describe.

The Nerd Journal ($12.99) is hardbound, very nice quality, celebrating (their words) "all-out geekery." Besides your own Sheldon Cooper-like observations, it contains hundreds of random science facts and jokes.

Since you would never know what to get someone who would like these--how about getting these? Check Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or most good book sites.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

You have the pow-ah!

How did the most powerful people in your organization get that way, asks Art Petty in Government Executive, June 16, 2015.

They got stuff done and engaged the skills and energy of others to do it.

No backs stabbed--just that.

First, they aligned their priorities with those of the bosses. If they didn't know the bosses' goals, they asked.

They connected their networks to bring into play the best people they knew. You can't stay within your silo--you need to spread.

If there are things that need to be done between set silos or depts, try to do those.

Look for opportunities to jump in.

Shine the spotlight on others when you can.

This is the light side of power--not the dark side.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Setting your own hours can make you work more

Some companies let you pick your start and stop times and whether you work at home or the office.

Obviously in some jobs--such as restaurants--you can't work at home.

But employers get plenty of benefits from flexible work schedules, writes Max Nisen, Government Executive, July 20, 2015.

People with full control over their schedules work the equivalent of nearly a full workday beyond what's in their contracts.

Firms with set hours don't usually work beyond their contract amount and companies don't want them to--overtime,

Why do people overdo it?  Seniority, job satisfaction, perceptions about security , pay level--some reasons.

But simply having freedom over hours plays a big part. Workers may want to "pay back" their employers trust. Or the desire to excel that comes from within. Some people also enjoy what they do.

Will this be taken advantage of? Probably...Let's see as time goes on, pun intended.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Things workers wish they could tell the boss

Jeff Haden, Government Executive Magazine,  says most employees don't share their real opinions with the boss.

He says many times workers WANT to say...

"You say you respect me--so give me something important to do." Assign important tasks as often as you can.

"Let me decide the best way to do it."  Not jumping in and providing a lot of opinions also shows respect.

"Please don't tell me all about your personal life." Employees really may not care about your wonderful vacation and have to fake it.

"And don't ask me personal questions." Asking me how the kids are comes off as false.

"Can't you see I am really busy?" Never interrupt work just to check in. If you do stop by, try to pitch in.

"I would like to work here a long time." Not all employees want to jump around. Most won't job hunt unless the boss gives them reason to.

"A paycheck is not a thank you." A paycheck is a given. Workers appreciate a boss who finds some accomplishment to recognize and praise.

We're all human here. We like to be treated with respect...When workers don't say these things, they think they are respecting the boss. But if you are the boss, you should know they may want to speak up.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sex and violence may not sell

The American Psychological Assn did a study that seemed to show that commercials in explicit or violent programs pulled best if the ads were G-rated.

Some researchers at Ohio State went over 53 studies done in 2014, comprising more than 8,000 participants. They looked at brand memory, brand attitudes and buying intentions related to ads.

Brands advertised during violent shows were remembered less often and regarded less favorably.

Sexual content was less meaningful in this respect. Ads in shows with sexual overtones were viewed less foavrbaly. but brand memory and intention to buy were less affected.

As for the ads themselves, they found a few studies where violent ads in a violent show were more memorable and incited more intention to buy.

As sexual content increased, viewers' memories decreased.

They concluded that sex and violence do attract attention, but people may pay more attention to that in the shows and ads than in the products advertised.

Dunno--I prefer ads where things look delicious and are not blowing up.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Management lessons taken from fighting forest fires

I heard this morning that even the soggy states of the Upper Northwest are getting dry and fires are popping up.

Johns Hopkins researchers published a story in the J of Contingencies and Crisis Management on how fire fighting can build competent managers.

Kathleen Sutcliffe, the lead investigator, describes the process this way.

First, frontline workers in dynamic, unpredictable circumstances, must constantly assess conditions and look for anomalies. These are little shifts and blips signaling trouble ahead.

Leaders of the group must help workers hang onto these details and make sense of them.

In a stable situation, getting information is a challenge. In a complex, uncertain one--too much information is the problem. And it's ambiguous.

What they are talking about is a group of people "constructing" the meaning of a situation.

Say a frontline fire fighter saw smoke in the distance. If he said nothing, it did not enter the process. If he does mention it, it requires a response from the boss and other members of the organization--and it could be another fire that would have taken over the first crew.

Another example of an anomoly was the O-rings on the ill-fated Challenger, No one broke the momentum of the flight by getting into it.

In crises, errors are not so much mistakes in execution as they are errors in perception, in evaluating.

One fire fighter told the researchers that as experienced as he was with large fires, he came to each one thinking he knew nothing about it. He built up his knowledge.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Digital debris becoming a problem

Remember the paperless office. Hah! You may not have an address book anymore--and store all your numbers in your phone, but there is plenty of mess associated with electronics.

A Baylor design expert says there is still clutter up the USB port!

How about Amazon's "dash buttons"? These are wireless and stick around everyplace. You press, Amazone sends.

Tangled cords and printer paper! Don't even.

Digital art. You can put this stuff up everyplace if you feel like it.

A new DVR is coming out with storage for three years of shows. They call this Techno Hoarding.

There is a crockpot controlled by your phone,

Even cheap storage bins are clutter--and they are supposed to prevent clutter.

One guy said we  need removable baseboards to hide the cords. What if you forget to replace them? More clutter!

Techno Hoarding--I like that.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Don't brand yourself as a boring zombie

This would be a don't.
Liz Ryan,, says never take advice to be one of the crowd when applying for a job. Don't try to blend in, keep low.

Let would-be employers see your humor, your brain working, your personality.

Don't use robot language--I am results-oriented, I can work with people on all levels. Snore.

If you have jumped around a few jobs or even a few fields--say it--but end up saying, I finally found my niche...and I can save money for your company like I did at Blah Blah Corp, where my improved manufacturing process saved a million a year...etc..

Sure, you can overdo the eccentric and alarm some semi-zombie like HR people. So keep it under control.

I once hired a woman who told me she had had lunch with Mick Jagger--don't even ASK how we got there!

She lasted 20 yrs--though, alas, Mick never turned up.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Is work making you gain weight?

Work is sedentary. Work is stressful. So is your job making you chubby?

Yeah, probably--isn't everything?

Deanna Hartley, CareerBuilder, writes that 6 out of 10 US workers think they are overweight--and last year, this was only 55%.

Research shows that those who think they have high levels of stress are 49% more like to call themselves overweight.

But what do workers think causes this?

--Sitting at the desk most of the day (56% said this)
--Too tired from work to exercise (43%)
--Eating from stress (37%)
--Welness not a priority

The health of a company's workforce, studies show, affects morale and productivity. Desk taties are often slow and depressed.

Obvious ways to keep weight off--

--Snack and eat out less (what about those doughnuts companies provide?)

--Exercise more (groan)

--Take advantage of wellness benefits offered

--Leave your desk for lunch.

Maybe even a walk as part of lunch hour?

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Some thoughts for the day

I used to put a new message on my answering machine every day--along with a thought. I don't do it anymore--but sometimes people said they called just to hear the thought and when I answered, they were disappointed. Maybe that is why I don't do it anymore.

Anyhow, I ran across a collection of fun thoughts on creativity gathered by Madanmohan Rao. He got these from a conference of the Mosaic Summer School on Creativity and Management in Barcelona.

Nourish the crazy ideas because the good ones hide inside them. Roger Parent

A startup is a faith-based enterprise. Yves Pigneur

The only thing I know to do as an artist is to be honest and brave. Erykah Badu

Mobilization of people is harder than just asking them for ideas. Valerie Chanal

Creativity is about plagiarism. Plagiarism all the time, that is the only way things develop. John Armitage

Co-creation sounds super--but is a mess to organize. Charles-Matthieu Brunelle

Even younger companies are failing because they don't innovate enough. Jordi Serrano

And my favorite:

Wake up and dream. Richard Speer

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Can you be full-time parent and full-time worker?

CareerBuilder recently did a survey on "having it all."

Can you?

Seventy-eight percent of working mons and 83% of working dads said--yes!

BUT--only half of working moms said they were equally successful at both. Thirty-four percent said they were more successful as Moms, 32% of dads said they were as dads.

One marker of success, of course, is providing for the family About 80% of both genders said this was paramount.

Still, the sole breadwinner is gaining again, with 39% of moms and 43% of dads say they bring home the bacon.

Women spend more time with their families than men, though. Fifty-seven percent of women spend 4 hrs or more with the kids each day--35% of dads do the same. Still women are twice as likely as men to say working has affected their relationship with the kids.

On a side note, 69% of employers think being a parent provides useful working skills--patience, multitasking, and time mgmt.

Even though parenting is considered marketable, though only one in 10 applicants include it on their resume.

I am not sure how I feel about doing that...

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Making friends at work

On CareerBuiilder, they talk about the ins and outs of making friends at work. A quarter of respondents in one study done by Office Team said friendly workers are the number one reason they liked their job (the money, too, of course).

You spend a lot of quality waking time at work--that is a lot of interaction. One in three adults, another survey said, made their best friend at work.

Work friends boost productivity, keep each other from burnout, and when workers get along, managers like it.

How an you do this without running into trouble?

--Make sure you work more than chitchat. But when you can, ask more personal things--learn about the person's family and interests.

--Offer to help a stressed colleague.

--Meet outside of work, carpool, or include colleagues in social plans.

But such friendships can also have a problematic side.

--Watch out for frenemies. These people "forget" to invite you to things, are competitive, backstab.

--Gossipers can make poor work friends. Share big news only with the closest of friends.

--Cliques--Don't form them.

--And if some colleagues are "too friendly," dial it back.

I used to be a boss--and my problem was being too egalitarian--meeting with my assistants outside work--this led to issues.

Monday, July 13, 2015

How to make it between jobs

Everyone gets fired or laid off sometime. Good for the character.

But this does not stop the anxiety, says Jaclynn Knecht, writing on Career Contessa.

But even if you saw it coming or the job was supposed to be temporary, this can be a shock.

So how do you pull it together and go forward?

--First, create a daily routine--do not sleep in. Set the alarm, check email, maybe go to the gym,. shower, suit up and work on your job search.

--Cut all unnecessary spending--now.Even if you have the recommended six months in the bank, you are now on a fixed income.

--Budget necessities, rent, car, insurance, phone, utilities, etc. Then forget the $5 coffees and meals out. You can even cook. (I know, right?)

--Don't close off from fun and friends. Go out if they ask--someone may buy you a glass of wine or two--or drink water.

Remember--this will pass. You may have a different problem next, but this one will pass.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Your job--what's great about it?

Susan Ricker, CareerBuilder, writes about how to find appreciation in the workplace.

Sometimes a career change is not practical--but an attitude change might be.

She quotes Eric Mosley and Derek Irvine, authors of The Power of Thanks. They differentiate between appreciation and gratitude.

Appreciation is a little  more detached--recognizing the value of the work in the abstract.

Gratitude is more personal--appreciating what YOU did.

Start by showing both to others.

These confer meaning to actions. In turn, the workplace becomes a meaningful place.

Look at Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs--the foremost needs are for food and shelter. Then come the psychological needs--for a sense of safety, social contact, self-esteem, recognition and status. The highest need is self-actualization.

The workplace can provide all of these. You have to think about it and decide which are most important to you--you may already be getting those.

But a big one is appreciation--companies and managers that provide that keep people.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

How to say NO

A long-time associate asked me to look over a guy's screenplay--it was not even a screenplay--it was a hastily glommed together shot list. And THEN I found out my friend was not even shooting it--someone else was...I was already backing out, but I was not happy.

Robin Reshwan, U.S, News, writes about how to er...decline things.

--First make sure you understand what you are declining. I really didn't.

--Next, consider the stakeholders. The role of most companies is to make money. This means solving problems,. Every employee has to be into this. See who would be most affected by the request--and by the refusal. Try to start with "yes," but if you are busy, say that, see what the actual deadline is.

--If you are not "it," meaning the proper person to ask, try to offer up the right person.

I am not doing the latter in my case...but my friend did...and the right person was me.

See how this works?

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Want to transform your workplace culture?

No question that offices have a culture--some are lively and boistrous, others library-quiet, still others have bars on premises or video games. Some allow jeans and t-shirts, others are still going with the suit and tie thing.

Writing in Northwestern Mutual Insights & Ideas,  Jo Eisenhart, svp of human resources at the company, talks about a survey by Strategy& that showed than half of the companies surveyed wanted to change their culture.

Northwestern apparently thought it was OK culture-wise, but an employee survey was not as positive as they thought.

They took a look at their whole culture--how could they make employees feel more respected and valued?

Now--they focus on breaking down bureaucracy, eliminating unnecessary work, and encouraging innovation.

Three things to look at--and to look at changing.

--Artifacts. Things that are visible from the outside--the logo, mission statement, workspace design, breakroom amenities, and even dress code.

--Espoused values. These are the organization's beliefs, morals, ideals, and values. This can include community or social responsibility, dedication to work-life balance, that sort of thing. What organizations the company is aligned with can also show this.

--Shared basic assumptions. These are the taken-for-granted behaviors. Say the boss says he wants something "soon," in your company you know what that means. It could be a month or in a startup, a week.

Interesting way to look at things. Where are Pizza Friday and the Christmas party?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Physics that affects mileage

I know, I know--physics. Big Bang Theory stuff. But it can help you improve your car mileage. The Argonne National Lab says so.

Vapor pressure. In summer, gas companies produce a blend with lower vapor pressure--less likely to evaporate in the heat. This reformulated gas (fewer short chain molecules) gets you slightly better mileage. But costs a little more.

Friction. The faster you go, the more gas you'll need to move the same distance. Steady at 80 uses eight times the power of steady at 40.

Drag coefficient. Basically this means ho easily air flows around the car. You want as little frontal surface as possible. So an aerodynamic front--as opposed to a boxier make--means less gas.

Momentum. Cars. Whether an 1,800 pound Smart Car or a 5,000 lb SUV, cars have a huge amount of mass. Once a car gets going, you can use momentum to cut gas usage. Savvy drivers don't jam on the gas when a light is changing--they let momentum carry them to a stop.

Rolling resistance. Most of your speed is to counteract friction. The tires are where that happens. Hard tires would be less friction, but would also have less braking force. You have some power over resistance by inflating or deflating your tires. Themanufacturer has balanced performance, efficiency and ride handling--so follow the tire instructions.

Temperature. A/C is a power guzzler. Some people turn the air off a minute when making an acceleration turn.

So...Jackrabbit starts and stops and enormous speeds on the highway--good way to burn a lot of gas.

Science, people!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Is your e-reader beach ready?

They talk about "beach" books--but what if you use an electronic reader?

Sun, sand, surf--not so hot for electronics.

If you have a full-blown touchscreen (you can watch a movie), Hayley Tsukayama, Wash Post, July 3, 2015, then you need to protect it.

--Look for cases similar to the shock-proof, water-resistant ones for cellphones.
--Two layers: an inner shell and an outer layer of say, foam.

If you plan to read on a raft in the pool or a boat, you must get a water-resistant case. Be sure the charging ports are covered. Electrical tape over the ports also works--and is cheap.

Another lifehack is to use a clear, airtight plastic bag. This is best with readers that have physical buttons or use e-ink tech rather than a full-color touchscreen.

Test your case before you leave for the beach--put a piece of paper in, seal it, dunk it.

Sun can still harm your device, though. Overheating is bad for all electronics. Keep your reader in the shade--even under a dry towel helps. Or in a separate dry cooler.

Put your device in its case before you leave for the beach.

If the device does get dunked, don't use a hair dryer--let it air dry or sit overnight in rice or kitty litter.

Wait as long as you can before you power it up. If it comes on, you are probably OK.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Why you may not have been promoted

Many companies do promote from within the ranks. This gives the higher-ups a long time to know you and notice things. So job performance may not be the only reason you did or did not get promoted.

At very least, long sleeves.

Debra Auerbach writes about this on CareerBuilder.

She says it can be little things that stand in your way, too.

Employers say it can be appearance.

--Provocative attire--44% said
--Wrinkled or shabby appearance--40%
--Piercings besides ears--32%
--Too casual attire--27%
--Visible tatts--27%

And sometimes employers are turned off by behavior.

--Negative or pessimistic attitude
--Showing up late a lot
--Using vulgar language
--Regularly leaving early
--Too many sick days

See if any apply--and then correct them if you want to move up.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Oh those heels

Back in the day I walked to work in 3-in heels--now I could not walk to the front door.

Sure, they look fabulous, powerful, sexy, ascendant, but a new study in the Intl Journal of Clinical practice found that heels can strengthen the ankle initially--but lead to weakness and instability over time. (Not to mention bunions and just plain sore feet.)

When you first wear heels, the muscles surrounding the ankle continuously contract to keep you walking. Over time, less contraction is needed--and the muscles weaken.

They studied flight attendants over time. They found the heels altered the gait. Ligament and nerve damage in the ankle could lead to leg and back issues.

But of course, women still want to wear them, silly.

Tricia Turner, associate prof of kiniesiology and athletic training coordinator at Univ of North Carolina Charlotte, investigator on the study, suggests stretching...

-- Pull your foot toward you for 30 seconds.

---Use a theraband to strengthen the muscles in the lower leg and ankle. Resist the ankle pushing up, out, then in.

--For balance, stand on one leg at a time for 30 secs. To make it harder, stand on a pillow.

Or you could get some flats. But if you walk miles in those at first with the tendons shortened from heels--yowie!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Not everyone is ambitious

I know someone who is perfectly content--at least for now--to have a 9 to 5 job (actually 5 PM to 11), and does not want to be a manager, get more training or education, or be a boss.

She has her friends, her music, and is content to take life as it comes.

She gets many compliments from customers at work (Wendy's) and posts them on the wall. She answers the microphone, "Welcome to my Wendy's," with pride. She always has a clean uniform, even starched, and looks great as she heads off to work.

But she does not want a promotion--they did make a new title for her to give her more money. She does not want a franchise or a string of franchises.

Somehow this is suspect--we are trained in this country to think we must go every upward. But the whole working thing is changing...Many people get one assignment, then another. They have more than one job--and may even in some cases welcome the change-up for its variety. Other times, though, they feel overworked.

There are all kinds of workers out there. Just wanted to remind you of that.

And by the way--"flipping burgers" as this work is sometimes disdainfully referred to--is hard work--you maybe could not even do it. I have seen bosses on Undercover Boss who could not do it. One's supervisor said, "You are slow as a little turtle."

So remember all this the next time you grab a Frostie!