Recently, Listened to a podcast that got me to thinking
about peer review in Chemistry. Many of the people
I meet are so concerned about being an author of a set
number of publications as a basis for completing their
degree and for being considered a candidate for
Then, in mid career motivations can include:
make money, get promotions, grants and recognition;
get things right, publish or perish, demonstrate expertise
and accomplishment. [In the commercial world, publications
represent modest benchmarking for achieving goals.]
discussion that brings up the motivations for publishing
in scientific journals, replication, hypothesis testing
and peer review.
It is instructive perhaps to get an idea what happens
when an article is submitted for publication. ACS and
Royal Society have tutorials on what is involved web
sites describing the process. … assuming it works properly.
The professional scientific process depends on this. Just
like general publication conclusions errors can happen and
negative results are most often not presented.
Science is a slow process that involves error corrections,
application and refinement. Perfect peer review will not
happen. Earp opines that crowd sourced peer review of
pre-print articles might be an improvement over the
Rarely, if ever, do Chemistry graduates ever receive formal
or informal introductions in chemical enterprise business models.
We think it is of critical importance as it shows is how individuals
and corporations learn and how its core values.(business purpose,
core culture, operational processes and policies) are demonstrated.
So many of the BS, MS and PhD / post-grads do not find a
match to what they believe are their skills and interests. They
might initially desire to emulate their advisers, but opportunities
are often limited. So, they look for start-ups and entrepreneurial
business models. Heintz et al
show how business models can be
different in different cultures. This is an important consideration
for it affects decision making from many angles.
has predicted that chemical enterprises will benefit from
digitalization but as a whole are slow to incorporate them. This
is an area to embrace or at least consider when assessing the job
pictures families of business models.
- flow from raw materials to finished products with customer
service to offer value to customers
- exchange driven platform where groups of consumers and
producers aim to maximize value
So two examples to make things concrete for readers. Think
about the way we consume news. Newspapers in the 20th
century were from larger news organizations, printed at
central locations, hand delivered and read cover to cover.
Mass distribution of video and radio complemented printed
media. Now, we consume news mostly online via internet
and cable 24-7 and there is so much that news is continually
updated and corrected. Because of this nature and the various
media formats and sources how businesses make a profit has
moved from coupons and ads to clicks and eye balls.
Photography is a second model that reveals the revolutions
from print format to virtual world which can be re-constituted.
Then there are many other factors like portable power,
miniaturization and software versions and security.
After collaborating on a workshop I suggested to my
colleague that both of us contact the sponsor of
ours who recommended both of us for the role.
Within a day of the workshop I thanked AH for
suggesting me for a very positive experience in
the program. Included in the letter were brief positive
details and a sense that I look forward to working
together in the future.
Two things of significance, one reinforces the importance
and the other the timing of writing the thank you letter
at this time.
IMPORTANCE OF IN PERSON COMMUNICATION
In our present time, digital technology, through FB,
Tinder, MOOCs, texting, email tyranny and shallow
online activisim is argued to lose certain human strengths
Turkle says we have adopted new technologies to gain
control, only to feel controlled by them.
Letter writing is a lost art and there are commercial
interests advocating the positive aspects of making
an effort to relate personally to another individual.
This is just the opposite of getting fired by text
message and everyone at a dinner table texting
Interestingly, two people attending the workshop
contacted me afterwards and thanked me for helping
them find a position starting on their career path.
Those notes made all the difference!
One of my critical findings about IDPs Academic inspired
Individual Development Plans is it completely “whiffs” on
I fear that if you ‘fill out the forms’ for IDP you miss nearly
half of the skills many employers desire in applicants.
intelligence is revealed. It is not be using big words and
elaborate details about technical concerns.
1. asking questions of yourself, like
how does my mood affect my behaviors, thinking and
what subsurface influences affect me and others?
to uncover self and social awareness.
2. how do you control your reaction to things that affect
your emotions. You have little to manage your emotional
take on things, but how you react can reveal your character.
3. Do you say what you mean and mean what you say?
4. Empathy for others; not meaning agreeing with others
but trying to understand others.
5. Do you intentionally commend and show appreciation
6. Do you keep your commitments and help others?
conversely, do you apologize for short-fulfilling commitments
and even guard yourself from being taken advantage of
by being manipulated?
Please note: Sklover’s Working Wisdom remains a leading
resource for us that I highly recommend. Recent notes of
importance are highlighted in this entry.
PROMISES: KEY QUESTIONS TO ASK
In a clearly written post, A. Sklover indicates two specific
questions you should ask when offered a bonus, promotion
or something of value–(1) ‘when’ and (2) ‘what conditions
need to be met’.
Specific date or time frame is the only acceptable response.
Conditions that must be met should be under your control
If this promise is part of a job offer, it needs to be inserted into
the offer letter. If the promise occurs at another time, like
a transfer or termination, for example, clear email statement
with a return email confirmation of the negotiation request
is important to document.
LEGAL TERMS IN CONTRACTS
One item I have a basic understanding for, but have the
experience that when I asked too many questions, it raised
a red flag with the organization. Do not waver, reach an
This formally includes more than one agreement between
parties which may limit or remove protections for you. It
is a flag to review each agreement and note the wording,
asking for clarity for your circumstance.
A second contract term is a new phrase.
“– [yellow light : caution]
Review every provision and understand this phrase mitigates
any reward or limits outcomes for you. Al Sklover points
out this can increase risks to you.
Spam? What do you do to protect yourself and the sender?
I recently received an unexpected email message from a
colleague that I did not expect. We know each other. Yet
the message seemed unusual…”I need your help.”
The message was sent from her gmail account, which is not
unusual. Yet I know of her from her university.edu account.
So, I replied to her at her university.edu account professionally,
indicating that the email was not what I expected. If however
she did seek my help, what is needed. She responded in
short order indicating that the message indeed was spam.
She had been ‘phished’ and was working to repair the problem.
The trick is not to not reply to the trick email for you do not
know if there is anything that can get your account into
trouble by opening her bogus email.
Two resources to share on this topic, and I am certain all
of us will face a situation similar to this…
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
Did you view the Netflix video on AlphaGo defeating
the top Go player in the world? I saw it this week. It
may be time for us to seriously consider using software
to design organic synthesis routes.
We live in a fast paced world with many unexpected
directions and influences. One item that can keep us
moving forward is optimism from leaders in our
organizations. We highlight a whole issue of a
COMPUTER ALGORITHMS FOR ORGANIC SYNTHESIS
software to optimize synthetic route in Aldrichimica
Acta in a recent issue. He highlighted Milipore
Sigma’s purchase of Grzybowski Scientific Inventions
organic software tool.
that it has become more figuring out what to synthesize
rather than how to synthesize particular molecules
based on a discussion of an Angewandte Chemie
OPTIMISM IN LEADERSHIP
Think about what helps us move forward…optimism
is a force multiplier, as military leaders say….
Fast company highlights over a hundred ways
cited leaders supply leadership. When I read
the methods most are what many of us would think
of ourselves. Read through it to see how you feel your
leaders are providing leadership….
- don’t overthink - attach meaning
- grow from setbacks - wow your customers
- listen - let your actions speak for you
- play nice - obey the golden rule
- focus - nix multitasking
- go the extra mile
Previous years’ lists
This year I will attempt to link readers to discussions of some of the
books that follow in this blog.
Maria Konnikova THE CONFIDENCE GAME: WHY WE ALL
FALL FOR IT. EVERY TIME, Penguin Random House NY 2016
Thomas L. Friedman THANK YOU FOR BEING LATE Farrar
Stevens and Giroux NY 2016
Yuval Noah Arari HOMO DEUS: A BRIEF HISTORY OF
Robert Cialdini INFLUENCE THE PSYCHOLOGY OF
PERSUASION Collins division of HarperCollins NY 1994
William Strauss, Neil Howe THE FOURTH TURNNG: AN
AMERICA PROPHECY Broadway Books, NY 1997
David Livermore, THE CULTURAL INTELLIGENCE DIFFERENCE:
Master the one skill you can’t do without in
today’s global economy,
American Management Association, NY, 2011
Adam Alter, IRRESISTIBLE: The Rise of Addictive Technology
and the Business of Keeping us Hooked,Penguin Press NY 2017
Rudolph W. Giuliani with Ken Kurson, Leadership, Miramax
Books Hyperion NY, 2002
Lisa Randall, KNOCKING ON HEAVEN’S DOOR: HOW
PHYSICS AND SCIENTIFIC THINKING ILLUMINATE
THE UNIVERSE AND THE MODERN WORLD
Robert Colville, THE GREAT ACCELERATION: HOW THE
WORLD IS GETTING FASTER, FASTER Bloombury London NY 2016
Michael Breus THE POWER OF WHEN: DISCOVER YOUR
CHRONOTYPE AND THE BEST TIME TO
ASK FOR A RAISE, HAVE SEX, WRITE A NOVEL AND MORE,
Little Brown and
Company NY 2016
Alan Alda IF I UNDERSTOOD YOU WOULD I HAVE THIS
LOOK ON MY FACE RandomHouse 2017
Barbara Oakley, MINDSHIFT BREAK THROUGH OBSTACLES
TO LEARNING AND DISCOVER YOUR HIDDEN POTENTIAL
Tarcher Peregre Penguin Random House 2017
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.]
Just finished a book by Brendon Burchard– High
Performance Habits: How extraordinary people become that way, Hay House, 2017
that addresses a consultant’s approach to look for
ways for mid-career and later professionals to increase
curiosity and genuine self confidence.
It differs from the more common “instruments” that reveal
to you something about yourself– strengths, MBTI
values, behaviors, etc. providing‘ideas about the correlation between motivation - high
performance and alignment with values, clear intentions
and higher purpose. It can help you figure out how to
redefine your goals to better align with your true
” [in a review…]
The short story that is valued to share what he writes on
developing influence and expressing courage.
Where early career professionals seek certainty,
others benefit from action steps they can adapt
to and separate emotions from feelings. It is a
self-help contribution that some may find to provide
We recently observed close friends living in CA who lost
their home and most of its contents to wildfires. Another
friend was overtaken by back pain making it difficult to
work. A third friend lost her husband suddenly.
This entry offers some ideas for actions you can do
at separate stages in your career.
- monitor daily your credit card and financial records,
noting unusual events. Have an action plan ready–
phones or cars
. Don’t wait for the unfortunate event to happen–
have paid up insurance, contact numbers organized,
detailed information to provide
- record retention file guidance retention
1 year: payroll stubs, bill statements
6 years: income tax records and related forms
7 years: critical slips, statements and cancelled checks
Permanent: investment records, pension papers, insurance
policies, contracts, personal- birth certificates, military,
marriage, divorce, adoption, naturalization and citizenship
- always enroll in substantial disability insurance
- continue all the early career record-keeping
- formulate a document location spreadsheet, what is in
your safety deposit box
- have a list of people and institutions with their contact
information for banks, brokerages, lawyers, physicians
- formulate a will, powers of attorney, and care for
children: instructions who would raise them in your
- organize important family photos, papers and records
CLOSE TO RETIREMENT
- visit trust attorneys and determine who you would like
to represent you
- interview and work with a financial adviser
- organize a checklist for what to do when a loved one
dies [see comment]
Did not know which title intro fits better: ‘Watch-Outs’ or
‘Technical Trends worth noting’ as I start this entry.
Last evening a local library sponsored a stimulating
discussion on weather changes influenced by arctic sea-ice
Her presentation offers a clear-minded assessment of
observations of Arctic sea-ice and land-ice losses. They
impact winds in at least three ways and ocean
levels in as many ways through combining impacts.
[you never know how these links display!]
where she is the third speaker.
She describes three effects of the loss of the Arctic sea-ice cap
- weaker steering winds
- wavier jet stream
- stagnant formations of wind flow (resulting from jet
On top of sea ice recession, land-ice loss due to thermal
effects due to less reflection of solar radiation (Less ice,
polar cap is darker and more absorbent) raises sea levels
and enhances storm water surges in coastal regions.
Her talk last night ended with forecasts for future
scenarios that point to the need for important changes
in global behaviors, changing populations settling and
migration patterns and serious infrastructure redesigns.
[Several of these are pointed out in the Wilson Center
One of the crucial measures of developing research programs
is keeping in touch with new ideas and combinations with
new equipment and theories.
Several career paths place credibility of achievement on
publications [publications in peer reviewed publications].
How this is measured with Internet publications is not patently
obvious or at least consistent from one organization to another.
Nonetheless several sources of online publications are appearing.
provides global access and outlet to classified topic
ChemRxiv is a Figshare
product offers rapidly transmitted
of one-page preprints with a promise of tools to detect plagiarism.
[open API or via OAI-PMH].
to evolve from the commercial and professional society
journal paradigm. It will be important that strong professional
ethics are articulated in this evolving medium and there is
a viable enforcement mechanism for violations and dealing
with grey-area issues.
Just finished reading Rudy Guiliani’s book Leadership.
Reading the book was an opportunity to see things from a
different perspective– legal mind with historical interests
who faced and met challenges. It was a rewarding experience
in that it offered some remarkable take-aways about positive
behaviors of leaders and thinking processes in dealing with
- The importance of seeing things / situations with your own
eyes, as it allows all sorts of things that you can question and
- Practice simulations of actual events before they happen.
Have a reaction plan. Let it be modifiable.
- Have a command center
organize and formulate communications, coordination
prepare back up plan and unintended consequences
anticipate what might happen next
- Prepare relentlessly and eliminate making assumptions
All leaders are influenced by those who they admire. Reading
about them and studying what and how they learned will inspire
how you will grow critical traits. Much of the material will be the
raw material of your own life.
- insist on starting off with a morning meeting as your cornerstone
get control of the start of the day
set priorities; have all key contributors present
allow open discussion
outcomes: specific action plans and reporting
everyone is informed and accountable; carry the info forward
- sweat the details and small stuff, as they reveal underlying
- create arguments for different coalitions to influence decisions
- instill preparedness
- put your health as a first and main concern
- take as much time as available to make decisions, but the
process of making the decision should begin immediately.
- seek different perspectives and points of view, yet avoid
predetermination or favorites. [Sometimes it is beneficial to
leave the room when discussion is in process and receive a
- surround yourself with strong, independent people while
keeping battles internal. manage results and expectations
- underpromise and overdeliver- how
develop your personal beliefs
have a plan of action
word choice makes a difference
- stand up to bullies. Do it early.
- do not exceed the ‘pig factor’ [spending more than needed,
overstating on expenses, it is a form of bullying]
- read in depth about things you find come up; do not
just leave it to experts.
The book by Adam Alter is interesting reading from a |
number of perspectives. Irresistible– The Rise of Addictive
Technology and the Business of Keeping us Hooked
Alter asserts that addiction is not genetic in certain people
but every person is vulnerable to situations and attachments
to them. The Internet and various programmable devices
with continuous positive feedback,
- persistent “goals” culture,
- games and media that incur ‘down the line’ charges [get
you into it so you must and want to stay involved. But
to do that you have to pay.]
- escalation [where you get challenged and learn, yet the
computer enhanced tool increases or varies from its
otherwise predictable trend]
are examples Alter provides.
These addictive technologies develop habits where
you have little control. Nearly everyone of us has
our own and various situations make us instinctively
crave for that infernal habit.
Alter does readers favors by pointing them out,
showing what is going on and suggesting things we
can do to forestall, limit or move on to something else.
Worth reading for many of us.
‘Habits gone bananas!’
Over a 30 - 45 year career, most everyone gets relieved of their
position. Sometime it is sudden, other times there are indicators
that some positions will be severed and still other times we are
faced with a choice to stay or leave.
Let me pose that it should be part of our regular personal planning
process that we consider building resilience into our thinking. Create
your personal action plan, keep your options open and know what
your personal goals, musts and wants are.
As much as possible plan so that it is not a total surprise.
contributed a piece offering things to do if you lose
your position. I cannot agree with her more on
1. don’t lose your “cool”, stay calm and manage your emotions
2. personally ask for recommendations from specific individuals
(If someone hesitates at all, or will not provide a good one, move
2a. these days more and more Linkedin recommendations can be
a useful starter in situations where policies limit employees from
3. You should be continually active in your professional network,
also ask references for their network contacts and ideas.
I found Umoh’s thoughts about cleaning up your facebook, online
profiles and photos and comments something that might be easily
Formulate a modifiable plan of action that includes push
, situations where you you meet people
in person and volunteer roles in professional organizations.
Taking shorter term, temporary roles may be a big plus, while
you enroll for unemployment benefits and update your master
resume, targeted resumes for each position and Linkedin
profiles using current keywords for your industry and field.
Consider asking for outplacement services as part of your
that you have signed.
Have you looked at the proposed FY2018 budget for science,
technology, health and engineering? Mostly flat or cutback.
except for defense related expenditures (and the “wall”– which
will be paid for by someone else..)
Have you looked at the proposals for taxes? Across the board
reductions in rates, which results in peanuts for the poor,
a cup of Starbucks for the middle class and a new yacht for
Have you noticed the major overhaul of the rules and enforcement
progressive taxation (richest contribute a fairer share) and
regulations and legislation are what has turned American
enterprise into an equitable thriving system in the 20th century.
We need to do something about the gutting of these.
Through the ACS
we are provided some tools to be proactive
individually. In a recent town hall we learned from our senator
that groups and organizations are much more effective in
influencing and sending cogent messages to senators and
Let’s all urge the EPA to meet its mandated assignment, if not,
let’s increase our efforts at the state level with the DEP.
Let’s ask our ACS President to address research funding
shortfalls that impacts our enterprise long term.
Let’s bring back regulations that reign in wild speculative behaviors
that benefit a clever few who have escape clauses to absolve
Your circumstances are different than most everyone else’s.
However, we can learn from other professionals’ approaches
if we have a mind to it– that is remain curious, or make up
our minds to be curious.
I can not tell you how beneficial it is to be generous and
thoughtful to people who serve you. They may work for you
individually or be part of an organization. Took time to drive
with our daughter to do some quick shopping where each of
us had our own shopping lists. I watched as she hustled to
put items in our basket, but could not find “just” what I wanted.
Thought to myself, we could find a premium item as a takeout
from a suitable restaurant. So we stopped and purchased the
delectable salad for 2. While waiting we got into a idle time
conversation with the server. We asked if we might get a “short”
cup of coffee while waiting and she cooperatively brought it out
as we continued our conversation. So, as we paid our bill we
asked if we could write a thank you note to management for her
kind and thoughtful service. She did not exactly know, as she
was a summer hire…. She brought out her manager who informed
us how to perform the act online with detailed instructions. Then,
went on to say by doing this in a specific order, she would be
rewarded, he would be rewarded and we would receive a modest
gift certificate online.
Back in our ride home, we chatted about learning from others’
behaviors is such an adult way of developing and improving skills…
especially in an entrepreneurial world.
We used three of Travis Bradberry’s
9 Skills that pay dividends:
asking for help, staying positive and taking initiative. Six other items
knowing yourself (personal self assessment),
know how to say “no”,
knowing to pause and remain quiet, and
determining priorities to do the most important things.
These apply critically to entrepreneurs who either have too much time
on their hands or too little time.
an episodic income stream need to be mindful of:
a. formulate an exit strategy that propels your next direction– musts
and wants for yourself and your current employer as a win-win outcome
b. accumulate reserves and strategize how you can live lean should
events require ‘belt tightening’
c. Set up long term retirement, big purchase, and emergency insurance
accounts and make the necessary contributions (insure matching
contributions can happen and are accessible)
d. Know the rules and double check on the amounts about estimated
taxes. Use an accountant if you are new. Perhaps fall back on
Turbotax, if you have some experience.
e. Read the fine print, consult legal input on the fine print of signed
agreements and understand their implications and recourses.
One of the subtopics we cover in our Professional
Development course is LCA or Life Cycle Assessment
in our class on ethics.
This is a broad impact area that leading organizations have
adopted for processes, final products, side reactions and
Recently, a committed network
colleague, John Warner,
shared a pertinent article in Chemistry World
“better design of pharmaceuticals” that do no harm to the
environment when disposed. The article cites:
- birth control and antidepressant drugs persisting in our clean
water supply impact dependent animal life
- certain drugs remain present and active in vegetable irrigation
supplies and are found in consumable purchases (wash all food
As a result, certain first world countries have implemented extra
cleaning steps to scrub water before it enters water supplies.
The article, however addresses an alternate approach I know
John has been pursuing for over 30 years and is gaining more
supporters… designing active molecules to decompose when