Monday, 23 March 2015

10 Ways to Stop Lack of Sleep From Killing You (Because It Is)

Millions of people suffer from chronic sleep disorders that decrease daily functioning and adversely affect health and longevity. To make things worse, one study even found that reduced sleep time carries a greater mortality risk than smoking, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
(And to make things more depressing, your office is plotting to kill you, too.)
So if you sleep like a baby -- which means you wake up bawling every two hours -- forget the Ambien and warm milk. One of the best things you can do is take steps to eliminate some of the stress, worry, and anxiety that keeps you awake.
1. Set up automated warning systems.
The larger your scope of responsibility--professional or personal--the more you have to worry about. Your list of concerns is endless, so you're always on edge, especially at night. That makes you constantly check your email. Or check certain dashboards. Or text and call to make sure things are OK.
The fear of the unknown--of what might be happening that you don't know about--drives you crazy.
Instead of worrying about what you don't know, make sure you will know. Decidewhat you need to know when, and set up systems to support you. Let your employees know what constitutes an emergency--and, just as importantly, what doesn't.
And then create automated systems that notify you of problems.
For example, a friend runs a 1,200-employee manufacturing plant. He has a separate phone and email account just for emergencies, and his employees call that phone or send emails to "" He turns off his regular phone at night and sleeps soundly because he knows if something does happen he'll know right away--he won't have to check.
Determine what you need to know and create systems to ensure you will know.
You'll definitely sleep better.
2. Step back from something you care about but have no ability to impact.
For some people, it's politics. For others, it's family. For others, it's global warming. You care... and you desperately want others to care.
Fine. Do what you can do. Vote. Lend a listening ear. Recycle and reduce your carbon footprint. Be an example. Be your own change...but don't try to make everyone else change.
3. Get off the gossip train.
Help. Offer guidance. Encourage. Motivate.
But don't gossip. And don't get mixed up in office politics. It always ends badly.
So never put yourself in a position where you're worried that Phil will tell Allen you said something snarky about Stu... and that's the kind of stress you definitely don't need.
4. Decide you will see criticism as something to be grateful for.
Think of it this way: When you get feedback, at least someone cares enough to want you to improve your product, your service, your work, your life....
You only need to worry when no one cares enough to criticize you.
Criticism creates an opportunity for you to be an even better you. Embrace that opportunity.
5. Write everything down.
David Allen, the author of Getting Things Done, told me this:
"Most people try to use their psyche as their systemic process, which means issues gain importance based on your emotions. I've never met anyone who said they didn't feel a little better if they sat down and made a list. Nothing changes when you write things down except how you engage with your issues: You can be objective and also be creative and intuitive.
"Your head is for having ideas, not holding ideas, and it's certainly not for filing things away. Without exception, you will feel better if you get stuff out of your head."
Try it. Write down your challenges. List your problems. List what worries you.
You'll immediately feel better since you'll realize things aren't as bad as you think. And you'll start to figure out ways to make things better -- because now you won't passively worry. You'll actively solve your problems.
Then take it a step further and write down anything you need to remember; that way you won't lay awake worrying about what you might forget.
6. Reduce the number of judgment calls you need to make.
The more prepared you are to handle a situation, the easier it is to be objective--and to avoid stressing out later over whether or not you made the wrong call.
Create price lists that take into account unusual requests. Set up guidelines for responding to customer complaints. Create employee policies for objective areas like attendance, quality, and performance.
Decide what you will allow your kids to do before they start asking.
Think about situations you struggle with and decide what you will do before those situations get stressful or confrontational. (For example, what would you do if one of your employees tweeted things like this?)
Then you can make better decisions and greatly reduce your level of stress... and possibly also your number of regrets.
7. Create a cutoff time...
Yeah, I know, you consider yourself a 24/7 go-getter. But that's impossible. Decide what time you'll stop working each day, no matter what.
And if stopping makes you feel guilty?
8. ...and create a plan for tomorrow.
Write down what you need to do first thing tomorrow. You'll rest easier knowing you have a plan to take care of whatever you didn't get done today.
9. Spend a few minutes every day getting better at something.
It doesn't matter what you pick. Just make sure it's not business. A musical instrument. A foreign language. A sport. A hobby. Whatever it is, spend a little time on it. Get a little better. (Here are some great ways to improve any skill.)
Step outside your daily grind and do something for yourself. In the process, you'll gain a little perspective.
Perspective soothes the soul. (And so does success -- in amy area of your life.)
10. Count your blessings.
Take a moment every night before you turn out the light to stop worrying about what you don't have. Stop worrying about what others have that you don't.
Think about what you do have.
It's easy to forget just how much we do have to be thankful for. Feels pretty good to remember, doesn't it?
That's great, because feeling better about yourself is the best sleep aid of all.

Designing around privacy in open-plan offices

Office-based businesses are facing an unprecedented privacy crisis with their employees, according to research carried out by market researchers IPSOS and the Workspace Futures Team of Steel case late last year. After decades of open-plan offices and an unrelenting drive for shared work spaces, the number one complaint from office workers is now a lack of privacy, the research said.
As many as 85% of people are dissatisfied with their working environment and cannot concentrate, while 31% even leave the office to get work completed. More than 10,000 workers across 14 countries were questioned about their office environments and working patterns.
Key findings from the research include office workers are losing 86 minutes per day due to distractions; too many employees are chronically disengaged at work; they are unmotivated, unproductive and overly stressed; they have little capacity to think and work creatively and constructively; and the right balance between private and collaborative working spaces can deliver a step change in employee engagement and productivity.
Bostjan Ljubic, VP of Steel case UK & Ireland said: "The drive for collaborative working spaces was founded on getting people working better together. It's been enormously successful and has delivered efficiency on a major scale but too much interaction and not enough privacy has reached crisis proportions, taking a heavy toll on workers' creativity, productivity, engagement and well-being.

There's a privacy crisis among employees brewing in open-plan offices, research indicates. Does that have implications for how we design our offices?

"People not only expect privacy in their private lives — they want it at the office as well. Our research has found that for people to collaborate with their colleagues more effectively they need less 'we' time and more 'me' time than they are getting today."
We asked several experts in workspace in a modern environment what their thoughts are with respect to open-plan privacy, and how FMs can innovate to ensure workplaces inspire well-being and productivity among employees.
Hannah Nardini, workplace strategist and designer for twenty20design said: "Distractions are commonplace in open-plan environments. Statistically, an occupant is likely to be disturbed every three minutes which makes their ability to focus and perform tasks quickly and accurately are hindered significantly."
Nardini thinks the open-plan is 'clearly a concept here to stay' but that the emergence of agile working goes a long way in solving the problems of lack of privacy. "In this new working model we see occupants encouraged to move around the workplace to find the most suitable place to ensure maximum productivity. This could mean moving to a quiet room for focused working, a collaboration area for chats with colleagues through to call-booths for phone calls. With a well-designed workplace offering alternate settings as well as basic disciplines and rules in office etiquette being implemented we can see the problems to lack of privacy being overcome effectively."
But there are innovations available to open-plan offices, Nardini says. "Office acoustics are becoming a bigger problem in the workplace; industry has responded by creating an array of products to lessen the impact of noise. The old strategies of soft finishes and less hard surfaces still holds true but the emergence of acoustic panels hung on walls or ceilings help soften sound but being considerate of design aesthetics. The traditional open-plan creates obvious noise problems so segregation of the work areas into smaller pockets of space can be effective. Likewise the introduction of acoustic masking systems can offer further improvements on managing sound in an open-plan office."
FMs can get involved in lessening the disadvantages of open-plan offices by moving emphasis away from 'place' and focusing on 'people', Nardini believes. By understanding how people need to work to be most productive, workplace designers are turning the open-plan into just one of many work settings that has its place within the organisation.
"The open-plan needs to be well-designed to support tasks, appear uncluttered, contain efficient storage systems, have clear circulatory corridors and encourage interaction among staff. The spirit of collaboration should be promoted and the open-plan can provide perfect opportunities for these random collisions. The office must be inspiring, flexible and fun if it's to become a place where people want to be and work at their best."
Michael Page, joint MD of Saracen Interiors, says the lack of privacy in open-plan offices is a common problem but there are many creative ways to overcome it, depending on available space. "We've had American-owned clients who prefer the cellular office style but struggle to accommodate this in UK office spaces and we've had to work with them closely to come up with acceptable solutions, taking into account cultural differences."
But open-plan is not just a privacy issue, Page points out. "There are noise levels to factor in which can effect concentration and have a knock on effect on productivity. We've worked out ways to compensate for this with low level screening just above mouth height to muffle noise — which also allows for a degree of privacy — and the introduction of what we refer to as 'phone booths'."
These booth-style solutions have two sides and a back and include a phone and a shelf with a datapoint for the plugging in of laptops and any other necessary equipment. They give extra privacy for phone calls and enable the occupant to work in these spaces, which can be glass-panelled, with a door making up a fourth wall for maximum privacy, if specified.
"We also suggest diner style booths for some of our clients which, again, allow for more flexible working away from the main open-plan areas. For example, we use benches against solid walls with long tables as a potential space for a meeting. It's less formal than a conference room and the benches and tables can be placed in a breakout space."
Page says Saracen has just completed a project for a design agency which included a 'den' — a comfy area, especially designated for those who need privacy to conduct phone calls, proof documents etc. This was included to address the open-plan issue as it was suggested staff would appreciate a space they could move to, separate from the shared office environment, for quiet time and privacy.
"Part of our role is to empathise with the needs of the client and work with the facilities and office managers to plan space around the various functions of the business. Our clients come to us because, as workspace specialists, we are expert at thinking around the structure of how the business is run and planning the space accordingly — ultimately, it's our job to make the space work."
Adam Burtt-Jones and Steve Brewer from architect firm Burtt-Jones & Brewer advise FMs to take a step back and ask why they thought going open-plan would be good for them and their organisation in the first place. Next speak to staff, so you can determine and benchmark what the problems really are. It could be that the main issues are just around acoustics and the need for private phone conversations. This is something that can be easily managed and not a major design or FM problem.
Often it is the case that going open-plan was poorly implemented in the first place, usually as a rushed, ill thought through cost saving exercise, which is now backfiring. But there isn't always a need for a knee-jerk reaction. "We should question the premise that cellular offices are actually being re-introduced. It's probably more that there is a perception that they are because of the general criticisms of open-plan. Perhaps it's more about a waxing and waning of demand together with the natural process and cycle of change. But to an extent the trend for change is limited to specific business sectors and driven by a desire to keeping up with the Joneses."
Law firms are guilty of this say Burtt-Janes and Brewer: one leading law firm known for innovation frequently changes its attitude to offices and open- plan working. "This inspires and demands that their competition need to change as they can't be seen to standstill. This domino effect is then played out across the sector, frequently moving geographically, with a trickle down effect from the larger corporate organisations to the smaller businesses, each finding its 'edge' and differing implementation criteria."
When asked about innovations that cause fewer problems in open-plan offices, Burtt-Jones and Brewer say it may not be a case of having to be innovative. "Like we said earlier, when you look at a problem closely, the seriousness of it shifts and it's not always as bad a situation as first perceived. So, don't take a hammer to crack a nut."
The crucial thing for FMs to realise is anyone can potentially operate within a single open-plan environment, but that every individual has different needs and requirements. "That means allowing for an individual's need for a quiet space from time to time — maybe the allocation of an area or zone to be used for specific activities away from the main open-plan area and the inclusion of a mix of different styles of furniture, lighting and acoustic treatments."
The harder issues can be tackled with practical and visible solutions, such as acoustic systems to the desk and ceilings. Even altering lighting can have a positive impact, such as adding alternative lights for quiet working settings. "The most valuable tools are often the simplest — education and expectation. Educate the users of a space what to expect. Inform through intuitive (and collective) decision-making. Listen carefully to their requirements and question them. It could be the solution isn't about noise, but about their specific desk orientation, or not being positioned near a noisy colleague, etc."
Both architects advise FMs to treat the problem holistically, reviewing hard (physical) and soft (HR/people) elements. "It's tempting to offer immediate practical advice, to answer the queries raised directly — especially in the FM world. But more often than not a more sensitive and investigative approach will reap greater rewards. This could be asking questions indirectly, even to those not related to the issue. Be a sounding board, potentially walking away from a conversation without commitment to a solution, instead promising you'll investigate the issue for them."
If you're shepherding a business in a change from open to cellular, approach with a carrot, and gently tap with a stick, say the architects. "Offer rewards for the change, such as better or free coffee, a desk lamp or choice of desk furniture from a list you agree with your supplier. Even simple things such as a pen pot or refreshing the planting can improve moral. It's important not to underestimate minor changes to personal workspace as countless studies show personal autonomy improves productivity."
Dr Craig Knight, director of Identity Realization says too often open-plan space is installed as a cost- saving measure and/or as a management device for increasing productivity. Both options show a lack of knowledge, he says. "The cost of staff massively outweighs the costs of marginal space. Even the suggestion of 'cellular offices being non-negotiable' highlights how crass space management policies can be. There is no such thing as a perfect space. It's almost certain some tasks will benefit from being conducted in an open-plan area while others will benefit from the privacy of a cellular space. Decent space pays for itself."
The problem here is that companies don't know how to measure productivity (how do you measure in an HR office for example?) and so they measure cost savings instead, says Knight. "This takes us into the toxic realm of the lean office, which is a scientific busted flush. Yet because lean and other management systems ostensibly save money they flourish. Yet they cost unmeasured millions."
According to Knight, these questionable practises require open-plan environments. " It's difficult, for instance, to impose teams and to monitor those teams in cellular space, so we bring down the walls with no usual reason beyond a heuristic one. Why don't we can the bunkum and snake oil and learn to measure productivity? Then we can see how much money can be made and how much happiness engendered."
It's a product of over a decade of research that happiness and productivity are joined at the statistical hip and travel in the same direction, says Knight. "So, if a company saves money with its open-plan offices, it needs to calculate how much these savings cost (for instance, I deny you a square metre of workspace saving the company £9,000 per annum, your output falls by £20,000 — or by nothing at all. The saving on its own is a hopelessly misleading statistic). Because if privacy affects performance what kind of a mug denies privacy?"
Open-plan offices receive a lot of flack — not all of which is deserved, says Knight. "Open-plan can provide collegiate, sociable and engaging spaces. Sadly it's also the perfect space for specious practices, excessive monitoring and corporate penny pinching."
FMs can help considerably depending on the authority they wield, Knight explains. "If the open-plan space resembles a melamine featureless plain then enrich it. Plants are a cost effective way of doing this, but art and much else produces similar effects. On this point don't use corporate art, most people know why they're at work. Save the corporate stuff for your visitors. Enrichment of a space is always good compared to a Spartan environment. Human beings are just another animal there's no beast on God's green earth, from an ant to an elephant, that thrives in a plain unenriched space. Business theories can be so stupid."
If people feel as though they're in goldfish bowls maybe screens would help, Knight suggests. "But the best thing any manager can do is ask the staff what they want. The workers in the space know its shortcomings better than anybody. Then cooperate with the people to give them a space they enjoy. The rewards are massive. And by massive I mean up to a scientifically published 32% compared to a lean space."

Turn the page on fairy tale economics, says Monty Python star


Universities must be realistic about crashes and capitalism, says Terry Jones ahead of the premiere of documentary Boom Bust Boom
Terry Jones
A “fairy tale” approach to economics teaching at university level has resulted in worldwide financial instability and a new approach to higher education curricula is needed, according to Terry Jones, the comedian and screenwriter.
The film-maker and Monty Python star, who himself penned a book of fairy stories in 1981, was commenting ahead of the premiere this month of his documentary film, Boom Bust Boom, which supports the global “postcrash” movement – a campaign that calls on universities to give more prominence to alternative economic theories after the 2008 financial crash.
“There is a direct link between our unstable economy and the way economics is taught,” Mr Jones told Times Higher Education. “We cannot expect graduate economists to engage with the real world if they are taught crashes do not exist. They are taught capitalism is stable, that humans are always rational. This is a fairy tale and it’s the reason we are in this mess.”
The film features high-profile advocates for change such as John Cusack, the actor, John Cassidy, the journalist, and experts including Andy Haldane, chief economist of the Bank of England, and Nobel prizewinning economists Daniel Kahneman and Paul Krugman. It is co-written with Theo Kocken, a professor in the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration at VU University Amsterdam, and features a mixture of live action, animation, puppetry and song.
The film will premiere at the Z-arts theatre in Manchester on 31 March as part of a conference hosted by the University of Manchester’s student-led Post-Crash Economics Society, which campaigns on the need for economics degree courses to be revamped. Among the speakers is Paul Mason, economics editor at Channel 4 News. Speaking ahead of the event, Mr Mason said that there was “no single truth emerging from non-mainstream economics except that the orthodox stuff does not work”.
“I don’t want to see a replacement orthodoxy cobbled together – we need economics to go beyond economics; from abstraction to realism, and from justification to critique,” he said. “It’s a massive undertaking.”

Friday, 20 March 2015

Why publish and be so damned hard to find?


Outdated practices and lack of simplicity result in ‘unfindable’ work, Carole Goble tells Jisc Digital Festival 2015
Henry Bemis in Time Enough at Last
Next stop, obscurity: ‘the square root of bugger-all people’ read most work
The way in which academic papers are published makes much research “unfindable”, while scholars’ lack of transparency about their research methods renders many of their conclusions highly questionable.
This is the view of Carole Goble, a professor in the School of Computer Science at the University of Manchester, who last week addressed the Jisc Digital Festival 2015 (Digifest) conference in Birmingham, organised by Jisc, the UK’s higher education IT consortium.
She told delegates that the current “knowledge-turning mechanism”, whereby researchers publish in journals “PDFs and the odd Excel [spreadsheet]”, resulted in the “burying” of data and research, rendering them “unfindable”.
Professor Goble told Times Higher Education that she knew of young researchers who wished to present their data more clearly and visibly and who wanted to dedicate time to achieving that. “Their [supervising] professors have said: ‘Well, what are you doing wasting your time doing that?’ You could be writing a paper.”
Researchers who were failing to embrace more forward-thinking methods of publication needed re-education, she continued.
Too often, she told delegates, academics sought to write extremely complicated papers, based on elaborate methods, in the hope of ensuring that their research was submitted to the research excellence framework – even though this approach meant that their work was read by “the square root of bugger-all people”. The current system, she said, meant “RIP” for research papers: “rest in publication”.
Interviewed for a THE podcast, Professor Goble said that pressure to produce overly complicated work sometimes stemmed from a desire to avoid “academic trolling” – bullying by scholars who are critical of someone’s work.
“[You can be] trolled because you made something straightforward, because you wanted a community to understand it, when your job was to make it look clever,” she said.
To describe how this could work, she gave the example of one of her own papers. “I could have presented a paper about ‘the detailed denotational semantics of the lander calculus used underneath the workflow engine’, or I could have just said, ‘here is a workflow engine and this is how to use it’. But that kind of useful and highly cited paper is [often viewed as] merely ‘useful’, as opposed to ‘academic’.”
According to Professor Goble, another problem in research is that of academic rivalry, particularly in some disciplines, stifling collaboration.
“In biology, if I am looking at the function of a gene and you are looking at the function of a gene, then the first person to publish wins,” she said. “You are not going to get a paper [if you are] the second person to discover the purpose of this gene…which leads to this very defensive, quite competitive publishing world.”
Professor Goble had a low opinion of the approach many researchers take to software, suggesting that even when papers are read, opacity about research methods meant that conclusions had to be treated with caution.
She cited research by the Software Sustainability Institute that suggested that one-fifth of academics who develop their own software for use in research have had no training in programming. “If we have broken software, we have broken science,” she said.

The One Thing Successful Leaders Ignore

On Sunday, I wrote about the One Sign You Will Be Wealthy. As a parent and a leader, this is an important topic to discuss. I believe being rich is about learning what makes you happy and finding sustainable happiness.

It is not easy to find sustainable happiness, but it is clear that with determination and a "goal first" mentality, it is possible to do what you love.
My post on Sunday was different, though. It explained my theory on how to become financially wealthy. I wrote that you need to "own it." You must own an asset that is in demand and growing in value. It definitely touched a nerve, as nearly 400,000 people read the article and more than 230 commented.
I always appreciate reading what people take the time to write, because there are so many different ways to think about topics like wealth. But I was surprised that the word "luck" came up so often.
I feel it does require a definite determination to not quit, which leads to the 'lucky day' all successful people I've read about come across which seems to transcend them to the next level of their endeavors.
Some individuals will forever chase the 'dream', not knowing that they provide the 'luck' they are looking for. If you are already in [the] process of building your wealth, when that opportunity comes, you will know what to do.
As the CEO of Aha! (visual product roadmap software), I often learn that the words I use mean different things to different people. I am most intrigued, though, when someone distills what I have written about to its essence. This comment did exactly that:
'Owning it' means that you are responsible for what happens to you, no one is gonna just give it to you.
That was an interesting twist on the notion of luck. For this reader, luck has nothing to do with success or becoming wealthy. That spoke to me, because I believe it to be true. When I thought more deeply about this comment, I realized that the most successful leaders I know all ignore what most people obsess over.
The one thing successful leaders ignore is luck.
I spend a lot of time talking about what it means to do well and be good, because it's important to me. My leadership theory is simple: have a plan, work as hard as you can, and never gamble on luck.
Successful leaders ignore luck for the following reasons:
You cannot train for it
"Luck" is an abstract concept; it is not something tangible that education or experience will help you achieve. Since you cannot "learn" luck, it does not yield the same reward as working to earn a degree or excel at your job. Those experiences that propel you forward; "luck" is just something you wait around for.
You cannot trust it
Luck appeals to those who want a quick fix -- that magical moment when you finally cash in. The problem is that luck is not something you can control or predict. Luck is completely random. Instead of seeing success as a series of small steps that pay off over time, you blindly trust good fortune will eventually find you. But it probably will never come.
You cannot know it to be good
Luck is never one sided. And I guarantee that bad fortune will find you. It must, because life is often unpredictable and cruel. We can control our behavior when things go wrong, but not everything that happens to us. So, when we wait for good luck to come our way, we may find that its evil twin is knocking at our door. You cannot know which luck will be yours.
Luck has a greedy influence, because we see others find it and hope it eases our own path. But, it's a distraction that leads to nowhere -- which is why those who work hard and lead others choose to ignore it.
Relying on luck steals your confidence and belief that you will find your own way. A more surefire path to success is to work hard, own your choices, and keep moving.

Another Chinese Phonemaker Wants A Piece of India: Top India Headlines

Indian smartphone buyers are going to be spoilt for choice, again. After Xiaomi and One Plus, it’s now Meizu’s turn. The Chinese smartphone maker, which had been making noises about an international foray, launched a Facebook page for India and a giveaway contest.
There is no information about which model it will sell in India or the price, so industry watchers say the phones that will be given away may be an indicator and early signs point to the Mi Note. Xiaomi had an exclusive tie-up with Flipkart, while One Plus signed up with Amazon; it remains to be seen how Meizu will launch in India.
Here’s some news from the e-commerce world. It turns out that eBay may havemore investor rights in Snapdeal than Softbank and other venture capital firms. Filings show that eBay has been listed as a strategic investor unlike the other funds and this may mean eBay has the first right of refusal when other funds want to sell their holdings. Considering eBay’s Indian operations have paled in the onslaught of the Flipkarts and Amazons of the past few years, this may be its only hold on the Indian market.
Meru Cabs, India’s oldest radio taxi operator, is looking for more money. After raising $50 million from existing investor India Value Fund Partners, it plans to raise another $100 million over the next few weeks. After Ola Cabs bought TaxiForSure, creating a formidable rival for Meru, and after pooh-poohing reports that Uber may acquire it, Meru appears to be pushing hard on all fronts to retain its competitive edge. Of course, we will be happy if we can just find a cab when we need one.
Tata Motors is staging a comeback. At one time, this was India’s top utility vehicle maker, but a shift in focus to passenger cars, including the acquisition of the troubled Jaguar Land Rover and its turnaround, had distracted it from its stronghold. The company is now planning to launch no less than six utility vehicles over the next couple of years, seeking to win back market share lost to Mahindra & Mahindra. We are in for some interesting times in the auto industry for sure.
Whatever happens in the U.S., don’t worry about India. That seems to be the message coming from some Indian economists. Investors are spooked, remembering the rout in 2013 when the U.S. said it was tapering off its monetary stimulus. The simple conclusion is that higher rates in the U.S. mean less incentive to keep money in emerging markets like India. But Indian economic indicators are far healthier this time around and we have less to worry even if the Fed does end up raising interest rates. And of course, the promise of reforms from the not-so-new government is also keeping foreign investors interested.
Every morning, we'll share the top news from India that professionals need to know. Click Follow to not miss one. And we want to know what you think, so head to the comments below with feedback, suggestions, bouquets and brickbats.

Why Successful People Never Bring Smartphones Into Meetings

You are annoying your boss and colleagues any time you take your phone out during meetings, says new research from USC's Marshall School of Business. And if you work with women and people over 40, they're even more perturbed by it than everyone else.
The researchers conducted a nationwide survey of 554 full-time working professionals earning above $30K and working in companies with at least 50 employees. They asked a variety of questions about smartphone use during meetings and found:
• 86 percent think it's inappropriate to answer phone calls during meetings
• 84 percent think it's inappropriate to write texts or emails during meetings
• 66 percent think it's inappropriate to write texts or emails even during lunches offsite
• The more money people make the less they approve of smartphone use.
The study also found that Millennials are three times more likely than those over 40 to think that smartphone use during meetings is okay, which is ironic considering Millennials are highly dependent upon the opinions of their older colleagues for career advancement.
TalentSmart has tested the emotional intelligence of more than a million people worldwide and found that Millennials have the lowest self-awareness in the workplace, making them unlikely to see that their smartphone use in meetings is harming their careers.
Why do so many people -- especially successful people -- find smartphone use in meetings to be inappropriate? When you take out your phone it shows a:
• Lack of respect. You consider the information on your phone to be more important than the conversation at hand, and you view people outside of the meeting to be more important than those sitting right in front of you.
• Lack of attention. You are unable to stay focused on one thing at a time.
• Lack of listening. You aren't practicing active listening, so no one around you feels heard.
• Lack of power. You are like a modern-day Pavlovian dog who responds to the whims of others through the buzz of your phone.
• Lack of self-awareness. You don't understand how ridiculous your behavior looks to other people.
• Lack of social awareness. You don't understand how your behavior affects those around you.
I can't say I'm surprised by the USC study's findings. My company coaches leaders using 360° assessments that compare their self-perception to how everyone else sees them. Smartphone use in meetings is one of the most common coworker complaints.
It's important to be clear with what you expect of others. If sharing this article with your team doesn't end smartphone use in meetings, take a page out of the Old West and put a basket by the conference room door with an image of a smart phone and the message, "Leave your guns at the door."

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Make Your Startup Story Matter in a World Chasing Tales of Success

How do you make your startup story matter in a world chasing glittery tales of success and billion dollar profits?
What makes for a good story? You will have your own answer, but here I propose to you some points to consider while you are charting your own entrepreneurial journey. Most experts may not tell you what I am going to share with you here. But then again, I am not an expert and that gives me the privilege to share with you my perspective as an equal, as a friend.
Writer and surgeon Sherwin Nuland said, “The more personal you are willing to be and the more intimate you are willing to be about the details of your own life, the more universal you are.” So be confident in talking about your weaknesses and vulnerabilities. In today’s world of glorifying success stories it has become a fad to talk about, out and loud, one’s achievements and accomplishments.
Most of these stories concentrate on what a superhuman entrepreneur you are, how you had this one brilliant idea that turned into your biggest break, how you built a great team and got your investors and customers to love you dearly. Every day we hear eulogies about who raised more funding, who got into the billion-dollar club, who worked non-stop and who the next big thing is.
Trust me, glossy stories may attract investors, get you a front page in the newspaper, but they do not make your story. You may grab eye balls for a short while, but it will not connect you to me and to millions out there. I would any day hear about your stumbling, moments when you bled, when you felt like giving it all up and moments when you were at your weakest. Show me that you are more than your achievements; that you are a human being, and you have the ability to connect, to reveal and in turn inspire.
It is through their honest, unflinching stories that we remember great leaders. Theodore Roosevelt’s ‘Citizenship in a Republic’ is one such example –
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. 
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
When you talk about your story, choose honesty. If you have read David Kirkpatrick’s, ‘The Facebook Effect,’ then you will remember this – At one staff meeting during those chaotic early weeks, when Facebook’s ability to maintain its momentum seemed so precarious, twenty-two-year-old Mark Zuckerberg showed a candour that both surprised many of his colleagues and endeared him to them. He said, “But I’m sort of learning on the job here.”Probably it was not the best time for him to confess this, but he did. And in doing so, he not only inspired his team, but also first-time entrepreneurs across the globe, who are all learning on the job to be a CEO.
Closer to home, Flipkart has built a story on execution, probably at a point of time in India when we did not know what delivery on time meant. Recently, the founders of the same company sent an apology letter to their users when the big billion dollar sales campaign failed. I don’t remember getting such an honest mail from the founders of many other companies, especially when the world was attacking and ridiculing them for the mistakes they made. It required courage and to me it made a great story of honesty and acceptance.
Now you could argue that these guys are already a success and what they do will be seen differently than a rookie entrepreneur just starting up. I disagree. A startup story is a work in progress. It’s not a one-time effort, newspaper clipping or five-minute spotlight of fame. Writing a good startup story of your own will require everyday effort, attention and practice. It is a sum total of a great many things; not an ensemble performance but millions of small things you do daily.
My request to you-in those millions of things embrace your weaknesses and embrace honesty.