Author Archive

170529_Blog_Change

Except for “firing” and “layoff,” no six-letter word generates quite as much anxiety around the old water cooler as “change.”

We thrive on routine, whether it’s stopping at the same coffee shop every morning or following a specific protocol for filing reports at work. The mere mention of “change” typically invokes feelings of vulnerability, insecurity and anxiousness. Though we understand on a rational level that change is constant and unavoidable, fear of the unknown can be upsetting. How to implement change while minimizing turmoil has long been a major challenge for executives and managers.

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170515_Blog_Trolling

Many sports fans believe that paying for a ticket entitles them to verbally abuse athletes. Though players are conditioned to tune out the booing and not take it to heart, sometimes spectators cross the line and unleash highly personal attacks. This type of mentality also applies to the bottom feeders on social media who regard Internet access as a license to disparage others.

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170508_Blog_5elements

Depending upon your research and whom you believe is credible, you’ll find a variety of reasons and theories why small businesses startups succeed or fail. Reliable statistics indicate that roughly 80% of new ventures survive the first year and around 50% are still in business after five years. The issue is how to increase your odds considering there are no guarantees in business – regardless of how well you’ve planned. Read the rest of this entry »

BookDay_blog

Educators will tell you it’s a scary world out there. Technology, with its double-edged sword, expands knowledge while simultaneously establishing attention deficit as the norm. So many apps, chats and sites — and so little time. Even in the merciful absence of electronics, getting restless, young minds to stay on task in school is an enormous challenge – particularly when teachers insist on employing archaic tools such as textbooks, pencils and notepaper.

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TeamPlayers_Blog

Hiring mistakes happen all the time. You bring in someone with impeccable credentials, a history of achievements and an impressive educational background. You would have bet a million bucks the guy would be a star. But in a few months, you realize it’s not going to work out. What his sparkling resume didn’t reflect was a bloated ego, an unwillingness to accept constructive criticism and the inability to collaborate with co-workers.

Bringing in the wrong people isn’t just a matter of a faulty evaluation system. Poor hiring decisions cost time and money and can really harm cohesiveness and productivity. Ensuring that you make the right decisions requires you to look beyond a candidate’s skills and experience. Obviously, you want people who will strengthen – not sabotage – your organization.

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HappinessLeadsToSuccess-Blog

Be present in the moment. Practice acceptance, gratefulness and kindness.There you have it – the skin-and-bones formula for happiness – according to the philosophical deep thinkers and psychological experts who study such matters. Sounds so simple, yet is so elusive.

Happiness is so important to human beings that in 2011, the prime minister of Bhutan, a tiny kingdom in the Himalayas, proposed a global day of happiness to the United Nations. Since 2012, March 20 has been designated as World Happiness Day. According to the World Happiness Report for 2017, Norway is the world’s happiest country, followed by Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and Finland. The United States ranked 14th with the UK 19th. Read the rest of this entry »

ObamasReadingHabits2-Blog

Think 24 hours isn’t enough time in your busy day? Try being a world leader. Yet even the most powerful people in the world sometimes need to relax and temporarily get away from it all. Reading is a source of pleasure for many of us – world leaders included – whether it be educational, inspirational or merely a fictional escape.

A week before he left office, Barack Obama explained to The New York Times the pivotal role that books played during his presidency and how they enabled him to “maintain my balance during the course of eight years,” “slow down and get perspective” and “get in somebody else’s shoes.”

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HowAlgorithmsRuleOurWorkingLives-Blog

Whether you’ve just graduated from school or you’ve had it up to here in your current position, looking for a job can test the limits of your patience. It can actually be downright discouraging. Your well-written, error-free cover letters rarely solicit a response. On those rare occasions when you’re granted an interview, you show up on time wearing nice, conservative clothing and generally make a strong impression. The interview goes well and you’re certain you’ll hear from the company.

Days go by … and nothing. Self-doubt starts to creep in. Maybe you’re not as qualified as you think.

In fact, you may very well be an ideal candidate, but computer programs designed to evaluate information gleaned from job applications, personality tests and social media unceremoniously reject you. A growing number of organizations are depending on algorithms to help shape their hiring practices, yet some observers believe it’s a mistake to rely so heavily on technology.

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CelesteHeadlee-BetterConversations-Blog

Who doesn’t identify with the following scenario? A restaurant hostess escorts several young adults to a table. Literally seconds after being seated, they whip out their smartphones like Ninja warriors with throwing stars. Uh-oh, must be urgent. My goodness, someone else wants to be your Facebook friend! Wow, Beyonce’s new hairdo is blowing up Twitter! Holy cow, the Yahoo account you just checked three minutes ago has two more emails!

Those of you fretting over the future consequences of artificial intelligence may want to note the unsettling robotic behavior of present day flesh-and-blood human beings. If you’re not scared, you ought to be.

Prof. Sherry Turkle, director of the Initiative on Technology and Self at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is clearly alarmed by technology’s effect on people. Her video talk, Humans First – Technology Second, offers a pessimistic assessment of the current state of interpersonal relationships.

“Technology makes us forget what we know about life,” says Turkle, whose research revealed that the majority of people prefer texting to talking – even though they acknowledge that it damages the interaction.

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DontFollowYourPassion-Blog

When he was charting his career course, it’s unlikely that Mike Rowe thought about collecting owl vomit, making charcoal or turning the bones of dead cattle into useful products.

Rowe probably didn’t envision himself developing a passion for the Dirty Jobs TV show that enjoyed a seven-year run on the Discovery Channel. Life can be funny that way. Doors open unexpectedly and you walk on through. Or maybe you’re among the fortunate ones in a profession you’ve dreamed of since childhood.

In his 2016 video talk, Don’t Follow Your Passion, Rowe warns against the dangers of pursuing unrealistic goals and ignoring the practical demands of life. Wishes and desires, he explains, often are not aligned with talents and capabilities.

“Just because you’re passionate at something doesn’t mean you won’t suck at it,” Rowe says.

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EconomicsIsForEveryone-Blog

He’s an economics instructor at the renowned Cambridge University. He’s served as a consultant to the World Bank and other prestigious financial institutions. He’s a fellow at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington and the author of several popular books.

If Ha-Joon Chang came across as a snooty intellectual you probably wouldn’t be shocked, though that would go against everything he believes. The South Korean argues that economics is not just for those with lofty IQ’s and fancy degrees; it’s accessible to everyone – which may explain why Chang’s 2016 video presentation, Economics is for Everyone, is one of the most popular video talks in getAbstract’s library.

Economics has always been an intimidating subject, Chang says, mainly because we defer to “experts” who complicate matters with thorny mathematical formulas and esoteric jargon and principles. Marxist, Keynesian, GDP, regressive tax, supply side, variable cost, etc., etc. Yuck. No wonder we can’t be bothered.

“Economics has been uniquely successful in making the general public reluctant to engage with its territory,” Chang wrote in his well-received 2014 book, Economics: The User’s Guide.

Chang’s point is that average people know plenty about economics. They’re in the trenches every day, working hard to support a family and hopefully move up the ladder. You’re entitled – strongly encouraged, even – to have an opinion about economics. You don’t need a master’s in political science to express your views on Obamacare or be a psychologist to weigh in on gay marriage, right?

Unlike physics or chemistry, with their immutable laws and theories, economics is a fluid, inexact science subject to society’s evolution and peoples’ behaviors. Neoclassical economics, for instance, the most popular of the nine major schools of economics, posits that people tolerate work to afford pleasure. But as we’ve seen in the age of high-octane consumption, making more money does not ensure happiness. Often it’s quite the opposite.

“Any subject studying human beings, including economics, has to be humble about its predictive power,” says Chang.

Economic insight, Chang explains, requires being receptive to contrary viewpoints instead of stubbornly clinging to a single philosophy. Every school of thought has its valid points and flaws. If you are just able to grasp the basics – don’t worry about the fancy terms – then economics will not seem so daunting.

Take it from an expert.

TheArtOfSocialSelling-Blog2

Before he became one of America’s most powerful and wealthiest businessmen and before he launched his presidential campaign in 1994, Ross Perot was arguably the greatest salesman in IBM’s history. He was so good, in fact, that one year he achieved his annual sales goals in January!

It’s reasonable to assume that Perot, even in his worst year, never experienced the anxiety of many B2B salespeople leading up to the holiday season. Q4, the fourth quarter, represents the home stretch for those striving to meet their yearly quotas. It’s a challenging time because buyers are often distracted, begin to take time off and may have exhausted their budgets.

Some salespeople offer large and intricate solutions that require months for a customer to finalize an agreement. In those cases, it’s best to focus on next year; you simply don’t have enough time to close. But it’s possible to reel in less complicated deals if your strategy is sound and you’re determined not to let the fish wriggle off the hook.

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Tick, tick, tick

2016/9/30

15-SecretsSuccessfulPeople-Blog

Time management is arguably the only topic on which you can get a consensus. Whether you’re a CEO, nurse, architect or studio musician, everyone agrees that it’s critical to use your time wisely. “I really enjoy racing to appointments, blowing deadlines, working overtime and missing meals and sleep,” is not something you hear in the break room.

Considering that 24 hours is our maximum daily allotment, time is a precious commodity. Once gone, it can never be recaptured. Some people seem to have the gift of organization while others are tossed about in a perpetual vortex of disorder. How compelling is our pursuit of effective time management? Well, getAbstract’s most downloaded book summary is Kevin Kruse’s 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management. The author interviewed billionaires, Olympians, scholastic achievers and entrepreneurs in an effort to identify common traits that enable them to be high fliers.

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FacebooksRaceToDominateAI-Blog

Regardless of how frightening or exhilarating the prospect, there’s no avoiding artificial intelligence. As we indicated in our last blog, AI marches inexorably forward, transforming our reality and challenging our imagination. Pandora’s technological box has been flung wide open and the possibilities appear mind-boggling.

AI developments often come in surprise packages. For instance, you might think Facebook is just an innocuous way of disseminating information and socializing with family and friends. In reality, Facebook is a technological juggernaut with vast financial resources that’s on a mission to overtake Google, Apple and Microsoft and emerge as the force in artificial intelligence. Though Facebook is a relative newcomer to the AI field compared with the Big Three, the company has identified its objectives and how to achieve them.

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AI-3-2016-Blog

Some 40 years ago, a long-running series of iconic TV commercials featured the E.F. Hutton investment firm. Typically in a crowded setting like a party or on an airplane, someone would mention that his broker was E.F. Hutton. Suddenly there was dead silence; no one moved a muscle. “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen,” the announcer intoned.

When it comes to computer science, we tend to pay particularly close attention to those we regard as experts and visionaries in the field. So it’s significant that Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates would endorse a couple of books that address the most fascinating and controversial topic of our time – artificial intelligence.

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