Monday, August 31, 2015

Does anyone have game anymore?

Article in Sunday's Washington Post on how agonizing dating is--worse than the gym or apt hunting.

I watch those Bravo singles shows and these youngsters are pathetic--they can't flirt, can't sparkle, can't converse, can even finish dinner. In several episodes of The Singles Project, people met, no lightning bolt, got up from the dinner table and left--in the middle of dinner!

You can't talk to someone for an hour? Ask about their background and interests? Get with it!

And, ladies, finishing dinner does not obligate you to provide any more than good conversation and a nice thank you. Be yourself--even order dessert if you want.

But apparently this mating game thing is pretty grim these days. My daughter is 33 and says no one has ever asked her out to dinner. She has dinner with this hanger-on who turns up here, but she pays. Dunno--her choice and she seems to have fun, so I stay mum.

But even that is not as bad as the Japanese--or some of them. According to a story in the Sept Marie Claire, in Tokyo there are custom-built apts aimed at helping singles snag someone.

These 355-sq ft "Marriage-hunting (konkatsu) mansions" include a bath tub in the living room and a stripper pole.

The ones for men have a chinning bar so the guys can show off their pecs.

Other Japanese konkatsu services include special bars, vacations, and art classes.

I will say this--I never worked the pole to entice anyone. Usually a few laughs keep people coming around.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Does your office have a "shooter" plan?

Isn't it awful to think like that? But I remember writing early in my career on mental health in the office and how people should deal with it (supervisors should step up and direct the employee to the Employee Assistance Plan for counseling or evaluation).

And now, this awful murder of the two news people in Virginia, by a troublesome colleague who had actually been gone from the workplace for a year. Delusions and paranoia know no timetable, I guess.

Matthew Tarpey, CareerBuilder, says 94% of people think their workplace is reasonably protected.

Fires, floods, and similar disasters are low on most people's radar, with 85% saying they feel well protected. Eighty-three say they are not that worried about weather-related threats.

Ditto for digital attacks--70% think their office is well protected.

But only 30% say they feel protected against a man v man incident.

Nearly a fourth of workers say they would have no idea what to do if there were an emergency that posed a physical threat.

--21% said their office has no emergency plan.

--26% say there is no severe weather plan.

--40% says their company has no plan for a physical attack or a technolog security breach.

Should there be a plan? Experts say yes.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Even a light breeze can stop this mail

Not my carrier Anthony--whom I adore.
I know--mail is for dinosaurs. Well, I am one. And I use the mail and it stinks out loud these days.

Lisa Rein, Washington Post, Aug 26, 2015, says letters arriving late have jumped 50% since Jan.

Letters that should have taken three to five days (and THAT is long) took even longer 18-44% of the time.

The USPS has been closing plants--this has now been put on hold.

But before this hold came, the agency warned people that things would take longer--and now it's taking longer still.

They blame the storm and reassignments of workers. Well, the storms are over, though they will be starting again soon.

Checks, medicine, magazines, mail ballots, newspapers, greeting cards, and court documents--in the mail. Oh, and letters. We want all those.

One idea they had was to stop Saturday deliveries...I was against that at first, but now, OK, do it, make this work!

I can mail something to my bank--four blocks--and it takes almost a week. First, it goes downtown...

The other day, I was tracking a package--my stuff was in Puerto Rico. Huh?

People who commented on the Post story said they only get 3/4ths of their magazines. So far, we get our three, but this may not hold.

Another commenter said he would get mail sometimes all torn to heck. I have gotten envelopes in body bags, too.

And those ads--they come. Supposedly they are paying for the rest. Well, let's get the rest on over here on time, too.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

How to ace a work trip

When I was a stripling youth, I used to go on business trips--often to exotic locales, such as San Francisco, Boston, and Hershey, PA.

Jenna Davis, a contributor to Career Contessa, says biz travel may sound like fun, but it can be long days in airless conference rooms, too much alcohol, boring people, and exhausting travel.

On the other hand, it can also be a chance to network, a way to meet new people and possible mates, and a break with the routine.

For one thing, I always took a tour of the city--a tourist bus tour--they are more fun that you would think.

I did my homework ahead of time--as David recommends. Make a short list of things you would like to do or see, restaurants, museums, clubs.

Add a weekend to your business part. This makes it into a mini-vacay, even if you have to pay fror the hotel--the airfare is already paid.

Avoid room service--you may be tired, but go out to eat anyhow.

I read a story (yes, in a chick rag) about a gal who went on Tinder and hooked up in strange cities. Not sure I would recommend this--just stating it. Better to go on Meetup.com and see if there is a jogging group or something.

If you are tied to your supervisor at the meeting--stay businesslike. Don't let open bars encourage you to get too chummy.

Above all, be sure you come home with tangible results of the meeting and exercise discretion on the extracurricular activities.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Don't say these things at work

We get it--you have a lot of work.
Beth Braccio Herring, CareerBuilder, says there are some things you should never say.

"I can't take on more work--I am overwhelmed." Yes, people are working more, doing more with fewer people--but save the drama for your mama.

"Joe is an idiot." Joe probably is an idiot...but he could be your boss in the future. If you know he's an idiot--it probably goes without saying.

"That's not fair." Catch up--nothing is fair. Suckups get promotions even if people know they are sucking up. Hard workers generate hostility for making others look lazy. Just because you have been at a place a long time is no guarantee you will rise to the top. You may be misunderstood--be the injured party--none of this is fair.

"That's not how we did it at my old company." Well, go back there then!

"I'll have it on my desk by 3 PM" when you will only think up a new excuse at 3 PM. If you can't make a deadline, give a heads-up.

"I'm bored." This never ends well. You will get more work or the boss will question why he or she is even paying you.

My mother used to say, "Only boring people get bored." Think about that one.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Quick--what day is it?

It's all the rage these days to ask older people what day of the week it is--to see if you can trip them up.

But according to a story in Medical News Today, plenty of people of all ages get confused.

There is a study (of course). In PLOS ONE.

Researchers found that we embue each day with a special impact on behavior.

Medical appts on Monday are more likely to be missed than those on                                                    Fri.

They asked for word associations...Monday got boring and tired. Friday got freedom and party.

Tues-Wed-Thurs--fewer words, less impact, more easily confused with each other.

Midweek days are spoken less in normal conversation than Monday and Friday.

If there is a holiday on Monday, people felt "behind."

So what? Well, it's Monday and I am tired.

Wait--this is Monday, right?

I like Wednesday--Hump Day. I was born on a Wed. Last week, though, I thought it was Thurs.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Habits that make you look like a child at work

Susan Ricker, CareerBuilder, says a lot of adults lack maturity. Is water wet?
In a study, 77% of those asked had seen childish behavior at work.

A biggie is letting emotions get the best of you, resulting in...

--Whining
--Pouting
--Tattling
--Making a face behind someone's back
--Forming a clique
--Playing a prank
--Starting a rumor
--Storming out
--Throwing a tantrum
--Refusing to share

Other stupid kid tricks: Negativity, vulgar language, gossip, sloppiness.

Some of this lets off steam and is harmless. But bullying, forming a clique, and spreading rumors cross the line.

It's usually best to save the drama for your private life.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Is this what it's like to return to work?

Tarja, Tarja--you'll be OK.
A woman named Tarja Parssinen  left her publishing job years ago  and when she returned to the office environment, she felt like technological roadkill, as she put it.

She said she found a "terrifying jungle of millennials, adapting to the speed of change while still balancing the demands of family."

She felt a stab of panic. She is quite dramatic, this Tarja. She said while she was at home, apes stood up, fire was made, the wheel was invented.

Specifically...

There is no filing, printing or faxing, she says. Remember binders of papers? Gone!  No one can use a fax machine or even knows what one is.

No meetings. It's webinars, she says. You can pretend to listen while checking your phone.

Focus--what's that? She says people do seem to have the 9 secs of attention span attributed to goldfish.

No one talks, she says. Especially on the phone--texting only and sometimes from five feet away. The modern office is silent, she maintains.

And respect? Well, don't expect any of that. If you are in your 40s--you are old!

A slew of commenters told her to put her hair out and not with gasoline. People talk, they go to lunch, they even laugh and tell jokes, and yes, sometimes they fax stuff or call a meeting.

Calm down, Tarja--maybe people hear your big ole dino foot clomping and put on those head phones --but offices are manned by people and people talk--even to moms over 40. As for paperless--check out those desks. They are covered in paper. If there are desks, that is, and not multi-use pods or something.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Are you your own worst enemy?

Shana Lebowitz, Business Insider, says there are things that can hold you back at work. Here are some ways people get in their own way.

Conforming to majority opinion. Studies show people tend to believe the majority, even when the majority is proved wrong. They showed people three lines in one study--asked which was longest. They participants were surrounded by people agreeing that one was longest--and most people agreed. But it wasn't!

Believing negative stereotypes. If you are a minority and believe the stereotypes, which may in come cases play out, it can hold you back--because these stereotypes do not always play out.

Needing to produce flawless work can be a drawback to you. Perfectionists wear themselves out.

If you feel like an imposter or you don't deserve your job, this can come through and others will agree.

Also, if you fear success, you will be operating from fear. Try to figure out how you got this idea. Chances are someone undermined you.

Burying your head in the sand is also self-defeating. If you think you screwed up or your numbers are not great, get it over with--get the truth out there.

Procastination is also a bad trait at work. It is not--did you know this--from laziness? It's from anger and hostility--passive-aggressiveism. They did not appreciate my last project, so they can wait to see this one!

These are all human traits--but we need to be on the lookout.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Are kids overburdened with homework?

Yes! answer some researchers. CNN recently blabbed on this. They cited a study in the Am J of Fam Therapy that showed kids in the early elementary grades are getting three times as much as educators recommend.

The National Education Assn and National Parent-Teacher Assn recommend 10 minutes per grade level per night. This means 10 minutes in first grade, 20 in second, etc. Senior year  in HS--120 minutes--two hours.

Kindergarten--homework not recommended.

To me, 10 mins seems skimpy for kids who can sit and play a video game for an hour or more.

We used to have to do "chapters of this or that" or long worksheets.

We lived. And yes, we DID walk five miles through snow to get to school. Yes, we did.

I was laughing last night at a comedian on TV. He said his dad didn't even know where the school WAS. Mine, either. They never drove us or dropped us off. They said see if there's a bus. My parents were big on our calling people and asking questions to get information.

Now, I guess, the urchins could consult their phones--but find out for yourself!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Back to school is for parents, too

Broward College in Florida has some tips for parents as "real life" begins again.

Get involved. Be a strong presence in the school and in the classroom. Mark your calendars with all important school dates--holidays, PTO, teacher meetings.  Meet the teacher(s). Form a relationship. Some teachers correspond by email now.

Recognize your child's learning needs. As soon as you notice a change in the child's enthusiasm or doing of homework--or anything--ask about it. Hire a tutor if need be.

Discuss the coming routine before school starts. Some kids like to do homework right away, some later after running off energy.

Don't forget breakfast--it helps your child learn. Offer a mini-bagel with cream cheese, low-sugar cereal and fruit, or
whole grain bread and an egg. Get some protein in the tank.

And of course--increase excitement by a special shopping trip for supplies and clothes. Hint: Wait on the supplies until the teacher sends a list. Some teachers are very specific about what they want the kids to have.

This brings back memories.  I remember one supply run that cost this poor single Mom $85! And that was in The Wayback. And, oh, did I hear the words Hello Kitty again and again.

Friday, August 14, 2015

People, people, use common sense on resumes


Just when I say, "It goes without saying," it doesn't go without saying.  From CareerBuilder come some bone-stupid things people have put on their resumes.

--Applicant claimed to be former CEO of the company.

--Fluent in two languages--one of them pig Latin.

--Wrote "whorehouse" instead of warehouse.

--Website linked to a porn site.

--Said "did not like dealing with angry customers" as reason for leaving last job--but this job was customer service.

--Email address was 2poopy4mypants.

--Claimed to be a Nobel Prize winner.

--Claimed to have worked in a jail (was in a jail all right but not working).

--Claimed to be HVAC-certified--but asked what HVAC was.

--Attended a college that didn't exist.

--Applied to be a driver, claimed had 10 years experience, but only had a license for 4 yrs.

--Listed as a reference an employer who had a warrant out on him.

--Job history--three cities--same time period.

So what have we learned? Almost everything is checkable--and sometimes no checking is even needed!

I like the pig Latin claim. retty-pay tupid-say.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The office of the future

I love these stories--so creative. Olga Khazan, Nextgov Magazine, August 11, 2015, says the office of the future will be less Jetsons and more Harry Potter.

Huh?

She is quoting a dude named Ben Waber, co-founder of Humanyze, a new company specializing in human analytics.

Apparently he means the office of the future will look much like the office of the present but with a few magical touches.

Same open spaces, desks--but maybe with an expresso machine that can find a meeting and give everyone a cup--all on its own.

Oh--and the desks may report back to the bosses. Robots will prowl big campuses.

Amazon has a big biosphere in its office--a dome filled with plants. Some "gardens" are indoor green walls--the plants climbing up a wall.

There may be water sounds instead of staticky white noise. Employees will also control temps better.

Desks could expand to become conference tables. An alarm would sound if someone had been sitting too long.

Layouts will allow employees to run into each other--and preumably start babbling creatively.  Zappos calls this collisionable hours.

Technology can also allow scanning of people's calendars to see if all appts are aimed at the bottom line.

The open plan--here to stay, despite studies that show it creates stress. Instead employees can retreat into pods--a chair with a privacy screen.

Other futuristic devices include signaling devices indicating that the employee wanted to be left alone. These did not work... The solution? A space shut off with doors.

Uh-oh--doors. Who knows where those could lead.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Why would anyone quit Google?

Michael Wolfe, entrepreneur, writing on Quora, says the allure of "big" jobs at companies like Google and Facebook are based on faulty assumptions.


One is that if you work hard at school, get the grades, go to a good university, get a really good job, your friends and family will be impressed, and you will live happily ever after.

The higher up the ladder, the happier you will be--another false assumption. If you fall off the ladder, you will be miserable. Yet another.

Parents want this because they want you to be safe. The companies create great work environments to get the best people or what they consider the best people.

After people have been in the working world awhile, they have moved past some of these assumptions--have seen the exceptions everyplace.

Some of these exceptions can be found at "big" companies. So they leave.

--They don't love the politics of a big company.
--They have an idea for their own company.
--They want to pioneer a new technology.
--Family reasons--a spouse's job, a sick parent.
--They want to break out and travel while they are young.
--Or maybe they get a taste of technology and don't love it and want to become something else.

But if you bought into the false assumptions--leaving a big company can throw you into an identity crisis. It can cause problems with family members--you want to become a WHAT? They may also question their decision-making--this company was supposed to be perfect.

Or maybe because of the false assumptions, they don't leave. They become mired in inertia, doubt, desperation.

There is no "best." Only "best for you."

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Cheap thrills v real perks

Don't be a chump. You may be looking at a company with an array of amenities--free lunch Friday, yoga, a beer fridge, organic fruit, a soft-serve machine--but these freebs can have a dark side. This according to J. Maureen Henderson, Forbes.com.

Let's face it--these frills cost less than a solid retirement matching plan, a good health plan, tuition, and so on.

These frills make work fun! Even a  lifestyle choice. You know how we love those.

But remember the old adage--there is no such thing as a free lunch.

You will pay one way or the other. So wise up.

I remember when I had a "real job." The guys in the mailroom would wrap your parcels for you. I loved that perk. Then, though, we got other more adult things, too. Wish I had not cashed in that retirement.

But--I did get a catered party with a bartender when I left...

Monday, August 10, 2015

Uh-oh--what's up with Hispanic workers?

By 2020, says Glenn Llopis, Forbes.com, 74% of the work force will be Hispanic (source: Selig Center for Econ Growth)

This could be worrisome because other stats show Hispanic professionals in the first 10 years of their caeeers are only working at 40% of full potential.

A lot of this, Llopis says, is because non-Hispanic supervisors don't understand the realities Hispanics face each day.

Feeling their unique perspective is not valued enough, apparently many Hispanics fail to fully engage.  According to this, 81% of Hispanics feel                                                this way.

This can hit hard with major companies--who depend on Hispanic consumers to grow.

Ninety-two of Hispanics in one study did not gravitate toward their non-Hispanic supervisors, finding them self-absorbed, judgmental and disrespectful.

Hispanics often battle between assimilation and wanting to preserve their cultural norms.

To keep these workers, and through them, to acquire more Hispanic customers, companies must increase awareness and appreciation of cultural differences,  The time is now to get ready for the cultural shift--Hispanics will be a third of the population in 2050.

Out here in AZ, they may already be in the majority. I think language--though not mentioned here-- is a big sticking point.

I also don't think our so-called pols are helping with their dismissive or downright rude remarks about Hispanics.

AND--when I got my house painted, the crew hailed from South American countries--and worked hard from dawn to dusk--none of this 40% of effort stuff.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Take hope, grads

Susan Ricker, CareerBuilder, says the outlook of getting a job is the best it's been since 2007. Sixty-five percent of employers are hiring (last yr this was 57%).

Try to highlight the qualities you have that are in demand. Demand areas are:

Business and technical
Computer and info sciences
Engineering
Math and statistics
Health pros and clinical sciences
Communications and journalism
Liberal arts and sciences
Science tch
Education

Try to link your background to one of these. Need more short-term training? Get it.

Network on- and off-line. Before this, though, edit all your social network venues to be sure you look professional.

You may meet people at the gym. Join professional societies in your strongest area--go to meetings.

Back in the in the day, we used to go to chamber of commerce mixers where you can chat with business owners.

Be creative.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Tidbits on how to be the winning bid

I had my house's exterior painted--kind of needed it after 35 yrs.

I used Yelp and personal recommendations from friends to find a contractor. I go into conniptions trying to get work done around here--the weirdest sorts try to play me and rip me off, up charge (uh, ma'am, this is a bigger job than I thought), and overpromise and under deliver.

The first bidder was a very expensively dressed and groomed middle-aged guy with great Yelp pictures and recommendations. He seemed to regard little old me with contempt. Stalked around the house, said do you want this painted, no?, this? yes. He did not send the bid that day and when I called he said he had more important bids to do...So obviously he did not want this job--and his bid, when I got it, was a thousand above the others. In his bid, he listed all the things he would NOT paint for the money.

The second was a friend of a friend...Very handsome gentleman, big smile, eye contact, sent his bid that day...but it was about 25 words long---Powerwashing, primer, paint, etc. He was the low bidder of the three even being considered--the first guy was out. He also said he could do it the next day--whoa, whoa--no other clients?

The third was a woman, and I so wanted her to be the one. She was exotic for Arizona, interesting. She bid a little above the low bidder--but then the "service" that recommended her upped her by $400--wait a second, she said this amount! The guy at the so-called service said no she didn't. Well , that was enough for me--no way on her. She offered to do it for the original amount, but I was not happy.

The fourth was a guy who also had wonderful Yelp pix and recommendations. He came over immediately. He chatted pleasantly, asked me about items on my desk (seemed observant and detail conscious). He also went into a lot of detail on the anti-chalking coating and then on the type of primer. He used the second from most expensive Dunn Edwards paint. His bid was about $400 more than the lowest, and he asked for half on deposit, but I chose him.

It turned out great! The company owner stayed in touch with me and with his crew. He came by 2-3 times a day to check in. They worked 11-12 hours a day, steadily--they did not loaf when he left. They did everything with precision. The company owner never patronized me--in fact, he did some other little chores he saw when he was over here.

So what is the moral? The lowest bid is not always the best deal. And don't go by tattoos--not a good indicator of painting ability.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Focus, people!

Scott Eblin, Government Executive Magazine, Aug 3, 2015, says one of the lowest rated behaviors of even well thought of leaders is "gives others full presence and attn during meetings or conversations."

The phones are a distraction--what you just saw on the phone can also be.

Suggestions:

--Put the smartphone in the desk during meetings.

--Turn off the computer screen if someone is your office.

--If you are talking to someone and someone sticks their head in, ask them to come back later.

--Set a time to call busy people.

A man who tried this said he felt like a better person. He saw his earlier distraction as lack of respect.

He even found this patience and these habits benefited him in his personal life.

You can ease into this--leave the phone behind for one meeting a week, then work up.

You can do it! You own it--don't reverse that.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Job sharing--remember that?

People share their cars now (Uber), houses (Airbnb), so why not jobs? This is now the sharing economy.

According to the Dept of Labor, says Susan Ricker, CareerBuilder, job sharing means two or more workers share the duties of one full-time job, or two workers have unrelated part-time assignments in the same budget line.

The identities of the sharers often morph and fuse.

Allowing some workers to do this increases productivity and morale. A mother who needs to be off to get the kids from school works mornings, etc.  Or one works certain days, the other the rest. You get the idea.

You need to find a compatible work partner. This is really up to the people, not necessarily the employer. Map out how it would work.

At least start the conversation--it might take some salesmanship. Employers worry about what if one partner is working on something and there is a question about that project while he or she is not on duty.

These things can be worked out. Share the explaining.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Crazy stuff people do to get hired

There is crazy good--and just crazy crazy. Many people don't know the difference and this can cost you a job.

Being a "little out there" can differentiate you from other candidates, but this needs to be done with precision or you will come off as a stalker or someone will throw a net over you.

Amy McDonnell, CareerBuilder, collected some things people have done.

--Found out where the hiring manager was having dinner and paid the tab.

--Lit a corner of the resume on fire to show a burning desire.

--Had a cake delivered saying, Congratulations, You Hired So-and So.

--Tried to impress with a history of the company--but had the facts wrong.

--Had her resume gift-wrapped.

--Sent the hiring manager a coupon for a free meal.

Some hiring managers seem to think some of this is clever, others are irritated.

Don't confused pestering with persistence, McDonnell says. Maybe one followup call...

Try to know the hiring manager--if they are completely turned off, this may not be the place for you anyway.

A handwritten thank you can be enough to impress.

What you are really selling is you, your background, your qualifications--bribes and puppets won't help there.