Friday, October 30, 2015

I believe in jinxes--what about you?

Do you think those "old wives" knew a thing or two? Research done by Queendom, a research company, looked at 14,958 people's beliefs in the paranormal.

People are superstitious!

STEP ON A CRACK. Will doing this really result in injury to your mother? Thirty-nine percent of Jews and 25% of women avoid cracks. Twenty-five percent of young people also step over cracks, while by age 40, this is 19%.

BLACK CATS. Asians tend to be the most leery at 34%, Caucasians the least at 25%. More women than men shy away from these felines.

NUMBER 13. Strongest among Asians at 33%, lowest among whites and blacks at 26%. More women than men.

OPENING AN UMBRELLA INDOORS. Strongest among Native Ams at 37%, lowest among Asians at 23%. Twice as many women as men.

SPILLED SALT. Native Ams most likely to counter it with a pinch over the right shoulder. Lowest among Asians. More women than men.

BROKEN MIRROR. Bad luck to a third surveyed. Jews and Native Ams highest at 36%, Middle Easterners lowest at 25%.

JINXES. Half of those surveyed avoid discussing a future event. Highest among Native Ams at 61%, lowest among Asians at 54%. Women over men.

Looks like women buy into a lot of this more than men.

To me  this is an interesting seasoning to life--not rational maybe, but entertaining--and shared. Hope typing about it doesn't jinx me. Or that last sentence.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Learn French in a week? Mais no

Just kidding--I don't know any French. But remember back at CareerBuilder, where some staffers were trying weeklong enrichment or change of routine exercises, well, one guy did a week of French lessons.

His name is Greg Miller and he had tried before to learn from French from YouTube before he and his wife went to Paris--this was another stab. The company had also offered free Rosetta Stone, so he went for it. Bust.

Then he tried an app call Duolingo, recommended by an Uber driver. It was supportive--telling him 20 mins a day was insanely generous and he would be fluent in no time.

In no time, the app said he was 8% fluent and offered to post this milestone on Linked In for him.

But, despite the overeager app, he felt his time was being wasted.

Could be learning a language takes real work. Quel irritating.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Wow--smart sixth grader

Not Mira--another lunch eater.
Frida Garza, Nextgov, Oct 26, 2015, writes about a New York 11-year-old who is selling secure passwords for $2 each.

Her name is Mira Modi and she crafts individual words and sends them to you in the mail.

She uses something called "diceware." She rolls a six-sided die five times to generate a list of numbers, which are then matched to a list of short, simple English words. She does this a few times. A string may be: alger gene curry blond, puck horse.

She also recommends when you get it, you add caps and symbols, although she says she can't remember them all.

This already sounds kind of hard to me. But I am a dope. These youngsters are already gobbling our lunch.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Come on with the job titles

Cat in the Hat? Kinda on the nose?
In the Wayback, I used to name things--lipstick colors, cars, banks--for a naming company in NY. I love naming. But when I read articles such as one by Sam Slaughter in Forbes, I kind of quivver.

He said he was in San Francisco and at a conference on corporate communications was a gal who said her job was "corporate storyteller." Another was a "story strategist." The third was a "futurist." (That one has been around awhile.)

Slaughter is VP for content at Contently (a name I don't love, it stops the eye and not in a good way).

He also met "customer happiness managers."

A receptionist was "head of office experience."

Influencers, trend strategists, transmedia producers, media entrepreneurs, brand architects.

Eeek.

One woman at Noble Experiment NYC, a Brooklyn-based rum company, was "Thing 2."

Cat in the Hat, anyone?

For that matter, how is rum a noble experiment--it's been around a few centuries.

But that's me--disgruntled former namer.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Third of British cos offer no workplace experience

Writing on Forbes.com, contributor Nick Morrison says eight of 10 employers in Britain think workplace experience is the best way to teach people to join the workforce, but only a third provide internships or work-study programs.

Young employees need to get in the groove, learn to show up, follow instructions, dress appropriately, communicate, and so on.

A survey of 3,000 businesses--in Britain--showed that compannies think this is great, but don't go out of their way to provide it.

In the UK, such placements used to be a part of school, now they are not. The work-school link has been broken.

What about here in the US?

I have long thought the links developing between businesses and community colleges to provide special training should be encouraged.

My own kid was in work-study program in high school. She loved it, but it also had some negative aspects, such as the promised after school job not coming through.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Bullies are ever with us

Remember the kid who growled at you and demanded your lunch money? Well, these days that bully maybe a teen girl who posts on Facebook that you are a slut.

There is a film called "Bully," which is being used to educate teachers, notably at Texas Tech.

To learn, say educational experts, kids must feel safe and supported. Teachers have to be more than good at their subjects--they have to be effective classroom managers.

Bullying is characterized by aggression, or intent to harm, repetition, and a difference in power between the bully and the target.

Many forms of bullying abound these days:

--Corn dogging--kneeing a kid in the tailbone (painful)

--Boys snapping bras

--Or What Are Those? Sneering at a student not wearing a brand name and yelling "What are those?"

--Internet harassing or shaming.

Most likely to be bullied are kids with less power, meaning awkward, poor, sexual minority, ethnic...etc.

And who are the bullies? Kids who are well liked but manipulators, for one. They fool the teachers with their sparkly personalities. And of course, there are just the mean kids, too.

The film and the workshops are to give teachers a heads up.

And you parents? Do you get it? We don't want these kids to be miserable or even kill themselves--nor do we want them intimidating others.

If your kid does not want to go to school or is depressed and you suspect bullying, you need to drill into it--talk about it.

If your kid is accused of being a bully--above all, don't brush it off with "Boys will be boys." Or: "Kids--they will work it out."

Sometimes they don't.

My daughter was bullied in middle school--she was in a tight clique of girls and one day they gave her a written letter saying she was out, they did not want to be friends with her anymore.

She was crushed. I never found out until years later.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Have you complimented someone today?

According to Olivia Goldhill, Government Executive Magazine, Oct 19, 2015, a Harvard Business School working paper found that praise from friends, family, and colleagues gets people to perform at their best.

These people are more resilient to stress, more resistant to disease and burnout, more creative, and perform better under pressure--as well as being more likely to form a bond with the employer and stay.

Seems kind of obvious, right? Yet, how often do you get or give praise?

They did a study--123 participants were given notes from someone they had a close relationship with. Some were positive (You are a wonderful role model).

Sure enough, those who got nice notes performed better in a mock interview.

To me, this is one for The Big Book of Duh. I sure know the opposite effect--sometimes when I tell friends or even my own kid about my latest cartoon project, they just say it's stupid.

Amazingly it takes effort to shake that off and go forward.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Teens who move may not graduate

Not sure what to make of this, but a new study from the Brown School at Washington Univ in St. Louis finds that students who experience at least one move over a 12-month period have a 50% less chance of obtaining a HS diploma by age 25.

It doesn't matter if they move to a poorer or more affluent neighborhood.

This was determined as part of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a national stud that followed kides from 7th to 12th grade in the mid-1990s.

The theory is that kids depend more on informal supports--friends, associates, shared experiences--than on the actual institution.

I guess knowing this is helpful in assisting kids who do move adjust, fit in, scope it out, and get with the program quickly and solidly.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Don't veterans have enough problems?

Remember all the stories we have now forgotten on how America's veterans wait months or years to get treatment--or die waiting? How badly the VA is managed? How it was going to change?

Well, they have workplace issues!

Kellie Lunney, Government Executive Magaine, Oct 19, 2015, says a federal employee union compiled a 40-pp report on how bad some managers are over there. The new VA secretary Bob McDonald, who is not getting rave notices, asked for it.

 All of those cited were working in the VA's central office, not the hospitals. Among the infractions:

--Senior exec made subordinates say they had a mid-year review when they hadn't.

--Another favored those with his religious views.

--Made people ask permission to use the restroom.

--Disparaged people's sexual orientation

--Harassed women.

--Yelled, cursed.

--Throws his physical size around to intimidate.

--Female endlessly ranks out her romantic partners, talks about sex, seems hungover.

Of course, a representative of the Senior Executives Assn countered--no detail beyond general accusations.

Will anything be done about this? Guess. Meanwhile--the vets are waiting.

Monday, October 19, 2015

What actors can teach about interviewing

ACTION!
Caitlin Boho, CareerBuilder, says auditioning and interviewing have some overlap.

Both are terrifying the first couple of times.

You face pressure and intense competition in both.

She interviewed Aaron Walters, a man with more than 15 years of experience in theatre, TV, radio and film.

He says:

--Auditioning teaches you to think on your feet. Don't get tripped up by an interviewer's questions any more than you would by another actor's weird reactions.

--Remain in the moment.

--Listen to the interviewer.

--Take an on-camera course. You will learn about your body language and voice.

In both auditioning and interviewing, the biggest obstacle is ...you. Self-awareness is key.

Neither the auditioning people or job interviewers are rooting against you. They want you to succeed.

Give them what they want.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Why work at home bombs

Writing on Forbes.com, Meredith Haberfeld, founder and CEO of ThinkHuman, says the "remote" workforce grew 80% between 2005 and 2012 and will increase another 21% over the next year.

Remote-ers log more hours, are more productive and cost their employers less money.

But--the best hires will perform poorly if they feel disconnected, disempowered, and unappreciated.

Even engagement at the workplace, much less at home, is an average of 30%.

The key is the commitment of the company to remote work.

First, they train people leaders, build a culture of trust.

Wrangling people in different locations is hard. They must have a shared higher purpose.

They must have shared organizational values.

And rituals as a  "tribe." This can entail end of day shoutouts, frequent IMing, videoconferencing, plenty of face time. Some companies bring the workforce together at resorts.

Encouraging leadership at every level is important. Empower results. Make sure those results are crystal clear.

Decentralize decisionmaking. Let people decide things on their own.

People don't leave jobs--they leave bosses. Don't be leave-able.




Thursday, October 15, 2015

How to bridge the gap between old and young

The boomers are retiring, Gen X is cruising along, the millennials are trying to get a foothold--both feel entitled and each has a different view of work.

Some fun.

This is particularly evident in the government. There are now half a million fewer government workers than in 2008. In some states, more than 40% of the workforce will be eligible to retire by 2017.

Yet, less than 6% of grads want to get into government employ.

Millennials (1981-1997) grew up with technology and the socials. They are impatient, seeking connectivity. They want constant progress, career progression, and feedback.

This is not the government way--or is it the way of many corporations.

What can they do? According to Katie Burke, Government Executive Magazine:

Rework job descriptions to advertise what millennials like: professional development, mentoring, flexibility.

Emphasize personal development opportunities. Government pays less than the private sector, but this does not matter as much to millennials as a chance to move up.

Eliminate time-consuming tasks. Millennials think results should be gained in 40 hrs!

Technology is key. Employees should be allowed to BYOD--Bring Your Own Device. They like email, texting, IM. GenXers prefer meetings or the phone. Using e-forms is effective for all companies and organizations.

Sixty-four percent of millennials want to make the world a better place.

If you ask me, the world could use it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

How to have a better website

Your mother uses it? Here is my money!
Conversion means getting people to buy what you are selling. You need a Conversion Rate Optimization strategy (CRO).

According to a piece on Forbes.com written by Mike Templeman, too often people use their intuition about what will make people "convert." Some people say to themselves, "Just tell me how the thing works..." That is a start--but most people also want the benefits, not just the features.

To increase CRO, forget your "feelings" and do what tests. Think small. You may not need to design the product--or the whole marketing system. Test color, small text changes, and minor design changes in your website. One company changed one word: Instead of "Get started for just $1," they put "Get started now for just $1." Their CRO jumped 12%. (It was on the home page--make little changes in big places.)

Provide "social proof" that your product or service is good. Sixty-three percent of consumers in a recent study prefer sites with ratings and reviews. You can also provide logos of recognizable companies--or "As seen on TV."

Testimonials are great. Make sure they are specific--not just "this company is great."

Write a case study or success story. (I used to write these for Apple.) You would be amazed at the length people will read when they are thinking of getting up off some money.

Email marketing is also effective--not just having a website. Amazon's campaign to say "Customers who bought what you did also bought..." has been huge for them.

Look at the forms you ask people to complete on the website. Ask only for a minimal amount of info. Or use Steps--first the email, then zip code, then types of goods. Say in advance THREE EASY STEPS.

Give them ways to reach you. Calling is sort of out these days. People fear a robot or call center. Maybe let people text. Or live chat.

Change an element, wait, see if it helps.

I don't text, but I was glad to make an appt on a site with a pest control company to zap my wasps via live chat--no waiting, bam, done!

A lot of this is what I did and taught decades ago when I did direct response. Ask for the order (Do it today!), make it urgent, seem trustworthy and reliable, show you are liked by other customers.

But above all, sell benefits--not just describe features. But that is a post for another day.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Interviewing at Tesla

I got this from a site called Quora (a pretty interesting site, check it out).

A guy interviewed at the new age car and transportation place Tesla--full-time job a a powertrain test engineer.

First, he was screened by phone. The recruiter gets to know you, learns about your skills and chats with you about what your role would be. Be sure you can talk about Tesla and why you want to work there.

The second step is the hiring manager or senior engineer going more deeply into your background and qualifications. Discuss problems you've solved.

The onsite interview is next and at Tesla, you are asked to create a presentation about your past work. This took him 30 mins and he presented to six people. There were questions and answers.

After that came one-to-one intervews with each of the six people. Technnical questions about past work, knowledge of fundamental engineering,and behavioral questions--maybe some questions outside of your wheelhouse--such as coding.

They want to see passion about Tesla and their mission. They also wanted to be sure he could be ready to work on day one. That was the conclusion of this applicant.

Did he get the job? Hmmm, didn't say.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Here's a tip: Do what you say you will


Remember the old saying, "My word is my bond."

Or: He was a man of his word. Or she.

Do you have any idea of what a changed world this would be if people did what they vowed or promised or even just mentioned they would do?
Case in point. I asked my daughter, 33, to do a small chore I cannot do because of my mobility issues. She said, "I already did." I was shocked--without 10 nagging repetitions?

THEN--and hour later--I looked outside and she was doing the chore. Our eyes met. "Busted," she joked. So I got the rush of irritation anyway. Could have lived without that.

Or the recent kerfluffle over the guy set to become Speaker of the House of Representatives. Besides running afoul of a determined group of conservatives, he apparently had committed an indiscretion we like to call violating your marriage vows--and his fellow members say this did not influence their dissatisfaction, but they also circulated a letter about vague misdeeds and apparently everyone knew about this.

So he did not stick with what he promised--and look.

Maybe this sounds petty--but this one old-fashioned value could be honored more. It would make a difference. Think about it.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Robots can't do this

I saw a completely creepy show on guys trying to invent sex robots. But that is not what I am talking about--or ever want to talk about.

I am talking about a story by Roger Wu in Nextgov Magazine on three things robots will always do better than humans. This is for people afraid the bots will take their jobs.

The first thing bots can't do well is be creative. Humans see connections that are not logical. A robot would never ask ballet dancers to teach football players how to move. But they are doing more with trial and error--which is akin to creativity.

A robot can figure optimal moves, in other words, but not new games to play.

Robots are also bad at relationships. Humans need to work together--robots don't. Half of communication happens in body language and undertones--robots don't see these.

Robots are also bad at sales. Sales depend on playing on human emotions. Retail sales, for example, often depend on free trials and coupons--to get us to get things we don't need.  Most sales are irrational.

Wu says robots are at the on-cell stage. But great oaks from...well, you know the irrational, nonsensical saying.

You know what needs to go--and go now? Those robots that direct your call...OMG, I despise those! "Please select one of the following so I can get you to the right person..." Oh, bite me, you bucket of bolts!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Chill before that interview

Hey--someone I know just got a good job! She actually had three offers. So there are things out there.

Caitlin Boho, CareerBuilder, has some tips for acing your next interview.

Your biggest obstacle is anxiety--over thinking. Sure, do your research (the company, the culture, upcoming mergers, the job requirements), but don't obsess.

Before interview day, scope out the building. On interview day, give yourself plenty of time to get there.

Talk to people before the interview--positive, supportive people--in other words, get warmed up.

In the car or on your headphones, play a favorite playlist.

Eat a good breakfast--include protein.

Get moving, if you can exercise beforehand.

Visualize how it will go--you will look great, the interviewer will be relaxed and pleasant, you will come up with sharp answers.

And as they say--be yourself. If yourself is pushy, interrupty, brash, laughs too hard and too much--tone it down.

Above all--smile.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

What happens if you don't get the job

What did I say?
Not everything turns out the way you want. This is an adult life lesson you get to learn over and over.

Elena Lyn, a contributor to Career Contessa, says she once went the distance to get her dream job--all kinds of research, prepared stories on what she had done to match every requirement, even thought up some company strategies. She follow up with a thank you, thought the interviewer liked her--but they went with someone else. Turns out, they already knew whom they wanted.

Back in DC, we called this a job that was "wired." They just look at others for form's sake. It is not really kosher, but it happens all the                                                         time.

The author recommends asking for feedback. How could I be a better candidate next time?

Think back and reflect. Maybe it did not go as well as you thought. Did you talk more than listen?

Maybe you made a mistake--such as scorning your previous job or employer.

Or maybe it was not a good fit--and the interviewer saw it and you didn't. You made jokes, the interviewer was serious.

Maybe someone else was better. This is completely beyond your control.

You may never know--and that is frustrating. But dust yourself off and out you go again.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Way you "swipe" about to change

What--these old things?
According to Lauren Gensler of Forbes.com, as of the beginning of this month, retailers are supposed to accept new chip--enabled credit cards less vulnerable to fraud.

As you step to the register, they generate a one-time code that can't be used again, thus foiling thieves.

You won't swipe your card--you will "dip" it--a move we will all have to learn.

Only 27% of stores are meeting the Oct 1 deadline, so you have more time to get used to this.

Sixty percent of card users don't even have the newfangled cards, anyway.

You may have your new card or you may not. (I have not gotten any.)

For now, the stripe reader machines will still work.

Retailers don't want to spend the money for new machines--but if they don't, they will be liable for losses--rather than the banks, as it is now.

Another bummer--the stores without the new machines will be targets for fraudsters--so if you are still swiping, you may be more at risk.

Experts say don't swipe if you can avoid it.

Rats--something else to worry about.

Monday, October 5, 2015

What high schoolers expect for their future

Let's hear it for rich and casually dressed.
Debra Auerbach, CareerBuilder, says when she was in HS, she barely thought ahead to the next day. But today's high schoolers are more future-minded, she says.

CareerBuilder did a survey that showed teens have solid opinions about the working world. And their expectations may vary from those already in the working world.

First, high schoolers have high salary hopes. Twenty-one percent of the youngsters said they would need to earn $100,000 to $149,000 to be "successful." Only 15% of the current workers said that amount.

Future workers were also three times as likely as current ones to want to make $200,000.

High school students dream of making a difference. Over half said making a mark on the world was a sign of success. Only 22% of current workers said that.

Future and current workers both want relaxed dress codes. Seventy-four percent of current workers and 70% of HS students said they should be able to be casual.

Future workers were more optimistic about chances of promotion than current workers.

Somewhat surprisingly, high schoolers saw themselves staying longer in a job--only 16% said a year was enough.

Also surprisingly, fewer HS students than current workers said it's OK to use emojis in work correspondence.

They also were less likely to say it's OK to be late if you get your work done.

So are high schoolers more idealistic about work? Looks like it--which is to be expected. Let's hope they get that $200,000 before they start to take a more jaundiced  realistic view.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Beware of holiday job scams

The Better Business Bureau has some tips for avoiding a big ho-ho-ho when if comes to getting a holiday job.

Exercise caution. Remember common sense--if it sounds too good to be true...? "You, too, can make Christmas money by the thousands..." No, you can't. You won't. But some bum sure will. Check him out over there --->

Don't respond to a notice on a social media site or posted by a contact--google the company and see if it looks legit.

Check with the Better Business Bureau--I have some beefs with them, but they can show interesting and crucial info. It's http://bbb.org.

Never pay upfront fees. You should not have to pay for, say, a background check before you're interviewed.

Never provide your SS number or birthday until you are sure the place is OK--near you, you know it.

Work from home offers? Remember--people who legitimately work at home were interviewed in person, probably worked in the "office" at times, were trained, have prior experience, and work for a salary. Why would anyone pay you 50 cents to insert something in an envelope? They have machines for that.

Be smart!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Wow--a full-time job can be bad for you?

And you were complaining because you could not find a full-time job. Liz Ryan, Forbes.com, says the workplace is evolving into part-time, contract, temporary, and self-employment--and the old approach--a job job--may actually hold you back.

The old cradle to the grave job like our parents and grandparents had may be losing ground.

People used to look down on someone who could "not hold a job."

Now if a job cannot hold you, it's OK--if you have a good reason for moving on.

Full-time jobs are not necessarily more secure, either--too many eggs in a basket.

You may also get too complacent in a full-time job--not even know what you would do if you lost it.

You need to keep up with your industry. Keep up with the changes.

A regular job may also make you focus on the wrong things--who said what, was the boss grumpy, and so on--rather than the place of the company in the global marketplace.

You may even lose touch with what you're worth. You may get one thing in a job, another doing the same work as a consultant.

You don't want to forget the world outside your office door exists,

What do I think of this advice? Only partially true. Like 30-yr mortgages, I think people like full-time jobs if they can get them--a culture, companionship (or shared misery), a loyalty, a sense of some predictability if not security.

But it varies by person...Maybe you are ripe for the new paradigm.

I know I spent 35 yrs as a freelancer--it was like running downstairs two at a time--think about the precariousness of what you are doing and BAM!