Thought Provoking but Obscure Articles from 2013 – 2: Career

Onward, now, with Topic 2.


20 Things 20-Year Olds Don’t Get” (Forbes, 23 July 2013).

Great counsel from an “over-the-hill” 34-year old for Millennials (and for 30+-year olds, all sorts of bosses, and 65+-year old CEOs).  From the simple to the sublime, some are shockers.  They also include a number that affirm many of my earlier (and forthcoming) thoughts.  A few examples,

“Time is Not a Limitless Commodity” (Decision Making);

“You’re Talented, But Talent is Overrated” (in fact, Character Trumps Talent);

“Social Media is Not a Career”;

“You Should Be Getting Your Butt Kicked” (Learn something new everyday, and check the article that follows below);

“A New Job a Year Isn’t a Good Thing”;

“Read More Books, Fewer Tweets/Texts”;

“Spend 25% Less Than You Make” (forthcoming, so I’m planting a seed here); and

“Your Reputation is Priceless, Don’t Damage It” (be careful what you post, tweet, text)

Looking Down on Young Leaders” (Post from LeadershipFreak blog, 30 July 2013).

Dan Rockwell’s leadership blog, LeadershipFreak, “Helping leaders reach higher in 300 words or less,” is a must follow.  Also a much quicker read than others (like mine).  This post reinforces (and adds to) the article above.  Bits and pieces:

“The hope for dying organizations isn’t found in old leaders who don’t have the guts to say they created the problem.”

“Dedicated young leaders: consistently ask, “Why?” “ (This is THE question. Of course, it’s also the question that drives parents bonkers.)

“Organizations that force young leaders to conform end up with more of the same.”

(Some) Tips for young leaders:

“Hang with ‘young’ elders.  Not all elders are dead and not all youth are the solution.”

“Humility, which isn’t playing dead, always trumps arrogance” (as in Character Trumps Talent)

(Some) Tips for maximizing young leaders:

“They don’t know what they don’t know.  Teach rather than scoff.” (see the previous article, above)

The Misery of Mentoring Millennials” (Businessweek, 18 March 2013), which, the title not withstanding, continues in a similar (and what therefore must be a very important) vein:

You’re different, but you still want to develop a career the same as the rest of us did.  Unfortunately, the terrain of “mentoring” is very fluid now and changing drastically.  But mentoring is a “process,” much more like apprenticing in strategy and tactics, while the goal (destination) is still “there.”  Find the best way to get real guidance to make progress along your journey.

Whether it’s as formal as one, two, or three people chosen from one, two, or three different industries, or as informal (and potentially unproductive) as following a couple of Twitter accounts, do it.  The bigger issue is follow-through.  Did you put the advice into practice and is there feedback? (NASA made over 1000 course corrections in reaching the moon.  See Getting where You Want To Go).

And don’t forget, “reverse mentoring” is a real opportunity.

Work-From-Home Truths, Half-Truths, and Myths” (originally in Businessweek online and print, 4 March 2013, but now found online at MagsReview).   A critical but common sense objective of telecommuting is to reduce costs, improve efficiency and productivity – on the company side.  On the worker side, it pays to remember that face time is still critical to one’s career.  Research has shown that just being seen at work leads people to think more highly of you.  And a critical result is that while at-home workers were more productive, their rate of performance-based promotions declined by half.  For both parties, however, the more flexibility that workers have, the higher their job satisfaction and the less likely they are to leave a company.

(P.S., Skyping is not a replacement for face time).

Is It Time To Go?  A Look at the Psychological Contract” (Post from The Office Blend blog, 21 October 2013).  This is a post by Dr. Marla Gottschalk, an industrial/organizational psychologist, on her blog that is also well worth following.

Ever struggle with the question involving a work environment, “Is it time to go, or stick with it a bit longer?”  You may not have wrestled with question yet, but there is a very good chance you will at some point.

The one thing most often forgotten is that, besides the explicit employment contract or offer, “We will pay you ‘this’ for doing ‘that,’ and provide you with these resources,” there is also an implicit psychological contract.  This contract is “an individual’s belief regarding the terms and conditions of a reciprocal exchange agreement between that focal person and another party,” in this case, the employer.

Since the health of this contract can affect the development of key workplace attitudes and behaviors (those the employer is seeking that I posted about earlier, as well as the Added Value created), it is critical that employee and employer be conscious of it.  In particular, the employer, through the direct supervisor, must be cognizant of maintaining the contract’s health and balance as a primary job responsibility.  More interestingly, the contract is recalibrated over the course of the employee’s tenure, possibly unconsciously.

Eventually, we each will do the mental math of a Breakeven Calculation and ask, “Is it worth staying and investing more, hoping for the potential payoff (added value that I accrue) or not?”

The Business Case For Being Nice” (Businessweek, 8 April 2013).  A reasonably good review of Adam Grant’s very good book, Give and Take.

Contrary to typical business books offering advice to follow the winner-take-all practices of famous leaders, the critic presents Adam Grant’s thesis as “the most successful people aren’t take-no-prisoners types, but those who selflessly give the most.”  Here please afford me the editorial liberty to restate this incredibly accurate thesis in terminology from this blog: “the most successful people aren’t take-no-prisoners types playing negative sum (-∑) games, but those who selflessly give the most to achieve positive sum (+∑) game scenarios that lead to the most Added Value for all parties.”

The critic, hoping to push the book back into a “typical business book” category replete with “a few made-up buzzwords,” cites a few people “types” that Grant proposes:  there are ‘takers’ (I’ll add here: -∑ players), ‘matchers’ (0∑ players), and ‘givers’ (+∑ players). These are not wholly ‘made-up,’ however, as there was ample talk of ‘makers’ and ‘takers’ during the Reagan administration.

Also cited are examples from the book that appear to be the “unexceptional and sometimes tragic ends of people who give without regard to themselves,” for instance, The Giving Tree, and Brave Heart.  What seems to be missing is the critic’s understanding that the Added Value outcome oftentimes is not something that accrues to the +∑ player alone, but through sacrifice benefits a far wider population.

“The book ‘may not be the King James Bible’ but does offer a pretty good way to work.”

Not a bad recommendation for a very good book.

16 Questions that Establish Maximum Impact” (LeadershipFreak, 21 August 2013).  Questions to keep in mind, for both employee and employer/supervisor, to help in the constant recalibration of the psychological contract above and generation of maximum Added Value.

How to Define Reality” (LeadershipFreak, 7 September 2013).  This also helps create your maximum impact.  Repetition does not create reality.  Constantly repeating, “I am a great leader” does not make you a great leader; this merely distorts the environment and the psychological contract.  Defining reality is explaining what is, not what is hoped for.

Dealing with Your Doubts” (LeadershipFreak, 21 October 2013).  Doubt asks the question, “What could go wrong?” and is a beneficial part of defining reality.  Without doubt you get overconfident, and overconfidence believes declaring goals is the same as achieving goals.

Management Legacy Hack: How Are You Remembered As a Manager?” (Switch and Shift blog, 21 July 2013).  There is significant research that indicates that bad management costs our economy $360 billion annually.  I’d also toss in here bad personal management skills.  Here are 13 questions geared to help you (as a manager or employee) gauge how you will be remembered; in other words, helping to identify where your +∑ Added Value contributions will be seen.

Pope Francis and the Poor” (Businessweek, 18 March 2013).  I am all for any additional voices that recognize a pre-existing moral foundation for economic activity (read here: any business transactions that occur in the -/0/+∑ framework ) which are based on Values and Principles, and the need to make the +∑ foundation much more visible.

Next: Creativity, Power, Trust, and Other People’s Lists

About Jim Edmonds

I am a husband, father, mentor, who once was a chemist turned physicist turned marketer turned executive turned missionary turned professor. And survived it all.
This entry was posted in 08: Observing, Listening, Learning, 12: Character, Career, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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