/blog > archive > November 2012

alan

Sometimes we have to tackle the really important questions. For example, why is wildlife footage so funny with British voice-overs? (Maybe some of the Zapoint guys can help me understand.) I guess it would work if they had French accents, or Alabama accents, or Middle Eastern accents, or whatever — but they would have to be saying different things. And bottom line: it just wouldn’t be as funny.  Read More…

salmankhan

Salman Khan on the future of higher education: Here’s what I think it could look like in five years: the learning side will be free, but if and when you want to prove what you know, and get a credential, you would go to a proctoring center [for an exam]. And that would cost something. Let’s say it costs $100 to administer that exam. I could see charging $150 for it. And then you have a $50 margin that you can reinvest on the free-learning side. I think that is consistent with the mission. You are taking the cost of the credential down from thousands of dollars to hundreds of dollars. And the [software] system would tell them they are ready for it. So no paying tuition for community college and then dropping out, or even finishing the whole thing and saying “Oh, I’m $20,000 in debt and what did…

Read More…

girlonhammock

Brazen Life offers four reasons to leave your job, “even if you’re comfortable,” featuring solid advice on avoiding burnout, adding variety, and looking to make that big next move. My only quibble with the list is that it implies that being “comfortable” might be sufficient reason to stay with a job. Is it? For me, applying the word “comfortable” as the reason to stick with  anything other than a good pair of fuzzy slippers implies some level of compromise. Would being “comfortable” be a good reason to stay in a relationship? “He cheats on me, but it’s comfortable.” “We haven’t spoken in six months, but it’s comfortable.” Ah, one might argue, a relationship can be comfortable and a lot of other good things, too. Comfortable doesn’t have to go along with something bad. A relationship can be comfortable and also passionate, respectful, joyful, fulfilling. Precisely. And those would be good…

Read More…

developmentalchanges

Evo-Devo is an emerging field where evolutionary biology, which explores how the different species have changed over time, meets developmental biology,  which explores how an individual organism changes throughout its life. It is the branch of science which helps us understand, for example, why a human embryo and a chicken embryo look so much alike — in the earliest stages, anyway. One of the great lessons of Evo-Devo is that no developmental plan is permanent. As conditions change and species adapt, those adaptions are reflected in changes to the individual organism’s developmental path. Over time, fins become legs, legs become wings, and sometimes (oddly enough) wings become fins. When thinking about the next steps in our careers, we like a to believe there’s a fixed path that we can follow. In life, infancy leads to toddlerhood, which leads to childhood, which leads to adolescence, which leads to adulthood. In many…

Read More…

DebtClock

An excellent tool for those interested in transparency is the US Debt Clock, which tracks a number of variables related to how much the government spends versus how much it takes in. To say that it’s updated in real time doesn’t do it justice — it looks like it’s spinning out of control. If the figures shown aren’t upsetting enough, the speed at which they’re growing is dizzying. One of the features I really like about the debt clock is that it enables us to go back in time and track the same variables four, eight, and 12 years ago as well as projections of the same for four years from now.  In fact, it provides several different versions of where the debt might be by then, depending on partisan skew. And while none of those look exactly encouraging, none are quite as apocalyptic as those insanely scrambling numbers would…

Read More…

muhammadali

Is arrogance an overlooked skill? If I am arrogant, is that a good or bad thing? Of course arrogance is bad, but is it a necessary evil in the rise of an executive? Subjectively I can conclude that I see this vice more in conversations with managers and executives than I do with employees. Are we born with arrogance? Or is it an environmental bi product of career achievement? Is arrogance directional? In other words are we only arrogant with people we feel we can be arrogant with? Enough questions lets look at an example. One of my former managers was significantly arrogant. She seemed to take pleasure in asserting her position to her staff and peers and at the same time letting us know that our opinions were less than important. I attended several meetings where she was presenting to her managers and, surprise surprise, her arrogance was no-where…

Read More…

spiderman-clipart-4

Working to make the world more transparent can be fun and downright heroic. (Image via positiveatmosphere.com.) Everybody should give it a try! But be careful. While working on this post I encountered the following error message: Here’s a zoom on the message itself: Hey that’s the last thing we want to have happen!  Read More…

sleepwalking-man2

Ask many HR professionals if their company has any Career Management initiatives and you may get a blank look and be asked what you mean by Career Management.   So it comes as no surprise that research like the recent YouGov Survey in the UK, conducted on behalf of Fairplace, concludes that many organizations have disengaged employees, which can seriously impact productivity.  The survey found that 39% of people are “sleep-walking” through their careers, with no career paths or development plans in place.   Definitions of “Career Management” vary, but Wikipedia seems to do a fairly good job of defining it:   “Career Management is the combination of structured planning and the active management choice of one’s own professional career. The outcome of successful career management should include personal fulfillment, work/life balance, goal achievement and financial security.”   Individuals need to take control of their own careers, which means understanding…

Read More…

squeaker

We all know that data is not the same thing as knowledge. The latter is made from the former: data must be correctly understood, contextualized, and applied in order to become knowledge. But if any (or all) of those steps go wrong, the data in question will not lead to knowledge — quite the opposite. Today, one day before the presidential election, this principle is nowhere more apparent than in the attempts to make knowledge out of the vast accumulation of polling data that has been collected and published over the past week or so. People are trying to understand, they’re trying to put things in context, and they’re trying to apply the data correctly. Is any actual knowledge being created? Well, we’ll know tomorrow (or at some point thereafter) when “the only poll that really counts” tells us who won and how. At that point, we can compare the…

Read More…

unemployment-may-sept

After writing Monday’s piece about uncertainty as to what the current unemployment numbers mean, I decided to fact-check myself on one particular statement that I made: A lower rate of unemployment in a significantly smaller workforce is not the indisputable good news that it would be if the workforce size stayed constant — or better yet, grew. Actually, as a proposition, that statement needs no fact-check. I think we can all agree that it’s true. And if you follow the link above you will see that there is no question that (per Bureau of Labor statistics) the size of the workforce has definitely dropped in recent years. But the implication of what I wrote is that the drop in workforce participation may have clouded the unemployment numbers for September. Not so much, it turns out. Here are the total number of people out of work over the past few months,…

Read More…