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The latest news on Careers from Business Insider

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    Robert Krzyzanowski Avant

    Robert Krzyzanowski is the kind of person who could choose to do many things with his life.

    At 11, he scored in the 97th percentile in the math section of the SAT. At 16, Krzyzanowski, who speaks three languages fluently, was graduating from a special college-level program for gifted high-school students at North Central in Naperville, Illinois.

    By 23, he had a Ph.D. in math from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and, he says, he wanted to find a job where he had a real-world impact.

    So Krzyzanowski, now 25, joined a little-known financial-technology startup called Avant.

    The Chicago-based online lending platform is one of a handful of startups that are looking to overturn the consumer-loan market by finding ways to approve loans faster than banks. For some people, Avant can approve a loan the same day.

    Founded in 2012, Avant is the fastest-growing online marketplace lender, having raised more than $1.6 billion in three years. It's also a member of the unicorn club, with a valuation of more than $2 billion.

    A couple of years ago, it might have seemed a risky place to start a career. Krzyzanowski's telling of his experience at Avant hits all the perks of working at a tech startup, starting with the drive of his coworkers.

    The startup 'drive'

    "Even in grad school, where you have people that are from a wide variety of backgrounds and are generally motivated, I hadn't really seen the kind of drive that you do in the first few years of a really fast-growing venture," he said.

    While his academic background is in math and statistics, at Avant he manages the programmers.

    Avant

    Krzyzanowski likes being able to wear many hats at Avant, another perk of being at a small operation. He's also able to see the direct impact of his work.

    "Whenever we have customers streaming, the work that I do and the work that the people I work with do — it's constantly making decisions and at every second it's actually having an impact on our customers," Krzyzanowski said.

    "So without that kind of tethering to the real world, it's hard to justify any work you're doing, and I found that to be true moving from academia into the industry."

    What is data engineering?

    Krzyzanowski's analytics team essentially transforms any insights that the company has on potential customers into useful data points that can be used to analyze their worthiness as a borrower.

    "What we do boils down to making decisions — but making them better and making them faster," Krzyzanowski said.

    Avant must be able to decide whether customers are fraudulent. (There are two kinds of fraud, Krzyzanowski said: soft fraud, such as using a current credit rating to get a one-time loan, even while knowing that, for example, some large debt may be coming in; and hard fraud, like identity theft.)

    Robert Krzyzanowski Avant

    His team gauges that by using "offline" tools and machine-learning techniques to analyze hundreds or even thousands of variables to assess fraud risks. Most lenders are able to analyze only dozens of variables.

    "Effectively what we're able to do is take these complicated algorithms and then translate them into code that can make the decision instantly," Krzyzanowski said.

    They're able to do that because they've developed their own internal programming syntax and grammar.

    "We really use best-in-class analytics and technology to provide a unique customer experience," Avant's CEO, Al Goldstein, told Business Insider.

    Goldstein said that over 50% of Avant's customers get approved in real time, while virtually all of them get funded the next business day.

    "The result of that is really positive customer experience and customer satisfaction," he said.

    Avant

    This week Avant launched an auto finance product, and plans for a credit-card product are in the works.

    Goldstein wants to build out Avant's presence internationally, too, particularly in the UK and Canada.

    Krzyzanowski's analytics team has grown from two people to 30, and his position continues to grow with it.

    "Coming in to work here I thought maybe I'll stay here long term, maybe I'll stay a couple of months," Krzyzanowski said.

    Two years later, it looks as if he may be in it for the long haul.

    SEE ALSO: BlackRock is betting on millennials to help fix the market's biggest weakness

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This startup uses cremated human remains to grow trees


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    Mark Zuckerberg

    Creating a successful business is difficult.

    There are no two ways around it. You strive to point yourself down the field and head toward the goalposts, avoiding and overcoming all the obstacles that get in your way. This can be done by tackling these often-challenging blockers.

    SEE ALSO: This 32-year-old CEO shares the most common piece of advice she gives aspiring entrepreneurs

    1. You have to believe.

    Surround yourself with positive, talented people. Ignore the naysayers and truly believe that what you have to offer will benefit others. Go forth with confidence, armed with proof of your product’s or service’s benefits.



    2. You have to feel confident.

    Nary an entrepreneur avoids the insecurity of calling on a new customer, the fear of launching a new venture or the doubt that he or she will succeed. Those who succeed put hesitation aside and do it anyway.



    3. You have to make sales calls.

    You are in business to make money, and the only way to make money is through getting and keeping customers and clients. Out of sight is out of mind. That’s why it’s important to make it a priority to keep in touch with old contacts, follow up with prospective clients and make in-person appointments. Do this on a weekly basis.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    reading, book

    Landing your first job and entering the workforce can be overwhelming.

    Chances are, your college didn't offer classes on how to negotiate your salary, deal with a micromanaging boss, or confront annoying coworkers. 

    But there's still something you can do to prepare yourself for the tricky world of work: read.

    Here are 12 books we think every young professional should read before starting their first job:

    SEE ALSO: 23 books Mark Zuckerberg thinks everyone should read

    DON'T MISS: The 27 jobs that are most damaging to your health

    'What Color is Your Parachute?' by Richard N. Bolles

    If you're only going to read one book on the list, you may want to choose this one. Why? It covers a little about everything

    Bolles writes in the first chapter, "In today's world, he or she who gets hired is not necessarily the one who can do that job best; but, the one who knows the most about how to get hired." 

    The first half of the book talks about how to create an eye-catching résumé and cover letter, as well as how to improve your networking, interviewing, and negotiating skills — while the second half focuses on how to find your ideal career.

    BUY IT HERE»



    'Never Eat Alone' by Keith Ferrazzi

    "Never Eat Alone" is about using relationships to reach success. In other words, it's about who you know, not what you know.

    Ferrazzi, a master networker, talks about how he used connections to get into Yale for his undergraduate degree, Harvard for his MBA, and later, to land a number of top executive positions. 

    Based on his experiences and additional research, Ferrazzi claims that networking is the difference between average and super successful people. To help others achieve their dream life, he lays out his exact steps for reaching out to people in his network, as well as networking tips from the most well-connected individuals in the modern business and political world. 

    These tips have helped him connect with Washington power players and Hollywood A-listers, so they should definitely be able to help you. 

    BUY IT HERE»



    'Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion' by Robert B. Cialdini

    This book will teach you how to make people say "yes."

    No matter what field you're in, you need to know how to get others to agree with you and help you out.

    Cialdini explains the science behind doing just that based on his 35 years of research, as well as his three-year study on what makes people change their behavior. 

    Not only does this book teach you how to become a powerful negotiator, it also teaches you how to resist one. 

    BUY IT HERE»



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    happy woman

    You get all kinds of happiness advice on the internet from people who don't know what they're talking about. Don't trust them.

    Actually, don't trust me either. Trust neuroscientists. They study that gray blob in your head all day and have learned a lot about what truly will make you happy.

    UCLA neuroscience researcher Alex Korb has some insights that can create an upward spiral of happiness in your life.

    Here's what you and I can learn from the people who really have answers:

    1. The most important question to ask when you feel down

    Sometimes it doesn't feel like your brain wants you to be happy. You may feel guilty or shameful. Why?

    Believe it or not, guilt and shame activate the brain's reward center.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    Despite their differences, pride, shame, and guilt all activate similar neural circuits, including the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, amygdala, insula, and the nucleus accumbens. Interestingly, pride is the most powerful of these emotions at triggering activity in these regions — except in the nucleus accumbens, where guilt and shame win out. This explains why it can be so appealing to heap guilt and shame on ourselves — they're activating the brain's reward center.

    And you worry a lot, too. Why? In the short term, worrying makes your brain feel a little better — at least you're doing something about your problems.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    In fact, worrying can help calm the limbic system by increasing activity in the medial prefrontal cortex and decreasing activity in the amygdala. That might seem counterintuitive, but it just goes to show that if you're feeling anxiety, doing something about it — even worrying — is better than doing nothing.

    But guilt, shame, and worry are horrible, long-term solutions. So what do neuroscientists say you should do? Ask yourself this question:

    What am I grateful for?

    Yeah, gratitude is awesome … but does it really affect your brain at the biological level? Yup.

    You know what the antidepressant Wellbutrin does? Boosts the neurotransmitter dopamine. So does gratitude.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    The benefits of gratitude start with the dopamine system, because feeling grateful activates the brain stem region that produces dopamine. Additionally, gratitude toward others increases activity in social dopamine circuits, which makes social interactions more enjoyable …

    Know what Prozac does? Boosts the neurotransmitter serotonin. So does gratitude.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    One powerful effect of gratitude is that it can boost serotonin. Trying to think of things you are grateful for forces you to focus on the positive aspects of your life. This simple act increases serotonin production in the anterior cingulate cortex.

    I know, sometimes life lands a really mean punch in the gut and it feels like there's nothing to be grateful for. Guess what?

    Doesn't matter. You don't have to find anything. It's the searching that counts.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    It's not finding gratitude that matters most; it's remembering to look in the first place. Remembering to be grateful is a form of emotional intelligence. One study found that it actually affected neuron density in both the ventromedial and lateral prefrontal cortex. These density changes suggest that as emotional intelligence increases, the neurons in these areas become more efficient. With higher emotional intelligence, it simply takes less effort to be grateful.

    And gratitude doesn't just make your brain happy — it can also create a positive feedback loop in your relationships. So express that gratitude to the people you care about.

    For more on how gratitude can make you happier and more successful, click here.

    But what happens when bad feelings completely overtake you? When you're really in the dumps and don't even know how to deal with it? There's an easy answer …

    unhappy sad frustrated person

    2. Label negative feelings

    You feel awful. OK, give that awfulness a name. Sad? Anxious? Angry?

    Boom. It's that simple. Sound stupid? Your noggin disagrees.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    [I]n one fMRI study, appropriately titled "Putting Feelings into Words" participants viewed pictures of people with emotional facial expressions. Predictably, each participant's amygdala activated to the emotions in the picture. But when they were asked to name the emotion, the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex activated and reduced the emotional amygdala reactivity. In other words, consciously recognizing the emotions reduced their impact.

    Suppressing emotions doesn't work and can backfire on you.

    Via Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long:

    Gross found that people who tried to suppress a negative emotional experience failed to do so. While they thought they looked fine outwardly, inwardly their limbic system was just as aroused as without suppression, and in some cases, even more aroused. Kevin Ochsner, at Columbia, repeated these findings using an fMRI. Trying not to feel something doesn't work, and in some cases even backfires.

    But labeling, on the other hand, makes a big difference.

    Via Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long:

    To reduce arousal, you need to use just a few words to describe an emotion, and ideally use symbolic language, which means using indirect metaphors, metrics, and simplifications of your experience. This requires you to activate your prefrontal cortex, which reduces the arousal in the limbic system. Here's the bottom line: describe an emotion in just a word or two, and it helps reduce the emotion.

    Ancient methods were way ahead of us on this one. Meditation has employed this for centuries. Labeling is a fundamental tool of mindfulness.

    In fact, labeling affects the brain so powerfully it works with other people, too. Labeling emotions is one of the primary tools used by FBI hostage negotiators.

    To learn more of the secrets of FBI hostage negotiators, click here.

    Okay, hopefully you're not reading this and labeling your current emotional state as bored. Maybe you're not feeling awful but you probably have things going on in your life that are causing you some stress. Here's a simple way to beat them.

    thinking

    3. Make that decision

    Ever make a decision and then your brain finally feels at rest? That's no random occurrence.

    Brain science shows that making decisions reduces worry and anxiety — as well as helping you solve problems.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    Making decisions includes creating intentions and setting goals — all three are part of the same neural circuitry and engage the prefrontal cortex in a positive way, reducing worry and anxiety. Making decisions also helps overcome striatum activity, which usually pulls you toward negative impulses and routines. Finally, making decisions changes your perception of the world — finding solutions to your problems and calming the limbic system.

    But deciding can be hard. I agree. So what kind of decisions should you make? Neuroscience has an answer.

    Make a "good enough" decision. Don't sweat making the absolute 100% best decision. We all know being a perfectionist can be stressful. And brain studies back this up.

    Trying to be perfect overwhelms your brain with emotions and makes you feel out of control.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    Trying for the best, instead of good enough, brings too much emotional ventromedial prefrontal activity into the decision-making process. In contrast, recognizing that good enough is good enough activates more dorsolateral prefrontal areas, which helps you feel more in control …

    As Swarthmore professor Barry Schwartz said in my interview with him: “Good enough is almost always good enough.”

    So when you make a decision, your brain feels you have control. And, as I’ve talked about before, a feeling of control reduces stress. But here’s what’s really fascinating: Deciding also boosts pleasure.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    Actively choosing caused changes in attention circuits and in how the participants felt about the action, and it increased rewarding dopamine activity.

    Want proof? No problem. Let's talk about cocaine.

    You give two rats injections of cocaine. Rat A had to pull a lever first. Rat B didn't have to do anything. Any difference? Yup: Rat A gets a bigger boost of dopamine.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    So they both got the same injections of cocaine at the same time, but rat A had to actively press the lever, and rat B didn’t have to do anything. And you guessed it — rat A released more dopamine in its nucleus accumbens.

    So what's the lesson here? Next time you buy cocaine … whoops, wrong lesson. Point is, when you make a decision on a goal and then achieve it, you feel better than when good stuff just happens by chance.

    And this answers the eternal mystery of why dragging your butt to the gym can be so hard.

    If you go because you feel you have to or you should, well, it's not really a voluntary decision. Your brain doesn't get the pleasure boost. It just feels stress. And that's no way to build a good exercise habit.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    Interestingly, if they are forced to exercise, they don't get the same benefits, because without choice, the exercise itself is a source of stress.

    So make more decisions. Neuroscience researcher Alex Korb sums it up nicely:

    We don't just choose the things we like; we also like the things we choose.

    To learn what neuroscientists say is the best way to use caffeine, click here.

    OK, you're being grateful, labeling negative emotions and making more decisions. Great, but this is feeling kinda lonely for a happiness prescription. Let's get some other people in here.

    What's something you can do with others that neuroscience says is a path to mucho happiness? And something that's stupidly simple so you don't get lazy and skip it? Brain docs have an answer for you.

    happy laughing friends

    4. Touch people

    No, not indiscriminately; that can get you in a lot of trouble.

    But we need to feel love and acceptance from others. When we don't it's painful. And I don't mean "awkward" or "disappointing." I mean actually painful.

    Neuroscientists did a study where people played a ball-tossing video game. The other players tossed the ball to you and you tossed it back to them. Actually, there were no other players; that was all done by the computer program.

    But the subjects were told the characters were controlled by real people. So what happened when the "other players" stopped playing nice and didn't share the ball?

    Subjects' brains responded the same way as if they experienced physical pain. Rejection doesn't just hurt like a broken heart; your brain feels it like a broken leg.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    In fact, as demonstrated in an fMRI experiment, social exclusion activates the same circuitry as physical pain … at one point they stopped sharing, only throwing back and forth to each other, ignoring the participant. This small change was enough to elicit feelings of social exclusion, and it activated the anterior cingulate and insula, just like physical pain would.

    Relationships are important to your brain's feeling of happiness. Want to take that to the next level? Touch people.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    One of the primary ways to release oxytocin is through touching. Obviously, it's not always appropriate to touch most people, but small touches like handshakes and pats on the back are usually okay. For people you're close with, make more of an effort to touch more often.

    Touching is incredibly powerful. We just don't give it enough credit. It makes you more persuasive, increases team performance, improves your flirting … heck, it even boosts math skills.

    Touching someone you love actually reduces pain. In fact, when studies were done on married couples, the stronger the marriage, the more powerful the effect.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    In addition, holding hands with someone can help comfort you and your brain through painful situations. One fMRI study scanned married women as they were warned that they were about to get a small electric shock. While anticipating the painful shocks, the brain showed a predictable pattern of response in pain and worrying circuits, with activation in the insula, anterior cingulate, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. During a separate scan, the women either held their husbands' hands or the hand of the experimenter. When a subject held her husband's hand, the threat of shock had a smaller effect. The brain showed reduced activation in both the anterior cingulate cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex — that is, less activity in the pain and worrying circuits. In addition, the stronger the marriage, the lower the discomfort-related insula activity.

    So hug someone today. And do not accept little, quick hugs. No, no, no. Tell them your neuroscientist recommended long hugs.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    A hug, especially a long one, releases a neurotransmitter and hormone oxytocin, which reduces the reactivity of the amygdala.

    Research shows getting five hugs a day for four weeks increases happiness big time.

    Don't have anyone to hug right now? No? (I'm sorry to hear that. I would give you a hug right now if I could.) But there's an answer: Neuroscience says you should go get a massage.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    The results are fairly clear that massage boosts your serotonin by as much as 30 percent. Massage also decreases stress hormones and raises dopamine levels, which helps you create new good habits … Massage reduces pain because the oxytocin system activates painkilling endorphins. Massage also improves sleep and reduces fatigue by increasing serotonin and dopamine and decreasing the stress hormone cortisol.

    So spend time with other people and give some hugs. Sorry, texting is not enough.

    When you put people in a stressful situation and then let them visit loved ones or talk to them on the phone, they felt better. What about when they just texted? Their bodies responded the same as if they had no support at all.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    [T]he text-message group had cortisol and oxytocin levels similar to the no-contact group.

    Author's note: I totally approve of texting if you make a hug appointment.

    To learn what neuroscience says is the best way to get smarter and happier, click here.

    OK, I don't want to strain your brain with too much info. Let's round it up and learn the quickest and easiest way to start that upward spiral of neuroscience-inspired happiness.

    Sum up

    Here's what brain research says will make you happy:

    • Ask "What am I grateful for?" No answers? Doesn't matter. Just searching helps.
    • Label those negative emotions. Give it a name and your brain isn't so bothered by it.
    • Decide. Go for "good enough" instead of 'best decision ever made on Earth."
    • Hugs, hugs, hugs. Don't text — touch.

    So what's the simple way to start that upward spiral of happiness?

    Just send someone a thank-you email. If you feel awkward about it, you can send them this post to tell them why.

    This really can start an upward spiral of happiness in your life. UCLA neuroscience researcher Alex Korb explains:

    Everything is interconnected. Gratitude improves sleep. Sleep reduces pain. Reduced pain improves your mood. Improved mood reduces anxiety, which improves focus and planning. Focus and planning help with decision making. Decision making further reduces anxiety and improves enjoyment. Enjoyment gives you more to be grateful for, which keeps that loop of the upward spiral going. Enjoyment also makes it more likely you'll exercise and be social, which, in turn, will make you happier.

    So thank you for reading this.

    And send that thank-you email now to make you and someone you care about happy.

    Join over 205,000 readers. Get a free weekly update via email here.

    Related posts:

    How To Stop Being Lazy And Get More Done – 5 Expert Tips

    How To Get People To Like You: 7 Ways From An FBI Behavior Expert

    New Harvard Research Reveals A Fun Way To Be More Successful

    SEE ALSO: Science says that if you want to be happy, you should consider ditching the promotion and staying where you are

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The simplest way to get — and stay — happy, according to psychologists


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    ashley lutz ask the insiderAsk The Insider columnist Ashley Lutz answers all your work-related questions, including the awkward, sensitive, and real-world ones. Have a question? Email asktheinsider@businessinsider.com.

    Dear Insider,

    I'm a 26-year-old female professional who been at the same company for three years. On my first day, I quickly bonded with another female coworker named Penelope. We became fast friends, establishing traditions like going for coffee in the morning, grabbing salads for lunch, and gossiping about everything at work.

    We also established a friendship outside of work and would often do dinners, happy hours, concerts, manicures, you name it. I counted Penelope among my closest friends.

    Everything changed when a new girl, Heather, started at our company. Heather and I get along but don't mesh as friends. Now, Penelope and Heather often go out for coffee in the morning.

    I also see their weekend escapades on Snapchat and Instagram. I am never invited. I have given up on asking Penelope to coffee or lunch because Heather is always invited too, and I don't feel comfortable speaking as freely about work stuff.  

    I've been going through a rough time at work lately because I am overwhelmed with projects. Feeling distant from my work best friend is hurting my morale even more. I've stopped looking forward to any aspect of life in the office and feel depressed.

    Is there a way I can address this with Penelope without seeming petty? How can I be happier at work?

    Sincerely,
    Deserted By My Work Spouse

    ***

    Dear Deserted,

    I found myself in a situation similar to yours several years ago when I was at my first job out of college. I had just moved to the city and didn't know many people. Then one day at a work event, I met a girl around my age we'll call Judy, and we started hanging out. I was ecstatic! I had finally checked off the box of having a buddy for coffee, lunch, and happy hours. 

    Before long Judy started pulling away. She bailed on a dinner invitation after I had already started cooking the food, leaving me sadly eating alone. I didn't take the hint and kept inviting her to coffee and lunch, but she always found an excuse for why she couldn't make it. Eventually I stopped trying. Years later, Judy apologized to me, sheepishly saying that she found me overbearing and overwhelming. She was right: In my vulnerable state, I leaned on her too much.  

    What did I learn from my experience with Judy? That relying too much on one person is dangerous.

    Deserted, you and Penelope had a great connection for years. Your coffee-and-gossip dates became something you looked forward to at work. Now, she's hit it off with someone who you don't share the same chemistry with, at the same time as you're feeling overwhelmed and dissatisfied with your job. The days feel longer and lonelier without a work friend. 

    But the difference between my old work friend situation and yours is that it doesn't sound like Penelope is intentionally avoiding you. She's simply made a new friend whom you don't share the same camaraderie with. 

    There are a few things you can do to improve your situation.

    I'd tell Penelope you miss her and would love to catch up just the two of you. When you get coffee or dinner, keep it light and fill her in on what's happening in your life. Ask questions about how things are going for her. You can communicate how you're feeling by saying, "I've missed talking to you! We should get coffee again soon." I bet she will respond positively. 

    Another thing you should try is expanding your horizons at work. Are there other people close to your age in your department? Ask them to coffee or lunch one day. Then you won't feel as dependent on Penelope or as hurt when she leaves you behind for someone else. 

    But there's also another issue to address: your dissatisfaction with your job. Is your stress a passing thing, or a big-picture issue with the company? I've known many people who have stayed in jobs they didn't like because they were close with coworkers. When their coworkers inevitably moved on, they felt jilted and bitter.

    The benefit of more independence is you can evaluate what YOU want. Do you like your job? Or is there a new opportunity to pursue? You are young and in a position to explore your options. Being close with colleagues is not a reason to stay in a job that is a bad fit. Use this transitional time to figure out what is working for you and what isn't. 

    Once you focus on what makes you happy, the rest will fall into place.

    ***

    Ashley Lutz is a senior editor at Business Insider answering all your questions about the workplace. Send your queries to asktheinsider@businessinsider.com for publication on Business Insider. Requests for anonymity will be granted, and questions may be edited.

    SEE ALSO: Help! I fear my coworkers are judging me for refusing the 'more hours' mentality

    Follow Us: On Facebook

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Don't let 'jerks' ruin your day — here's how to overcome their bad energy at work


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    Psychotherapist M. Gary Neuman dropped by Business Insider to discuss the dangerous effects of having a "work spouse" and what to do to avoid these sometimes harmful relationships.

    Produced by Justin Gmoser and Graham Flanagan. 

    Follow BI Video: On Twitter

     

     

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    networking

    If your go-to conversation topics revolve around work and weather, then you probably don't enjoy going to networking events.

    But talking to new people doesn't have to be such a drag.

    There are ways to get the conversation going without resorting to irritating clichés.

    Check out these 17 icebreakers that will help ease you into an engaging conversation with people you've never met before.

    SEE ALSO: How to talk to anyone at a networking event

    'Hello.'

    A smile, a name, and a confident handshake can sometimes go a long way, says Ariella Coombs, content manager for Careerealism.com: "Sometimes, the easiest way to meet someone is to offer a handshake and say, 'Hi, I'm Peter.'"



    'Are you originally from [wherever the event is], or did your business bring you here?'

    This question will help you jump-start an engaging conversation with ease because "it doesn't feel like you are asking for a stiff elevator speech," Diane Gottsman, national etiquette expert and owner of The Protocol School of Texas, tells U.S. News & World Report.

    The conversation will allow both parties to talk about themselves, which is the ultimate goal of career-savvy people attending a networking event, Gottsman says.



    'What kind of volunteer work do you do?'

    Asking people about their volunteer work will open up "a world of wonderful conversation," writes strategy consultant Alice Korngold on Fast Company.

    Korngold says that she especially enjoys meeting people who work on nonprofit boards because she gets to learn about how an organization was founded, how the person got involved with it, and about the "fascinating group dynamics of boards."



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    ashley lutz ask the insiderAsk The Insider columnist Ashley Lutz answers all your work-related questions, including the awkward, sensitive, and real-world ones. Have a question? Email asktheinsider@businessinsider.com.

    Dear Insider,

    I recently left my job of several years to take a much more senior position at a new company. I was excited to start my new gig and run the show. 

    On my first day, I met my new colleagues. One person in particular stood out — a woman I used to casually date last year. She wanted more, I didn't. Things ended badly. We (thankfully) don't have to interact much on a daily basis, but we're constantly running into each other. I worry that she's telling colleagues about what a jerk I am. 

    Before I started this position I was excited to hit the ground running. Now the awkwardness is distracting. I don't know how to proceed. 

    Sincerely,

    Cringing At My New Job

    ***

    Dear Cringing,

    What you described is a worst-nightmare scenario for many people. You were looking forward to a new beginning, and now you can't escape a ghost from your past. 

    The good news is that it doesn't sound like this woman is your direct report, so there's no need to get higher-ups involved. This unfortunate situation is between the two of you. I doubt she is thrilled to see you either. The worst (the feeling of seeing this person for the first time at work) is behind you. 

    Now is the time to clear the air.

    I would ask your former flame to coffee. Apologize for how things went down between you two, and make it clear that going forward you want a cordial relationship as colleagues. Email works too, if you're more comfortable with that and send it from a personal account. 

    If she is a reasonable person, she should accept your apology and move forward in a professional manner. 

    You can't control what she tells people, but you can make a good impression on your colleagues by being friendly and reliable. Show your chops at work and showcase the skills you bring to the table.

    Their impressions of you as their coworker's jerk ex-flame will fade and everyone will forget about it in no time.

    Good luck at the new job! 

    ***

    Ashley Lutz is a senior editor at Business Insider answering all your questions about the workplace. Send your queries to asktheinsider@businessinsider.com for publication on Business Insider. Requests for anonymity will be granted, and questions may be edited.

    SEE ALSO: Help! I fear my coworkers are judging me for refusing the 'more hours' mentality

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    Donna Serdula, author of "LinkedIn Makeover: Professional Secrets to a POWERFUL LinkedIn Profile," offers five awesome tips for getting noticed on LinkedIn. 
     
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    ashley lutz ask the insiderAsk The Insider columnist Ashley Lutz answers all your work-related questions, including the awkward, sensitive, and real-world ones. Have a question? Email asktheinsider@businessinsider.com.

    Dear Insider,

    I work as an associate account manager for a large shoe label. For the most part, I love my coworkers and my job. But my resentment toward my boss is growing. She holds all of us to really high standards while not following the rules herself. 

    Everyone on the team is expected to be in by 8 a.m. and work until 6 p.m. My boss rarely gets in before 10 a.m. and rarely stays past 5. She gets away with this because we are in a remote office separate from headquarters and there is no one to hold her accountable. 

    She expects us to put together her presentations without any credit. She takes them to management and passes them off as her own. 

    Our resentment is building but my coworkers and I are at a loss. Our team is effective thanks to our hard work, but my boss' lazy attitude is killing morale. My company doesn't do reviews for managers, either. How can we address this without tattling on the boss? 

    Sincerely,
    Resentful of my boss 

    ***

    Dear Resentful,

    Wow! Your boss sounds terrible. You're bringing to light a problem that many people in the office have encountered: abuse of power at the hands of a manager.

    Because it's difficult to quantify how well managers are doing their jobs, incompetent bosses can often hide behind their skilled employees. Unfortunately, many people leave jobs that would otherwise be well-suited to them because their manager drives them crazy. 

    Even though many companies have started letting teams review their managers, employees are often afraid to speak up because they fear that complaining will reflect poorly on them.

    The fact that you're in a remote office — far away from additional senior managers or mentors — makes your situation all the more challenging. 

    That being said, there are a few ways you can improve your situation. 

    First, I would ask your boss to receive some sort of credit for the work you're doing. This conversation doesn't have to be accusatory — I would say something along the lines of, "I'm really proud of X idea and want to make sure I'm getting credit." Maybe your boss will be flexible about giving you recognition once the issue is brought to her attention. 

    Her shorter hours are annoying, but that's something that will catch up with her sooner rather than later. For all you know, the company president is trying to call her at 8:30 a.m. only to have it go to voicemail. Even though she's not in the big office, her behavior will become apparent soon enough.

    Try to have hope and wait it out. You have little to gain from going to a higher-up with an issue like this. 

    My grandfather likes to say, "the cream always rises to the top." Even though your boss is abusing her power and taking advantage of you, she won't get away with it forever.  

    If you continue to be passionate and dedicated to your work, you'll come out ahead. 

    ***

    Ashley Lutz is a senior editor at Business Insider answering all your questions about the workplace. Send your queries to asktheinsider@businessinsider.com for publication on Business Insider. Requests for anonymity will be granted, and questions may be edited.

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    boot camp

    Mental strength takes a long time to develop. 

    It is the daily practice of pushing yourself to grow stronger, maintaining realistic optimism, and setting healthy boundaries. Mentally strong people don't do things like waste time feeling sorry for themselves or give away their power.

    How do you know where you fall on the spectrum? We asked psychotherapist Amy Morin, the author of "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do."

    Morin provided the following 21 signs you're mentally stronger than average, which we've shared here in her words.

    This is an update of an article originally published by Steven Benna.

    SEE ALSO: 13 things mentally strong people don't do

    DON'T MISS: 13 science-backed signs you're smarter than average

    1. You balance emotions with logic.

    "Mentally strong people understand how their emotions can influence their thinking. In an effort to make the best decisions possible, they balance their emotions with logic." 



    2. You choose productive behavior.

    "While it may be tempting to make excuses, complain about other people, and avoid difficult circumstances, mentally strong people refuse to waste time on unproductive activities." 



    3. You feel confident in your ability to adapt to change.

    "Mentally strong people know that although change is uncomfortable, it's tolerable. They focus their energy on adapting to change, rather than resisting it."



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    There are plenty of ways to make a mistake when drafting a résumé. Take advice from Amanda Augustine, career-advice expert for TopResume, in order to ensure that you're representing yourself in a way that will impress recruiters. 

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    ashley lutz ask the insiderAsk The Insider columnist Ashley Lutz answers all your work-related questions, including the awkward, sensitive, and real-world ones. Have a question? Email asktheinsider@businessinsider.com.

    Dear Insider,

    What is the etiquette of leaving the office to interview for a new job? After more than a year in my position, I'm not being challenged anymore. I'm also frustrated with my boss.

    I work in a small office with about 25 people. My coworkers do not know that I'm looking for another job, and I'd like to keep it that way.

    My coworkers notice when I leave. We all sit right next to one another, and my boss often likes to call impromptu meetings.

    I know everybody does it, but I always feel bad making up fake doctors' appointments or taking sick days to go to interviews.

    I don't like to lie, but how can I excuse myself from the office to interview for other opportunities?

    Sincerely,

    Guilty Conscience

    ***

    Dear Guilty,

    Interviewing for a new job is not a reason to feel remorse.

    The sources of your restlessness at work — being bored, not growing your skill set, and having the boss from hell — are all well-known signs you should quit your job.

    Once your position isn't serving you, it's time to look for better opportunities. When it comes to calling off work, less is more.

    I'd recommend being as vague as possible with your boss. Sure, you don't want them to suspect that you're interviewing, but being vague ensures you won't be caught in a lie.

    Simply say you have an appointment at X time and ask if it's OK for the time off. If he or she presses you for details, say it's personal. You don't owe a detailed explanation.

    You should use the same language regardless of what the appointment is or whether you're interviewing for a new job. There's no need to specify whether you're going to the dentist, doctor, or another company.

    If you establish this language for any appointment, it won't stick out when you're going to interview.

    As for your coworkers, I wouldn't bring your absence to their attention at all. If you must (or if they ask) tell them you have to leave for an appointment. I doubt they're going to notice or care.

    And remember that in many offices, getting another offer gives you leverage. Many of my qualified, intelligent friends have gotten raises simply because their boss suspected they were interviewing somewhere else.

    Getting off work for interviews is the easy part, and you shouldn't spend too much time worrying about it.

    Instead, I would recommend spending more time reflecting on why your company isn't serving you.

    What do you hope to achieve in your career? What are your long-term goals? What kind of salary do you think you deserve?

    Once you figure out what you want, you can work toward a happier tomorrow.

    ***

    Ashley Lutz is a senior editor at Business Insider answering all your questions about the workplace. Send your queries to asktheinsider@businessinsider.com for publication on Business Insider. Requests for anonymity will be granted, and questions may be edited.

    SEE ALSO: 'Help! My coworkers' eating habits are driving me insane'

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    ashley lutz ask the insiderAsk The Insider columnist Ashley Lutz answers all your work-related questions, including the awkward, sensitive, and real-world ones. Have a question? Email asktheinsider@businessinsider.com.

    Dear Insider, 

    What can I do about my coworkers who come in coughing and sneezing? I've already been sick five times this year.

    My office has a pretty progressive view on coming in sick — don't do it. We're flexible about working from home or taking off in those circumstances.

    But we work in an open format and when people decide to come in it's really difficult to keep your distance.

    I've spent the past few days with a bottle of NyQuil. With every dose, my resentment toward my coworkers gets worse. I fantasize about my company creating a special conference room to quarantine people who decide to be martyrs and come into work. 

    How do I keep from getting sick in the office? 

    Sincerely

    Sick Of My Martyr Coworkers

    ***

    Dear Sick,

    I'm sure it's frustrating when walking germ bombs come into the office — especially when your company pays for and encourages sick leave. 

    Your idea about the quarantine room for sick people is pretty brilliant. Nothing sounds less appealing than being locked in a room with a bunch of sick people. But it's also ethically questionable and pretty difficult to enforce. 

    Moreover, it's possible to catch germs before your colleagues even show symptoms. Healthy adults can start infecting others for up to a week before they show symptoms. 

    I assume you're taking care of yourself, working reasonable hours, and getting enough sleep. 

    SEE ALSO: Help! I'm interviewing for jobs and don't know how to leave work without lying

    Experts also recommend avoiding the office kitchen, washing your hands often, avoiding touching your face, and rinsing your coffee cup with hot, soapy water immediately before use. Taking these precautions would help you avoid some germs.

    You could also ask your boss to reiterate the sick policy to the team. It's possible that not everyone has heard the "stay home if you're sick" message. Once it's boss' orders, maybe the sick people will be more inclined to stay home.

    If you notice your coworker is coughing or sneezing, you could send them a message and say "are you feeling OK? you should go home if you're not well."

    SEE ALSO: Help! My coworkers are judging me for refusing the 'more hours' mentality

    If you're not comfortable doing this, I'd recommend flagging it to your manager. Say something like, "I've noticed Henry doesn't seem to be feeling well." If someone on my team did this, I would take it as healthy concern for a colleague and would encourage the sick person to go home. One person's missed productivity is better than the whole team.

    Getting sick sometimes is inevitable. But there's no reason your coworkers should bring the whole team down with them. 

    ***

    Ashley Lutz is a senior editor at Business Insider answering all your questions about the workplace. Send your queries to asktheinsider@businessinsider.com for publication on Business Insider. Requests for anonymity will be granted, and questions may be edited.

    SEE ALSO: 'Help! My coworkers' eating habits are driving me insane'

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    Thinking

    "So, what do you want to do with your life?"

    If this question strikes terror into your heart, and you're unable to render an answer, you're not alone. Even some of the most successful people figured out what they wanted to do later in life.

    Luckily for you — and anyone else who hasn't quite figured it all out yet — there are a few steps you can take to help you stay calm and move towards a career you'll love:

    SEE ALSO: 15 daily habits that are easy to practice and can significantly improve your life

    DON'T MISS: Apple was launched by a pair of procrastinators 40 years ago — here's how that helped make the tech giant become so successful

    1. Take a deep breath — this is normal.

    The first step to recovery is acceptance.

    Understand that the way to your dream career is not always a straight path, says Ryan Kahn, a career coach, founder of The Hired Group and creator of video course How To Get Hired. What's important is that you're traveling in the right direction. "You may find in your career that the journey getting there is more fun than the destination," he says.

    If this advice isn't consolation enough, consider the many success stories that began much later in life.

    Julia Child didn't learn to cook until her late 30s, and she wrote her first cookbook when she was 50. And Jon Hamm was working as a waiter at 29, not a successful actor playing a philandering ad man in a hit TV show.



    2. Consider your strengths.

    Seriously ask yourself, "What skills do I have to offer?""What are my strongest personality traits?" and "What do I do best?"

    "Lean in the direction of your strengths," Kahn says.



    3. Think about what type of work environments excite you.

    In college, did you thrive in large lectures or small classes? Did you perform better on group projects or individual assignments? This could indicate the size or type of company you'd prefer.

    If you did better in large lectures, perhaps you could work for a large, established company. If you preferred more intimate seminars, maybe you see yourself at a small startup. You could also consider working on a small team within a larger company.

    Also consider whether you prefer to be autonomous or supervised.



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    laptop

    You don't have to wait until you have a degree to get a job and start paying off your college debt.

    The key to finding a part-time job for a busy college student is to look for high-quality positions with a flexible schedule that are from a trustworthy source, says Brie Reynolds, director of online content at FlexJobs.

    "There are a lot of scams in work-from-home jobs, so college students should be aware of them and be cautious when searching," she explains.

    To get you started, here's a list of 11 high-paying part-time jobs for college students from FlexJobs:

    Natalie Walters contributed to a previous version of this article.

    SEE ALSO: 10 high-paying jobs you can do on the side

    Writer

    Pay: Up to $55 an hour

    Description: Writers work as employees or freelancers and must have excellent writing and editing skills, as well as the ability to work under deadlines. Depending on the writing job, a writer will be responsible for creating specific and focused content in one or more subject areas.



    Content editor

    Pay: Up to $40 an hour

    Description: Working with a style guide, content editors ensure accurate grammar, spelling, and quick turnaround with sometimes high volumes of content to edit.



    Online researcher

    Pay: Up to $37 an hour

    Description: Online researchers support business professionals by researching questions to deliver clients with high quality answers and personable explanations. Excellent research skills and the ability to find quality content are a must. Expertise in certain areas as well as general knowledge of business is desired.



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    strengths

    Mental strength is just like any other skill: It takes time to develop.

    In her book "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," psychotherapist Amy Morin writes that your genetics, personality, and life experiences all play a role in your mental strength.

    Since we know what mentally strong people don't do, we asked Morin about the key habits they do follow.

    Here are nine things mentally strong people do every day.

    This is an update of an article originally written by Steven Benna.

    SEE ALSO: 13 things mentally strong people don't do

    DON'T MISS: The 27 jobs that are most damaging to your health

    1. They monitor their emotions.

    People often assume mentally strong people suppress their emotions, Morin says, but they are actually acutely aware of them.

    "They monitor their emotions throughout the day and recognize how their feelings influence their thoughts and behaviors," she says. "They know sometimes reaching their greatest potential requires them to behave contrary to how they feel."



    2. They practice realistic optimism.

    Having a positive outlook all the time is impossible, and too much negativity is counterproductive.

    Mentally strong people "understand that their thoughts aren't always true, and they strive to reframe their negativity," Morin says. "They replace exaggeratedly negative thoughts with a more realistic inner monologue." 

     



    3. They solve problems.

    To put it simply, "mentally strong people refuse to engage in unproductive activities," Morin says. Instead of sitting there complaining about your bad day at work and wishing bad things wouldn't happen, evaluate why something went wrong and fix it. Learn how to calculate risk and move forward from there, she says.

     



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    ashley lutz ask the insiderAsk The Insider columnist Ashley Lutz answers all your work-related questions, including the awkward, sensitive, and real-world ones. Have a question? Email asktheinsider@businessinsider.com.

    Dear Insider, 

    I'm a 31-year-old woman in the retail industry. I have been in an entry-level position at my company for four years. I have gotten positive feedback at my reviews and several raises when my company can offer them.

    An assistant manager position recently opened up at my company. I really want to apply for the position, but it requires "previous management experience" of which I have none. In some ways I feel like I'm the ideal person for the position because I know the company inside and out. I'm ready for the challenge. (And to pay off my student loans!)

    How can I convince my employer that I'm the right person for the promotion?

    Sincerely,
    Ready To Be A Manager

    ***

    Dear Ready,

    It's great that you've set this goal to be a manager. Many people struggle with making it to the next level for this very reason: You need experience to get a job but need a job to get experience.

    I recently had a friend come to me with a similar issue. She has been a teacher at the same school for years and wanted to apply when an assistant principal position came up. Despite a lack of "management" experience on her resume, she got the job! It can definitely happen if you take the right steps and market your skills. 

    As a longtime employee, you're a good candidate for this job. You already know the company and team. Anyone external would be more of a gamble. 

    SEE ALSO: Help! I'm interviewing for jobs and don't know how to leave work without lying

    I'd start by making your interest clear as soon as possible. Tell your bosses that you are very interested in the position and plan to apply for it.

    Ask for feedback on how you can gain the experience needed for this kind of position, either now or in the future. It's more likely they will help if you approach the topic from a humble place and make it clear you want their help.

    Next, I'd make two lists: one of tasks the manager would do and another of what you do in your current job. Take note of any overlaps. 

    Were you responsible for putting out a new floor set in the store? Do you fill in for your manager when she goes on vacation? Do you regularly assist suppliers with new shipments? These are all skills you could put on your resume when you apply.

    SEE ALSO: Help! My coworkers are judging me for refusing the 'more hours' mentality

    You should also envision how a manager would look and act. Maybe you start dressing up a little more for work. Take on more responsibility by volunteering for extra projects and hours. Offer feedback when someone is struggling with a problem.

    Making the leap into management is a challenge. But if you market your skills and keep working hard, you will get there. 

    ***

    Ashley Lutz is a senior editor at Business Insider answering all your questions about the workplace. Send your queries to asktheinsider@businessinsider.com for publication on Business Insider. Requests for anonymity will be granted, and questions may be edited.

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    University of Chicago Booth School of Business 2015

    Our sixth annual ranking of the 50 best business schools in the world evaluated MBA programs based on reputation, average starting salary after graduation, job-placement rate within three months of graduation, average GMAT score, and tuition and fees. (Read our full methodology here.)

    Because business school is such a hefty investment, the ability to get a job soon after graduating is an important factor in choosing where to go.

    To come up with our list of the 20 top business schools for getting a job right away, we broke out the schools by job-placement rate. Some schools that ranked highly on our main list didn't make this ranking because of lower job-placement figures, such as Harvard (91%) and Stanford (86%).

    It's worth noting though that many students at these schools decide to start their own businesses — an employment result that schools don't factor into their overall job-placement statistic. 

    Keep scrolling to see the best business schools for finding a job after graduating, listed here in ascending order by job-placement percentage. 

    Editing by Alex Morrell with additional research by Andy Kiersz.

    SEE ALSO: The 50 best business schools in the world

    NOW READ: 22 MBA programs where graduates earn more than $110,000 right out of school

    Columbia University — Columbia Business School

    Location: New York, New York

    Job-placement rate: 93%

    Students begin crafting their network and community within the business world the minute they arrive at Columbia, thanks in part to the school's cluster system, which places first-year students in "clusters" of 65 to 70 people who take all their core classes together. Columbia also counts some of the greatest minds in finance among its alumni, including Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett and former Bank of America executive Sallie Krawcheck.



    University of London — London Business School (LBS)

    Location: London, England

    Job-placement rate: 93%

    University of London's business school is once again the best outside the US. With 75% of the top-500 global companies based in London, the school is a recruiting and networking gold mine for a host of multinational corporations, including Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey & Co.

    In addition to earning an MBA, students are required to graduate with a second-language proficiency in one of 15 languages offered by the Modern Language Centre at King's College London.



    Massachusetts Institute of Technology — Sloan School of Management

    Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

    Job-placement rate: 93%

    The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is not only the best college in America, but it's also home to one of the best business schools. The Sloan School of Management, which celebrated its 100-year anniversary last year, offers three MBA tracks: enterprise management, entrepreneurship and innovation, and finance.

    Sloan reported that 2014 graduates accepted job offers at companies like Adobe, Microsoft, Google, and Facebook, and 7.4% of grads went on to start their own businesses.



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    ashley lutz ask the insiderAsk The Insider columnist Ashley Lutz answers all your work-related questions, including the awkward, sensitive, and real-world ones. Have a question? Email asktheinsider@businessinsider.com.

    Dear Insider, 

    I had a call scheduled with a person whom I admire, and whose career trajectory is something I'd like to learn more about. After reaching out, she made some time for me in her schedule for a phone call. The last correspondence I had was with her assistant who asked me for my number so this person would be able to reach me, which I took to mean that she would be the one to call me. 

    The time for the phone call came, and the actual call did not. Since she's doing me the favor of talking to me, I don't want to to nudge her — maybe she is busy and will call me soon. I also do not want her to think I am the one skipping town on our call. It's been 20 minutes — when is an appropriate time to follow up with someone who missed an appointment?

    Sincerely,
    Blown off by a mentor

    ***

    Dear Blown Off,

    This is a tricky one. Because you were already the initiator here, you probably feel like you're prodding if you follow up again. 

    But this person you admire is probably happy to talk to you. She had her assistant contact you, and was planning on the call. She's the one who screwed up. You didn't do anything wrong.

    If I were you, I would follow up with the assistant as soon as you can and say you never received the call at the agreed-upon time. Ask to reschedule.  

    SEE ALSO: Help! I'm interviewing for jobs and don't know how to leave work without lying

    If you don't hear back, follow up again. If you STILL don't hear back, go straight to the person whose work you admire. Reiterate that although you've had trouble connecting, you'd love to hear about her career trajectory. I'm sure she will schedule a new time. 

    If not, there are probably more reliable mentors out there. 

    ***

    Ashley Lutz is a senior editor at Business Insider answering all your questions about the workplace. Send your queries to asktheinsider@businessinsider.com for publication on Business Insider. Requests for anonymity will be granted, and questions may be edited.

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