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
Publication is a critical focus in the scientific world. Societies
have publication wings. There is a large commercial publication
business that earns nearly $20Bn/year with a third being
profits. The Guardian published a revealing article about the
publication world which this blog has offered comments.
This is a story about two conversations. The first is
one with a very accomplished senior grad student.
Three top line topics have appeared this year:
1) Evolving trends in technical careers
2) Professional Behaviors that can help you
3) High Need for New Division in ACS– Economics
and Chemistry [Not only short periodic webinars that
are at 30,000 foot level and CEPA]
-Learning to Say “No”
-Listening Skills Activities of a Listener
-Trust Highest form of Motivation
Elements of Communication
-Ethics Legal elements
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“.
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.
The global pace is speeding up. To meet the needs and
interests of members and institutional stakeholders the
Society needs to incorporate broader and deeper aspects
of economics in the technical and scientific aspects of
the chemical enterprise.
R.Nicholls and L. Stevens presented a case that listening
is an underappreciated and poorly instructed skill that
has many barriers.
Also, it is incumbent on our educational system to
engage students in regular exercises that will be an asset
in all endeavors.
Nicholls and Stevens write about a University of
Minnesota approach that improves outcomes. Notable
are four activities of the listener:
The authors provide some appropriate cases and
suggestions some of which may apply in your situation.
Then, Zenger and Folkman reveal what you and I
think what we should do and that those things are not
enough to be a great leader-listener. As the key
requirement for being a leader is listening to others —
Key among them:
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,
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
Innovation, experimentation and support from
leaders are often the keys to bringing progress.
Look for countering information, add more factors
and categories… Then apply the Bayesian logic of probabilities.
The suggestion here is this tool is one that can be broadly
applied and due to ease of use widely adapted. It is like
using shared cloud storage or using search engines.
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.
A colleague visited me asking for my thoughts on helping
her overcome a time management situation she faces.
Each day she comes into her laboratory in late morning
after sleeping late and having a little breakfast. Her day
then involves responding to events, problems and questions from
others. She finds herself staying late to complete work
she had started or was involved with in other people’s
projects. Little of the work she wants to do moves forward.
What can she do?
It seems her direction lacked focus, not having determined
and communicated personal goals and objectives. Once
these are done a gap analysis and timeline can be created.
She indicated she wanted to graduate in December, 2016
and we spoke about a fast track route by outlining and doing
literature research for a review article that she could write
about her methods and instrumentation.
Then, we spoke about setting daily and weekly agendas and
communicating with customers, collaborators and co-workers
a more disciplined approach. In addition, she needed to identify
an accountability partner, someone who is interested, honest,
can remain confidential, and displays the behaviors of openness,
fast-response and care.
Other steps, captured by H. Bruch and S. Ghoshal in “Bias for
1 Ask for feedback on plan and possible roadblocks
2 Overcome negativity and build up excitement
3 Visualize intention and make a personal commitment
Overcome ‘traps of inaction’
1 develop an agenda\ reduce priorities, organize demands
2 identify constraints and map trade-offs
3 expand choices
4 selectively break rules
Amazing new insights about working in the world of science and
technology poured out of a meeting last week while I was working
on other things.
They are so thoughtful and inspiring it is worth sharing them
and making the case that smaller (boutique) societies have
incredible value. What they aim to do is look for the unmet
needs of the larger, very topic oriented (silos of sub-disciplines).
They seek out the intersections of fields and the forefronts of
research often outside of the realm of the larger industrial
On reflection, three outstanding findings are shared in this
contribution about SlAS2016: insights into resistance to
drug therapies of diseases (cancers and ’superbugs’), crowdfunding
research, and tackling high risk, never performed team projects
with unknown outcomes.
Shana Kelley of UToronto reported chip based microfluidic
devices using electrochemical assays to identify the bacteria
to know the proper therapies to apply. Each year it is
estimated that 2 million US cases of antibiotic resistant
infections, which can be caused by over use of prescription
drugs or employing the wrong agent for the infection.
An assay of redox active molecules that measures the levels
of metabolically active bacteria it the telling step in the device.
Anecdotally, having a tool like this available 90 years ago might
have saved Calvin Coolidge’s younger son.
Michael Gottesmann of NCI spoke about drug resistance found
during cancer treatment that involve at least four different
mechanisms: target mutation, genetic mutation, cell type
changes and alterations of physiology (of blood or organs).
Cell models do not model in vivo gene expression. calls for
coordinated treatment regimens of multiple mechanisms.
K Tom Pickard presented the case for a different research
sponsorship model that uses — “be viable or vanish”. He cited
how this is becoming a viable approach to deal with shortfalls
in resources and seek out other sources that can have a
purposeful, entrepreneurial or doing the right thing motivation.
His primary focus is autism and he reported on use of
twitter, social media and kickstarter/ experiment.com .
Teamwork to achieve high risk goals
Adam Steitzner amazed the audience with the story of landing the
Mars Rover on the surface of Gale Crater to answer the question
of whether there was/is life on Mars… 100 million miles away.
- Separate people from ideas
- Lunch with Enrico
Get to know and like all the people you work with
- Plan to change plans
- Many times the answers we seek are in the questions
Challenge all assumptions
For a decade, the biomedical field has been struggling with one
problem– oversupply of trained post-doctoral fellows with poor
outlook for full time career positions.
For at least the same amount of time graduate students in certain
fields reveal that their advisers keep them from graduating until
they are in their 30s (personal knowledge of Biological and Physics
related fields). Then, even after graduation, the PI keeps the
trained professional as a post doctoral fellow of convenience by limiting
meeting attendance and exposure and supplying references.
The Boston Globe and other media have reported on the problem
that post docs are “holding tank positions” with little hope of
landing a full time position. The biomedical field has an oversupply of
trained scientists and engineers that outstrip demand.
The blame is given to a surge of federal funding for research during
1980 - 2000 that beckoned for an increase in staffing at all levels.
Large universities got even larger, small universities moved into
graduate research and new federal bureaucracies sprung up.
No one foresaw what could happen and could imagine the
unintended consequences of various decisions all taken on
an individual basis without looking at the larger system.
-We invite many foreign students to attend all US universities.
Many do not have an inkling of prospects upon graduation.
-Many mentors continue to amass larger research groups without
considering being able to mentor and facilitate each grad
students and post-docs career growth.
-Salaries are absurdly low. Training for future career positions is not targeted.
Very little practical outcome and collaboration with practical
needs organizations is managed well.
Chemistry and related fields are here already. Yet only a
few islands of practical reform are apparent. There is little
motivation for doing something that will help the field.
On a case by case basis we can help one individual figure out
the maze of satisfying employment searching. The situation
will grow worse with another economic slowdown.
Let me share some insights gleaned from recent eBook by
Michael Nir, Silent Influencing, that offers meaningful
guides enhancing our communications and interpreting
others combination of verbal and nonverbal messages.
- Use a “cluster” of signals, gestures and “emblems” to
provide clearer messages. In other words avoid choosing
to interpret one nonverbal element in interpreting another’s
views, thinking or opinion.
[”steepling one’s fingers” is a ‘gesture,’ while “stroking one’s
chin,” as if thinking about something, is an ‘emblem’.]
- When there is an apparent contradiction between nonverbal
signals and words of speech, many choose to find stronger
meaning in the nonverbal signals. Think of a person shaking
his head “no” and saying “yes” with arms folded and eyes looking
down to the ground.
- First impressions stick with us and our human tendency is
to confirm our initial impressions, rather than keeping an open
- It is possible to influence thinking, judgment and decisions
by changing simple things like seating arrangements. The
surrounding environment can sometimes make a difference.
- To overcome resistance or reluctance revealed by a silent
and closed and distant person, engagement by enlisting
support and handing them something to induce opening
up, coming closer and agreeing to participate
It is the beginning of the 2015 Fourth Quarter and the
stock market has not been universally good this year.
Not going into any of those details, but will point you
to an article about some opportunities that certain
technical professional investors might calculate for
themselves using Turbotax of similar software.
ROTH IRA RECHARACTERIZATION CALCULATION
SOURCE: L. Saunders, WSJ 10-3-15, “Why it’s prime
time for Roth IRA”
Roth IRAs are the “gold standard” of tax sheltered
retirement plans from which withdrawals are presently
tax-free on untaxed gains and after tax contributions.
The issue is in the short term past many investments
lost value. This article suggests Roth investors might
undo Roth conversions last year or this year and
avoid paying the taxon value that has “vanished”.
Deadline is Oct. 15. Comments might be helpful
DIGITAL LIBRARY AND OPEN ACCESS
SOURCE: ECS Open Access
Alternative Article Impact
Got my first email from ECS Weekly Digests from two technical
areas that I signed up for. They inform me of recent publications
that this society reviewed and accepted. Beyond my expectations
was outstanding other services that will allow me to communicate
better, learn new areas and deepen my understanding of the
practical outcomes of scientific investigations.
Sometimes cartoons in “digital libraries” can be outstanding
in effectively communicating results, impacts and directions.
BONUS: SCIENCE OUT OF THE BOX
Recently several requests for connections to people have come.
It is interesting that some seek referrals far afield from STEM
in areas, like Medical Science Liaison and Patents and law.
The relationship the requester has and the shared feeling
of reciprocity, of willingness to give back generously, must be
communicated both in the request and in the following reply.
Comments on one’s wording are shared.
A strong post from B. Sucher is linked offering that we
be a “detective” when seeking career opportunities. This goes
for people fully in the job market as well as for professionals
in their current position who sense some uncertainty in
One common thread in our capitalist society is wondering
how much salary compensation different positions offer.
A web resource guide is linked to assist you.
Since federal legislators have missed opportunities to deal with
inequities and huge increases in patent infringement claims,
many states are creating measures to limit “patent trolling”
and other legal bottlenecks. It is worth keeping a finger on
the pulse of these to be able to understand some questions to
ask should you be involved in a related case.
BONUS LINK: Giving good presentations
SOURCE: R. Roberge, The best way to ask for referrals;
A. Doyle, How do you ask for a referral ;
Getsidekick, How to ask for a referral
For people I know and have a recent or long term connection,
it is usually a pleasure to share names who could be excellent
resources or have valuable information or connections. The
problem comes with requests with scant connections. They,
honestly, have to do more to have me work for them. Their
letter of request, if in an email, might only be an email reply
with links, if they don’t take the time to build a relationship and
enhance the connection.
Then, after the reply, a prompt ‘thank you’ is in order. If it is
not done or done in an appreciatively timely manner,
the next request will either be slowly responded or
less detailed and thought-inspired.
SOURCE: B. Sucher, Do you cry wolf?
Billie offers that in our environment we need to ascribe to
the habits of the best detectives to be successful and offers
over 30 behaviors. The ones that jump out for me are:
communication and listening, observational skills and
putting pieces together.
SOURCE S. Malanga, WSJ 9-4-15 “States move to do-it-
yourself patent reform“
There are wiser people battling over this issue and like in
wars the victors will write the final story. It is worth
looking into this if you live in VT, MN, NC and
skimming Law360 blog.
Be aware that it appears several sources are cutting back and
using the same output/survey result.
No matter where we are we notice differences in organizational
culture related to time– being on time, the time of meetings,
tolerance for being late and more.
Sue Schellenbarger’s WSJ article started my thinking about this
noting [not in the hard copy version] different strategies to
deal with latecomers to meetings based on whatever the cause
poor personal time management - start / end on time, don’t
courteously bring people up to speed
narcissistic behavior for attention - reveal that it is hurting
drama and attention - reveal that people are wasting time waiting
for their appearance where they could be doing more productive
electronic calendars are overbooked - suggest inserting 15 minute
time buffers between engagements
boss being late - causing people to work later, be rushed and
affecting poor morale and duplicating behaviors elsewhere.
While these are frequently observed, they may not cover all
of the influences and cures.
There are cultural, cognitive and leadership roots to ‘being on-time’
which need to recognized. Mai Moura offers a nice introduction to
cultural elements of behaviors including the differences between,
for example, German and American meetings. Other cultures will
exhibit and practice different behaviors regarding agendas,
preparation, formality, modes of expression and what to do if you
are late or need to leave early.
Cognitive roots are not often considered but are quite often felt,
and felt differently, by different individuals. Some people are morning
people, some are night people, some start fast, some tire easily.
A comment to another WSJ article highlights a rhythm of productivity.
This author presents optimum time periods for getting things done,
when we are most alert, and when we are less liable for injury.
Leadership influences on being late or on time for attending meetings
or submitting reports can be systemic and situational. Thus, our dilemma
needs to understand the importance and urgency and how to assess these.
Asking questions, developing trusting relationships and having mentors
will help you develop your own professional approach.
When we compose a cover letter or an introductory letter
to people in technical fields it is common to say that
in the first paragraph the reader needs to be “hooked”
and then “reeled in” to use the fishing analogy.
Both the analogy and terminology is common in
the marketing world. We are more and more aware of
the marketing gambit with all the technology we all
use. The first link provides an inside look into the
way marketers look at the “hook” from the perspective
of taking advantage of our habits.
There is a lot to learn from critical terms as they are
used in other career fields, like medical fields or business
fields. We don’t always get exposed to or attend sessions
with those groups of people. The second link points to
networking. Here, however, it is the comments to the
linked article that provide benefit in revealing that effective
networking is not just schmoozing or shameless pursuit
of the powerful or soon to be powerful, it needs to
be committed to helping.
HOOKED– USING HABITS TO GET YOUR MARKETING
SOURCE: T. Greenwald, Wired 23.01, Under the Influence
This piece adds a block to Charles Duhigg’s Habit flow
chart. It is the “investment” block where he states this
provides an element of a person’s choosing that results
in the next trigger .
The Wired article’s author provides 21st century
examples for behaviors marketers seek to induce
The comments to the article are sometimes biting, just
revealing that some feel there is more to it than what
Nonetheless, this article points out the use of a
psychological concept in a different field.
The article gives the effect of a similar behavior of
trying to obtain, invite or get to accept as many
Linkedin members to be part of your network. It
is not going to be effective to just add “names” who
you have not made a connection as a number of the
comments to the Schumpeter article indicate. There
has to be “something substantial” to one’s approach.
We suggest that it be “committed networking” where
you honestly seek out things for the benefit of others
and make a commitment. Your network members do
the same for you, especially when you need or ask
for the assistance.
BONUS: MERGER POSSIBILITY AND THE INFLUENCE
OF DIVERGENT CORPORATE CULTURES
SOURCE: Economist, 1-17-15, p. 59
“Blood in the Water”
This could be a lesson on the importance of legal
entanglements and clash of corporate cultures
in the merger of two large firms.
The premise is that the dropping oil price may
bring about the demise of BP as an independent
firm. Several suitors are mentioned, but each
possible large company presents major changes
in management and organizational behaviors.
This is a lesson for all professionals to observe
how cultural and legal issues can influence
While the above review covers some excellent topics, seven
take-aways for me about communication were:
Amygdala Hijack: the way our brains shut off the “delay and
think mode” and goes right into “react mode.” when we sense
a threat. Your ability to reason drops, working memory
falters and stress hormones flush your system, preventing
rational, logical thinking.
Many of the approaches to deal with angry, fearful or resistant
people aim to prevent amygdala hijack. Great story about
Tiger Woods and Earl Woods explains this.
Mirror neurons 2 : Humans have brain neurons which senses
mirror like behaviors and poses. It may suggest how we
reveal we care about others or they care about us in
situations where we
tear up when someone is kind
express warm feeling when someone understands us
are moved when someone asks ‘are you ok”
His suggestions are:
State something that shows agreement and understanding
of another person.
Say something indicating, I believe in you.
Empathy jolt: Generating a change in brain operations
by taking a person out of an “anger mode” and shifting to
“empathetic behavior,” in other words from “me-centered”
Empathetic feeling is a sensory experience in the nervous
system. Anger is a motor reaction to some perceived hurt
or injury. By taking an angry person to empathetic behavior
they shift from the motor brain to the sensory brain.
VCP Process: networking process identified by Ivan
Misner of BNI to be more effective at making connections.
VISIBILITY - CREDIBILITY - PROFITABILITY
V: express more than who you are and what you want.
Instead tell why they will like you. Be ‘interested’ rather
than ‘interesting.’ Talk about other people’s businesses more
than yours. Ask questions and avoid cutting their answers
C: 1)Confirm rather than assume what the person wants,
expects or needs. 2)Meet promises made. 3)Focus on
what is in it for the other person, not for you. 4) Go to
extra lengths to satisfy the client.
P: Focus on making the new connection interesting,
valuable and understood. The new connection will be either
giver, taker or reciprocator. Learn who is a “giver” and
“reciprocator.” Know that Good connections take time.
Relinquish connection with “taker.”
Goal Setting: Set specific targets and write out a
step-by-step plan. Plan to follow it with certain
check points. Write out your goal and plan.
Share your plan and steps with others. Have regular
check-ins with a respected person. Thank the person.
Keep toxic people from derailing your plan.
Physical: define cues and timing
Emotional: define specific descriptive words- anger,
Impulse: learn feelings that lead to impulses
Consequence: If I follow through, what will happen?
Solution: A better thing to do would be to….
Benefit: If I do that better thing, the benefit will be…
Meeting top people: Some possible situations to consider–
seminars and panel discussions— ask good questions that
make them look good (mirror neuron empathy),
charity events book signings— ask what did you learn about
success from your dad or mother?
Working with Gatekeepers: People who protect the
attention of top people. They are often overworked and
under appreciated. Make them feel felt and significant.