One of the skills not often addressed in our formal education
is audience analysis. It is one of the wise skills that we need
to develop in our career.
Dealing with problem solvers: Black hat thinking
Here are the major problems, brainstorm possible causes and
Eliminate weak points; develop back up plans.
Dealing with data analyzers who seek trends: White hat thinking
This is what we know [charts and statistics], all the hard
numbers and outcomes. What can we learn from them?
What is missing or how can we fill in detail?
What are situational or critical trends?
Dealing with people integraters who seek collective good
feelings. Red hat thinking
Appeal to shared goal and appeal to team spirit and coordinating
efforts. Each one is important. Give everyone attention and
Dealing with innovators and new approach, different angle
people Green hat thinking
This is an opportunity to be open minded and go outside
routine or casual solutions to problem or possibilities. Pursue
creative ideas with little or no criticism/ rejection.
Dealing with optimists Yellow hat thinking
This is a group to whom you present benefits and future
positive outcomes and implications. Don’t give up now,
hard work and persistence will pay off. Realize and
restate your strengths and the pay-offs will soon be realized.
When do you start advising workers, employees, staff
and visitors about safety?
Are you looking out for your own safety and the safety
of others in your environment– present intentionally or
presents an important topic for discussion, as it
should, being a leader in the field. Safety takes on a larger
dimension when robotics and automation is involved.
Going one step further, safety when dealing with infectious
diseases and disease investigations…
Going even further, safety for military and police in challenging
zones of chemical or biological warfare.
Scientists need to be aware and take a leadership role in
personal protection of all kinds. See
Roles Responsibilities - [job opportunities, training]
- monitor trends in injuries associated with robotics technologies;
- evaluate robotics technologies as sources of, and interventions for, workplace injuries and illnesses;
- establish risk profiles of robotic workplaces;
- identify research needs and conduct studies to improve the safety, health, and well-being of humans working with robots and robotic technologies;
- support the development and adoption of consensus safety standards; and
- develop and communicate best practices, guidance and training for safe interactions between human workers and robots/robotics technology
Recently perused another insightful book by Barbara Oakley,
called “A MIND FOR NUMBERS: HOW TO EXCEL AT MATH AND
SCIENCE”, Tarcher Penguin, NY 2014.
I enjoyed reading new ways to learn things, especially related to
our fields of math and science. I like to compare other people’s
thought processes. Barbara Oakley has given much thought
to this process :
- Take pauses and breaks in my learning [so my brain makes
- There is a concentrated and a diffuse mode [nice! I can relate
to that. Especially the thinking process while running or
driving to a place where I have been before…]
- my working memory is now shorter, it seems. It is about
4 items. But what I can do is repeat the focused learning steps
and each time the process seems to be easier.
- Chunking: a key learning tool–. Get to the key things you
want to learn and “chunk it” using the focused, concentrated
mode of thinking. Chunks are built on focused attention,
understanding the basic ideas, and gaining the big picture.
- Habits are based on 4 steps, adding one to Duhigg’s model:
Cue – routine — reward — the Belief
- Memory tricks include: combining things in different ways;
use metaphors of natural, common, and usual things;
repeat what you wish to recall;
use stories and little memory sayings and songs.
writing things down and say things out loud.
- it is more important how you think, than what you know.
Barbara Oakley, part of the team delivering ‘highly attended’
MOOCs, authored a topical book “Mindshift: Breakthrough
Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential”
that can open up your thinking.
It left me with at least seven take home messages shared below.
1. Learning via the Pomodoro Technique
turn off distracting devices and sources
focus on work for 25 minutes
take a few minute break to rest your mind; repeat…
2. Cultures cling to legacies; change is fought off. New ideas
form and flow with two classes: young, unexposed people
and people who change fields.
3. ”Second skilling” permits you to adapt to the changing career
environment. Two tactics: look to increasing and decreasing
hiring trends; overall picture of skill distribution and where
are budgets decreasing and lowering of skills
4. ”Chunk” your learning practicing more on the areas you find
5. Opportunity results from skill and luck. Luck surfaces from
a combination of (1) seeing problems as opportunities, (2)
constantly upgrade and learn new skills, (3) assertively
6. People have different learning styles. Learn yours. One is
focused, another is diffuse. You should use both, but
understand what works best for you.
7. Value of selective ignorance. You have only so much ‘cognitive
energy’. Be selective in what you choose.
This book is highly recommended for undecided people and
professionals in-transition. [The review cited above provides
a thoughtful assessment.]
You learn and train in a wide range of technical skills,
develop writing ability creating public relations documents,
perfect public speaking and presentations in universities.
Do you get an introduction into solid financial practices
and decisions when you start your career? From a number
of recent interactions I sense most don’t have those
conversations or know people they can feel comfortable
Some situations, for example:
- start at a position and get reduced in staff in less than
- decisions at sign-up starting a position at the new
to mind. The last hits home — money is not an end in
itself, it is a means to create personal satisfaction and
value. Leading among the ten items are:
1. figure out your required and optional expenses
2. include creating an emergency fund, insuring yourself
and life essential properties
3. manage your loans, payments, and credit record.
The time value of money can be estimated by the
The financial world is changing constantly. The recommendations
and rules of the past in general may not be applicable.
Think 401Ks, IRAs, pension plans, how you use tax returns
and estimated tax payments.
Create a “financial notebook” for yourself as a continuing learning
tool. Learn from your mistakes.
Seek financial counselors or mentors you can go to.
If you work for the federal government, student loans can be
Beware of becoming overly dependent on algorithms for
offered seven helpful tips useful at all ages.
I received a request from PP after he received a long
sought after job offer. He accepted the offer which he
pointed out included a $2000 relocation reimbursement.
“…Since this is my first industry based job, best
professional practices to follow as a new employee.
One item is the company has not followed up on its $2K
relocation allowance, which they offered during phone and
Other things not mentioned in the hard offer was processing
my O-1 work visa.
I am expected to relocate in early November. Please let me
know what you think about my relocation allowance?”
1. HOW TO ACCEPT AN OFFER
It is critical to understand your critical first step in accepting
a job offer. Besides signing the appropriate document, you
should devise an acceptance letter that re-affirms key elements
of the offer letter agreement and items that were discussed in
all the interviews and information exchanges. This should be
sent either at the same time as the acceptance documents or
Included in the letter is a request to know a direct contact person
to whom you can consult with issues, questions and concerns.
You should be able to contact them at any time and feel
You should ask for a company annual report and employee
Clearly, this acceptance letter would specifically address
relocation and working visa processing.
2. RELOCATION INFORMATION
should be confirmed orally and confirmed in writing:
- househunting, including transportation, hotel and meals
- costs of selling and purchasing, including closing costs,
commissions, legal and recordkeeping expenses
- Position searching help for spouse
- travel expenses and temporary housing for the move
- Temporary housing in cases where the home is not
- moving company expenses and logistics for packing
loading, unloading and unpacking, as well as insurances
Please realize that the details of the relocation policy
need to be confirmed and in writing. Also it is critical to
confirm the specifics of what forms, receipts and
timing of submission / reimbursement in advance.
I recommended that PP should not be hindered from
asking for information and suggestions at any time.
A more comprehensive relocation benefit discussion
Not to be lost in this discussion is the tax breaks you are
entitled to for job change as long as it involves a move
of employer greater than 600 miles. Please note that if
the job search occurs over a significant period of time
with various expenses they can all be claimed, but you
are responsible for keeping receipts (credit card
documents may be enough, if accompanied by expense
3. VISA DISCUSSIONS
You should not shy away from pursuing a firm understanding
of responsible people, timelines and your role in employment
papers. This has been a topic in this blog. We know the
visa situation has changed and will change again so it is
critical to be well informed and have a back up plan.
Visiting an experienced technical professional, I asked
how he would help people who are thinking of a consulting
career.. He gave me a text by William Cohen, “How to
Make it big as a Consultant.” Then we discussed some things.
The Cohen book was more than 30 years old and did not
include any Internet related nor association-network approaches.
In Cohen are listed direct methods for contacting customers–
1- direct mail
2- cold calls
3- direct response ads
4- directories and yellow pages
5- former employees and directors.
So he does not get into push pull marketing so much in the
Internet age. It all seems to be “push” marketing. It is
confirmed by the “indirect methods”…
a- speaking to groups
c- professional associations
d- articles and books
e- letters to editors
f- teach a course and lead a seminar
g- public releases and broadcast releases.
These are all still applicable, but likely not relevant!
Clearly having a proactive web page, linkedin page and
pull marketing strategy is not known in 1985 when the
It is not an easy task and one that evolves rapidly.
Now there is something in addition to learn from this
exercise….check the publication date of the book, and,
see if there is a more recent edition. There is in this
This note points out that when you end your academic career,
your continuous learning process really ‘begins.’ And guess
what, there are no texts for this learning and no absolute, correct
What we learn is that mentors can help you ask the best questions
and it seems each individual’s situation and priorities are different.
My colleague AJ asked:
“I also wanted to seek your opinion on employee stock options.
As a part of the offer, the company extended an option to
purchase 2500 shares of stock…the company is not public.
….attached is a document here for reference.
Before signing, I just thought of having a word with you.”
Each situation is different, but the specific wording and specific
details of the offer are very important.
My experience is that I trusted the public relations of a firm
I worked for and purchased many shares of stock with the
promise of growth and profits. In the end, I lost a great deal
of investment dollars that I could have avoided if I studied
the investor literature and consulted wise counselors.
AJ advised me that he is contributing 8% of his salary in the
company 401K and has some short term expenses. He will
check into the latest date when he must decide. My advice to
“I totally understand your quandary. I would have a similar problem
with this question, so I refer to Al Sklover Link is where I would start.
[He describes critical questions AJ should ask before signing any
Then, the next article is quite significant: in that it describes “traps” we
can find ourselves in when working at a start up.
This could be a sizable dollar commitment for you, AJ. Al is
very professional and knowledgeable. $100 spent on solid legal
advice can result in much more savings in a speculative situation.
Yesterday’s first year graduate student seminar involved
a pre-class homework assignment.
Since the group was large, eleven of the 16 preference
types were represented. That meant that there were a
variety of learning styles in the seminar.
The larger group size meant that we could not go into
detail into each individual preference class.
We did reveal how preferences can influence us in both
subtle and explicit ways by asking each individual their
name and whether they were left or right handed and
whether they liked cats or dogs. These are preferences
that are genetic and influenced by our early life
experiences… much the same as MBTI.
To maximize the experience we had each person
sit with their own similar preference groups and
complete and compare a Values
and a Behaviors
They learned that despite similar MBTI profiles their
values and behaviors revealed different trends and
these are also important to learn in working in teams.
The second half of the seminar involved two
exercises– one involved discussing projects which
troubled several since they had to come up with their
own project and a physical constructing project where
they had to describe their result.
-In the first, one outstanding group had an individual
take leadership and point out how each person, by
name, would contribute to the expected outcome.
-In the second we had a group presenter relate a
story to describe their constructed model she asked
for a volunteer to participate in a short role play and
provided a reward for the participant.
In short, they learned about themselves, about
working together in teams and how to interact
with others and develop a baseline for continuing
learning about themselves– this session was not
over at the end, but a beginning.
You should start early in paying attention to legal issues.
Online resources can provide some questions for you to ask.
They can also alert you to steps that you should take at
various points in your life span.
PENALTIES RESULTING FROM RETIREE ACTION
Social Security benefits reduction and earnings test
RMD Required minimum distribution from IRAs after 70 1/2
Medicare sign-up regulations and penalties
Estate taxes (consider forming a revocable trust document)
A no cost estate planning step you should regularly update
is your savings, investment accounts and property ownership
beneficiaries. It is too easy to make assumptions and assume
your wishes will be followed. Specific forms should be
regularly updated while you are in good health and mental
If this reminder gets you to look at your beneficiaries, it
is worth posting.
POWERS OF ATTORNEY
and interpretations of wording can be specific and different.
I have spoken with each of our adult children about this
step that almost no one wants to think about until it is too
Another amazingly important entry talks about unsavory
things that can happen when documents are not properly
formulated. This means page numbering, dating, headings
and information ‘to be filled in later.’
This topic of reading contracts is not a common topic, as
we often do not bother reading the details of formalities.
It is very important in employment, loan, severance,
noncompete and many other documents. So, it is worth
each of you to have a knowledgeable and interested third
party look at your documents with your interests in mind.
(Remember, they are constructed to serve the interest of
the other party.)
When we encounter people and when people encounter you
and I, initial impressions are made. It is subconscious and
as the old saw goes, ‘first impressions are lasting
impressions.’ This entry offers some tips of things to avoid.
Yesterday, we had a successful appointment with a trust
attorney with a firm we had vetted 15 years ago to update our
Revocable trust. It is useful to share why you should consider
creating a trust for your family to manage your assets and
affairs. It is your chance to spell out your desires while you
have the faculties.
During our meeting with the trust attorney, several things
tipped me off to look a little further into the attorney we
met. I learned several things that should be no surprise but
piqued my curiosity…the attorney was a temporary contract
attorney, we met in a “branch” office in a LLC professional
building with a collection of small firms, and there were no other
firm members and staff. What questions should I ask and how
should I professionally explore this “gig” economy reality
in the legal field?
MISTAKES THAT SPOIL A FIRST IMPRESSION
Humblebrag, Hubris, Hypocrisy, [Back-]Handed Compliment
The British Psychological Society listed these four behaviors
that can knock a person down a notch –
(1) humblebrag– ‘I am to busy…’ in a way to avoid or shift
away by implying self importance.
(2) hubris– downward social comparisons; [I recall a post-doc
doing this to me while I was in grad school]
(3) hypocrisy– pointing out someone’s failure that you might be
caught duplicating; politician’s seem to reveal this in a
(4) back-handed compliment– complimenting others puffing
up personal importance.
TRUSTS: LEGAL ENTITIES PROFESSIONALS SHOULD
CONSIDER TO MANAGE YOUR ESTATE
After your professional education and your career begins
other responsibilities accrue to you. Your future, to be sure,
is not certain. You need to think through and provide wisely
for unexpected situations. Trusts are set up for you by
legal counsel to provide for you and your family in cases
where you are not able.
There are several estate planning
vehicles for different
circumstances. We are working on an update to a 15 year
old package that needs to factor in family, law and practical
implementation changes. (we had a simple will at 35,
first revocable trust at 52)
Financial trust attorney recommend providing your choices
LEGAL ADVICE: CONTRACT ATTORNEYS
Legal advice that we pay for is important and requires that
we perform due diligence. To provide legal services to clients
at competitive costs firms substitute contract attorneys
for staff. In many instances I have read people have obtained
the services they sought.
Nonetheless, we need to look into any situation which might
It is important to document the formal employment arrangement
of your attorney and liability insurance coverage at or right
after the first meeting.
Fortunately, I learned our attorney is formally listed at the
firm and covered by all liability and malpractice insurance.
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?….