Archive for the ‘News and Research’ Category

  • All that Is New Is Old: Celebrating Vintage and Resilience

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    200px-BraveNewWorld_FirstEdition

    “The charm of history and its enigmatic lesson consist in the fact that, from age to age, nothing changes and yet everything is completely different.” — Aldous Huxley.

    I was struck , today, by the incongruence of three recent articles: two about the sadness of losing, in one case, and the shrinking of, in another, two highly successful, beloved, media institutions, and a third celebrating  5 Vintage Versions of Modern Social Media from Centuries Ago.

    Our loss of the venerable, weekly Life magazine, was a salient point in the NY Times obituary of Life’s last Managing Editor, Ralph Graves. The obit hails Graves’ valiant efforts to keep this American institution afloat in its turbulent final years.

    “Life,” the obituary notes, “was one of a number of general-interest magazines — among the others were Look and The Saturday Evening Post — that both informed and entertained large numbers of Americans throughout the 1940s and ’50s.

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    Life, in particular, with its emphasis on photography, was said to be the country’s chief source for learning what the world looked like.” Until the advent of TV…

    Another headline, PBS News Hour Facing Cutbacks, Layoffs and Office Closings, mournfully reminds us of the rapidly shrinking halcyon days of in-depth news coverage.

    Then, thank heavens, Maria Popova’s, weekly edition of Brain Pickings popped up in my in-box. Popova’s celebrating  5 Vintage Versions of Modern Social Media from Centuries Ago assures us that all that is new in modern start-ups definitely has roots in all that is old. Positively music to the ears of this 60+ start-up entrepreneur!

    Popova covers everything from Voltaire’s status updates to Edison’s viral videos, including what Diderot has to do with data visualization as she notes, “We’ve previously made the case that everything builds on what came before yet our human tendency is to inflate and overestimate the novelty of our ideas. Today, we turn to five concepts from the centuries of yore remarkably similar to the central premises of five of today’s social web darlings [Twitter, Facebook, Quora, YouTube, and Tumblr].”

    Popova’s insights are, as always, brilliant in their clarity. I’d only add one more “modern darling,” infographics. In another illuminating posting, The Lives of 10 Famous Painters Visualized  as Minimalist Infographic Biographies, Popova visually distills the lives of artists, Pollock, Dalí, Matisse, Klimt, Picasso, Mondrian, Klee, Boccioni, Kandinsky, and Miro, in modern infographics!

    We never stop learning. The format may be completely different, but our curiosity never changes.

    Vintage is vintage and Resilience is key!

  • Behind the Curtain: Three Walt Disneys in the Magic Kingdom

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    Image courtesy, wallpaperden.com

    Joanna Maxwell,  provided a peak behind the curtain to reveal the real magic in Walt Disney’s creative process.  Maxwell’s Work In Colour blog is always a virtual cornucopia of  “creative thinking tools for individuals and businesses to switch from black & white to colour.”

    Last week she introduced us to three key mindsets behind Disney’s creative genius: “Disney set up three rooms, one for each mode of thinking. The first was for the Dreamer for thinking big, for creating visions and imagining possibilities without boundaries. The second was for the Realist to determine what is practical, how can we make this happen in the world, what actions are required? The third was for the Critic where you play devil’s advocate – test the plan for flaws, imagine what could go wrong.”

    Maxwell offers some questions to help us navigate each mindset to mine our own creativity:

    Dreamer

    1. What’s your vision, your ultimate fantasy for the project?
    2. If you had unlimited resources and ability, what would it look like?
    3. What’s most exciting about it?

    Realist

    1. How will you make this happen? What do you need?
    2. What’s the plan? (Details, please!)
    3. What might get in the way and how will you get around it?

    Critic

    1. What if my customers don’t like it?
    2. What are the competition doing in this space?
    3. What if the plans go wrong? What’s the worst case scenario?

     

    “The order,” she cautions, “is important – especially, don’t jump to the Critic before the Dreamer has had a thorough go.”

    In past posts, Maxwell has noted how difficult it is to step outside ourselves to interrupt our patterns and realistically assess our dreams. One particularly poignant suggestion (vis a vis this Disney post) that she had to help us was “to seek out aliens.” Not green creatures from another planet, but rather people with entirely different perspectives to shed new light on our ideas. “Children,” she says, “with their own unique insights and fresh approach are ideal.”

    When I read that I couldn’t help but think how much Disney – who created so many “colourful” magic kingdoms for children – would have loved that.

    Courtesy, houserphotography.net

  • Do What You Love – Don’t Settle for Second Best

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    Courtesy, webgrrls.com

     

    If you’re 60 years old and just starting a business of your own, this is not the time for you to settle for second best. First, it is not good for your psyche and second, it is not good for your business.

    In this 12 Most Overlooked Essential First Steps For Starting A Business blog post, the first and last steps are all about you.

    The number 1 question is: Ask yourself, “What do I want out of life?”

    And the 12th and final “most overlooked essential” question is: Remind yourself, “Why you are starting this business and what it’s supposed to do for you?”

    You’ve lived and worked a lot of years. Now you’re free to choose what you want to do for the next 20-30 years. Don’t blow the opportunity. Stay focused and don’t compromise.

    Business News Daily had an article, Innovation Begins at Home for Entrepreneurs, that notes one of the best ways to test your entrepreneurial mettle and staying power is to build on something that works for you. It cites a study, released by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a nonprofit group that focuses on entrepreneurship and innovation, which found, “Nearly half of innovative startups are founded by user entrepreneurs. These are firms created by entrepreneurs who developed innovative products or services for their own use and then went on to found firms to commercialize them. They leave an outsize mark on the economy; even though they create only 10.7 percent of startups overall, they account for more than 46 percent of innovative startups that have lasted five years or more.

    For more about the you in entrepreneurship, don’t miss this new book The Big Enough Company by Adelaide Lancaster and Amy Abrams. They explore how to grow your enterprise in a way that sustains your own personal goals and needs, not someone else’s standards. Drawing on the true stories of nearly 100 entrepreneurs, as well as their own experiences, the authors guide readers through the best principles that really matter when you work for yourself. This book empowers entrepreneurs to ignore popular “wisdom” and peer pressure to take charge of their businesses in a way that will help them succeed on their own terms.

    Never Lose Sight of the You in “Starting Your Own Business!”

  • Orchestrating Innovation – Old and New

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    Courtesy, Harvard Business Review

     

    This weekend, as I read a preview of Walter Isaacson’s article, “The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs” the April cover story in the Harvard Business Review, I was struck by the parallels between the culture of creativity Jobs fostered at Apple and that of Mervin Kelly, “the man most responsible for the culture of creativity” at Bell Labs fifty years earlier.

    Jon Gertner, author of the forthcoming “The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation,” published an ode to the “Bell Labs’ Miracle” in the NY Times last month. Just for starters, read and compare how these four key lessons of Jobs – “Focus; Simplify; Take Responsibility; and Combine the Humanities with the Sciences” were integral to the Bell Labs’ creative ecosystem.

    Echo, the first communications satellite, in 1960. Courtesy of Alcatel-Lucent USA Inc. and the AT&T Archives and History Center

     

    As Gertner notes: “His [Kelly's] fundamental belief was that an ‘institute of creative technology’ like his own needed a ‘critical mass’ of talented people to foster a busy exchange of ideas. But innovation required much more than that. Mr. Kelly was convinced that physical proximity was everything; phone calls alone wouldn’t do. Quite intentionally, Bell Labs housed thinkers and doers under one roof. Purposefully mixed together on the transistor project were physicists, metallurgists and electrical engineers; side by side were specialists in theory, experimentation and manufacturing. Like an able concert hall conductor, he sought a harmony, and sometimes a tension, between scientific disciplines; between researchers and developers; and between soloists and groups.”

    Indeed, it will take all of us – artists, scientists, politicians, teachers, navigators, cooks, athletes, geeks, oboe players and more – to address the world’s seemingly intractable problems today.  And, once we truly understand this, we need to identify another innovator cut from the same cloth as Jobs and Kelly to lead our orchestra.

     

  • You and the Queen Have a Lot in Common!

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    Out on the road yesterday, with my car radio dial set as always to NPR, I happened to catch Diane Rehm interviewing Sally Bedell Smith, author of Elizabeth the Queen: The Life a Modern Monarch.

    I’m not much of a “Royals” devotée, but when I heard Diane Rehm announce, “Britain’s Queen Elizabeth will observe her diamond jubilee next month. It’s been sixty years since her father, George the Sixth, died. Elizabeth Alexandra Mary became head of the Commonwealth at age twenty-five. During her reign – the longest since Queen Victoria’s – she’s ushered the British monarchy into the modern age,” I was hooked and turned up the volume.

    I was particularly struck when they spoke of the value, as related to her 60 years of insights and information, of the Queen’s role today. “She is,” the author said, “a nonpolitical head of state who exists to unify the country. She’s had to handle crises within her family, her country, and the world. She’s very perceptive and knows every world leader – their strengths as well as their foibles. The Queen has traveled throughout the United Kingdom and based on her conversations with both ordinary and powerful people she has a great understanding of the human condition.”

    Sixty years of insights and information about the world and the human condition – isn’t that woven into the fabric of all of us 60-year-old’s? We may not have the same bling as the Queen but we do have the same time-tested experience to bring to the table. What a gift!

  • So Much More Than Dinosaurs

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    New York City’s American Museum of Natural History is launching a new graduate program for people “who want to make a career of teaching and stay in the business,” said Ellen V. Futter, president of the museum, “whether they be just out of college or former participants in a volunteer corps or career changers or veterans.”

    The article by Douglas Quenqua in this Sunday’s New York Times begins: “Wanted: 50 former science majors with an interest in teaching — no experience, please — and a willingness to relocate. Must be comfortable sharing a classroom with dinosaur bones and giant squid.”

    Tuition is free, thanks to the New York State Board of Regents, and students will receive $30,000 stipends and health benefits.

    What a terrific career changing opportunity!  One interested applicants is “Tim Roselle, 60, a retired financial worker from the Upper West Side, who said he was lured by the prospect of attending school in one of the city’s most beloved museums.”

    There’s a lot life in some old bones…

     

     

     

  • Salary Cuts Need Not Be So Painful

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    Courtesy, www.agefotostock.com

    I read two articles in the past two weeks about the reality of pay cuts in today’s bleak economy.

    The first, by Chris Isidore, Unemployed Face a Reduction in Income – Permanently, in CNNmoney.com was sobering. It is a necessary but certainly not uplifting reality check.

    The second, Penelope Trunk, the Brazen Careerist’s blog posting, When It’s OK to Take a Paycut, is more a wake-up call than a mere reality check. Her seven points make us focus on the critical factor here, which is, as she says, “You are not your salary. You are not worth less in the world because you are paid less in your job. Get your self-worth from a wide range of things and a pay cut won’t matter to you. Focus on the components of a good job: learning, personal growth, friends at work, and a good family life. All those things are worth a lot more than a pay cut.”

    Here, in summary are her eye-opening, insights on when it is ok to take a pay cut:

    “If you want to change careers. Look, you are stopping doing something that you know how to do, and you are going to start doing something you have not done before. Why would you think you will not take a pay cut?

    If you are over 40 years old. Pay peaks about age 40 for everyone except surgeons and lawyers. So if you are 40 and job hunting, take a pay cut. It’s not going to kill you, but holding out for a raise might lead to fears of starvation.

    If you have been unemployed for six months. Statistically speaking, you will have to take a pay cut to re-enter the workforce. So instead of holding out to be a superhero of job hunts, just take a job. So much of our self-worth comes from working that ditching unemployment far outweighs avoiding a pay cut.

    If you’re relocating back to family. Research from Nattavudh Powdthavee of the University of London shows that to make up for the decrease in happiness that you experience when you leave family and friends, you would need to make $133,000 more than you were earning before the relocation. So it stands to reason that you can take a substantial pay cut to move closer to family and still gain a net happiness benefit..

    If you will get a great boss. When it comes to the job hunt, getting a boss who will be a great mentor matters more than the job you’ll be doing for that boss. The number-one factor that determines your earning power is your schooling. The number-two factor is the quality of mentoring you get. Since most of you are out of school, mentoring should be your number-one concern, and you’ll more than make up for a pay cut by gaining a good mentor.

    If you are having mental health problems from not working. Work provides a lot of things:  a sense of belonging, sense of purpose, structure and balance to a day, as well as financial security. You can get all these things by short-circuiting your job hunt and taking a lower-paying job. Wondering if you are having problems big enough to qualify for this one? Are you gaining weight during unemployment? That’s a sign that you’re masking new emotional problems. Get a job.

    If you need better insurance. Taking a pay cut to get better insurance is like buying peace of mind. And at a bargain rate, really. If all you need to do is take a pay cut to know that you will not go bankrupt from medical bills (the most common cause of bankruptcy, by the way) then it’s worth it.”

     

     

     

  • “It’s never too late to be who you might have been.”

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    Photo courtesy of www.indivisualism.com

    Seniors should take heart in this courageous quote from the English novelist, George Eliot (1819-1880). She was often called the last Victorian, and we know that was not exactly an era open to creative thought – nevertheless articulation.

    We hear the term “reinventing themselves” often as seniors – with many extended years to live – are taking on new jobs and even starting to launch their own businesses.

    This week’s “Fact of the Week” from the Sloane Center on Aging & Work at Boston College is:

    “According to a 2011 report on retirement trends, ‘continued employment in something other than the career job…rises to a maximum of 32 percent of the men and 37 percent of the women when the HRS respondents are aged 59 to 69, but still remains significant (more than 20 percent of the sample) even among those aged 67 to 77.’ ’’

    The key phrase here is “something other than the career job.” These seniors are truly breaking new ground.

    For those who might be contemplating a bold entrepreneurial venture, the US Small Business Administration’s website offers a nifty self-assessment tool to determine just how ready you might be to start our own business.

    The SBA notes, “Your responses will be scored automatically when you click the Submit button. This score will be used to develop your assessment profile. Based on your score, you will also receive a statement of Suggested Next Steps, directing you to the most appropriate SBA resources to help improve your business preparedness. These suggested next steps may include free SBA online courses, direct access to online counseling or targeted links to appropriate resources.”

    Take their note with the appropriate grain of salt. It is, of course, a bit of shameless marketing for the SBA. There are multitudes of other reputable online resources to help you plan and start your own business. Granted few are directed at the 50+ year old entrepreneur, but we are working on finding more of those targeted resources and will bring them to you as we locate and evaluate them.

    To extend George Eliot’s wisdom, we would add, “It’s never too late to be who you might like to be!”

     

     

  • What’s Wrong with This Picture?

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    Courtesy doclounge.net

    Is Justice truly blind and applies equally to all, or does it sometimes peek and tip the scales when it’s politically expedient?

    President Obama, the Compromise Czar, held our admiration for a time as he successfully navigated his way between Scylla and Charybdis, other wise know as the Democrats and Republicans in Congress, but his most recent compromise/concession regarding Elizabeth Warren and the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau not only tips Lady Justice’s scales, it knocks them right out of her mighty hand.

    This past Friday, July 15, I listened to a video posted in the NY Times in which Elizabeth Warren was talking in a very calm level-headed manner about her work to set up the bureau amid heavy opposition. The posting provoked many tweets such as this clearly unbiased one, “My politics don’t really align with Elizabeth Warren’s,” the tweeter said. “But I sensed that she had a legitimate interest in trying to, at a minimum, improve efficiencies.”

    I thought, “How reassuring to hear a Republican express support even though his ‘politics do not align’ with hers.”

    Then, just two days later on July 17th I read (also in the NY Times) Former Ohio Attorney General Picked to Lead Consumer Agency by Binyamin Appelbaum.  Appelbaum wrote that President Obama had announced that he would nominate Richard Cordray, the former attorney general of Ohio, to lead the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “The decision to pass over [the 62-year-old] Ms. Warren — who conceived the bureau, championed its creation and orchestrated its establishment for the last year as a White House adviser — reflects political realities. Her candidacy was passionately supported by liberal members of Congress and consumer advocacy groups. But she never won the full support of the president or his senior advisers, particularly the Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, in part because of her independent streak and her outspokenness, which at times put her at odds with the administration.”

    “Independent, outspoken, at times put her at odds”… Rather than a negative critique, it sounds like a breath of fresh air to me. Lady Justice, it’s time to secure that blindfold and maybe hold your nose because “today’s political realities” stink!

  • When “You Are Special” Is Not Enough

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    The advice about the “Intersection of Life and Work” is often rich on Penelope Trunk’s “Brazen Careerist” blog, but this week’s posting, “Time Management Is Not About Tasks,” is particularly insightful and practical.

    It’s all about the art of time well spent and constructive criticism vs vapid compliments.

    And don’t miss her reference to Get Rid of the Performance Review!: How Companies Can Stop Intimidating, Start Managing — and Focus on What Really Matters, a fascinating book by Samuel Culbert, professor at the UCLA school of business.

    Trunk does not blog on a fixed schedule. She says, “I post when I have something to say that may be of value to my readers.” I feel much the same about my blog and appreciate your patience through my sometimes lengthy gaps in publication and the fact that you do come back to read what I have to say.

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