A recent seminar on Overcoming Fears Uncertainty and
Doubts pointed out things you should learn to do while
in graduate school. Two leading ones the group pointed
knowing how to speak with your boss
knowing how to have difficult conversations with people.
These are no doubt situational things and depend on several
factors. That is part of the learning that we need to do. It is
important to develop this understanding while in graduate school.
our conversation about how to speak to a boss
- for a raise and at review time
- after making a mistake
- challenges at home
- have a major health issue
Flipboard shared a creditable piece about having hard conversations
- begin with a perspective of respect and curiosity
- avoiding conversations does not make problems go away
- listen intently, respond with the other’s ideas first, and avoid
partial listening while planning to say what is on our mind
- recognize cultural differences and determine how to be
direct (clear statements, not circular logic).
Herbert Simon is credited with recognizing that in a
data rich world what is critical is managing audience
attention. Combined with the attitude that audiences
prefer A I D A, the digital media promoters code…
we lose our focus, disturb our direction and slow our progress.
Leaders of the digital and media organizations realize this
and take advantage of the uninformed. It is critical that
technical professionals understand this and improve the
way we manage ourselves, our colleagues and teams.
The technical world including the chemical enterprises is
dominated by the “attention economy.” Earlier this blog posted
prescribes actions we can take to contain the outside influences
that digital media and devices introduce in his web site:
managing our attention and careers.
We have brought up Mlodinow’s book, Subliminal, that offers
that human’s memory faculties are faulty. One suggestion is to
create a research notebook for yourself– it could be new business
ideas, new research projects, new and improved products…
We cannot sit still in this fast evolving world. We have minimal
memory resources, until computers evolved, and we can easily
store ideas, links and lists.
This entry offers two trends worth noting that you may incorporate,
even if you are not currently engaged in fields. Things are bothchanging and unpredictable
and it helps to try to be open-minded
both to new directions and opportunities.
DRUG DISTRIBUTION: MALDI-MSI
offered an keen review of an approach yielding new
insights into risk assessment of pharma candidates . Matrix-
assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectral imaging is
used to visualize where in samples chemicals and metabolites
are distributed in model system sections.
Cornett indicates that this tool might be required to
inform decisions on regulatory submissions, as it offers
deeper understanding of pharmacology and toxicology.
NOVEL CHEMISTRY: COMMERCE
Novel chemistry is found in patent literature, chemical journals
and offered by custom chemical firms. If it were one and
done, it would not be so special.
The idea is to open up our resource notebook to various inputs
for continuous learning.
So often articles and blog entries talk about hiring trends
for recent graduates. When I peruse them, it seems most
are either anecdotal (few specific examples highlighting
certain concepts) or statistical summaries that are often time
a year or more earlier than the date of publication.
This entry looks at your second and subsequent positions. So,
in another perspective, we can take a longer, career view.
A career is a process, not an outcome, with many transactions
-learning new skills,
-defining your strengths and building on them, and
-articulating your values so that others will understand
and appreciate you and your contributions.
As scientists, commenters
bring up the discussion of being
that of an occupation formed by setting up formal qualifications
offered by education, internship/apprenticeship and examination,
a regulatory organization which admits and restricts and has a
code of behavior.
Honestly, however, scientific disciplines, like chemistry, may not
be bound by discipline tracks when thinking about job markets.
This may be less important when we look at markets for
wrote a remarkable article on career mistakes
that hinder personal growth and happiness that we obtain from
careers. I contend these apply to advance degreed scientists.
Let me highlight five frames of mind that restrict the “real job market:”
1. hold off pursuing positions of interest due to <100% match to
musts and wants [lack of confidence, weak in resilience, fear of
failure; be willing to learn on the job and seek help]
2. lack of self assessment knowing your strengths and what makes
you thrive and be constantly challenged and engaged. [engage
psychological and economic instruments outside of your employment
chain of command]
3. fall behind in your learning curve of new skills and experiences
to those who extend themselves [could be in work environment and
professional/ volunteer organizations]
4. fail to take an outsider’s perspective of your industry, organization
and department. This can be a situation where you ‘coast’ for a while.
It is important to continue connecting and keeping up with your
5. miss opportunities to learn about branding your skills and abilities
and be visible in more than one organization. In the information era,
this can seem to be trying things that are not immediately rewarded
in one organization, but opens up opportunities in another.
[no funding to attend a professional meeting; become a volunteer,
offer to assume organizational responsibilities, show that you can be
Some people are in roles that it is an asset to remember and
use people’s names. Sales, interviewing, teaching, politics and
guess what, leadership roles.
[They offer F-A-C-E: Face the person, Ask how they like to be
called, Cross reference to links, Employ the name in conversation.]
In a recent podcast
I learned another acronym that might be useful
to recall names that gives useful advice: C-H-A-R-M. from Jim
- Care. Showing that you care enough to remember a person’s
name reveals a connection.
- Hearing. Often we are thinking of something else when another
person offers their name. our attention is not focused on listening
closely, Distraction leads to not hearing.
- Ask. How do you spell it? Where does it come from? What is
the meaning or who were you named after? How would you like to
- Repeat Say the name and impress yourself with the name, situation,
- Marker. imagine the names spelled on their face, or link their face to
another face with the same name and jot it down in another medium.
Meeting with many Ph.D. candidates who fret about
not having accomplished a series of publications in
peer reviewed journals is confounding these days.
What is the criterion for being granted a degree?
Can you publish just anywhere, not just in high impact
Is peer review of a journal article a justifiable measure?
What do we do in controversial topic areas when bias
can enter into decisions?
What do we do in the digital era which has replaced
RESEARCH AND HALF LIFE OF FACTS
Further enlightenment about the pursuit of “truth” is
that, as Uri Alon
so elegantly described, research invites
a fruitful path. The write up glosses over the learning
by failure and describes the “obvious” positive direction,
showing how novel and precise the idea is.
Samuel Arbesman looks back on the search for “truth”
and finds most being only half-correct as time moves
So why is getting published in a journal so crucial?
I get it that graduate degrees are conferred by judging
work being of such quality meriting publication. Martin Paul Eve
nicely describes the fuzziness of this
criterion since it could be published just anywhere after
rejections. As we know, rejection
does not mean lack
of value either.
As we are into the third decade of the Internet era of
publication providing OA Open Access there are many
ways to both read and access articles and publish our
This raises questions about what is a valid way of
demonstrating the level of expertise for a degree, even
for granting tenure and promotion.
Many articles we find about requesting for salary
increments overlook the need to do three things–
* perform consistently well in meeting and exceeding your’s
and your team’s goals [time in grade is often insufficient],
* gather critical information about pay, time in grade and value
to the organization, and
* have a proposal for your continued growth plan and how it
contributes to the organization [it is helpful to have mentors
who are knowledgeable about the organization, policies and
- separate salary conversations from performance review meetings, so
that you demonstrate you are not focusing as being money-driven.
- know that a timely one-on-one can be helpful in supporting the
value you provide to the organization with a successful project
- ‘plant the seed’ for an increase before the organization’s budget
planning (article indicates 3-4 months, is that too early?)
- practice what you are going to say, plan for interruptions, and
have a back-up plan
This week we talked about what is valued and sought for in
individuals when they seek different career paths. Then we
We pointed out that much of our life is quite unpredictable
and that what we start out wanting, doing and behaving
changes throughout our life. An interesting piece in Quartz
reported on statistical data where in the past we could reflect
on anecdotal instances in changes.
In the short term there remains a consistency in our wanting
doing and behaving, however. Here we might pose that Luck
and Skill arbitrate on what happens in our careers.
CAREERS = LUCK + SKILLS
LUCK = preparation + opportunity + attitude
We suggested it is useful to set objectives, develop a plan
to achieve them and look for opportunities to be and act
professionally along the way. Build your committed network
ask for help, create and learn from “teachable moments”,
continuously learn, and be optimistic.
Two pieces of feedback from our class offered questions–
1- how can I network better? What should I learn and practice?
[understand your current personal values, behaviors and emotional
make-up; small talk, understand others’ make-ups and adapt
to achieve win-win outcomes]
2- it seems like the skills you list are just things to trick people on.
What is the basis for each item on the list, they wondered.
[real life often is a series of unpredictable events with little time
to think. Thus our habits will determine our behaviors. We wish
to figure out what our habits are modify them to be more effective.]
It is hard for some to learn that professional work is strongly
influenced by our cultural, personal and value-based habits.
It is often the case that how you do something is as important as
the outcomes that you achieve. Sometimes the result is “pure
luck” but as we know we “create much of our luck”.
Reading a book that you may wish to get your hands on.
That is if you are interested in improving your “small
I know I am. So let me tell you more. I am visiting several
friends and new acquaintances and am looking at how I can
ideas that are encapsulated in three acronyms for different
HPM SBR EDR
draws on memory, focused on topic focused
experiences and on exploring
focused on you
History - Specific Emotion
Philosophy Broad Details
Metaphor Related Restatement
H reply to comment
using personal experiences on a topic
this reminds me of…
what a coincidence…..
P personal stance on a topic
I always enjoyed….
there was a famous quote ….
this allows for a subtle change of topic
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
S ask to go deeper, more specific
B ask to springboard into subtopics
R explore into tangential topics
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
E It seems to me you feel …. You are…. Other people’s emotions
D define the details
what were they wearing…
how was the weather…. How did you deal with it…
R employ 5 Ws to complete a restatement
is this what you mean?….
Reading a blog entry by B. Perlmutter, reminded me of
a section in the second class of our Professional Development
class. What I like about it is that he creates a nice context
and story about factors we need to consider in making
Our class offers fewer steps and a template to consider
classroom exercises that students might face now and
will possibly face in the future.
1 determine the facts
2 identify the stakeholders
3 identify the ethical choices
4 make a decision
5 double check the decision
Perlmutter frames his process and story in terms of situations
and risks to reputations in a golf tournament. Early in his
ethical process, he points out recognizing ethical problems,
even before knowing the stakeholders, interests and
At first, this order of process steps is not one better than
another but a different perspective about something
scientists and engineers are not often trained to think.
Ethics can be ambiguous and relative. In Perlmutter’s
perspective, ethics needs to be considered earlier. I
think this can be good and a point of emphasis.
Not long ago, this blog offered a legal perspective of
ethical decision-making. It appears different than the
first two in that it asks questions about legality,
reputation and consistency with values.
We need to understand that different people will
make a case for processing their thinking. Forni
I think states it best and has me thinking Perlmutter
says it best for me. Forni outlines the urgency to
develop and place good thinking habits as
a priority. Good thinking makes having thought,
having thought leads to a wider range of viable
choices; Good choices offer the chance for good
decisions that lead to a good life that lead to
Perlmutter’s process is documented in the
Last weekend we were part of a team presenting a job search
workshop for undergraduate chemistry field majors at UConn.
It was well attended and provi ded resume reviews and mock
interviews in addition to four topical discussions tuned to this
Four discussion areas from the day workshop are presented to readers.
1. Thesis or non-thesis masters is a graduate school option that was
new to many. The thesis option involves a specialized project with
a professor. It can require a longer term of study due to the research
in your domain. The non-thesis option often involves a mini project
or a comprehensive exam to meet the requirements of the degree.
The exam is taken after you have completed certain courses.
Choosing the thesis option can allow you to receive an assistantship
during your program.
Some fields prefer the thesis option as it allows a learning by doing
a new project to come up with outcomes. If funding is limited, a
project reaches an end or facilities are not available the non-thesis
option can be preferred. Some fields, like geology, have reported the
non-thesis option has advantages as reported a Colorado School of mines.
2. Some firms reportedly use Jobvite to facilitate hiring. People
have reported problems uploading their documents. Jobvite specifies
that resumes need to be Word or “unlocked PDF” file formats
and that after uploading to populate application fields, you need to
use the attach button to include part for your application file.
You need to follow uploading instructions to the T. Some instructions
include word limits, some seek a specific number of writing samples,
and others have specific deadline dates .
Barbara Safani points out that many people make the mistake of
taking their formatted Word document and uploading it into a text
box on a company website. Formatting is lost. So it is prudent to
follow the specific job search instructions.
3. Traveling to an onsite interview can be a challenge. Ask for
specific directions to specific gates before you go. Know who you
are to meet and their telephone number in case of a delay, expecting
to arrive 10-15 minutes before your scheduled first meeting time.
Interestingly a number of companies now require following ITAR
regulations. Thus to facilitate the special ITAR badge bring your
passport with you if you are an international candidate.
4. I was surprised that my colleagues felt it was fine to ask about
salary during the onsite interview. This might be the case, if you
had a very promising position in hand or were working in a good
You should always be ready to respond to a salary requirements
question or what has been your salary in the past three positions…
There are pitfalls for coming in low or coming in high. So, a response
to that query would be here is a range and you would consider any
reasonable offer where you can make a difference doing something you
are good at.
This post reports on a class given graduate students on
Listening Skills. It was inspired by Nichols and Stevens,
yet the concepts described by Brenda Bailey-Hughtes and
Tatiana Kolovou were built upon with practical exercises
which were specifically reviewed for teachable moments
and subliminally presented for different learning styles.
The class contained an international audience. We have learned that
some non native English speakers found other behavioral
psychology topics challenging.
Listening, filled with practical exercises giving examples of how
we need to focus and
how we selectively listen to people focusing on one aspect or
Yet we have have to listen to many aspects:
- details and specific facts
- understanding the big picture
- evaluating the content
- observing and understanding nonverbal cues
- empathizing with the speaker
The audience was encouraged to focus on improving their two weakest
aspects and develop specific plan to make improvements. Standing out
were pay attention to the “big picture”, nonverbal displays and
that limit our rational thinking and attention.
Honestly, there is a special combination of formal
learning, study and experience that allows us to gain
self knowledge from assessment instruments.
What is still harder is to guide others to explore their
emotional make-up, values and behaviors.
It can be more of a challenge to offer intelligent people who
are from different cultural backgrounds (international and
educational training) to perceive the interpretative benefits.
Nonetheless we attempted to bring out interpretations
that a graduate school class had taken and
apply it to achieve better teaching.
University is comprised of
A - Your motives (and student’s motives)
B - interactions with peers
C - using time well
D - fostering behavior and high expectations
E - planned instruction with goals and strategies
F - pedagogical content
A is a function of our values.
B, C, D are functions of our behaviors.
E, F are functions of our specific training and experience.
So we reviewed MBTI ‘middle two’ preferences
ST: getting ‘it’ right and efficiency
SF: service to others and improving people’s lives
NF: helping people fulfill their potential
NT: mastering knowledge and developing systems
These reinforce our behaviors and reflect our fears,
inhibitions and approaches (emotional side).
to bring out the interpretations of the behavior instrument
scores. There a several test identifiers that we linked to
the Alessandra model
“dominant director” = driving or dominance
“interactive socializer” = expressive or extroversion
“steady relator” = amiable or stability
“cautious thinker” = analytical or control
Commonly, our experience is that individuals do not have
just one behavioral preference identifier, but perhaps is
a combination of two. The use involves hard work in
studying your self and others to develop approaches to
achieve positive outcomes. This is important in critical
rather than casual interactions.
We did not find the “Values Instrument” giving unique
and helpful information for teaching excellence. So,
we performed 2 minute interviews with each student
exploring motivation, mentors, influences on choices.
It was surely a different topic for this class. I can
imagine it very hard for some international students
to walk away with a benefit other than the “take home”
This topic may apply to working in teams, dealing with
customers and managing challenging situations. Three
useful concepts come out of Leonard Greenberger’s
soft cover book, “What to Say when things get tough“.
A. He characterizes the need to prepare and craft communications
tactically as beginning in the 1980s when a new field
emerged that outlined three steps observed in communications–
- ignore a situation or problem NO COMMUNICATION
- explain with facts as you see it ONE-WAY COMMUNICATION
- engage people involved TWO-WAY COMMUNICATION
This approach recognized the emotional component.
B. The strategies he reported can use four equations:
P = R PERCEPTION EQUALS REALITY
E > F EMOTIONS TRUMP FACTS
S = B+ SUCCESS COMES FROM BEING POSITIVE
3P = HC THIRD PARTIES TRANSLATE INTO
What counts is your audience’s perception of what is happening
and whether or not you are trustworthy and credible source of
See events through the eyes of others.
Facts do not equate to winning people over. When people are angry,
worried and suspicious, they absorb and sift through information
with the emotional areas of their brains.
Life is divided between things that make you feel and things that
make you think. This is hard for scientists and engineers to
fathom. Situations seek reassurance and empathy. Understand
how others feel, rather than offering facts.
To achieve success, remain positive. Words used can often
embody the feeling. But receivers may pay more attention to
Use third party resources to provide supporting feeling and input.
It helps that they have higher credibility. The closer to your target
audience is to your source the better.
C. CODE FOR DEVELOPING TRUST AND CREDIBILITY
Caring and empathy 50
Openness and honesty 10-15
Dedication and commitment 10-15
Expertise and competence 10-15
Angry, worried and suspicious people pay attention not only to
what you say but also to what you do with your eyes, hands,
posture, clothing and other nonverbal cues.
Caring and empathy accounts for about half of the trust and
credibility judgments that people will make of you.
Telling relateable stories can be key.
You cannot fake trust, J. Smith
wrote. Covey points
out that trust is the highest form of motivation.
When trust is lost or not part of interpersonal connection,
less than what is set out as goals will result– for
individuals, teams and organizations.
So many times I have heard one person not being selected
for something based on a comment that another lacks
trust or did not feel someone was trustworthy.
employee / boss: confidence in you before promotion
team / manager : belief in you to rely on your vision and
audience / speaker: are you credible and have a credible
message to act on your recommendations
Trust reveals faith in the honesty, integrity, reliability
and competence of another.
Two resources that may apply to situations are
SUNY-Albany provides trust elaboration in a more global
perspective. I appreciated their defining three types of trust
1. trust conferred by professional credentials and
reputation. It may change based on more interactions.
2. trust resulting from familiarity and consistent
work-group, team or association (professional, business)
3. trust resulting from adhering to legal or social
norms that prescribe and restrict behaviors and actions.
This background can be instructive as it can inform how
trust results in different and cross-cultural situations.
Phrases and appropriate, following-elaboration that enable
- ‘thank you…’ for attending, for reviewing, for helping….
- ’saying what is in it for the audience’
- telling ‘why I care about….’
- follow emotional beliefs with supporting, objective data
[not ‘cherry-picked’ data]
- listening carefully to another’s opinion and stating trust
in their judgment
- confirming that while you may not be expert on all things,
you have training, experience and willingness to learn new
things that enables you to offer a thoughtful perspective.
Other ways to foster trust
- follow through and provide early notice for meeting or
not meeting commitments
- say “no,” when you mean no
- share what you know and don’t know
Reading Chris Voss’s book on negotiations convinced me
that we need to keep learning. Don’t ever stop the process
of gathering new information from different sources,
Chris Voss really has the expertise that can be applied even in
simplest situations. Watch
- never say: have you a few minutes to talk?
- instead say:, is this a good time to talk?
Get that other person to say “That’s right.”
Use the facts as the other person sees them.
Let me highlight several significant take-aways–
1. Calibrated “how” questions keep the negotiation going. They put
pressure on your counterpart to come up with answers and
contemplate your problems when making their demands.
How am I supposed to.. How do we know…How can we….
How questions allow you to read and shape the negotiating
environment. You just have to know where you want the conversation
2. 3 kinds of “yes”: commitment, confirmation, counterfeit
3. Ackerman plan– set your goal, then first offer at 2/3 point,
calculate at three smaller increments
use lots of empathy and different “no” strategy to counter, before
you increase your offer.
use non-round numbers in your final offer
after final number, throw in nonmonetary items
What was interesting was that Chris challenges many of the earlier
strategies in negotiation tactics.
Some universities have a section of their graduate
school orientation that will involve self assessments
for each. It is so important that this part of
technical professionals education is incorporated
as it is so often missed or at least delayed so that
reflection and use of the learning can be part of
Our session incorporated concepts put forward
by Tom Vanderbilt and Daniel Goleman on how
Myers-Briggs, Values and Behaviors instruments
might be used. Vanderbilt
clarifies that our
“likes” form our identity and often are habitual
and we may not have a “why” or words to describe
categories and choices under specific
brings up the psychology of interpersonal
behavior that brings in self-knowledge and logical
understanding of others values, behaviors and “likes”.
Equal time in our session involved actual exercise
engagements to point out how differences can be
systematic with groups identified by MBTI.
- Who likes “small talk”, working by themselves,
who gains energy from crowds.
- Pointing out the difference between the
“golden rule” [treat others like we want to be treated]
“platinum rule” [treat others like they want to be
- revealing habits of J vs. P profiles [again without
reflection and considering “why”] in working on
projects due in a month. [early starters vs pressure
- hands on activity of selecting, building and
explaining a group toy project that emphasized
Scientific thinking has undergone an evolution in the Internet
age. Science commonly rationalizes outcomes based on
each effect has a cause.
There are rules and boundaries and limits and established facts.
That may be for the physical world. Does that also survive for
humans, for teams, for what we like and what we may choose and
Scientific work can offer results, interpretations and predictions.
about the dramatic evolution we see in our imperfect, more
In a scientific world where we work with teams, customers and
suppliers, it is a challenge to deal with the concept of human tastes.
They can be quite different than habit and cause-effect processing.
We can also think of our own “tastes” in light of some things
Vanderbilt wrote that
- our preferences most often depend on things we like in frameworks of
- tastes seem to depend on situations, circumstances and locations
- we choose and change choices and call upon a story for an explanation
[not the other way around]
- taste is comparative and adaptive
The Internet has brought about an explosion of the use, expression and
growth of our tastes, A/B testing, and recommendations. We see this
from Facebook, to texting photos, to Netflix as everyone can have and
express opinions which may or may not affect our thoughts. We live
in a world of limitless choices so it behooves us to consider
1. shortcuts come at a price in what we think we like
2. choices of words and meanings can bias thinking and feeling
3. express why you like your choice/preference and it helps to consider
developing categories as our brain is a pattern matching processor
4. it is easy to fall into the trap of ‘easy likes’ especially if we morph
what we see into something we think we see because we like.
5. related to this is we like what we remember even if it is not true
With several requests for career paths outside the US
and in non traditional technical roles, we learned,
advised and compiled useful documents for each:
Industry Jobs for PhDs
INDUSTRY JOBS FOR PhDs in SCIENCE 2016.doc
Business focused resumes:
BUSINESS RESUMES 2016.doc
INTERNATIONAL RESUMES 2016.doc
We had an interesting problem dealing with a vendor who wanted us
to commit “right now.” It is a situation that can happen broadly in
many employment scenarios.
James Baker provides situations where you might feel manipulated
in making decisions–
1- pressure with deadline: question how real the deadline is, test
the parties motivation and propose what will be best for both
2- pressure with competitive price, vendor or approach: ask for
details on the quality and terms of the competition. Look for other
features you offer or provide.
3- missing person to be consulted or limited authority: ask to meet
with the person who has final authority or find out who makes the
final decisions regarding delivery, price payment, exact details of
4- moral appeal: what is underlying motivation, indicate you are
looking to be fair with all and create good long term relations
5- good guy/ bad guy: understand the manipulation and understand
that your requirements and needs are included
6- name dropping or association of related situations, number of
other clients, or similar customers.
Intimidators will use every trick they have and know. When they
find it will not work, they will become friendly. It is just another
“face.” We need to find a way to convert them into someone who
we can reach an agreeable outcome with.
Another good resource is provided.