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
When you are in various career paths your
activities tend to place you in a silo of activities
to meet agreed upon goals. You develop and
use tactical skills to improve things, to identify
things and to make or combine things. You may
also use SPC or DOE to identify problems or
Leaders will do this. However, they also develop
strategic thinking. Jo Miller’s article,
addresses some of the unique features of the
strategist and the tactician, including:
1. Shift from day-to-day thinking to years ahead
then work backwards from goals, like in a
2. Work with groups outside your limited chain
of command. Learn their SWOT (strengths,
weaknesses, opportunities and threats) for longer
term to see where there is commonality to
engage and collaborate. Ask if you can help
3. Look for areas to change for the better–
transformational change. Where tacticians
chip away at goals and do not threaten
the status quo, strategists involve change and
build new skills.
Thus, change your time horizon, broaden your
scope of influence, and seek out transformative
changes. It is an article worth reading.
When you are surprised by someone or an event, you
may not be ready to do the right thing. Right? We
always recommend the importance of preparation.
The same is true of of daily agendas and decision making
and acceptance of new ideas. D. Pink highlighted this
New ideas: Better to speak to higher ups in the morning,
earlier in the week, or after a break…
Brainstorming: Off-peak time, like later in afternoon,
when you are more open-minded.
It is true however that we have different peak times.
Think about when yours might be. The idea then is
to develop strategies to adjust to different circumstances.
Pink talks about some of these.
Good news, bad news: most people accept bad news first.
What is the present and short term future market conditions?
… demand, available customers, price and competition
Assess your stress tolerance and forward seeking
optimism… What is your back-up plan?
Do you have the technical resources to move into place,
or know how to reach out to them?
It is an ever present challenge about finding another position,
either from job loss, limited growth possibilities, or loss
of excitement for the employment situation we find ourselves
We question our choices up till that point. But alas we have
learned that more often the choices we made were valid but
for changes in funding or preferences or timelines.
Mid-career offers different challenges than early career. You
have an established work history, salary history and contributions
to your department involving trusting connections, lucid
communications and committed networks.
Not every personality faces this kind of job search comfortably.
It is certainly important to have established mentors to bounce
ideas off of. They can be a sanity check…
You can always get better… if there is something lacking or needing
It is not too late to learn new things… Especially if you know what
your career gap is. It might be harder if you do not know the gap.
That is when you fall back on your strengths and building out from
You should not hold back from going in another direction,
especially if it is an area of high interest.
Do the right thing, even when no one is looking.
Pay forward, pass on valuable information. You never know what
could make a difference for others.
Know your risk tolerance level, and those in your family that depend
If you need help, ask for help; join a professional organization; use
your experience to volunteer to help others.
This blog post reflects the position that the ACS needs
to develop an on-going Subject area regarding the
Economics of our Enterprise, just like Chemistry and
the Law, the Environment, and Education.
describes the need…”The system is rigged. Companies
are forced to eliminate workers not by the market of
real goods and services where supply and demand set the
right price, but by the commands of financial markets,
where hope and greed too often set the price.”
the decline of corporate R&D by measuring the decline
of technical papers–
‘Corporations in the US are spending a diminishing portion of their R&D budgets on research. The share of basic and applied research in corporate R&D has tapered from 28% in 1985 to 20% in 2015.
Corporate representation in the scientific literature is also shrinking. In an analysis of publications authored by publicly traded US companies in the Web of Science database, we observed that the annual average number of papers published per company fell from around 25 in 1980 to less than 10 in 2010. The drop was visible across a wide range of industries and most pronounced among firms with established research programmes, for which the number of publications fell by as much as 65% between 1980 and 2006.’
Detailed information and discussion includes:
1. the decline of retained earnings
2. using algorithms to make decisions
3. intrusion of fake news, fake growth and bots to influence decisions
4. use of polls with uncertain questions and populations and decision criteria
5. professionals reduced to under 29-hours population
This is a critical topic for emerging chemists,
people indifferent stages of their careers and our
professional organization aiming to serve its members.
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.]
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]
One of the leading skills that we take away from our
experience, education and learning from others is
“articulating thoughts” in letters. Notice the specificity
at the end of the sentence. [Many sources point out
that articulating relates to speech, lucid is more to
tuned to writing.]
Articulating thoughts in writing means that there is a
specific goal for your letter, whether
you wish to submit to a journal editor
, or filing an interest or complaint with an authority
encapsulates barriers to lucid
writing identifying four hurdles:
- cultural differences
: while it is easier to describe
international professionals working in American
enterprises, I have found manufacturing organizations
have “time critical” focus that is not present in R&D,
Observe and pay attention to words used and timeliness,
intent and action.
- verbs, active/passive voice and word order:
interpretations and meaning can vary from person to
- finding the right term: so often loss of specificity
can lead to undesired outcomes
- anxiety can lead to including unrelated information
due to uncertainty. Joining organizations like
Toastmaster International may prove to be a growing
In most cases good letter writing open doors to many
opportunities as well as the goal for your writing.
Keywords, knowing how letters are received and
recorded (sometimes documents are screened by
software before humans scan them), and who and
how letters are addressed (formal is more often
appropriate) are take-aways for good letter writing.
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.
We can gain insights into various career paths by interrogating
other fields and applying their approaches and findings.
In reading some Native American history
, the contrast in
the sense of the meaning of time was offered [James Wilson,The Earth Shall Weep
]. The cultural driven Indian nations
regarded time as cyclical returning to seasonal interludes,
whereas European cultures brought in a linear perspective of
distant past-past- present-future. The European culture sliced
time up into eras and time spans and measured time with
smaller and smaller intervals.
Taking a wider view, Lisa Randall [Astrophysicist] discusses
the critical notion of “scale” which informs Physicists the range
of lengths, time intervals, or energies that are relevant for any
particular investigation and is critical to the understanding of
By partitioning the universe into different comprehensible
sizes we learn that the laws of physics that work best are not
necessarily the same for all processes. Indeed the degree of
of precision you desire determines the scales you choose.
For a given problem we use an “effective theory.” This points
out the concept that the month-day-hour-second-nanosecond is
just a cultural interpretation of celestial observations from
which it was derived and the world as different cultures displays
“scales” describing different “effective theories.”
Do not expect your scale to be uniformly applicable for all
problems. Science offers an evolving body of knowledge, as old
ideas get incorporated into more fundamental theories and science
proceeds with uncertainty at the edges.
As humans, we find shortcuts almost part of our nature. So
a decade ago exomes [shortened genome sequences] were sought
in clinical investigations of mendelian disorder studies. They
offered lower cost approaches. This hypothesis more likely
confirmed that shortcuts more often lead to incomplete or wrong
directions as biological systems are complex.
routine as just another tool as researchers dive into germline
genome editing. Dozens of organizations want to fully weigh
in on public funding to repair a germline mutation in human
embryos [9-1-17, GENengnews.com]. Then, alternate approaches
such as mouse models
might be oversimplistic in expecting
organism wide duplication.
This points to Lisa Randall’s observation that leadership
needs to push forward in asking the right questions, defining
the real problems, and identifying promising routes to
progress by solving smaller issues which turn out to be
clues to the bigger issues.
ANALYST SALARIES AND COMPANIESLC/GC
completed and published a 2017 salary survey and
company listing that job seekers in the chemical analyst
career track will use.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
Jennings Taylor and Maria Inman apply a ‘technologist
lens’ to patent law that is useful for learning about
Two articles offer
1- What intellectual property entails and the concepts
involved in patent examination
They frame what intellectual property is by a clearly
logical figure comparing physical property ownership
Owner <—————-> Inventor/Assignee
Sell/Purchase <——–> Sell/Acquire
Charge/Rent<———-> Charge License Fee
Pay Taxes <————> Pay Maintenance Fees
Repossessed <——–> Abandoned
Trespass <————-> Infringe
Mortgage <————> Loan/ Financing
Deed <——-> Claims descriptions and specifications
Survey/ title search <-> Examination/ prior art search
The article describes a patent application examination that
involves a prior art search of knowledge and expertise in
the public domain and compares the claims of the
application to determine if there is overlap.
offers the right of a patent (and property owner) and
motivation of the patenting process, which is to promote
progress. [p. 45-46 in hard copy journal]
The third article coming out in the fall addresses how to
overcome legal aspects of rejection. [A comment will
be inserted when it comes out in press.]
These article will be included in future course sections
on Patents and should be included in ACS Pflags