4 Reasons to Share Your Ideas

We are living in an age where the power of crowds is accomplishing big things. Writers, who used to guard their ideas now hone their thinking through blogs, build and audience, and then publish their books for a group of expectant readers. Every day experts spend their free time contributing to Wikipedia. And lately I’ve noticed a lot of folks encouraging would-be entrepreneurs to share their ideas.

Of course, there are times to be guarded. If you’ve got a concept or invention which might be patentable, then the only person you probably want to talk to is a lawyer. There are also times you want to be first to market a product or service (you don’t see Coke running to Pepsi about its latest product before it hits the shelves). But in many situations, sharing ideas with people you trust and respect is a good idea and here’s why: {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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How to survive a bad boss

To mangle Tolstoy, good bosses are all alike. They are good mentors; they care about your happiness and advancement; their interests seem aligned with your own.

Bad bosses, on the other hand, come in many flavors. And a new book, “Working for You Isn’t Working for Me,” by Katherine Crowley and Kathi Elster, provides a field guide to the many species of bad boss. There’s the “checked out” boss (can these really survive in this kind of job market?), the “rule changer” (who tells you to take a lunch break then seems surprised you’re not at your desk), the “underminer” (who asks you for help and then makes it impossible for you to assist), the “chronic critic” (needs no explanation), and a slew of others. For each bad behavior, the authors give sample scenarios to help you recognize your situation, and then walks you through a process to take back power and correct it.

This is is a book that should sit next to your all your other reference bibles so that you can consult it as difficult situations arise. Meantime, I asked Katherine (KC) and Kathi (KE) to take a answer some questions that seem common enough we’ve all encountered them.

Q:  How is dealing with a bad boss different than dealing with a difficult family member?

KC – Bosses and family members share often many characteristics, but by the time we’re adults, most of us don’t depend on difficult family members for our livelihood. A boss, on the other hand, has direct control over your paycheck and your daily experience at work.  A bad boss is like having a bad business parent who can have a negative impact on your career, your financial future and your confidence.

KE – Fortunately, the workplace offers clearer cut boundaries than home. There are employment laws, and people around who can monitor, filter and support your relationship with your boss.  But, in the family we have fewer options. The four-step process that we lay out in Working for You Isn’t Working for Me (detect, detach, depersonalize, and deal) would in fact work at home as well as in the workplace. {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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How to work a conference, even before it starts

You know the feeling. You sign up for a conference, scan the list of panels and keynotes trying to find out which you’ll go to, which you’ll snooze through, and when you’ll escape for some alone time or a workout.

But how often do you have a strategy for meeting the few people you are really hoping to meet? You know, the ones who have a crowd of people surrounding them and then zip off for a pre-arranged coffee date with some other person who looks important.

Basically, how do you become the kind of person who has those pre-arranged coffee dates (or at least a good shot at some spontaneous ones) with the interesting people at conferences.

Here’s a few ideas:

Spend some time online.  Visit the conference’s website and start studying the speaker list. If the conference is using a social networking tool like Crowdvine to encourage people to meet one another, take the time to fill out your profile and see who else is attending. Find out the conference’s Twitter hashtag and start checking Twitter to see if anyone is talking about it. If you’re active on LinkedIn or Facebook, mention that you’re going to the conference in your status update. {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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Does thinking about happiness make you happier?

Happiness is having its moment in the sun. And the darkened economy doesn’t seem to have cast much of a shadow over it.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I joined a packed auditorium at the Hilton New York for a lecture on positive psychology by Shawn Achor, a popular professor at Harvard. (This was part of One-Day University, a cool program that assembles a group of lecturers from top universities for a day of public lectures in major cities.)  Achor took the audience through the greatest hits of the science of happiness, covering a wide swath of material in his alotted 70 minutes. He explained how positive psychology developed as a field of study. Instead of focusing exclusively on mental troubles like depression, psychologists like Martin Selgiman started focusing on people who are happy to figure out what we could learn from them.

Achor took us through a host of nifty experiments, like this one: Pair off into a group of two people, preferably people who don’t know one another. Call one person A and the other B. A and B should spend seven seconds looking at each other with A smiling the whole time and B keeping a totally neutral expression. Person B is virtually guaranteed to have a difficult time, as all of us in the audience realized as we tried out our A and B roles. Voila: smiling is contagious. And the theory goes that happiness is too. At the end of the session, Achor left us with a few simple activities we could use to boost our own happiness levels (journaling for twenty minutes a day, exercising for as little as ten minutes a day, practicing random acts of kindness, and my favorite — sending out one kind, positive email to a friend before looking at any other messages.) {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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White collar/blue collar: My chat with Jessica DuLong

In a black silk blouse with skinny jeans and stylish black boots, Jessica DuLong doesn’t look like she spends her days in the bowels of a 78-year old fireboat. That’s because I met her on a day when she was inhabiting her other job, that of the author of a newly released book.  A former dotcom executive and freelance journalist, DuLong had an accidental career change after spending some time volunteering on The the John J. Harvey, a retired 1931 New York City fireboat that has become a living museum. Now one of few female fireboat engineers in the world, DuLong’s newly published book, “My River Chronicles,” is both a tale of career transformation and a compelling narrative about a time when working boats and industry played a large role in America’s economic and civic life.

DuLong never left the world of words. And she is using her new book as a vehicle to get white- collar and blue- collar folks to talk to one another.  DuLong isn’t the only one thinking about this subject. Another book praising the virtues of making and fixing things, “Shop Class as Soulcraft,”  has been getting a lot of buzz lately.

I had tea with DuLong to talk about class divisions surrounding work, why she left her dot com job to work in the engine room of an old boat, and why she thinks the perfect career is one that mixes brains and brawn. Here is a condensed version of our chat: {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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Upsides of the downturn: My chat with Kurt Andersen

We’ve heard the cliches: “That which doesn’t kill us makes us strong;” “Something good will come of this;” “A blessing in disguise;” “Find the silver lining.” And when it comes to the impact of the current recession, they are the kind of empty words that don’t usually make us feel much better. But after reading Kurt Andersen’s book, Reset, I started to believe that once we come out what he calls this “economic emergency,” we may be living in a culture that is a lot more sane and healthy than the one that brought us down.

Andersen traces the crisis of the past few years to the excesses that began in the late 1980s — the increasing size of the average American house, the rise in consumer debt, the ubiquity of state-sanctioned and state-run gambling, even the expanded girth of the average American. He uses the vocabulary of addiction to explain how America needs to get back on track — “to teach ourselves to buy and sell and borrow in healthier, more moderate ways.”

I had a chat with Kurt Andersen, an acclaimed journalist (New York Magazine, Spy magazine, Vanity Fair, Time), novelist, and radio host (and a lot more), about what this all means for the future of work. Below is a condensation of our conversation: {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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5 reasons women should focus on finances

At first, I didn’t get it. Shouldn’t women and men be seeking parity in everything?  If so, why do financial advisors like Suze Orman write books called “Women & Money,” and why are women opening brokerage houses catering to women? I spoke to financial expert Manisha Thakor, one of the rising voices in the financial-advice-geared-towards-women set to get some answers.

As Manisha put it to me: In the new economy, where many financial decisions formally made by employers (particularly with regards to pensions and healthcare) are now squarely in our hands, a solid knowledge of personal finance is important for both men and women.  That said, financial knowledge is extra important for women – because the place that women are ending up right now is a financially ugly one. {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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Social media: revolution or fad?

You might have seen the video.  It’s called Social Media Revolution and it’s already gotten over 400,000 hits on YouTube since its release only a few weeks ago.  It tells a story through numbers about the furious growth of social media around the world. Facts appear on the screen in rapid succession with haunting music in the background: “If Facebook were a country, it would be the world’s 4th largest.” “By 2010 Gen Y will outnumber Baby Boomers. . . 96% of them have joined a social network.” “Social media has overtaken porn as the #1 activity on the Web.”

It spews its facts so fast you can barely digest them, which is how many people feel about the pace of virtual updates on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Will it ever stop coming at us and demanding our attention, fractured as it is because we’re sifting through emails, texts, all while uploading our latest photos to Flickr?

According to Erik Qualman, who created the video to promote his new book, Socialnomics, it won’t be stopping any time soon. And if you don’t want to be left behind, you’ll embrace the social media revolution:

I had a chat with Qualman about what all this means for us and our careers. Following is a condensed version of our conversation. {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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How to be a smarter negotiator

Every time I enter a negotiation it feels like the first time. I can rehearse, prepare and strategize, but if I really want something or have any emotional stake in the deal, all the wisdom I think I’ve collected over the years starts jumbling together (For example, “Never start the money conversation,” mushes together with “Name your price first to make sure you’re negotiating from your number, not theirs.”)  And if negotiating requires a long waiting game, my impatience gets the best of me as all I want to do is get the deal sealed.

I decided to talk to a pro to see if I could improve my ways, so I rang up Jim Camp whose latest book, “No: The only Negotiating System You Need for Work and Home,” just landed on my desk. Camp is a seasoned negotiator and coach who has trained the FBI on how to negotiate in hostage situations, so I figured low-stakes negotiations like mine would be much easier to manage. {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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Is “old” a dirty word?

Shortly after writing the post, “Are your work habits making you look old?,” with Pamela Redmond Satran, author of the book, “How Not to Act Old,” I got an email from Barbara Raab, a friend who works in television.

“What’s wrong with acting “old” (a.k.a. one’s actual age) at work?” she wrote. “I don’t think you meant it to be ageist, but I really think this post IS ageist. You haven’t told me WHY I should not look over 40 at work; you seem to take it as a given that seeming one’s age, if that age is over 40, is something no one would actually want.”

She continued: “How about wearing tight jeans and a thong that shows? Or coming to work hung over? These are also things that young people do? Why did you buy into the whole notion of acting younger at work?”

Barbara makes some excellent points. Being perceived as “old” in the workplace shouldn’t be considered a bad thing. In fact, experienced (older, mature, choose your word) workers have tremendous value in the workplace and I didn’t mean to suggest otherwise in that post. She’s also correct  that younger people make huge missteps at work that can often be traced to their youth or inexperience.

I wrote that post with full knowledge that ageism exists and that it is insidious. And those are the same reasons that Pamela Redmond Satran says motivated her to write her book, “How Not to Act Old.” {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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