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The latest news on Careers from Business Insider

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    soledad oSoledad O'Brien knows how to speak to an audience.

    As an award-winning journalist, she's drilled political leaders and covered hard-hitting subjects like racism in her CNN series "Black in America". 

    On Thursday, O'Brien gave advice to young professionals during an "Office Hours" session with Levo League, a networking and career advice site.

    Here's what she said about public speaking:

    1. Look fabulous

    “Dress in something fabulous that you know you look great in. You’re not going to be good if you don’t feel like a million dollars.”

    If you look good, you'll feel good. That confidence will reflect in your speaking and will create a more natural flow to your presentation.

    2. Speak from the heart

    O'Brien emphasized believing in what you say, otherwise your script will be a "clunker."

    "Learn to speak from the heart and write it down, " she said.

    3. Practice, practice, practice

    O'Brien lives by the old adage "practice makes perfect" and said she reads through her notes at least three times before giving a speech.

    "So many people do a bad job public speaking because they haven’t walked through their notes. Once you’ve really read it, then you’ll be able to ad-lib and be comfortable, laugh, and pause for the joke.”

    4. Keep it brief

    "Brother, be brief." No one wants to listen to a speech that drags, so keep things tight, and bow out.

    SEE ALSO: Check out BI Careers on Facebook

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    NASA has been getting a lot of flak lately for something it wrote over 40 years ago. Reddit user come_on_now_guys posted a letter that was allegedly sent from NASA to a woman identified as "Miss Kelly" at the University of Connecticut in 1962.

    The letter stated that NASA had no existing space program for aspiring women astronauts and the agency wasn't planning on sending women into space in the future as women's proper place was in the kitchen cooking for their astronaut husbands. 

    All right, that last bit isn't in the letter. But we can certainly imagine it. 


    It seems a number of women have faced rejection from the aeronautical organization. At an event celebrating Amelia Earhart last year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the audience that she also received a rejection letter from NASA because of her gender.

    "When I was about 13, I wrote to NASA and asked what I needed to do to try to be an astronaut," Clinton said. "And of course, there weren’t any women astronauts and NASA wrote me back and said there would not be any women astronauts. And I was just crestfallen."

    At some point NASA changed its mind and Sally Ride became the first American woman sent to space in 1983. In this year's new class of NASA astronauts, 50% are women, which the agency said was the "highest percentage of female astronaut candidates ever selected for a class." 

    Who would have thought it! Women in space! Doing a man's (snort) job. My how times have changed. 

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    You're a great boss. You're flexible, fair, and have an awesome open door policy, but your best employees aren't performing as you expected.  

    Here's the truth: You might be the problem.

    Here are three reasons your top employees may hate their jobs (and what you can do about it).

    1. You've got the right the wrong place. Picture a gifted child who's been shuffled into remedial tutoring; he's not going to sit quitely and do the work--he's going to get bored, distract other students, and ignore problems that he believes are below his skill set. This is more or less what happens when you put a high-performing employee in the wrong role, writes Inc.'s Jeff Haden.

    The good news: It's easy to spot a high-performer who is not maximizing his potential. He'll be the guy putting distance between himself and other employees who don't pull their weight, griping about "unfair" awards given to less worthy workers, and freelancing in areas that aren't his responsibility, according to Hayden.

    So how do you fix it? "Set high goals for the entire organization and build in both rewards (for success) and consequences (for failure). Apply both consistently and fairly," writes Haden. You can also review and modify the employee's job description, he adds. What do you expect your employee to do? What would he most like to do? What are acceptable ways for your employee to occupy free time at work? Define these and you'll find the happy compromise between what you and your under-utilized employee really need.

    2. You're not really listening. It's a fact of business: There are some things youremployees just won't tell you. But part of being a good boss is learning to read between the lines. When your employees act out, writes Inc.'s Suzanne Lucas, it could be worth revisiting the classic culprits. Everything from insufficient pay, to toxic culture, a bad client, or micro-management on your part can cause insurrection in the ranks, Lucas explains.

    The best way to deal with these complaints: Don't be afraid to ask if there is a nightmare client that no one wants to deal with, or a rotten co-worker that the rest of your team despises, writes Lucas. And once you've solicited ideas or opinions from your team--take them seriously. Carefully consider whether that bad client is worth the trouble, or if one jerk employee is wrecking your productivity.

    3. You're the boss, but you aren't acting like it. One final possibility...your employees think you're a jerk. Again, Haden writes: "One employee behaving badly is enough to destroy teamwork, ruin morale, and turn a solid business into a dysfunctional mess...that's especially true when that one employee behaving badly is you."

    Even if you're pretty certain that you're a great boss, when you run into problems with your employees it always pays to take a quick glance in the mirror, Haden writes. "The more you prove you care about your people--and that you appreciate extra effort when it's truly needed--the more they care about doing a great job," Hayden concludes.

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    restaurant fired by text messageGetting fired is never a nice experience. But there are better and worse ways to receive the news.

    This is probably one of the worst: via a text message. That's how a Winter Park, Fla. restaurant owner named Gregory Kennedy delivered the bad news to his entire staff when he abruptly shut down his bistro, Barducci's, according to a report by local television station WFTV.

    Waitress Jodi Jackson said in an interview with WFTV that at least a dozen employees learned about their job losses in the Orlando suburb via text message. The text message that Jackson received was brief and started like this:

    Jodi, I unfortunately need to inform you that I have been forced to close Barducci's effective immediately.

    The rest of the message was obscured and not visible in the WFTV report. Jackson had worked almost two years at the restaurant and got her termination message on July 4th. Call it an ironic form of independence celebration. "I think it's immoral," she told WFTV. "I think it's cowardice." Jackson alleges that her final paycheck still has not arrived and thinks that the other employees are also waiting on theirs.

    Sometimes employers deliver bad news via email or text so as to avoid an emotional confrontation. It's not clear why Kennedy did, however. AOL Jobs tried to reach Kennedy through the restaurant Facebook page but has not heard back. When WFTV contacted Kennedy, he responded to them via a text message, too. It read:

    Unfortunately, businesses are forced to close across Orlando every day, especially in the restaurant sector. I am working to resolve issues including final paychecks as quickly as possible.

    The Barducci's Facebook page is still up without any indication that the restaurant has closed. The restaurant's webpage is similarly live and says that customers can order pizza online.

    Being fired by a text message, sadly, is nothing new. In 2010, 900 truck drivers like Randy Dakin were left stranded on the road when Oklahoma-based Arrow Trucking Company reportedly shut down, cancelling fuel credit cards. The next day, the drivers got two text messages: one telling them they were fired and the second offering a bus ticket or $200 in cash to get home. Last September, Demos' restaurant in Florence, Ala. allegedly closed, texting nearly 65 employees not to show up for work. The owner reportedly planned to give employees two-weeks severance pay in addition to their final paychecks.

    Experts warn managers not to fire by text. Although it might be necessary for a boss to fire remote workers via video conferencing or phone, the Society for Human Resource Management says delivering such news via email or text is "impersonal" and makes employees feel "disrespected" and could "provoke the terminated employee into some negative emotional reaction." In fact, some employees have fought back.

    In 2010, on the day after Christmas, Sedina Sokolovic was fired via text for allegedly swapping shifts without permission and for being late to work at Sydney, Australia clothing store Modestie Boutique. Sokolovic, who had worked for the company for two years, responded by complaining to Australian authorities, which, in turn, fined Modestie close to $11,000 in US currency. The reason? According to an Australian official, it was a "pretty appalling" method of firing someone.

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    talkingAs you grow your company, you will find yourself standing in front of an audience more often. After all, you are the best person to take your message to the masses: You feel the most passion for what you do and you understand the strategic vision to move your company forward.

    While it's important to think about what you should do when presenting, it's just as important to consider what you should not do. In fact, perfecting your presentation skills is very much about what you consciously choose not to do. Here are five common mistakes new presenters make that you should avoid.

    Filler Words

    By far, the new presenter's most distracting habit is the use of filler words. Many people automatically think of "um," but  there are many, many more. A filler word is any word that is unnecessary to the point you are trying to get across or is repeated throughout your presentation to the point of distraction.  The use of filler words can be so distracting that your audience may completely miss the point.

    Almost everyone has a go-to filler word. The filler word I used the most when I first started presenting was "right," and I recognized it pretty easily. Recently, my filler word of choice is "so," which is more easily overlooked.  I have to concentrate much harder to self-edit "so."

    The best way to find out yours? Record yourself. If you can't do that, ask audience members to tell you if you have any words that clutter your speech.

    Reliance on Slides

    You should never compete with your slides for the spotlight. Your audience's attention should be on you or on your presentation. Resist the temptation to point at your slides, and if you do, then give your audience ample time to read what's there--don't read the slides to your audience.

    Your slides should contain simple imagery and include only the key points or statistics you need to provide back up for what you are saying. I completely avoid animation, but if you choose to use it, use it sparingly.

    Information Overload

    The human brain can only keep up with five things, give or take two. That's why I am happy if my audience walks away from my presentation with just one or two key messages.

    I focus on making sure my audience gets the "big ideas." The best way to do that is to encapsulate those ideas in a story. It's true that turning your points into a catchy phrase might help aid memory, but I have found it's a few points, delivered in a carefully crafted story, anecdote, or joke that will stay with your audience long after you step off the stage.


    Never, ever apologize for missing something in your presentation. The secret is that your audience probably doesn't know that you missed something and apologizing doesn't help.

    This rule also applies to your slides. If you notice a misspelling or other issue with your slide, don't point it out. Those in the audience who have caught the mistake have already caught it--pointing it out doesn't fix the problem and will only highlight it for others in the audience who haven't noticed. Your audience is rooting for you, they want you to be successful. Use that momentum to move forward and don't sabotage yourself.

    Too Much Talking

    The most impactful thing you can do while presenting is to simply stop talking. Take the time to pause--it gives your words space and the time to sink in. The best speakers use space and cadence to connect with their audience. What feels like an eternity to you on the stage is merely a moment to your audience and they need this time to absorb what you are saying. The quiet gives their brains time to catch-up before you move on to your next point.

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    workingSilicon Valley tech companies are known for outfitting their campuses with cool meeting rooms that include arcade games and pool tables and hip cafeterias where all the meals are free.

    It's a smart way to let employees have some fun together while also adding a caché to a desk job, but two recent studies show an engaging environment is also good for a company's bottom line.

    According to the Towers Watson 2012 Global Workforce Study, engaged employees are twice as likely to be productive and present than disengaged employees. In addition, a recent employee engagement survey by the Australian Institute of Management found that survey participants who were committed to their current job listed a "good relationship with co-workers" as their top reason with salary listed at number seven.

    That's good news for companies that can't afford to replicate the Google headquarters. Getting employees to feel connected can be simpler than you expect. We spoke to experts and entrepreneurs for the innovative ways they suggest companies can foster better work relationships.

    1. The swivel-head approach. Tending to office morale is easier than you might think, according to Dave Ulrich, a professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and co-author of The Why of Work. "We ask managers how long it takes them to sense office morale and they almost always say less than 15 minutes. Wise leaders have their 'heads on a swivel' and are constantly observing subtle signals such as employees leaving early or displaying a lack of intensity." He says that at the first sign of office malaise, a good leader runs right into the problem and openly discusses solutions with employees. Ignoring low morale can quickly lead to lower office productivity and staff turnover.

    2. Build a culture that cares. Make sure your efforts reach out beyond your staff's high-performers. In the Towers Watson study, only 35% of those studied felt highly engaged with their company's goals – the rest felt either unsupported, detached or disengaged, a massive threat to productivity, turnover and quality. To reconnect and make sure that all your staffers feel cared about on a personal level, create listening posts throughout the organization, says Ulrich, such as town hall meetings, focus groups and one-on-ones between mentors and mentees. Also, make sure you're not valuing crazy work schedules over efficiency. "Some offices encourage a culture that prides itself on 60 to 70 hour weeks, but that schedule is unsustainable and cuts into people's personal lives," advises Elizabeth Grace-Saunders, a time coach and author of 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment. "Your employees will eventually burn out and leave."

    3. The 6" Rule. Consider what your staff has in common and use that to bring the crew together. Whether it's a company softball team or a monthly potluck, when you encourage those activities relationships can strengthen naturally. We Like Small is a digital agency based in Salt Lake City and its staff are almost all outdoor enthusiasts. "So our office has a 6" rule in the winter," says Michael Kern, the executive creative director. "If it snows more than that, and your projects can handle it, you should be out skiing." Their office also has a lot of mountain bike enthusiasts who meet up on summer mornings to do a 2-hour cross-country trail before heading into the office. "We get our work done, but we make sure to still get in some fun."

    4. Let trust guide scheduling. The 9 to 5 schedule doesn't work for every staffer and when bosses make exceptions for some, others can feel resentful and disengaged with the team. At Craft Coffee, Michael Horn's solution has been to let his staff of three decide when to make it into their Brooklyn, N.Y., office, as long as the work continues to get done. "It's a matter of trust," says Horn, the founder of Craft Coffee, an artisan coffee subscription service. This trust is repaid with honesty and extra work hours. Staffers find the flow that works for them. His lead tech Nate Berkopec finds himself more productive within the structure of an office, while Briana Kurtz, the manager of coffee relations, prefers to take day breaks to run errands or go to yoga, but logs on from home through the evening.

    5. Be transparent. Startups can be a hive of activity, with leaders and staffers in and out of the office hustling for new clients, investors, or projects. All this out-of-office time can make some employees feel disconnected or even jealous. "Some days I might have four different coffee meetings and go out to lunch," explains Horn, who says he realizes his absences could be misconstrued. To combat this, have staffers update each other about where they'll be and why, says Saunders. And if leaders are out at a conference or a corporate retreat, ask them to send a recap to their team on what happened and what you learned. As Ulrich puts it: "When employees understand 'the why' they accept 'the what.'"

    6. Make sharing easy. Workspaces should encourage collaboration and chatting. When We Like Small designed its new headquarters, it avoided traditional offices and even cubicles that can put up walls and hierarchies between employees. Instead, it created a "great hall" where staffers can gather at their computers around long table. Additional lounge areas and conference spaces offer varying levels of openness and privacy, making it as easy to share a brown bag lunch as it is to Skype with far-off clients.

    Craft Coffee found a similar set-up by renting desks at General Assembly, a shared office space for start-ups in Manhattan. Staffers had their own company work area, but also had access to common areas, where they often bounced ideas off other innovators, and conference rooms to meet with clients or hold brainstorming sessions.

    7. Get people creating. Every company has long-term pet projects that aren't always client-driven, but can lead to increased presence or future business. Get those projects scheduled and have staffers brainstorm together, showcasing talents the team might not see otherwise. Every three to six months, the We Are Small team does an inner-agency project that's not about making money but having some fun. Past projects have included an app called Smoggy that tracks air quality (since the smog in their town can be a serious problem) and the Neediest Robot project that used micro-controllers to gather data on their finicky office coffee machine. The projects do more than get the agency noticed. "Our developers and designers really get behind these projects, because it just turns into a completely creative outlet," Kern says.

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    Aspen food wine ming tsai mario batali

    Today's advice comes from Mario Batali, chef and television personality, via The New York Times:

    "I worked with a lot of yellers over the years. My opinion is that yelling is the result of the dismay you feel when you realize you have not done your own job ... One of the big rules for our kitchens is that if you’re not close enough to be able to touch me, you can’t talk to me."

    Batali knows that restaurants are known for boisterous yelling in the kitchen. But he doesn't encourage it. Batali makes his kitchens small, so orders and requests can be processed in a conversational tone. He believes that yelling can create problems in understanding, which can turn into more serious problems and a toxic environment. 

    "If someone isn’t learning, my strategy for changing someone’s behavior has always been a stern, relatively direct conversation, sotto voce but within earshot of their peers — not mocking them, yelling at them or calling them names — and telling them exactly what I expect them to be able to do the next time we go through this. Their peers can hear it, so the message is clear to everyone."

    Want your business advice featured in Instant MBA? Submit your tips to Be sure to include your name, your job title, and a photo of yourself in your email.

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    Oracle Jill Rowley

    As we previously reported, Oracle's salesforce has been in the midst of big changes, not all of them good.

    Over about the past two years, since Oracle bought Sun Microsystems, many experienced sales folks have left, multiple sources have told us, and Oracle has been hiring like mad to replace them and grow its salesforce, too.

    We just talked with Jill Rowley, a salesperson who has bucked the trend and joined the Oracle salesforce.

    Rowley landed at Oracle as part of its $871 million acquisition of Eloqua. But, she says, it took a lot of wooing for Oracle to get her to stay. She had spent a decade at Eloqua becoming such a one-woman force that people called her "Jilloqua," she told us. "I gave the company my everything. I was the Eloqueen, I dressed in red. My two daughters were not allowed to wear purple because purple was the color of the enemy," she laughs referring to the corporate colors of Eloqua's chief competitor, Marketo.

    The day that Oracle announced it was acquiring Eloqua was an "FML" moment, she told us. (Her words, look it up). Oracle's $871 million purchase of Eloqua in December was a gauntlet thrown to her old employer and top customer  Eloqua and were close partners, and this gave Oracle an in to convince's customers to ditch it and try Oracle's cloud instead.

    "I was like no way are we getting acquired by Oracle. It was a nightmare. At 5:30 a.m., my phone rang (with news of the acquisition). My first text was at 5:40 a.m. to my No. 1 client, It said 'I'm sorry.' I knew the acquisition threw [Salesforce] for a loop."

    Rowley is known in the Valley for a sales style she calls "social selling" which uses social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to work with prospects and customers.  That's because most business-to-business IT purchasing decisions start on the Internet. IT professionals also lean heavily on social networks to research tech products and to work with vendors. Rowley learned how to meet the customers where they were hanging out.

    Before Eloqua, she had worked for Marc Benioff, and after the acquisition was announced she was invited to go back to

    "I'm a girl. Benioff has had a profound impact on my career. He and I IM on Facebook. How could I go work for the enemy?" she thought at the time.

    She also had a job offer from SAP, with Co-CEO Bill McDermott calling her personally, she told us.

    But then Mark Hurd came up with an idea she couldn't refuse. Because Oracle was dealing with a large influx of new salespeople, he wanted to develop a company-wide training program for them, she said. He appointed Nina Purvis Kunz as vice president of a new Oracle Sales Academy.

    Kunz convinced Rowley to join her and build a sales school based on Rowley's social selling techniques. It would be a cut in pay — Rowley who was pulling in $500,000 a year as a top salesperson at Eloqua — but she was so excited by the prospect of teaching others about social selling that she took bait.

    Her first task is to educate the 440 college grads Oracle just hired to sell its cloud. 

    This week, they completed Week 1 of an immersive, 10-week training program. They live on campus and learn everything from business fundamentals to advanced sales techniques.

    After that, they'll be handed a bonus for graduating, and a quota, and be sent off into the world to find new cloud customers. They'll officially be part of Oracle's direct sales team, she said.

    This is different from how Oracle used to treated entry-level salespeople. College grads worked on lead generation and handed off leads to more experienced salespeople to close deals, JMP Securities analyst Pat Walravens previously told Business Insider.

    It's a big experiment that is being watched at the highest levels. Larry Ellison approved the curriculum himself, she says and Mark Hurd has been preaching social selling to the salesforce in his all-hands meeting, Rowley says.

    "I heard all the horror stories of Oracle. I had people telling me, 'I can't believe you are going to join Oracle.' And three months and 12 days into it [they] are still saying 'are you crazy?,'" she told us. 

    But she is obviously happy right now. "We are transforming the company and I can't believe it's happening. It's my dream job. I pinch myself every day."

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    Last week OneWire published their first interview with Philippe Laffont, Founder and CEO of Coatue Management.  In Part II of the interview, Laffont explains his investment philosophy, how he figures out great long and short positions, and how to get hired at a top hedge fund.

    “For us, the key to investing is thinking…how can a company perform three to five years out?...Not focus so much from the short term, try to see the forest from the trees…Few people in the market think about the long term, and that’s our edge.”

    But of course, he says, no one is right all the time. Laffont says he often finds it easier to prove something is wrong  (finding short positions) than it is to find great companies for long investments.

    When asked what his firm looks for when hiring, Laffont emphasizes the importance of a strong education and solid on-the-job training.  He argues that once you’ve gained both these experiences, you will be prepared for all kinds of career paths.

    “On Wall Street, there’s sort of a true and proven way to succeed when you’re young,” Laffont insists. “Go spend the first two to three years at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, McKinsey…an investment bank…Wall Street is a very competitive environment full of smart people, and if you can start your career [there], you’re going to learn a lot.  And you can choose to carry those skills, whether you want to work at a large corporation, whether you want to create your own small business, whether you want to go to Silicon Valley and create a tech company—it doesn’t matter.  But what a great training ground.”

    So when can you break into a hedge fund?  Make sure you’ve got the basics down and you are ready to add value the minute you walk in the door.

    “People don’t expect you to be prepared at JP Morgan on day one. But when you come to a small company, you have to be up and running because we don’t have as much time to train people; we expect them to already be productive.”

    Watch Part II of Laffont’s interview below!  Or watch Part I here.

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    Women entrepreneurs

    If you ask 10 CEOs, board directors, and VCs about the most preventable causes of failure for executives and business leaders, you'll probably get 10 different answers. Most will focus on lack of skills, capabilities, or experience.

    In reality, the answer has nothing to do with abilities or experience. It's all about behavior.

    Now, I'm not talking about the kind of failure we all experience over the course of our careers. In competitive markets, failure is inevitable. It comes with the territory. We gain confidence from success, but we gain wisdom from failure. It's a good thing.

    I'm talking about failure that's preventable, that never had to happen, that's intrinsic to the individual, not a result of outside forces.

    These are behaviors that executives and business leaders should always avoid. They don't just diminish your leadership ability, your presence, your credibility, your reputation. They will come back to haunt you and, ultimately, be your undoing.

    Kowtow to the status quo. Granted, there are examples where the status quo works fine. If you're in the candy bar business and you've got a successful brand like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, you're probably good for a few decades. If not, inertia is your enemy. If you find yourself saying, "That's how we do it here," you're in trouble.

    Whine. Few behaviors are less leader-like than whining, making excuses, pointing fingers, or playing the blame game. It shows a serious lack of maturity, self-confidence, respect, and accountability. And it's a very bad sign.

    Deceive. The more comfortable you are being genuine, speaking your mind, and being straight with people, the better. Strive to be the best version of you, not someone or something you're not. Deceit is a slippery slope, and once you start down that path, sooner or later, it will come back to bite you.

    Act like a dictator. I don't care how high up the ladder you are, you are not the boss. We all serve others. CEOs are appointed by their boards. Business owners have customers. The minute you start behaving like some sort of supreme leader, you can kiss your success goodbye.

    Make empty threats. Confident, competent, mature leaders never make empty threats. It's tantamount to a child throwing a tempter tantrum. It destroys your credibility. Be decisive. Do what you say your going to do or don't say it in the first place.

    Crave power. I'm always surprised when people who should know better talk about power like it's something to strive for. It's not. It's healthy to seek achievement and wealth. That's how we measure success. It's also how we grow companies and take care of our families. Power is for politicians and bureaucrats. In the business world, if you crave power, it will end badly.

    Ignore the truth. There will always be weak-minded yes-men who sugar-coat the truth and tell you what you want to hear. But if you hire and listen to them, that's the same as looking in the mirror and seeing what you want to see. It's living in denial. And it's one of the most common causes of leadership failure.

    Make commitments you don't intend to keep. Executives and business leaders who say what they mean and mean what they say usually have a bright future. And while some may achieve some measure of success by blowing smoke up people's you-know-what's, in my experience, it never lasts.

    Be grandiose. I've seen and known lots of CEOs with grand visions for their companies that were not supported by anything remotely credible or logical and had no chance of succeeding. Their egos are so overinflated they think their magnificence alone can make it happen. Funny thing is, it never does.

    Do what you know is wrong. Whether it's sacrificing principles for greed, cutting corners, or failing to do the right thing out of fear of repercussions, as with deceit, it's a slippery sloop. You might get away with it once or twice, but it will catch up with you. John Lennon called it "Instant Karma." I've seen it in action. It's real; believe me.

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    tony schwartz

    Today's advice comes from Tony Schwartz, chief executive of The Energy Project, via The New York Times Dealbook:

    "Higher purpose is not a common characteristic of the corporate world ... I fully understand that a primary obligation of any business is to earn a profit, and that without one, nothing else is possible. But what if they believed that articulating and embracing a nobler purpose would help them to attract, inspire and retain better employees, and ultimately make their companies more profitable?" 

    Schwartz says that truly successful companies can maximize impact by committing to a cause through their products, practices, and services. Companies that are good examples of this mission-oriented model are Whole Foods, Patagonia, and Toms. This leads to more engaged employees, increased productivity, and increased profits.

    There are three questions Schwartz recommends executives regularly ask to develop a competitive advantage:

    1. What is our noblest purpose and are we fulfilling it?

    2. How can we give our employees a greater sense of meaning in what they do, so they feel more enthusiastic about coming to work every morning?

    3. In what practical ways can we add more value in the world (and do less harm)?

    According to Schwartz, answering these three questions will clarify impact and purpose. 

    "In the simplest terms, a purpose defines the difference an organization is trying to make in the world. In some cases, that’s a natural and straightforward outgrowth of what the organization actually does to earn a profit."

    Want your business advice featured in Instant MBA? Submit your tips to Be sure to include your name, your job title, and a photo of yourself in your email.

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    working, guy, young, millennial, gen yIn 2009, an Illinois politician named Aaron Schock (R) became a member of the United States House of Representatives. When he did, he made history: Born in 1981, Schock is the first millennial to serve as a member of Congress.

    Schock represents a sea change: Generation Y workers aren't just gofers at their first internships and entry-level employees at their first full-time jobs. Many of the oldest of this generation, which includes those born some time between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, have now ascended to management positions. They represent a different type of boss.

    "Millennials bristle at the term 'manager' or 'boss,'" says Brad Karsh, president of the workplace training and employee development company JB Training Solutions and co-author of the book, "Manager 3.0: A Millennial's Guide to Rewriting the Rules of Management.""They feel like all staff is in it together, and that maybe they [as the boss] help people along, but really, it's a team effort."

    "People who manage the way millennials do often get better results and better action," Karsh continues. "Because more people are involved in leadership and making decisions, and therefore, more people feel invested in projects."

    But Generation Y managers supervise many different types of staff, not all of whom understand the way their young bosses think and work. Here are some pointers for how those workers may handle having a Gen Y boss.

    Baby Boomers

    A baby boomer employee – born between the years 1946 and 1964 – might fear his or her millennial boss doesn't know enough to be in a position of authority, whereas the boss fears that a boomer won't respect him or her or welcome change. It helps if both groups abandon these stereotypes and keep an open mind. For boomers, "Don't get caught up in the good ol' days speech," says Aaron McDaniel, corporate director, entrepreneur and author of the "Young Professional's Guide" series of books. "Be open and flexible, and if you are referencing the past, also be complimentary and respectful of today's standards and a new boss's methods."

    Both may use their generational differences to their advantage, though. Millennials do have less experience in the workforce, but they also have a collaborative spirit. If you're a baby boomer with a Generation Y manager, remember that they're more receptive to your input if it's framed as an innovative idea, not a condescending complaint. "There's this concept of learning how to delicately manage your boss," McDaniel says. "A good millennial boss is coachable. You don't have to tell them, 'You don't know what you're doing.' Instead, find an artful way to encourage them to draw from the experiences that you yourself have had. Try saying, 'When I've done things this way, I've been successful.'"

    Generation X

    You Gen Xers value self-reliance – born some time between the early 1960s and early 1980s, you came of age in the latchkey kid era – and your working style tends to reflect this. This is something for your collaborative Generation Y boss to keep in mind. "Most people manage the way they want to be managed, but the Golden Rule is a horrible management rule," Karsh says. "Millennials like to work together, but Generation X are independent workers. They like to have assignments and expectations set, and then being left to themselves to complete the tasks."

    If your younger boss tries to accommodate your preferred working style, then you should also compromise and adapt some of his or hers working modus operandi, which means, you might find yourself occasionally engaging in some groupthink. "It's important for any employee to be flexible," McDaniel says. "Find a way to support your millennial boss in the way that they like to work. Find a way to complement each other's strengths."

    One example of this: "Millennials sometimes struggle to make unpopular executive decisions, but they do like to be involved in the decision-making process," Karsh explains. "You could help by politely pushing your manager a little more toward making a final decision."

    Generation Y

    There can be tension when one of your peers has been put into a position of authority, particularly since "millennials value equality more than hierarchy," as Karsh says. "It can be frustrating to have one of their peers promoted above them, and they'll probably want an explanation from higher-ups for why [it happened]."

    Aside from this, Gen Y workers tend to have a harmonious relationship with a Gen Y boss. "It could be a beautiful match, because they probably feel similarly about working methods," Karsh says. The like-minded colleagues have to recognize how these characteristics affect a person in a management position. "Millennial managers feel that to be successful, they must also share 'the why' behind what they're doing as a manager," McDaniel says.

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    entrepreneur children

    There may be a better way than charting your child’s lemonade stand profits to know whether you’ve got a future entrepreneur on your hands. Much like predictors used to study diseases — diet, family history, or drug use, for example — researchers have begun to identify early-life predictors for entrepreneurship.

    In a study published in the journal Developmental Psychology, Ingrid Schoon and Kathryn Duckworth, post-docs from the University of London, looked at 6,000 employed adults from the 1970 British Cohort Study, which had followed a group of people born in the same week in 1970 from childhood to adulthood.

    The authors examined responses from ages 10 and 16, looking at predictors like socioeconomic status, paternal employment, academics, social skills, self-efficacy, and entrepreneurial intention (how important it was to "work for oneself"). Then they contacted the study participants, now 34 years old, to find out where life had taken them in terms of employment and success.

    What Schoon and Duckworth found was that by age 10, future entrepreneurs were already exhibiting specific traits — and they weren’t all the ones you might expect.

    Grades Don’t Matter: Good grades didn't generate the entrepreneurs. Individuals with lower school scores often ended up having higher entrepreneurial intention or self-employment than the top students, possibly because they weren’t as focused on class rank or report cards.

    Social Skills Matter: Ten-year-olds who were extroverted, bold, or otherwise social saw those skills carry through, ultimately faring better in self-employment.

    Self-Efficacy Doesn't Matter: Surprisingly, children's self-efficacy, or belief in their own ability to perform tasks, had no effect on their early business intentions or later job experiences. The researchers do note, however, that because self-efficacy was tested while the participants were young and in school, it may not relate to the demands of creating a business.

    Money Matters: Individuals from wealthier families frequently became self-employed, most likely because they could afford to. These children also had higher levels of academic achievement, self-efficacy, and social skills.

    Gender Matters ... Sort Of: Of the 6,000 people studied, one in every five entrepreneurs was female. In reviewing the data, the researchers found gender-specific tendencies in the predictors. For men, becoming an entrepreneur was made more likely by having a self-employed father; for women, it was tied to their parents' resources.

    So will building up your bank account or starting a business influence your child to become an entrepreneur? There's no guarantee. But knowing predictors may make it easier for parents and teachers to encourage budding CEOs from a young age--and maybe even to go easier on them if their grades slip.

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    A reader asks:

    What are the things I should do or think about when an employee resigns? In the past, I’ve generally been caught off guard and I’ve not always handled it as smoothly as I suspect I should, and I haven’t always known how to make the best use of their remaining time. Is there a protocol for what to do when someone gives notice?

    You’re not alone in not being prepared for employee resignations! Most managers are caught off guard by them, but there are a few simple principles to remember to make them go more smoothly.

    1. Take the news well. You might be panicking inside about how you’re going to deal with the vacancy, as well as finding a replacement and getting that person up to speed, but you should not take this panic out on the employee. Getting angry or guilt-tripping her about their resignation isn’t appropriate or professional. Instead, congratulate her on her new position and tell her that she’ll be missed. And remember, your other employees will hear about how you treat people who resign, and will take their cues accordingly.

    2. Don’t make a counter-offer. Managers often make countoffers in a moment of panic (“We can’t lose Jane right now! We have that big project coming up!”), but they rarely work out well in the long-term. Your employee has decided to leave. If you try to lure her back with more money, you’re generally just retaining a dissatisfied employee, and kicking the problem down the road. Resist the urge.

    3. Discuss logistics right away. Find out when her last day will be, what she thinks she can accomplish between now and then, and when and how she’d like to announce her leaving to the staff. That last one is important. If your employee is handling her resignation professionally and pleasantly – as most people do – you should leave it up to her to tell her colleagues (although make sure that happens soon, so that you can move forward with transition planning). On the other hand, if she seems bitter or unhappy, you might choose to manage that announcement yourself so that you have some control over the tone.

    4. Create a transition plan. Sit down with your employee and make a list of everything she’s currently working on, including key client relationships. From there, figure out (a) what she should finish up before she leaves and (b) how you will handle those responsibilities before a replacement is hired. For the former, make sure that your staff member has a clear and specific to-do list … which should also include plans for transferring key knowledge and contacts before she goes, as well as how to alert outside contacts of her departure so that they aren’t surprised when an email to her bounces back one day.

    But don’t check out once that plan is created. You’ll want to check in on her progress during her remaining weeks – don’t just trust that everything on that plan is getting done or you risk finding out on her last day that things aren’t being left in the shape you’d assumed.

    5. Think about what you need in a replacement, and begin recruiting. Don’t just automatically post the same job description that you used last time. Take this opportunity to think about what you really need in the role and how it might have changed over time. Make sure that you’re hiring for what you need today, not what you needed when that dusty job description was first written. Once you’re clear on that, swing into recruiting mode immediately – hiring well takes time, and generally the sooner you start, the better. 

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    BBC workersNew York City's miLES Storefronts was just named the winner of ArchDaily and HP's Innovation Challenge, a contest that rewards innovative workplace design.

    But we thought some of the other submissions from around the world were equally impressive, showing how physical spaces can be utilized creatively from moving tables to suspended work spaces.

    We combed through the 150 submissions and picked 15 of our favorites.

    New York's miLES storefronts, a network of public shared workspaces, took home the prize for its unique ability to combine coffee-shop and office atmospheres.

    Submitted by: Architecture Commons PLLC

    Employees at the Skullcandy International Office in Zurich, Switzerland can reconfigure their desks to work individually or collaboratively.

    Submitted by: Grenettes Architecture

    The Casa Mediterráneo Headquarters in Alicante, Spain has a Klein-blue, translucent roof that filters incoming sunlight, creating a sea of blue shadows inside.

    Submitted by: Manuel Ocana Architecture and Thought Production Office

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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  • 07/17/13--08:19: 11 Habits Of Amazing Bosses
  • leading meetingMost people have worked for a bad boss, but superb bosses often don't get a lot of press. Most employees would give a lot for the opportunity to work for a boss with even a few of these characteristics:

    Gives constructive criticism
    There's a big difference between a critique and a conversation that engages the employee and helps him or her constructively plan how to change for the better. A great boss knows how to approach a subordinate with the right mix of mentorship and direction.

    Provides consistent feedback
    In today's workplace, it's not unusual for supervisors to be overwhelmed with their workloads. Often, something that's first to fall off the "to do" list is providing regular feedback and supervision for employees. A strong boss makes a point to offer feedback regularly and to comment on improvements or negative developments so the employee knows exactly where he or she stands.

    Rewards good work
    While the boss' hands may be tied when it comes to salary or benefits, a good boss recognizes the best employees, even if the recognition is nothing more than a written note filed with personnel.

    Knows how to coordinate and juggle
    All employees today are taking on more responsibilities, and it's up to each person to manage details for multiple projects simultaneously. The best bosses don't pass on the stress to the people they manage. Instead of acting as if every project is like a fire to put out immediately, good bosses adjust and delegate work based on what needs to get done immediately.

    Mentors and coaches employees
    Very lucky workers have the opportunity to serve under a boss who is really interested in their careers and in helping them get promotions. The best bosses make a point to identify and enhance their employees' strengths and direct them to projects that will allow them to shine and get noticed.

    Accepts responsibility, not just credit
    Most people have worked for bosses who are happy to take credit when things are going well, but fewer have a chance to see a real leader in action: the one who steps up and accepts blame when the going gets tough.

    Communicates clearly
    Good bosses know that communication is only as good as how it is received; it doesn't matter if you think you've explained what needs to be done if your employees don't understand what you've said. The best supervisors understand how to explain what they want done succinctly and directly, and they are available to answer questions as necessary.

    Offers challenge and support
    This delicate balance eludes most people: how can you challenge your workers to improve while providing the resources and support they need to succeed? Employees need both in order to improve themselves.

    Takes calculated risks
    Sometimes, it's a real risk for a supervisor to trust an employee with a project that the boss knows is just beyond his or her strengths. The best supervisors will know when the time is right to take a step back and allow people they supervise to take the reigns of a big project.

    Recognizes a healthy work-life fit
    Most workers loathe the idea of reporting to someone who seems to have no life outside of the office. The unstated message is, "I have no life, so neither should you." These employees often spend long hours at the office because they think it's the only way to impress the higher ups. Confident and competent bosses can motivate people to work overtime when necessary, but don't expect 100% devotion to work all of the time.

    Doesn't play obvious favorites
    If it's obvious who is the favorite at work, it is challenging for the rest of the team to come together as a unit because there's extra, unnecessary, competition. The best bosses try to eliminate this unhealthy competition that comes from trying to be the favorite and instead instill a sense of working together for the common good of the organization or department.

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    interviewingFirst impressions are everything, and making a good one during a job interview can very well snag you the job of your dreams. Interviews can be nerve-racking, especially if it's for a job you really want. The only way to calm your nerves is to do a lot of prep beforehand so you'll be ready for your interview. Read on for 10 common interview questions.

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    Zige Liu of China competes in the Women's 200m Butterfly heat

    If you want to learn about how to build a successful long term career, then it makes sense to turn to those who have already been there and done that. CEOs didn’t just get their positions overnight – it’s taken them a few decades to get there and all of them would agree that it wasn’t easy.

    Some CEOs have been able to climb the corporate ladder from the ground up, while others switched companies several times before given the opportunity.

    All CEOs are salespeople — they can sell themselves and their ideas, convincing their employees and the public of why they are the best fit for the job and why their products and services matter. Here is advice from five top CEOs on how to get ahead at work:

    1. Define your goals. In a New York Times interview, Jeff Weiner, the CEO of LinkedIn, said that “you can’t realize your goal if it’s not defined.” He goes on to say, “start thinking about what it is because once you know it, the moment you know it, you begin manifesting it. You manifest it in explicit ways by virtue of knowing and then pursuing it, and you manifest it in implicit ways — just in the way you talk, in the way you think and the things that you say to others and the people you attract to yourself.” Regardless of your position in your company, you need to have a list of achievable goals and stick to them. You should make a list in your phone so you’re always carrying them around and you can remember them. If you don’t have goals then you will just move around and not get anywhere or have no direction of where you want to go.

    2. Choose the right people. In a Wall Street Journal interview, Michel Landel, the CEO of Sodexo, said that, “the biggest mistake I make is in choosing people.” He then states that “the most complex and difficult part of my job – and any manager’s job – is to pick the right individual for the right job.” Most managers will just try and find someone as fast as possible and it won’t be the right fit so they will have to replace their position again, which consumes more time and resources. It’s far better to spend a lot of time making sure you have the right people who will click with your team and is passionate about the job, not someone who only wants a paycheck.

    3. Work harder than everyone else. In a Fortune Magazine interview, Joe Echevarria, the CEO of Deloitte, said that “you have to outwork everyone else.” Then he explains that “if you don’t, talent will not help you. Find somewhere you really want to work and prove yourself by working hard and doing a great job.” Opportunities just don’t come to you – you have to go to them with persistence and hard work. The harder you work, the more luck you’ll have because you’ll be setting yourself up for better opportunities. If you slack off, people will notice and you won’t get very far.

    4. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. In a Fortune Magazine interview, Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo!, says “when you do something you’re not ready to do, that’s when you push yourself and you grow.” She goes on to say “it’s when you sort of move through the moment of discomfort, ‘wow, what have I gotten myself into this time?” If all you do is the same work you’ve done yesterday, you can’t get ahead at work. You have to master your current role in order to prove yourself and then ask for more responsibilities.

    5. Read as much as you can. In a Levo League “Office Hours” event, Warren Buffett, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, said that he reads six hours each day in order to learn everything he can about his industry or the ones he invests in. “I knew a lot about what I did when I was 20. I had read a lot, and I aspired to learn everything I could about the subject,” he said. The more you know about your industry and your profession, the more you can talk about with your colleagues, the more you can bring to the table and the faster you will rise through the ranks at work.

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    learnvest alexa von tobel

    Today's advice comes from Alexa von Tobel, founder and CEO of Learnvest, via Inc.:

    "You need to define 'perfection' in the form of goals — whether you’re thinking in terms of weeks, quarters, or years. What metrics do you need to hit to feel really good about things? Then, you need to focus on making progress. Take it one day at a time. What can you literally do today that will get you closer to those goals?"

    Von Tobel says testing is integrated into every part of the her company's culture.  From running A/B tests to gathering analytics on user experience, the concept of "progress" drives LearnVest's product, marketing, and technology. Von Tobel says that having an environment that allows people to be flexible is crucial for implementing changes. 

    "If someone has an idea worth trying in a Monday morning meeting, let’s have it up on the site by Tuesday, let it run wild on Wednesday, gather data on how it’s performing on Thursday, and by Friday have a solid game plan for our next steps. This kind of behavior is integral to startup life. You’re learning as you go, and that’s why jargon like 'pivot' exist. Small companies must constantly pivot- sometimes to a dizzying degree- until they find what works."

    Want your business advice featured in Instant MBA? Submit your tips to Be sure to include your name, your job title, and a photo of yourself in your email.

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    It’s intern season again! As employers, we have to figure out how these new and temporary employees can best fit within our businesses, and, more importantly, how we can all make the most of our limited time together. We make a point of taking on one or two interns every year, and to work closely with them. Here's how we've been getting the most out of these relationships.

    1.  Treat the interns as part of the team.

    If your company has regular team bonding activities or networking events, make sure to include your interns. Let them sit in on weekly team and business meetings, when appropriate. They can learn a lot about business by just being an attendee. 

    Whenever possible, we try to treat our interns the same as we do our full-time employees. That means we expect them to contribute ideas, but we also include them when celebrate big wins and company milestones. The more the interns feel connected to your company and appreciated, the better their work will be. 

    2. Use them as more than just gofers.

    If you need someone to make you coffee, buy a Keurig machine. Viewing interns as menial labor doesn’t help you get the most out of these talented young people. Assign tasks they can learn from, and help them grow. Try having an intern brainstorm ideas for a new proposal or tackle a long-term challenge that you haven’t had the time to address. You’ll get a fresh perspective and you might be able to check an item off your to-do list. The intern will learn.
    3. Listen to their perspectives for market insights.

    Interns see the world much differently than you do. For many businesses, interns and their peers are also a key demographic. Ask them lots of questions and ask for their feedback on relevant projects. They may help you solve a problem you didn’t even know existed. 

    4. Take time to give feedback.

    It’s important to coach and mentor interns. While it may be faster to finish a poorly completed task yourself, spending the time to teach your intern how to do a project thoroughly will help them grow and will enable them to take meaningful items off of your plate in the future. Making the extra effort to help an intern will make it easier to assign additional work to them down the line. And you’ll be contributing to the future career of someone who’s invested in your company. 

    5. Explain the importance of their work.

    This year, our intern has been focused on pulling, creating and refining large database lists for our sales and marketing teams. You could see this as tedious, but in truth the intern is learning how to work with large data sets, identify trends and patterns, and produce a final document that’s incredibly valuable. While it may not be the most glamorous job, it is immensely important, and his efforts have added meaningful value to the company. By taking the time to explain how his work impacts the company’s bottom line, we’ve helped our intern understand the rationale for his work as well as its importance and value to the organization.

    6.  Recognize today’s interns as tomorrow’s employees.

    Your interns are there to learn, but in many cases, a summer opportunity leads to a longer-term job. Summer is an ideal time to evaluate someone’s potential as a future addition to your team--to learn about their personality firsthand while seeing how they mesh with the rest of your team. By Labor Day you will know if there’s a spot for them or not.

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