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The latest news on Careers from Business Insider

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    Trader head in hands

    The stress, long hours, and sedentary nature of your modern office job are sucking the life out of you — literally.

    And it's not just the tight deadlines, stress-eaten bagels, and sneezing coworkers that are doing you in. Even your keyboard can be out to get you. 

    From the printer to your supervisor, the dangers presented in a typical office can have real effects on your physical well-being and mental health. Need a reason to overhaul your habits? Look no further.

    Vivian Giang and Kim Bhasin contributed to an earlier version of this article. 

    SEE ALSO:  9 foods to eat to give your brain a boost

    Sitting all day could shave years off your life.

    Sitting for lengthy periods is terrible for your body. Aches and pains are the least of your problems — sitting too much can lead to an early death. You face a higher risk of muscular skeletal disorders, obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease and more, even if you work out regularly.

    Around 86% of American workers sit all day at work. If you're one of them, Alan Hedge, a design and ergonomics professor at Cornell, recommends you change to positions every 8 minutes, and take a 2-minute "moving break" at least twice an hour. 

    Regularly slouching in your can chair lead to long-term illnesses.

    If your job requires you to sit most of the day, it's best if you get a sitting device that allows you to straighten your poor posture. If not, you're "contributing to a pool of chronic, long-term ailments — including arthritis and bursitis."

    Using a treadmill desk increases your chances of physically hurting yourself.

    Although a treadmill desk may help with the risk of obesity and heart disease, these desks are also prone to increased typos and might cause you to fall more often than merely sitting in a chair.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    warren buffett bill gates ping pong

    You can tell a lot about a person by the company that they keep.

    There’s a saying that goes something like: You become the average of the six people that you spend the most time with.

    If you look at your professional company — the other co-workers, colleagues, business owners and industry professionals that you most often interact with — who are they, what do they stand for and what do they say about you?

    How is your circle influencing you?

    Where do you stand among your professional peers? Are you always the leader of the pack or are you making sure to surround yourself with people who will push you to be your best?

    Related: Stop Waiting for the Mythical Mentor

    When you play tennis, the best way to improve your own game is to play with someone superior to you. This allows you to rise to the challenge of bringing your play up to the other player’s level, rather than holding back. Even if you are evenly matched with a competitor, it can be hard for you to improve.

    When I learn a new skill or enter a new arena, I seek out the people at the highest level. Sometimes, this means paying for that privilege. When I trained with The Second City (the famed comedy and improvisational school that is known as the breeding ground for SNL, etc.), I had a few options.

    I could have started with the beginner class, but that would have made me work at the pace of the slowest learner, as the group can only go that quickly.

    Instead, I opted for a more efficient, albeit effective, option. I chose a custom program where I was the only student and my counterparts were the professional troupe members. This meant that I was the slowest one in the room and I had to jump in the deep end and swim with all of my might to keep up with them.

    Related: Workaholics Need Some Guilt-Free Time Off, Too

    Getting to the next level

    Can the people around you provide you with the opportunities you are looking for and get you to the next level? If you are only networking, masterminding and interacting with those at your level who have the same types of contacts, they may not be able to push you to step up to the next level, and they will unlikely be able to refer you to those next level opportunities that you seek.

    I see it as a challenge, particularly for women who stick to women’s-only networking groups. While these groups have value, sometimes the women are missing the opportunity to connect with those individuals (which include men in higher positions) who can help recommend them for new opportunities.

    Paying it forward

    You can’t always be the student, so when you can, remember that there are others than can benefit from your guidance. As you improve your tennis skills, let a novice play with you from time to time to get exposure. Pay it forward, as there will always be more to learn and more to give.

    SEE ALSO: A man who spent $650,000 to have lunch with Warren Buffett says it changed his life in 2 big ways

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Atlantic Airways, poses on the tarmac of Washington Dulles Airport June 26 after arriving on the inaugural flight of his airline from London.

    When you think about professional success, you think about the strategies and behaviors that people exemplify when at work.

    You think about what people do during the 9-5 working hours, and whether they extend those hours by coming in early or staying late to tackle projects.

    What they do when they get home, or on weekends, when they're away from the office and away from their computers, doesn't enter your mind. But here's the thing: it should.

    How people spend their free time can actually have a big impact on their success in the professional world. Successful people tend to spend their free time in these seven ways (and more, of course), so read below and find out why:

    1. They exercise

    Physical exercise is important for both physical and mental health. Taking a half hour after work or on a weekend can get your blood pumping, get your endorphins flowing, and revitalize your spirit. You'll build muscle, burn calories, and oxygenate your brain — giving you a release after a day of stress.

    Exercising regularly also helps you remain disciplined, which can be valuable in a demanding work environment, and can reduce the long-term effects of stress as well — meaning regular exercisers tend to be less stressed about their jobs. You'll also look better and feel better, which gives you greater confidence.

    2. They read 

    Reading is a lifelong skill, and successful people never stop reading new books. Whether it's fiction or nonfiction, books help give you a greater understanding of the world around you. They introduce you to new characters, new environments, new cultures, new philosophies, and new ideas, and might even help you build new skills (if you're reading nonfiction, at least).

    Similarly, reading regularly helps to build your vocabulary and your semantic comprehension, giving you greater communication skills — and something to make small talk about during those particularly awkward business meetings.

    3. They take classes

    Education shouldn't stop at college, and shouldn't be restricted to institutions. The most successful people in the world are the ones who make a commitment to never stop learning. They're always incorporating new skills for their resumes and learning new aspects of the world around them. Instructional courses aren't particularly difficult to find, either, especially in the modern era.

    Many local colleges offer courses for free, and you can peruse local forums or gatherings to find impromptu group workshops. And don't underestimate the value of free online courses. If you have a free hour and an Internet connection, you can start learning a new skill.

    4. They volunteer

    Volunteering, no matter where or how you do it, is beneficial for you and your community. Whether you're helping to clean up a highway, working in a soup kitchen, or providing mentorship to a group of young professionals, your time goes a long way toward improving the community around you.

    Professionals primed for success realize the importance of giving back to the community, and feel happier because of it. Volunteering is also a valuable networking experience, introducing you to other people who, one way or another, can help you drive your career forward.

    5. They network

    Many networking events exist outside the realm of corporate hours. They include weekend breakfasts, cocktail hours, and after-hours gatherings for conversation and usually food and drinks. Successful people are willing to step outside their comfort zones in an effort to meet new people — regardless of any professional circumstances surrounding that effort.

    They're not necessarily interested in meeting people to land new sales or find a new employee — instead, they simply like talking to people and meeting people, and success naturally follows them from there. The wider your network of contacts is, the more opportunities you'll have down the road.

    6. They have hobbies

    Focusing exclusively on work might seem like a fast track to success. With nothing else distracting you, you can funnel your full effort into your job and do in one week what would take most people two. But this approach has a nasty downside; it stresses you out, sets you up for burnout, and prevents you from developing skills in any other areas.

    Finding and pursuing a hobby, on the other hand, helps you relieve stress, put your job in perspective, and build skills that complement ones you use at work. It's a breath of fresh air that keeps you grounded, and if it's a social hobby, also offers networking opportunities.

    7. They spend time with friends and family

    I implied it in the last point, but I'll reiterate it more strongly here: your job isn't everything. Focusing too much on your career is self-sabotage, no matter how counterintuitive that might sound.

    If you want to be successful in life, you have to prioritize your personal relationships — your bond with your friends and family members. No matter how much you want to be successful and climb the corporate ladder quickly, you can't neglect your friends and family to do it.

    If you don't spend your free time like this, it doesn't mean you have no chance of being successful. However, picking up some of these strategies can improve your abilities, improve your mindset, and expand your network to levels that will increase your chances for success in the workplace. Start incorporating a few of them into your free time routines and you might just be surprised at the results.

    SEE ALSO: 10 changes to make in your 30s that will set you up for lifelong success

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Barack Obama

    President Obama announced a rule change Monday night that would make 5 million more American workers eligible for overtime pay, reports Politico.

    Under current law, the threshold for time-and-a-half overtime pay (which kicks in once an employee works more than 40 hours per week) stands at $23,660 a year. The proposal would raise overtime-eligible annual income to $50,440.

    "Right now, too many Americans are working long days for less pay than they deserve,"Obama wrote in an op-ed on The Huffington Post. "That's partly because we've failed to update overtime regulations for years — and an exemption meant for highly paid, white collar employees now leaves out workers making as little as $23,660 a year — no matter how many hours they work."

    This would set the exemption threshold at the 40th percentile of income, restoring it to "roughly where it stood in 1975 in terms of purchasing power,"according to the New York Times.

    It would also increase the number of people who would qualify for overtime. Right now, only 8% of salaried workers are covered, according to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute.

    "I can’t think of any other rule change or executive order that would lift more middle-class workers," Jared Bernstein, a former White House economist who's advocated for the change, told the Times. 

    Bernstein and other supporters say that increasing the salary threshold will be unequivocally good for the economy — and for workers — because it will ensure the employees are getting compensated for their labor. 

    One thing this would specifically address is the all-too-common practice of hiring people to lower-level "management" positions, paying them a salary appropriate for a 40-hour work week, and then requiring them to work 50 or 60-hours — "and those extra 10 to 20 hours a week are basically free to the employer," says Judith Conti, federal advocacy coordinator for the National Employment Law Project.

    Either those people should be receiving more money for their labor, she tells Business Insider, or those excess hours should be spread to other people. 

    The administration estimates this will result in between 1.2 and 1.3 billion dollars "in the pockets of workers," Conti says, while also stimulating the economy by creating more jobs and more people with disposable income. 

    Not everyone, however, is convinced — particularly conservatives and some business groups, including the National Retail Federation, which recently released a report arguing against the threshold increase. 


    "The 40th percentile is way too high," says Tammy McCutchen, former Administrator of the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division and policy fellow at the American Conservative Union, arguing that while an increase is in order, raising the threshold to the proposed level is "simply not workable." 

    Accordingly, she predicts, employers will find ways around it — and workers who "now enjoy the status of being an exempt employee" will be reclassified as "non-exempt."

    If you're eligible for overtime, that means you have to "punch a time clock," McCutchen says. Hours that weren't being tracked will be tracked — and that, she argues, could mean a loss of flexibility for workers.

    "Exempt employees"— that is, employees who are not eligible for overtime — "have to be paid the same guaranteed salary for every week in which they perform any week at all," she says. But that ability to juggle hours would disappear with the proposed increase, she says. 

    McCutchen — like other critics of the proposal — says that workers would not see an increase in their total pay, and some employees might even see less because, newly reclassified, they would no longer be eligible for certain compensatory perks, like management bonuses.

    Another argument from critics: It's possible that employers would actually lower baseline pay, anticipating a certain amount of overtime, McCutchen says. The distribution of the compensation package might change, she says, but the ultimate income would stay exactly the same. "In the end," McCutchen says, it would be "cost-neutral."

    And then there's the possibility that businesses would actually require employees to work less — which, arguably, is the whole point of overtime in the first place. But McCutchen and fellow objectors argue that, too, would be bad for workers. 

    By enforcing a 40-hour work week — something employers might be more inclined to do, since paying overtime is potentially costly, and having employees secretly work extra hours opens them up to potential lawsuits — employers will be preventing ambitious workers from opportunities for advancement. 

    Lower-level employees will have "a lot less opportunity to distinguish themselves and be promoted," McCutchen predicts. They also may lose certain quality of life perks, she argues, since they'd have to get 100% of weekly work done in exactly 40 hours.

    (It's worth noting, though, that research suggests those extra hours — while increasingly common— might not be making us any more productive.)

    man working late on phoneBecause she predicts businesses will find workarounds, McCutchen doesn't anticipate that most reclassified people would actually see an income increase. "There might be a small percentage of employees who see increased earnings," she acknowledges, "but that would have to be offset by increased prices to consumers."

    Supporters, however, aren't convinced by any of this. "If there's demand for something,"Judith Conti of the National Employment Law Project says, "then there is money to pay for it." 

    "If an employer needs that much overtime done in order to meet the demand for their services, they'll find ways to make that happen," she says.

    "We can empirically look at California and New York"— two states with notably stringent overtime laws — neither of which have been overwhelmingly hindered by their policies.

    "All of these prophesies of doom didn't happen," she says, noting that while some hours were redistributed, employers "didn't use these kinds of workarounds, by and large."

    "Employers aren't idiots," Conti says. They know treating employees well is essential to retain talent.

    "This kind of widespread reclassification and lowering of wages and worsening of conditions — it's a nice narrative to try to scare people away from making any changes," she adds, "but there's no proof in history that it happens." 

    The president will formally announce the proposed rule in La Crosse, Wisconsin on Thursday. It is expected that congressional Republicans will "almost certainly attempt to block" the rule, says Politico. 

    SEE ALSO: Being a jerk may have its perks — but don't underestimate the power of being nice

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: JOBS VS. GATES: Malcolm Gladwell weighs in on who will have the greatest legacy

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    men silhouette

    Before launching my current startup, I started a company called Trace3 with $100 and grew it to over $400 million in revenue.

    Certainly, Trace3 has been successful as a technology consultancy and reseller, but I didn’t start the company to get rich quick.

    Related: Further Engage Customers By Creatively Distributing Your Brand

    You too need a different reason for starting your business.

    If you want it to impact a market or even just have longevity, your business at its core must wage a constant battle to find the truth.

    And for a business, "the truth" means value. As an entrepreneur, you should be spending every day getting to the core of what "value" means to your customers.

    Your job is to build a venture that will search for real value and "the truth" of what your client really needs.

    Separate people’s goodwill from the truth.

    When you are getting ready to launch a new venture, you should find five potential customers and talk to them about the concept, product or service -- whatever you are about to bring to market. Then say, “I am contemplating starting this business and I need your help. I would very much like you to convince me why I shouldn’t do it. I am hoping you will listen to the concept and tell me why it won’t work.”

    After explaining the concept, shut up. Don't "sell." If your potential customers encourage you to pursue your idea, then you need to go one step further: Ask them right there to pay for the product. Not make an investment, but pay for the product. Tell these customers to consider that act a prepayment for serious value, to be delivered soon.

    I have started many companies, and asking for the money right on the spot is a critical act. All of a sudden, a completely different conversation happens. It is a real conversation, and one that drives progress. 

    All of a sudden, those people you're talking to may tell you that their purchasing department is not really adding any more vendors right now, or that they want to see a couple of more iterations first, or that you’ll need to show them 100 other clients using the product before they can commit to anything. Or maybe they'll say they are out of cash.

    Whatever their reason, you'll be separating their goodwill from the perceived value of not just your concept, but their belief that you can execute it.

    Next, ask why you shouldn’t do it, and if all goes well with that conversation, ask for money. Usually half of the people you ask will still give some excuse why they can’t pay now.

    Related: 3 Secret PR Weapons To Help Build Your Brand

    Be willing to change course quickly.

    A critical moment in the growth of Trace3 came at a dinner meeting when one bold client told me that if our company continued down its present path with its current offering, we would be out of business within three years. That was a gut punch for me, but it was the truth.

    This client recognized that a product of ours which had offered us terrific growth had hit a ceiling and was potentially going to be commoditized very rapidly. Even though we had grown from $100 million to $300 million in two years, we might be sprinting right off a cliff, the client said.

    After much thought and debate, I made the call to build two new practices and invest all the profits from that year into my bet. We would continue the old business, as it still had good play in the market. But we would also fund a cloud and big data team and start to look at how to add advanced technologies for our clients by offering the best next-generation products coming out of Silicon Valley.

    I made the executive decision to lose money and invest in securing our future and creating massive opportunity. Not everyone agreed with my plan, but in the end it worked. The point is that progress does not always mean racing forward as fast as you can. Sometimes it means taking hard feedback and retrenching on those things that are no longer working.

    Progress may even mean executing a 180-degree turn and walking back to the start. If you are walking away from value toward money or short-term gain, yours will be a short walk. And I do not mean that in a trivial sense. When you have to make this call, you can never know for sure if you are making the right move. Many times, you will be wrong.

    Failure isn’t just acceptable, it’s mandatory.

    Progress toward the truth requires trial and error. The classic Silicon Valley term “fail fast” should be your motto if you are starting a company. When I started my new company, POP, I asked five clients to tell me why I shouldn’t do it. I wanted to fail fast. But three different companies gave me $35,000 each based on the concept alone, and now I have a new company that I love.

    POP is a crowdsourcing app that drives engagement and buy-in from a company’s human assets. We pivoted at least 20 times in the first six months to figure out POP’s true value. I expect to pivot 20 times more now that we have clients such as DirecTV, Comcast, CoreLogic and Kaiser Permanente. 

    Failing isn’t just acceptable, it’s a prerequisite for success. If you are reasonably intelligent, and you hire a smart team, most of their work will involve testing value and making small corrections.

    Failure is an integral part of making progress toward real value, which is another way of saying you are making progress toward the truth.

    SEE ALSO: The surprising reason one tech CEO doesn't want to hire you

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Here's how to form better habits faster

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    warren buffett

    For a business leader to be successful, solid communication skills are vital. 

    Skip Weisman, a leadership and workplace communication expert, coaches leaders on how to communicate more effectively.

    He says there are three overarching skills that lead to success, which he calls "the three levels of high-performance leadership communication."

    They are:

    1. Self-communication skills

    Self-communication is the internal dialogue we have all day long, and it is directly reflected by our attitude, Weisman says.

    "Self-communication is solely responsible for one's level of self-esteem and self-confidence, which may be the sole determining factor for success in all of our endeavors," he says. 

    Weisman adds that procrastination is often a direct result of negative self-communication. 

    2. Private, one-on-one communication skills

    The key to face-to-face communication is building trust, Weisman says. The three elements of effective private communication are being prompt, direct, and respectful.

    Weisman says people are often hesitant about being direct, worrying it may come off as disrespectful, which can lead to delaying the conversation.

    That's why it's important to show you're acting with good intentions and in the best interest of the person. It's also critical to make sure a two-way conversation takes place rather than a one-sided waterfall of criticism. 

    3. Public/group communication skills

    MLK, dream, Martin Luther King Jr., civil rightsFor some, public speaking comes easily. For others, it's a terrifying task. 

    Whether it's speaking in company meetings or presenting a new idea to partners, the ability for leaders to concisely communicate to a group of people is crucial. And of the three skills, the ability to communicate to the masses can best propel a leader from good to great, Weisman says.

    Skilled public speakers use powerful body language, add value to the audience, and are great story tellers, Weisman says.

    Martin Luther King, Jr., and John F. Kennedy are two excellent examples of leaders who mastered the art of influencing others through public speaking.

    SEE ALSO: Here is the perfect way to end an email — and 28 terrible sign offs

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    elizabeth holmes theranos

    Entrepreneurship is more than just a career choice. It’s a way of life.

    Because it consumes your personal life as well as your professional one, it typically changes you as a human being. Your approach to problem solving will change, you’ll learn new skills and become more familiar with new industries and markets.

    You’ll undergo a personality change — for better or for worse. But perhaps most importantly, during your course as an entrepreneur, your perspective on life will undergo a dramatic shift.

    Within a year or two of being an entrepreneur, you’ll more than likely find your worldviews changing in one or more of the following ways:

    1. Everything becomes subject to evaluation.

    Entrepreneurs are business commanders. They’re responsible for overseeing everything, from operations to management to accounting to sales and marketing. As a result, you learn to see things from a high-level perspective, and become adept at making flash judgments and fast evaluations in demanding circumstances. In the course of a given day, you’ll be forced to evaluate the strength of your financial models, the productivity of your team and the feasibility of your latest deadline projections.

    As a result, you’ll start evaluating everything in your life. When deciding which restaurant to eat at, you’ll make a mental pro/con list. When you go see a movie, you’ll think about all the strengths and weaknesses of the picture, and evaluating each situation in terms of its risk and reward in the context of the film. It will feel so natural, you may not even notice it.

    2. Decisions seem less consequential.

    Everyone makes dozens of decisions each day, ranging from what color socks to wear to whether or not to move to a new city. As an entrepreneur, you’ll be making even more decisions, and most of them will seem more significant than “ordinary” decisions, yet you’ll come to realize that bed decisions can sometimes yield decent results and good decisions don’t guarantee victory.

    After several months of helming your business, you’ll see decisions as essential, but less consequential. You’ll no longer be intimidated by the potential fallout of a bad decision; instead, you’ll make the best decision you can as quickly as you can, and you’ll move on.

    3math problems. Problems are less intimidating.

    In startups, problems seem to arise out of nowhere. Every day, there’s at least one new fire that needs put out and at least one major change you never saw coming. Throughout your stay as an entrepreneur, you’ll become better at handling these problems as they come up, and all the other problems in your life will become less intimidating, too. Rather than seeing them as show-stoppers, you’ll see them as simple puzzles that are unavoidable and demand to be solved.

    4. People become more important.

    Entrepreneurship helps you see the importance of other people in your life. Your family and friends will be there to support you during your most stressful times. Your investors and mentors will help guide you to making the right decisions. Your partners and teammates will help you see your vision through to success. Your clients will make or break your business. Human relationships will dictate your success, and as such, you’ll learn to value them more.

    5. Ideas are no longer fleeting.

    During the course of a given day, I’d wager the majority of ordinary people come up with at least a half dozen ideas. Those ideas may be large, like an idea for a new business, or small, like an idea for a new dinner dish. They may be good or they may be bad. Regardless of the quality or scope of these ideas, the majority of them are released, never to be thought of again.

    As an entrepreneur, you see firsthand the value of an idea. Even bad ideas, if worked on, can become good ideas, and even ideas that never manifest in reality can be learned from if they are properly explored. After your course as an entrepreneur, you’ll never let another of your ideas go immediately. You’ll hold onto each one, explore it and consider it for application. Similarly, you’ll be more willing to hear and explore the ideas of others. You never know when or how your next great venture will begin.

    Don’t let these perspective changes intimidate you. It’s true that entrepreneurship changes you, but in most ways, it changes you for the better. Besides, if you aren’t prepared to take a risk for a potentially monumental gain, you might not be cut out to be an entrepreneur in the first place. Your time as a business owner will be a challenging, rewarding and exciting journey. Whether you fail hard or become a massive success, you’ll be grateful you took it.

    SEE ALSO: Use this flowchart to figure out which type of entrepreneur you are

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal on leadership and advice for his 20-year-old self

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    Richard Branson

    Communication in a business starts at the top and works its way down through every employee.

    Skip Weisman, a leadership and workplace communication expert, says there are three overarching levels of high-performance leadership communication: self-communication, one-on-one communication, and public/group communication.

    To excel in each of these areas, Weisman says successful communicators have mastered the following seven skills:

    1. Communicating with specificity

    Effective communication is purposeful and provides context to the other party — and that requires being specific. 

    "If you've ever left a conversation thinking 'that person must think I'm a mind reader,' then you've been a victim of a lack of specificity," Weisman says.

    One way to fix this, he suggests, is avoiding lazy phrases such as "as soon as possible." These phrases are often used "because we don't want to be held accountable, and we want wiggle room."

    2. Communicating desirable behaviors

    Starting in childhood, most of us are constantly being told what not to do, Weisman says. "Parents rarely follow that up by explaining the alternative desirable behavior." 

    Successful communicators don't make a habit of telling others what they don't want done. Instead, they emphasize the positive things they want to highlight and develop. 

    3. Communicating with immediacy, urgency, and promptness

    Mastering the skill of promptness can be challenging, since procrastinating and delaying difficult conversations at work is a huge problem. Weisman goes so far as to call it an "epidemic." 

    A general guideline is to engage in a discussion over a certain incident within 48 hours of it taking place, Weisman says. If this isn't possible, it's important to at least notify the other party that a conversation should occur.

    4. Communicating with respectful rebuttals

    argue, conflict, workplaceDebating can be good for business if it's done properly. 

    The tricky part is making debates respectful and productive, Weisman says. 

    "Communicating with disrespectful rebuttals is a very common communication habit and extremely, extremely hard to break," Weisman says. 

    So how exactly do you break it? The answer is largely word choice, and the keyword is "and."

    Words like "but" and "however" set the other person up for negative feedback and essentially shut down their opinion. "And" is a much more inviting and less confrontational word, Weisman says.

    So the next time you find yourself in a debate at work, you might try saying, "I like what you've done, and we could add..." rather than "Good idea, but I think..."

    5. Communicating with appropriate tone and body language

    This works hand-in-hand with positive self-communication, which is the constant internal dialogue we have and is reflected in our attitude.

    Having emotional mastery means you're in control of your thoughts. It also drives your ability to project the image you want to others through your tone and body language, according to Weisman. 

    6. Communicating with focused attention

    Weisman says this is more of a decision than a skill. It boils down to deciding that the other party and their views are important enough to listen to, Weisman says.

    Communicating with focused attention can be tied to body language, since making eye contact and controlling your body positioning shows you're providing your undivided attention, Weisman says. 

    It's always our choice to focus, and "we have the opportunity to make that decision every time we're in front of someone communicating with us."

    7. Communicating with directness and candor

    "Tell it like it is," Weisman says. Of course, the challenge comes in doing it respectfully.

    The key to maintaining candor while being respectful is leaving blame, emotions, and opinions out of the conversation, he says. Instead, stick to observable behaviors and hard facts.

    Mastering this skill is vital because it's "the best way to build high-trust relationships necessary to create personal, professional, and organizational success," says Weisman.

    SEE ALSO: The 3 communication skills every leader needs to master

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    woman standing with laptop

    There are few things more frustrating than spending hours writing (and deleting and re-writing) the perfect five-sentence email — and then not getting the response you expected.

    You thought your manager would be thrilled, but instead, she sounds, well, annoyed.

    What happened? Did you send your message at the wrong time? Did you not make your request clear enough? Was your greeting too friendly? Did you give off the wrong vibe?

    Surprisingly enough, the issue can come down to something much simpler: a couple of words. Words that are very likely in an email that you already sent today.

    Recently, I wrote an article about words that give off the wrong impression in emails, and I was shocked at how many professionals (especially employers and hiring managers) tweeted me with more suggestions to add to that list. 

    What were some of the most common words they brought up? Read ’em and weep.

    1. Also

    I admit it: I have an addiction to the word “also.” It’s gotten to the point where I have to do a special proofread over my emails to make sure I haven’t included it more than once in any given message. Using “also” too often can seem like you’re over-requesting, and if you’re at the receiving end of all of those action items, it can be overwhelming deciding what to tackle first. 

    Transition words are necessary for emails though, so what’s an email sender to do? A couple of my favorite alternatives include “in addition,” “furthermore,” “building on that,” and “on another note.”

    2. Probably

    Much like “hopefully” (which I talked about in the other article), this word adds a degree of uncertainty to what you’re saying when there doesn’t have to be. 

    For example, instead of sending an email saying, “I could probably get this done today by 5 PM,” be more concrete with your deadline. Take out “probably” altogether. Or, if you’re really not sure if you’ll be done by your deadline, give yourself a new deadline, or at least a little more flexibility.

    Even saying you’ll be done by “the end of today” or “by tomorrow when you arrive in the office” sounds much more straightforward than a “probably.” Worst case scenario: You overestimate the time needed and deliver the goods early. In the history of work, no one’s ever complained about that. 

    3. Try To or Trying

    Yoda once said, “Do or do not, there is no try,” and he had a good point.

    “Try to” or “trying” falls under the same territory as “probably” in that it doesn’t give any indication that you feel confident in what you’re doing. In fact, several employers who tweeted at me pointed out that when an employee uses either phrase, they just assume that he or she can’t do what was asked, period.

    Do you really want your boss doubting you because of a single word? Let me answer that for you: No. Next time you find yourself using “try” in an email, take it out. If you’re truly unsure as to whether or not you can do it, ask yourself why—if it’s because you lack vital information or specific skills, reach out to the relevant parties and figure out what you need to gain or accomplish to turn your “try” into a “do.” If that’s not possible, your manager will want to know right away. As long as you explain why (example: “I don’t have clearance to access that shared drive”), he or she will understand and either help you remove the obstacle or just re-assign the task. 

    4. Honestly

    If there was any word competing with “literally” for most commonly misused term, “honestly” would be up there. People sprinkle it into emails all the time as filler, and after a while, the quest to show honesty starts to feel inauthentic—as if you’re letting someone in on a big secret, that isn’t at all a secret.

    Honestly, cut it out.

    5. Think

    People talk about qualifying phrases all the time (“I’m not sure if this is a good idea, but…”), but one that seems to pop up frequently is “I think…” I hadn’t really thought about this one until a hiring manager tweeted it at me, so I went through emails from my employees to see if it was true.

    Sure enough, there it was. “I think we should move forward.” “I think we should sit down and talk about this.” “I think we’re getting close.” There were several emails where people used this phrase upwards of three times in one paragraph. And while I did notice both sexes using it, women tended to write “I think” much more frequently.

    Next time you’re sending a message, just drop the “I think…” and share your views. After all, if the email is coming from you, whomever you’re sending it to will immediately attribute any thoughts in it to you!

    They say that less is more, and I honestly think that probably trying to make your emails shorter is also the best way to go. See what I did there?

    SEE ALSO: Here is the perfect way to end an email — and 28 terrible sign offs

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    strong tire lift weight

    The key to loving your job is to ask yourself one simple question: "What is my biggest strength?"

    Think about it: So many people are in jobs they hate because they haven't found that one true passion. 

    They are good at a few things so that's what they do here and there, but they aren't sure what that one big thing they want to do forever could be.

    Here is my message: Stop doing s--- you hate. Nail down your strengths so you can discover your passion.

    I have four steps to help you guys figure it out that will hopefully help all the comments and emails I see around "how do I find my strengths?" or "how I do I know what my best job skills are?" There are so many articles that dance around, but I want to give you all four concrete pieces of advice.

    1. What Are My Skills?

    Take the five to ten people that know you the best. Split them into two categories: people you connect with on a deep level of love, and people who you are close with, but maybe you're a little different in lifestyle and personality.

    Then, ask one person from each category to honestly tell you what they think you're best at, and what they think you're worst at. "What are my skills and abilities, and what are my weaknesses?"

    I truly believe that collecting market research and creating an atmosphere that allows someone to be honest with you are the two big things here. When someone really loves you, they might not want to be totally honest, because they don't want to hurt you. But the quickest way to find your strengths is by eliminating weaknesses.

    2. What Are My Strengths?

    You can't take a romantic view on the skills that have made you successful so far in life. For example, you might have been a straight A student even though you have no passion for academics. Or you're naturally amazing at basketball, but that isn't what you truly want to pursue.

    But one way those strengths can come in handy tremendously is by using them as a blueprint to discovering talents you may not have understood before. Maybe you've been blinded by the overarching strength itself because you aren't passionate about it, but list all the things that that skill requires you to do. Don't take them for granted. There are many things that go into being good at something. Your potential doesn't end with that one skill.

    3. Read Everything

    Now, I know this is a very grey world. To find your personal strengths is, well, very personal. But I want to make sure I leave you with real actionable advice.

    So here is a super specific one for you: go on a vacation.

    Yeah, seriously.

    But it's not a total vacation. During that time, you're going to go back through every email, letter or note someone wrote you, talking about your accolades or failures. Read all of them. And as you read, ask yourself "Which of my skills am I consistently praised for?" And on the flipside: what do people continuously say you are bad at?

    This task could take many many hours. You might be thinking it will take too many hours.

    But think: you are the one who clicked on this article. It can't be that much time because it seems like you really want to figure this out, right? In the end, it's a small amount of time to sacrifice compared to the happiness it will give you for the rest of your life.

    4. Ask Strangers

    On social media, make a video or post asking everyone who follows you the very question we have been repeating over and over: "What are my personal strengths?" This can be phrased in a number of ways when it comes to people who follow you for your content and comments. I like to ask what I am doing that they like. What have they found helpful? What has my best work been? What is my potential?

    This is now the widest net you can cast to get the information. Because these are people who have been viewing you from a very specific place, your social media personality, you are able to curate that part of your life as well into the decision of which strength to pursue.

    After these four steps, you should have the depth of personal information you need to move forward to your new destination. Bring all these thoughts together to find the skill and strength that will benefit you. From there, the options are endless: a new career move? Start a new company? Find a business partner that complements your strengths and work for him? Start a company with him?

    I'm pumped for you just thinking about the awesome stuff you can do. 

    This story originally appeared on

    SEE ALSO: A Silicon Valley executive says this is the one decision that defines your company culture

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: 11 ways to avoid distractions and stay focused

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    As I watched the 2015 NBA Draft, it was clear the players selected to join the professional ranks are more than athletes. They’re bonafide brands with images to uphold and Twitter audiences to entertain.

    That’s why Karl-Anthony Towns, the #1 overall draft pick, wore a suit for the draft made of a rare fabric. How rare? Towns claims there’s only eight meters of the fabric in the world — and his suit used two and a half of it.

    Right on cue, Towns (second from the right) posted a photo on Twitter in the custom jacket.

    Even at 19 years of age, Towns knows he needs to leave an impression at every turn.

    On LinkedIn, we can also share our personal brands with the world. Can you guess where?

    In the professional headline, the space right below your name. 

    Most people use the line to write their job title.

    John Doe, Project Manager at Acme Corporation

    Sure, that’s appropriate and won’t get you in trouble. But here’s the catch: most people list their job title and company, which makes their LinkedIn profiles blend in with all the rest.

    Also, Project Manager at Acme Corporation isn’t a professional headline. It’s just the facts as if to say, “This is what I do, and this is where I work.”

    OK. But what’s your brand?

    Maybe John Doe excels at data analytics, and he’s become known around the office for his ability. Then his professional headline could be:

    John Doe

    Using data to make smarter decisions

    Or perhaps:

    John Doe

    Powerful insights driven by data

    Yes, your job title and company matter, but your “brand” is more interesting. It might catch readers by surprise and lure them into your profile.

    So how do we craft a professional headline?

    First, ask yourself this question: where do you provide the most value on the job?

    If you’re in customer service, then the headline could be “The customer always comes first” or “Dedicated customer service specialist.”

    If you work in IT, the headline could read “Ready to solve the toughest tech challenges” or “Cybersecurity and antivirus expert.”

    Think about how your skills allow you to make an impact on others. Why do you matter? Then turn the answer into a short phrase.

    That’s your professional headline. That’s your brand.

    A few more points to consider

    • Don’t use the professional headline to brag. For example, “Greatest marketer in the country.” Nope, you’re not. Instead, tell us how you make others better.
    • Please don’t write the exact phrase “Turn complex problems into solutions.” It’s super cliche and overdone.
    • Keep the professional headline to eight words or fewer. Otherwise, it will drag on.
    • Ask a few friends or co-workers what they think of your headline. Tell them to be honest and not hold back.
    • Once you set the professional headline, forget about it for a couple of hours and then look again. Do you still like the headline or does it feel funny? Listen to your gut — it’s usually right.

    SEE ALSO: LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner explains his No. 1 management principle

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: 5 morning rituals to keep you productive all day long

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    Misty Copeland 2015

    Misty Copeland was already arguably the most famous ballet dancer in the United States. But this week, the 32-year-old made history: she became the first African American woman to be named principal dancer with the legendary American Ballet Theatre

    For Copeland, who just starred in the company's production of "Swan Lake" at the Met, it represents the culmination of a longtime dream — one she's repeated "like a mantra," but wasn't sure she'd ever achieve. 

    The dancer describes herself as an "unlikely ballerina" (it's the subtitle of her 2014 memoir), and it's true: whatever your ballet stereotypes, it's likely Copeland doesn't fit them. Here's how she went from "pretty much homeless" to dance superstar. 


    SEE ALSO: There are only 229 Master Sommeliers in the world — here's how one 27-year-old worked his way into this exclusive club

    Misty Copeland was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1982. When she was 2, her parents divorced, and her mom, Sylvia, moved Copeland and her three older siblings to start over in Bellflower, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. The next time she saw her biological father, she would be 22 and a dancer with the American Ballet Theatre.


    Copeland spent her childhood "dancing to Mariah Carey videos, rewatching a movie about the gymnast Nadia Comaneci, and being very prepared for school, where she was a hall monitor and the class treasurer," wrote Rivka Galchen in a 2014 New Yorker profile.


    But she didn't take any formal gymnastics or dance classes until she was 13 — insanely late for a female ballet dancer. These kids are auditioning for the super prestigious School of American Ballet. They're between 6 and 10.


    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    teen ocean lifeguard

    Even very, very famous people have to start somewhere.

    And for a lot of them, "somewhere" is a summer job. For some, those high school and college gigs were obvious steps toward incredible careers. For others, the path to success was...a little more winding. 

    But while Madeleine Albright may not have found her ultimate calling in bra sales, and Christopher Walken didn't go onto have a lucrative lion taming career, everyone learned something from the experience — even if it was what they didn't want to do.

    We combed through interviews with business leaders, political leaders, artists, and tech stars to figure out what some of America's most successful people did over their summer vacations when they were younger. 

    SEE ALSO: What 17 successful people read before bed

    Microsoft founder Bill Gates served as a Congressional page.

    Already an accomplished computer programmer — he'd started at 13 — a young Bill Gates spent the summer of 1972 working in Washington, DC, as a Congressional page, according to CNN's timeline. 

    At Inc., Bill Murphy, Jr. speculates that this might have shaped Gates more than one might guess. "It wouldn't seem to have much to do with starting Microsoft," he says, but "it could have sparked an interest in public policy that led him to launch the Gates Foundation."


    Actor Christopher Walken started his performance career as a lion tamer.

    Before he was Academy Award-winning actor Christopher Walken, he was Christopher Walken, the 16-year-old lion tamer.

    "It was a touring circus that was owned by a man named Terrell Jacobs," he explained to Vanity Fair. "It was just one big tent, and he was a lion tamer. He didn't have any kids, but the bit was that I would dress up as his son in an identical outfit. When he would finish his act, there would be one lion left, and I used to go in and have this lion do tricks."

    It was not, he claims, as dangerous as it sounds. "It was a female named Sheba, and she was very sweet. Like a dog, really. I would wave the whip, and she would run and sit up and roll over and do things."


    Amy Poehler scooped ice cream.

    The summer before college, the comedian scooped ice cream at Chadwick's, "one of those fake old-timey restaurants."

    In the New Yorker, she recalls the rise and fall of her brief ice cream career. She liked the "performance aspect" of the job. She didn't like the rest.

    "I quit when the summer ended," she writes. "I had started forgetting to charge for whipped cream. I was failing to use the ice scoop. A customer told me I was banging the drum 'too hard.' She was right."

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    woman sleeping on table

    Between the cups of coffee and yawns, you realize that you are sleep deprived.

    The way you feel and how you are able to function are greatly impacted by your sleep or lack thereof.

    According to the National Institute of Health, sleep helps your brain work properly.

    While you're sleeping, your brain is preparing for the next day. It's forming new pathways to help you learn and remember information.

    There are many causes and consequences to not having enough sleep. As a business owner, you are carrying a lot on your shoulders. A simple way to alleviate the feeling of being under stress is to get enough sleep.

    The National Institute of Health goes on to say that studies also show that sleep deficiency alters activity in some parts of the brain. If you're sleep deficient, you may have trouble making decisions, solving problems, controlling your emotions and behavior, and coping with change. Sleep deficiency also has been linked to depression, suicide, and risk-taking behavior.

    As a business owner this is significant. So what can you do about it? Here are few suggestions to help you get the rest that your body needs:

    1. Bedtime is for sleeping

    Often people go to bed to watch TV, but you really want to program yourself to expect to go to sleep when it is bedtime. You should have a regimen that prepares you for bed and sends the message that it is time for sleep.

    This will be something that you can and will do on a daily basis. Your goal is to eliminate anything that stimulates you and causes you to actually stay awake.

    2. Go to bed on the same day

    If you wake up on a Tuesday morning, you should be in the bed on your way to sleep Tuesday evening, and not Wednesday morning at 12 a.m., 1 a.m., and so forth. People have a bad habit of not going to bed at a reasonable time. This then becomes a habit that is both difficult to break and impacts your daily activities.

    3. Wake up at the same time daily

    Some people are able to wake up without an alarm clock because they are getting enough rest or they're following their circadian rhythm. Set your alarm to wake up at the same time daily. It is consistency that the body needs.

    4. Create a restful environment

    This could mean having sound effects such as waterfall, a gurgling brook, or whatever relaxes you to drift off to sleep. This may mean having all the lights off and controlling as much as your environment as possible ranging from a comfortable mattress to a cool room.

    5. Avoid caffeine and alcohol

    If you find it hard to go to sleep stop your caffeine intake in the afternoon. Then the nightcap that you believe is helping you should be eliminated, as well. Alcohol may help you to go to sleep but it has been shown to reduce your sleep quality, waking you up later in the night.

    Even with these practices, you may find sleep to be a difficult task because you often worry about the next day, think about what you didn't accomplish, and get into your head. Try keeping a notepad next to your bed and when you think of something that you believe will be beneficial the next day jot it down.

    This will tell your brain that it can let that thought go so that you can sleep instead of trying to hold on to that thought. It is difficult running a business and it seems that the only time you really have to think about the day is at night when you are supposed to be asleep.

    But if you are going to keep up the fast pace and tackle each day with vigor, you must get your rest.

    SEE ALSO: 7 brilliant ways to start a presentation

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Car stuck

    You’ve been doing the same tasks for as long as you can remember. 

    You’ve had the same boss—and boss’ boss—the whole time you’ve been at the company. 

    New skills? New responsibilities? New company initiatives? Can’t really name any off the top of your head. In fact, you’re starting to feel like things are a little stalled. 

    I know. You have a good job. You work for an interesting company, and you like your boss and co-workers. And I also know that, sometimes, sticking with the status quo is exactly what you want out of your career. 

    But, if it’s important to you to continue growing and advancing in your professional life, it’s time to pay attention to how your job is affecting your career as a whole. And, more importantly, to recognize these signs that tell you when it might be at a standstill.

    1. The Only Way You Can Move Up Is if Your Boss Retires

    Or, you know, gets hit by a bus Regina George-style. If you’re in one of those organizations with a rigid structure where everyone moves up the same ladder — and the rung ahead of you won’t be vacated anytime soon — then a promotion or advancement probably isn’t on the horizon for you.

    If this is the case, you can (and should) talk to your supervisor about what your options are. Could you at least take on some new responsibilities? Or, if there isn’t an opportunity for you in your current department, maybe there is in another. Of course, if you’ve done that, and there’s still no hope of movement, there’s nowhere for you to go but out.

    You can also avoid this dilemma in your next position by asking questions like this during interviews: “How do employees grow and develop their careers here?” or “What does a typical career path at your company look like?”

    2. You Get Passed Over for a Promotion More Than Once

    Whatever the reason behind this might be, the fact is something or someone is preventing you from moving up in your current organization. 

    Before packing up your things, do take the time to sit down your manager and ask why this happened again. Perhaps it’s something you’re doing and you’re unwittingly self-sabotaging — if that’s the case, you have something to work on. But if no one’s giving you a clear reason on why you got passed over, it’s likely that not much is going to change in the future. 

    3. Your Company Is Cutting Back

    During the recession, there wasn’t much you could do about your employer tightening its belt—everyone else was doing the same thing. But now, with a healthier economy, you have more options, and you should pay attention if your company seems to be cutting back. 

    You don’t even necessarily need to be seeing mass layoffs or salary freezes. Just look out for signs that business isn’t really growing, like dwindling job openings or the fact that every major player in your industry is moving in a similar direction — while yours remains stagnant. If growth really is slowing down, pretty soon you’re going to be in that first “situation” I mentioned.

    4. Your Whole Industry Is Shrinking

    This one requires taking a step back. The realization that the industry you’ve built your career in is slowly disappearing is not one that goes over well for many people. But the earlier you catch on to it, the better off you’ll be. Yes, it’s a tough pill to swallow, but it’s better to know now, rather than be blindsided later on. 

    The good news? Plenty of people change careers. You can prepare by starting to think about what (else) you’d like to do with your life. What do you love about your job now? What are some things you’ve always been interested in? What are some interesting jobs you’ve seen friends and colleagues have? Take those answers and see what other fields utilize those skills and talents. 

    Once you’ve recognized that there’s a problem, the next step is to do something about it. (Spoiler alert: It probably involves looking for a new job.) If you’re not quite ready for that, a good first step is doing some networking to see what’s out there. Then, once you get to the point you know you need to make a change, you’ll be in a good position to launch right into job search mode.

    SEE ALSO: 48 tips on becoming more powerful

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Two models in Russia just posed with a 1,400-pound bear

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    confusedSavvy hiring managers can glean a ton of information about you by asking just a few, well-chosen questions.

    But while they may seem simple — that's the point — some are actually designed to get you to reveal information you may have been trying to conceal. In other words: they're trick questions.

    "To uncover areas that may reflect inconsistencies, hiring managers sometimes ask these tricky questions," says Tina Nicolai, executive career coach and founder of Resume Writers' Ink.

    But they're not just about exposing your flaws, says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of "Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job." These types of questions can help hiring managers break through the "traditional interview noise and clutter," and get to the "raw you." 

    Here are 17 common examples, complete with advice on how to ace each one.

    Check out these cover letter mistakes to avoid:  The 8 most common cover letter mistakes that could cost you the job

    How would you describe yourself in one word?

    Why do they ask this? The question is likely being asked to elicit several data points: your personality type, how confident you are in your self perception, and whether your work style is a good fit for the job, Taylor explains.

    What makes it tricky? This question can be a challenge, particularly early on in the interview, because you don't really know what personality type the manager is seeking. "There is a fine line between sounding self-congratulatory versus confident, and humble versus timid," Taylor says. "And people are multifaceted, so putting a short label on oneself can seem nearly impossible."

    What response are they looking for? Proceed cautiously, warns Taylor. "If you know you're reliable and dedicated, but love the fact that your friends praise your clever humor, stick with the conservative route." If you're applying for an accounting job, the one word descriptor should not be "creative," and if it's an art director position, you don't want it to be, "punctual," for example. "Most employers today are seeking team players that are levelheaded under pressure, upbeat, honest, reliable, and dedicated. However, it would be a mistake to rattle off adjectives that you think will be well received. This is your opportunity to describe how your best attributes are a great match for the job as you see it."

    How does this position compare to others you are applying for?

    Why do they ask this? They're basically asking: "Are you applying for other jobs?""The hiring manager is first trying to figure out how active you are in your job search," Nicolai says. Then, once you open up, they want to see how to speak about other companies or positions you're interested in — and how honest you are. 

    What makes it tricky? If you say, "This is the only job I'm applying for," that'll send up a red flag. Very few job applicants only apply to the one single job — so they may assume you're being dishonest. However, if you openly speak about other positions you're pursuing, and you speak favorably about them, the hiring manager may worry that you'll end up taking another job elsewhere, and they won't want to waste their time. "Speaking negatively about other jobs or employers isn't good either," she says. 

    What response are they looking for? It is appropriate to say, "There are several organizations with whom I am interviewing, however, I've not yet decided the best fit for my next career move.""This is positive and protects the competitors," says Nicolai. "No reason to pit companies or to brag." 

    Can you name three of your strengths and weaknesses?

    Why do they ask this? The interviewer is looking for red flags and deal breakers, such as inability to work well with coworkers and/or an inability to meet deadlines. "Each job has its unique requirements, so your answers should showcase applicable strengths, and your weaknesses should have a silver lining," Taylor says. "At the very least, you should indicate that negative attributes have diminished because of positive actions you've taken."

    What makes it tricky? You can sabotage yourself addressing either. Exposing your weaknesses can hurt you if not ultimately turned into positives, she says. "Your strengths may not align with the skill set or work style required for the job. It's best to prepare for this question in advance, or risk landing in a minefield."

    What response are they looking for? Hiring managers want to know that your strengths will be a direct asset to the new position and none of your weaknesses would hurt your ability to perform. "They are also looking for your ability to self assess with maturity and confidence," says Taylor.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    elizabeth holmes, theranos, sv100 2015

    It's really only in the past year that we've come to know and admire the world's youngest female billionaire, Elizabeth Holmes.

    Her incredibly unusual business strategy had her flying under the radar for more than a decade as she built her revolutionary blood-testing company, Theranos.

    Now Holmes is ranked No. 1 on the Silicon Valley 100, Business Insider's list of the most prominent (and coolest) people in Silicon Valley.

    Here are 21 surprising facts you may not have known about America's coolest multibillionaire:

    1. Ranked No. 110 on the Forbes 400 in 2014, Holmes topped the list of America's Self-Made Women in 2015 with a net worth of $4.7 billion.
    2. Holmes was born in 1984. Considering her already incredible achievements, that in itself is surprising to many.
    3. At just 9 years of age, Holmes wrote in a letter to her father, "What I really want out of life is to discover something new, something that mankind didn't know was possible to do."
    4. While still in high school, Holmes completed three college Mandarin courses and sold C compilers to Chinese universities.
    5. Holmes went to Stanford for chemical engineering, and during her time there, filed her first patent (for an advanced drug-delivery patch). She then dropped out of college just before her sophomore year.
    6. She once traveled to Singapore to spend a summer working in the Genome Institute labs on groundbreaking SARS research.
    7. Holmes was exceedingly private in the first 11 years of building her company. She's made a huge splash since appearing on the cover of Fortune magazine last summer.
    8. Her company name, Theranos, is a combination of the words therapy and diagnose.
    9. Since launching in 2003, Theranos has developed blood tests to help detect dozens of medical conditions, including high cholesterol and cancer, using just a drop or two of blood drawn from a pinprick in your finger.
    10. Part of Holmes's inspiration came from her aversion to needles; her mother and grandmother even fainted at the sight of needles.
    11. Holmes assembled what can be described as an all-star board of experienced and accomplished people in the corporate world: George Schultz, Bill Perry, Henry Kissinger, Sam Nunn, and Bill Frist, among others.
    12. Holmes met Sunny Balwani, who would later become her company's COO, in Beijing the summer after her senior year of high school, during the time he was getting his MBA from Berkeley.
    13. Holmes is often compared to visionary Steve Jobs and told Mercury News she launched her company after "thinking about what is the greatest change I could make in the world."
    14. Like Jobs, Holmes wears a daily "uniform" of a black suit with a black cotton turtleneck.
    15. Holmes has set her sights on more than simply dominating the blood-testing market; she wants to create a whole new market called "consumer health technology" that will see consumers more engaged in their health care.
    16. As of last year, Holmes had 84 patents to her name (18 U.S. and 66 non-U.S.).
    17. According to CBS News, Holmes spends every waking hour in her office and doesn't even own a TV at home.
    18. In March this year, Holmes became the youngest person ever honored as a lifetime member by the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans.
    19. According to The New Yorker, Holmes "can quote Jane Austen by heart, [but] no longer devotes time to novels or friends, doesn't date, doesn't own a television, and hasn't taken a vacation in 10 years ... She is a vegan, and several times a day she drinks a pulverized concoction of cucumber, parsley, kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, and celery."
    20. She abstains from caffeine, limits the amount of time she sleeps, and works seven days a week (Insights by Stanford Business).
    21. Holmes is notoriously secretive, and while she's been criticized by industry peers as such, insists she must protect her technology from the prying eyes of competitors.

    SEE ALSO: After studying 500 millionaires, a journalist noticed one characteristic they all had in common

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    amazon hq seattleThis answer originally appeared on Quora as an answer to the question: What are the best practices for career growth?

    Ian McAllister is the director of AmazonSmile. For more from Ian, follow him on Twitter.

    Some movement makes sense. Occasionally I see resumes where candidates have been with one company for 10+ years.

    If they've steadily risen over time then that's a plus. If they've been in the same role for 4+ years then I ask myself why.

    Being a job hopper is worse. If you've been at four different companies in the past four years I'm unlikely to make an investment in you hoping you'll break the streak at my company.

    Here are a couple general best practices for career growth:

    1. Bloom where you're planted.

    Kick a-- at your current job. That's the best path to career growth within your company, and the best way to demonstrate results if moving to another. Don't just work to eliminate your weaknesses, make sure you have special talents that others don't, and that your company couldn't easily hire for.

    2. Strive. 

    If you can manage to kick enough a-- at your current job then you can try to carve out some time to take on additional, more senior responsibilities, or find other ways you can demonstrate greater leverage and value for your company. If two employees are equal today, the one that strives will have higher long-term career potential. Make sure you are striving, and that your management knows you're striving.

    3. Network. 

    Get to know key people within your company and in your industry. Don't randomly reach out and ask them to get coffee with you. Figure out what you have to offer others and then use it.

    4. Make calculated career changes.

    If you know where you want to be in your career in 5 years then you stand a better chance of getting there. Plot a course from here to there. The appropriate course will include gaining new skills, achieving certain career milestones, and may include changing roles or companies.

    You may have to take several intermediate steps to get from here to there. For example, I did client-server consulting in the late nineties, moved into startup development in 2000, then into architecture/dev management, then into product/program management, then into general management and I'm now adding more business development activities. Each move was calculated.

    SEE ALSO: What 'Shark Tank' investor Robert Herjavec learned from legendary UFC fighter Georges St. Pierre

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    woman writing

    Most of Thomas Edison’s ideas were bad.

    At least they weren’t good enough to make it out of the laboratory. Or from the patent office to the product line. Thousands of ideas, never to see the light of day.

    An associate of Edison’s, Walter S. Mallory, recalled asking the inventor about this, according to a 1910 biography “Edison: His Life and Inventions.” Mallory recalled that Edison had been working for months on a nickel-iron battery. Mallory visited Edison in his shop and learned his friend had tried more than 9,000 experiments for the battery and none had been successful.

    “In view of this immense amount of thought and labor, my sympathy got the better of my judgment, and I said: ‘Isn’t it a shame that with the tremendous amount of work you have done you haven’t been able to get any results?’”

    Mallory sympathized with Edison. He felt sorry for him that so many ideas had not yet produce one result. Edison saw it differently.

    “Edison turned on me like a flash, and with a smile replied: ‘Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results! I know several thousand things that won’t work.'”

    More ideas are good ideas

    CreativityEdison’s story illustrates a principle that some of the most successful people and companies in history have long known. If you want to have good ideas. You’re going to need a lot of ideas. Even bad ones.

    Especially bad ones.

    Author and Entrepreneur Frans Johansson discusses this in his book “The Medici Effect: Breakthrough Insights at the Intersection of Ideas, Concepts, and Cultures.”

    ““The strongest correlation for quality of ideas is, in fact, quantity of ideas. A closer look at the number of new products, songs, books, scientific papers, strategy concepts, ideas, ideas.”

    For example, he writes, many teams will generate ideas in the thousands knowing that more than 99 percent will never be touched. Those bad ideas aren’t wasted time. They serve the greater purpose.

    “Some individuals or creative teams will come up with ten, a hundred, or even a thousand times more ideas than their peers,” Johansson wrote. “Not only that, those who have created the most are also the ones who have the most significant innovative impact. This was true in the past; Pablo Picasso, for instance, produced 20,000 pieces of art; Einstein wrote more than 240 papers; Bach wrote a cantata every week; Thomas Edison filed a record 1,039 patents. This holds true today. Prince is said to have over 1,000 songs stored in his secret ‘vault,’ and Richard Branson has started 250 companies.”

    In Google’s early years, the company’s astronomical growth was due in part to the huge volume of ideas all of its employees were generating.

    Creativity draw whiteboardIf you wanted to work at Google, you had to be an idea machine.

    The company maintained an ideas e-mail list where anyone could submit or comment on an idea.

    “At times, the thread more resembles a form of techie Darwinism. Google newcomers who proffer an especially obvious suggestion …, or something off-topic like how to arrange the cafeteria tables, often suffer withering rebukes,” reads a 2005 Bloomberg Business article on the company and then-executive Marissa Mayer, who today is President and CEO of Yahoo.

    “It’s about 50% new ideas, 50% indoctrination of new employees,” Mayer said of the e-mail list.

    Or as Linus Pauling, chemist and winner of two Nobel Prizes, put it: “The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas, and throw away the bad ones.”

    The science of bad ideas

    China inventionThere is science to support the art of bad ideas.

    Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon and the University of Texas-Austin found that a larger variance in the quality of ideas leads to more positive progress generating high-quality ideas. In other words, the more your ideas pool includes a mixed bag of ideas — good, bad and mediocre — the more likely you are to stumble upon a great idea.

    If you strain over every bad-seeming idea and try only for ones that seem world class from the beginning, you’re hurting your progress.

    Researchers from the Wharton School and INSEAD studied idea generation in research subjects organized into two groups. They found that the group that produced more ideas also produced better ideas.

    How to have more ideas

    sitting on bridge waiting patience calm pensive thinking thoughtfulNow that you — hopefully — believe in the power of bad ideas, it’s time to learn how to put them into practice. To put more ideas out into the world, you might have to start by taking more in.

    ReadAs Y Combinator cofounder and partner Paul Graham put it, read more. Keep an eye out for problems in the world that need addressing.

    “Reading the Wall Street Journal for a week should give anyone ideas for two or three new startups,” Graham has wrote. “The articles are full of descriptions of problems that need to be solved.”

    man reading on kindleWriteGet your ideas recorded. It sounds simple, but something as easy as a “bad ideas” file in Evernote or Trello could serve as a clearinghouse for your ideas. Let the ideas sit for a while, then revisit them days or weeks later. If you record enough ideas, many you may not even remember writing. It will give you a fresh perspective, and you’ll feel confident moving some ideas over to a file called “maybe OK ideas.”

    Work AloneIt may seem counterintuitive — especially if you have bosses eager to cram everyone into a conference room to scribble ideas on a white board — but working alone on generating ideas could be more effective than working in groups.

    computer workingThe Wharton School and INSEAD researchers studied idea generation in subjects who were placed into two different group. One group worked as a team, the second worked in a hybrid structure, working first individually and then in a group setting.

    The hybrid group performed much better than the group that worked only as a team.

    “We find that groups organized in the hybrid structure are able to generate more ideas, to generate better ideas, and to better discern the quality of the ideas they generate,” the researchers wrote.

    Furthermore, the researchers found that the group brainstorming session may actually inhibit productivity.

    “Moreover, we find that the frequently recommended brainstorming technique of building on others’ ideas is counterproductive; teams exhibiting such buildup neither create more ideas, nor are the ideas that build on previous ideas better.”

    Grind it outIt’s important to keep hustling when it comes to generating ideas. It’s not about the quality of any one idea, it’s about trusting the process.

    computer concentrateIf that seems difficult, remember that you’re in good company.

    “Painters, musicians, entrepreneurs, writers, chiropractors, accountants–we all fail far more than we succeed. We fail at closing a sale or playing a note. We fail at an idea for a series of paintings or the theme for a trade show booth,” wrote bestselling author Seth Godin in a blog post.

    “But we succeed far more often than people who have no ideas at all.”

    Don’t be a person with no ideas. Get your thoughts out there. Even the bad ones. If you trust this process, things will come together.

    Something good will happen.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    man in booth laptop

    Have you ever felt like real success was within reach at your job, but then you did something unintentionally to sabotage it?

    Employees can often hurt their own careers because they fear “failing at success” when attempting to rise to the next level.

    They think, “How can I possibly handle that new level of responsibility without messing up?” And then a fear of failure becomes reality.

    Saboteur thinking can plague you throughout your career or just happen in phases – and it happens to most everyone at some point. Either way, you can counter it by using sabotage blockers that help you realize you are indeed up to the task.

    Signs of Career Self-Sabotage

    There are some telltale signs that you may unknowingly be hurting your career. Missing deadlines, being overly modest, putting down others’ accomplishments, constantly working on overdrive, being overly perfectionistic, worrying too much about what others think, failing to follow through, refusing to admit mistakes, being resistant to change or suddenly withdrawing ... all of these are red flags of self-sabotage at work.

    If this sounds like you, it may be time to hit reset and take action to boost your self-esteem. With more enlightened self-awareness and greater appreciation of your talents, you can begin to see a pathway to a more rewarding work-life.

    One well-documented example of this problem is the imposter syndrome, where you feel unworthy of success or like a fraud psychologically. You may stagnate in your job as a result, as it affects how you complete your work and interface with others. It was once thought of as only applicable to women, but that’s changed.

    Sabotage Blockers

    Oftentimes people don’t see themselves for who they really are — bright, intelligent and worthy of enjoying the fruits of their labor. They attribute accomplishments to good luck, or deflect an achievement with self-deprecating comments.

    There’s nothing wrong with a little modesty; and sometimes that can be refreshing in a corporate environment! But we can also be fearful of making mistakes, and consequently avoid applying our most innovative thinking.

    Try these tips to block self-sabotage at the office:

    1. Solicit more feedback from your supervisors, clients and co-workers.

    During a meeting with your boss, ask for input, particularly if you’ve just completed a project. Get perspectives from clients and your team members, too. You may well be pleasantly surprised because, unfortunately, people are more likely to be more vocal when things go wrong. Often you have to solicit positive feedback.

    2. Keep a "kudos" file from bosses and colleagues. 

    These are handy reminders of your accomplishments for when you fall into the saboteur trap, especially when you need an added boost for a new endeavor. They’ll also come in handy should you decide to pursue a new job.

    3. Keep tabs on your "to do" progress by crossing off what you've achieved. 

    These days it’s easier than ever to keep a list on Google Tasks or through other apps on your wireless device or desktop. But rather just delete everything you’ve toiled away to complete over hours, days or months — consider putting a check next to them or listing them under a “Completed” list. This will remind you of your hard earned accomplishments, and that you’re not just spinning your wheels.

    4. Ask your boss for more frequent evaluations. 

    Don’t wait until your annual review to get a read on your work. Ask for feedback once a month or more often, depending on your circumstances. (Just don’t overdo it, or you may appear insecure.) Your interest in improving will likely be looked upon favorably by your manager.

    5. Become more visible. 

    By getting more involved with both business and social interactions at your company, you'll build camaraderie and self-confidence. You’ll see firsthand how your skills are appreciated. You may feel you’re a natural introvert, but as poet John Donne once said, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent ...” — we do not thrive when isolated.

    For example, even by offering an informal mentorship to a more junior employee, you’ll feel the unique reward of giving back — but you’ll also realize just how far you’ve come in your career.

    Don’t Lean Too Far the Other Way

    You can also sabotage your career by appearing over-confident to compensate for underlying low self-esteem — that is, slipping into what I call a Terrible Office Tyrant or “TOT” behavior. Inadvertently alienating your boss or co-workers can swiftly derail an otherwise great work opportunity.

    If you like your job and want to advance, but feel like you’re sometimes your own worst enemy, take a step back. There’s only one thing that can sabotage anyone from achieving greatness — and conversely catapult anyone to the top. Ourselves.

    Lynn Taylor is a national workplace expert, author of "Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant; How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior & Thrive in Your Job," and CEO of Lynn Taylor Consulting.

    SEE ALSO: 10 ways to stop sabotaging your own success

    Join the conversation about this story »

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