/blog > archive > March 2013

600px-US_27

We’ve talked a lot over the last couple of years about tools to assess your skills, to assess your career, to map out your overall plan and your next move. However, maybe there is a  fundamental step that we have missed. How about a tool to assess your life in general? Actually, there is a tool for that. It is a very simple but powerful tool called the Satisfaction with Life Scale, developed by a team of psychologists looking to quantify a side of mental health that often goes unquantified — happiness. (Think of it as a somewhat more sophisticated, and we can only hope more precise, version of “On a scale from 1-10, how happy are you?”) Here’s how it works. You will read five statements about your life and rank each according to the following scale: 7 – Strongly agree 6 – Agree 5 – Slightly agree 4…

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scroogemcduck

Brazen Careerist has the down-low on the career that we should all be preparing for, irrespective of our skills: Your mystery career is investing Does that surprise you? Does it surprise you that whether you’re a doctor, bus driver, rocket scientist or business executive, your ultimate job title will be none of those, but rather “investor”? Think about it: most of us, if not all, have this vague notion that “one day” we will “retire”—both nebulous notions meaning different things to different people. “One day” could be a magic age, such as 40, 50 or 60. It could be later in life because “you don’t want to stop working.” And “retire” may mean golfing all day, traveling the world, starting a new business, being a painter or writer, or any other pastime of your choice. I think they’re on to something there. I would add that it’s probably a good idea to…

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diamond

The whole thing is completely made made up, a wildly successful marketing campaign pulled off by one company. It turns out that diamond engagement rings are like a really expensive version of Valentine’s Day or Mother’s day, only instead of being asked to spring for a vase of flowers or a box of chocolates, a guy is supposed to part with three months’ salary (the linked article says three years, but I think the author is just kidding around) because it’s a “tradition.” The conclusion: Diamonds are not actually scarce, make a terrible investment, and are purely valuable as a status symbol. Not terribly romantic. But then reality has way of not being all that romantic.Read More…

hyeonso

Speaking of TED talks, here’s an inspiring and moving story about one young woman’s struggle to win freedom for herself, her family, and her people. The image of the little girl looking across the river and wondering why they have lights over there and we don’t have them here is heartbreaking. And the story of the letter her family received is beyond heartbreaking. Then there’s the surprise hero of the story — an unnamed stranger who steps in and helps simply because he can, and it’s the right thing to do. Amazing.  Read More…

helpinghands

In a recent TED talk, Dan Palotta boldly makes the case for non-profits, charities in particular, to spend a lot more money on overhead, including executives’ salaries. Palotta’s argument is based not on a love for bloated marketing budgets, but rather a belief that the same kinds of approaches and incentives that deliver significant results for business will work for charities. He believes that praising a charity for keeping costs down misses the point — the question we should be asking is how much good is the organization really doing? The standard we should be holding nonprofits to, he argues, is how big is its mission and how effective is it in carrying out that mission? Pallotta claims that our discomfort with large non-profit outlays for overhead is a holdover from our Puritan ancestors. Possibly. But there is something worrying about discovering that 70% of funds collected in some recent…

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giantspider

Monday I did a lengthy piece on how working parents should divvy up the housework and, perhaps as importantly, how they should communicate about it. I’m of the opinion that some tasks don’t divide up very well and that for many chores it’s better for one partner or the other to be primarily (or completely) responsible. This morning on Facebook a friend shared a photo that I think perfectly encapsulates this idea: My friend tells me that this photo does not originate with her, but with a friend, which is sufficiently far removed to put it into urban legend territory. No matter, the principle outlined is sound. In a good relationship, one partner captures the giant spider; the other partner kills the giant spider. Twice.Read More…

mr-mom-1

Alexandra Bradner, writing for the Atlantic, explores Some Theories on Why Men Don’t Do as Many Household Tasks.  She starts out asking working mothers to list all their “invisible” second-shift tasks — all the extra stuff they feel they have to do every day after work. She then asks men to respond to the list. She does not ask for a similar list from men, and in fact never seems even to consider the idea that men might do as much as women. It is assumed from the outset that they do not, and that their behavior needs to change. Personally, I would like to see this issue addressed a little differently. Rather than just running with her assumptions, Bradford might have asked both partners on either side of the relationship to present such a list. In comparing the two lists, everybody would probably learn something important. And, yes, maybe…

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goodnewsbadnews2

I wanted to end this week with some really uplifting news after starting things out on a kind of a down note. Anyhow, if you want economic good news it was readily available today thanks to the new jobs report from the bureau of labor statistics: The American job market isn’t just growing. It’s accelerating. Employers added 236,000 jobs in February and drove down the unemployment rate to 7.7 percent, its lowest level in more than four years. The gains signal that companies are confident enough in the economy to intensify hiring even in the face of tax increases and government spending cuts. Well, yeeha! And let’s hope things continue to move in the right direction at an even faster pace. Unfortunately, just as I was getting ready to post my good news piece, I came upon this rather worrying headline over on NPR: The Scariest Jobs Chart Ever Isn’t…

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corporateprofits

A scary headline from the New York Times re-emphasizes a point we have made repeatedly over the past few months: Recovery in U.S. Is Lifting Profits, but Not Adding Jobs With millions still out of work, companies face little pressure to raise salaries, while productivity gains allow them to increase sales without adding workers. “So far in this recovery, corporations have captured an unusually high share of the income gains,” said Ethan Harris, co-head of global economics at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “The U.S. corporate sector is in a lot better health than the overall economy. And until we get a full recovery in the labor market, this will persist.” Increases in productivity, driven primarily by automation, make it possible for companies to do more and more with less and less. As a result, we see a growing disconnect between how well the economy is doing and how well…

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Inspiration-Mars-0213-mdn

Dennis Tito, billionaire and space enthusiast, has a plan to send a mission to Mars in 2018. You have got to credit the man both for thinking big and for thinking outside of the box. Already all that talk about moonshot ideas seems a bit out of date although — when you think about it — Tito’s proposed Inspiration Mars mission is definitely a “moonshot” idea. One of the most interesting items to emerge surrounding this announcement is the proposed makeup of the crew. The plan is to send a married  couple on the 500-day voyage:  “…[T]his is very symbolic, and we really need it to represent humanity with a man and a woman,” Taber MacCallum , chief technical officer and potential crew member told the media. He said if it is a man and a woman on such a long, cramped voyage, it makes sense for them to be…

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