Steven Brill outlines the changes that have occurred
triggering the financialization of the chemical enterprise
that we have highlighted through the work of Rana Faroohar
Brill points out that business today has taken on a new meritocracy
with a “get rich quick” philosophy that works through cut-throat
tactics and the flooding of political influence money that no
longer prioritizes the common good, but “win at any cost” for
the privileged few.
The resulting model finds successful businesses protected by
“moats” that shield off predators. Moats he describes as good
product lines, great reputations, predominant market share and
sterling management who hire the best of the best teams that
savvy investors will seek out.
More and more we see AI and robotics impinge on human
roles. So in addition to seeking cognifying roles
in our careers,
consider what John Meacham has urged
- do practical work in the political sphere employing your highest
- respect and insist on true facts and deploy reason (avoid
dictators who lie frequently assuming that repetition will lead to
- keep history in mind.
Just doing chemistry is not enough for professionals.
We all can relate to how our existences are consumed
by cell phones, computers, wifi and alexa. AI is not
far behind where we relate more and more with robots
and devices for many needs, wants and desires.
Nonetheless, the art and reality of being good at conversing
with others makes human relationships hum.
Sherry Turkle wrote of an interviewing technique in her
“Employers have come to appreciate the vulnerability of
the new generations. Some businesses explicitly screen
for an ability to converse.” A big pharma exec told of a
conversation with an applicant. Then, at the end ‘I tell the
potential recruit that their homework is to organize what we
have discussed and from that make an agenda of interesting
themes for our next conversation.’
This approach emphasizes the importance of listening skills,
getting a clear understanding of each person’s ideas and
purpose and being able to synthesize a cogent argument.
This is not to say that the advantages digital technologies
are not used and important. It emphasizes the “and” in
conversation and digital technologies, in addition to knowing
when and how and when not.
The author states some well demonstrated doctrines like
practice with conversation and digital technologies is key–
use it or lose it…
She adds in texting, punctuation is everything (it is easily
I liked where she relates the motivation for using digital
technologies (the Goldilocks effect) and what it does in
This easily readable book is a recommended read for
technical professionals who want to get ahead and seek
some good advice.
Three things have come to my attention. One was a recent
graduate’s interest in a consulting firm position. So we
have been in discussion about how she might prepare for
developing her cover letter, resume and other documents.
A second item relates to an important technical area that
Bill Gates has indicated demands more attention– preparing
Finally, an interesting letter to the editor in CEN by
Professor Adam Heller talks about mitigation work
needed to deal with the growing global warming threat
we all face. I note this because Adam has always been
at the forefront of where technology needs are…lithium
batteries, lasers, biomedical devices and more.
The initial volley involved getting information on the company,
seeing the job description and related information from
insiders and Glassdoor.com. As is found from many of
- desire blending information technology and management
- recently graduated from top institution with credentials
- skilled and experience with using software and developing
learning tools in C++, Java, C# and other platforms
- demonstrates outstanding communication skills in all phases
So this provides some hints about important things to include
in application documents. But we do need to go further. Using
Linkedin, and the firm’s website we can learn more about
the kinds of project areas and notable citations. One citation
came up about a highly touted recent book on consulting that
the CEO wrote. Probably would be good to pick up.
Then, consider making use of your network to glean other
useful information and tactics to allow you to stand out, like.
the name of the recruiter to send things to.
PREPARE FOR NEXT PANDEMIC
In a recent ScienceAlert post Bill Gates talked about an
area of high need. Gates told of a simulated disease
spread model of a flu borne pathogen. It would create
devastating consequences that we are not prepared for.
Strategies and organizations need to be formed to
identify the mode and source and rapidly develop
mobile operations to isolate, treat and inoculate larger
populations. This is long range thinking well beyond
the fiscal and election cycles that should be of interest
to technical professionals interested in being part of
something larger than themselves and making a difference.
In a Letter to the Editor of C&EN on April 30,
A. Heller wrote of the high need to report in their
pages the critical need for scientific research to
develop and test strategies to global warming
catastrophes the earth faces.
Where C&EN fills its pages with alternate energy
and conservation, these are “tip of the iceberg”
solutions. Trends point to global wealth and the resulting
use of resources without sustainable management as
the dominating input for continued earth warming
in addition to a series of unintended consequences of
loss of ice caps, changing climate patterns and severe
natural events in tropical areas.
Work on Geochemical approaches is needed and
has to be reported in C&EN and to the wider
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 about using big words and
offering 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?
While Pier Forni leads the way, I believe, in helping us
see civil behavior in organizations and different
situations, the updated Emily Post book adds some
useful suggestions for what your digital profile includes
and pointing out problem areas.
Post indicates what each professional should consider
as components of their digital profile. Update each
regularly and keep them consistent..
* complete and update Linkedin profile, with
* have a well maintained blog and website
* have links to published content in your name
* list membership on boards, charitable/ educational
groups and organizations
* include awards and achievements
* cite positive press
Just having a solid digital profile is not enough. Be
aware of potential trouble areas, like:
* privacy protections on Facebook
* uncensored, overly personal
or controversial history
* less than flattering photos tagged to your name
* old media that does not reflect who you are now
* unflattering press
Search your name and some name alternatives
Social Networking Tips
1. Online privacy is an illusion. Just about everything has
a digital fingerprint.
2. Think twice about offering negative criticism online.
Can be easily misinterpreted, especially in the absence
of facial expression, tone of voice
or nonverbal cues…
3. Opinions will be formed on everything you post and
much can be taken out of context.
4. You bear responsibility for online image
A respected colleague of mine, Christine Kelly
points out that much thought should be devoted
before you send your application for a position
There are several aspects to knowing yourself and
how you can present yourself to prospective employers.
they might fit into each organization’s culture.
MUSTS AND WANTS
The job description can be a help in describing what
successful candidates will bring to the organization.
I like her dividing job descriptions into short and long.
In the long ones observe the location and number of
mentions of key skills (note the keywords used and
employ them in your documents). In short ones, examine
Linkedin for people who have similar titles to see what
skills they list and what accomplishments they summarize.
Study the website for detail.
Above all, research via your network, including
Every interaction with every representative is part
of their interview of you. Christine points out in the
screening interview or information interviews
act and present yourself professionally.
In all interactions, virtual, visual, oral and in writing,
your future employer is interested in what you have
to offer. In discussions, listen carefully to the questions
of what people are seeking to learn and respond to
their queries. However, remain positive and phrase
negatives in ways that show your creativity and ability
to progress and learn from failure.
Do practice interviews. Anticipate and write out
answers you can use. Ask for feedback from
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.
Are you feeling stress in yourself? Need to make decisions?
Too many things to do and not enough time? Meeting with
new people, people with opposing views or too many people?
Feel cramped or feel inhibited?
These things can happen in relaxed times or in business
situation. They can happen without notice, rapidly or
with a time suspension or delay.
GP contacted me about a post graduate role and her
uncertainty over her visa situation, application process,
negotiation of starting date and leaving date situation.
GP has interest in an informal offer, but feels she faces
a series of hurdles, which create anxiety and stress.
She “presented” a stressed mindset in our conversation.
So it was important to (1)share that several other colleagues
each faced similar challenges and dared to commit to
a course of action and take it as a learning experience.
locks us from moving forward.
(2)Compliment her for moving forward and following up
on an opportunity that is within her reach.
(3)Deal proactively with barriers she foresees.
However, knowledge alone will not necessarily reduce
her stress. Alice Boyes
has offered some proactive
physical, mental and behavioral ideas, a couple which
I had not known for relieving stress, –
- running your fingers over your lips
- slow down when you feel a stress or anxiety build
Some were ones that have worked for me–
- going outside into nature
- deep breathing
- power posing (Amy Cuddy)
- muscle relaxation; Yoga
- speaking openly with trusted mentors
- try new things, test things out, learn from others
Author, Boyes, has several others, since it is true
there is no one “magic bullet.”
To formulate positive movement forward we discussed
several things that references are asked when we are
contacted. Done as a collaboration, we built positive
hope in the direction she is seeking.
a. how long is our professional connection and in
b. what are clear strengths that will be valuable
in her next position, provide examples with stories and
The reference, me in this case, needs to personalize
Then, (4) provide a “lifeline” to contact whenever
she feels the need arising.
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.
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.
JZ contacted me about preparing for an upcoming
interview and she is concerned about being an
international professional who has pursued her
dreams. She believes –”she does not have the
freedom to choose passion if they are not traditional
career paths. …I have H4 visa (spouse- H1B) and need
sponsorship to work. [Situations are such that I
want] to add income by looking at a job related to my
We corresponded refreshing what we had discussed
in person and in class five years ago as she was making
decisions for her family. The times have changed in
the immigration world since then and that may influence
employment decisions. These can be overcome by
thoughtful preparation, considerate follow through
and win-win comments during the interview..
- your Linkedin.com profile needs to show interest
and express background and experience in the chemical
- Arrange an information interview to re-familiarize
yourself with OSHA, MSDs, and HazWaste and good
laboratory practice with people in the field.
- Develop ~1 min. stories and jot down memory aids
for each bullet in your resume
- Study the company and area around the company.
Look at its website, goggle people, look at Linkedin
profiles for connections.
- Even if the interview is remote or virtual, dress as
if you were visiting the site. Plan to be prepared a
reasonable time in advance.
- Write down critical questions you wish to ask, Like:
What is a typical day like?
What are typical analyses and instrumentation used?
What is the safety record of the company?
Who will you be reporting to, who will you replace
and can you learn key information from them?
- Have pen, paper, your documents and a calendar and
- Salary expectation study for range
- Be prepared to offer names and addresses of
references. Contact references in advance asking
if they are available to go to bat for you.
- in the beginning introduce yourself and ask for
introductions of all participants, get correct spelling
and title and addresses (thank you notes)
- hold back from talking about or asking for salary
and visa status before a job offer.
- be ready to express your salary expectations based on
- Dress as if you are on site. Think about safety
shoes and apparel.
- Arrange for no interferences and test out tools
you will use, if remote.
- Near the end, consider offering a test run to work
for a day or week, per diem.
- Near the end, ask “what is the next step in the
- Be ready to follow up on each of their requests. It is
not unusual these days to be tested on pertinent skills
plan to show that you can do them well.
- Check with your references to confirm they have all
they need to work for you.
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.
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.
and critical thinking when reading
This blog is on record for supporting the idea of “open access”
and questioning the viability of “rating” journals based on
citations in the internet age [it is like mindless “likes” in
Been following of Deming’s articles on Applied Statistics
for decades. He is in the middle of an important series on
limits of detection. I just received a water analysis report
and have received blood and urine medical reports that refer
to one or another of these. These articles are important and
significant for all of us. We should know and use these terms
One of the types of questions I ask in some interviews
concerns gas cylinder set-up and use. Articles in LC/GC
often reveal solid scientific thinking to answer questions
in this area.
ROBERT MAXWELL AND PROFITING ON SCIENCE
Although the ACS continues its efforts to
profit center, most of the members do not realize what
is going on in the publication business. This Guardian
article goes into details what the ACS publications
division might be emulating.
Should we not ask questions to make more science, often
paid for via taxes, available free online?
SCIENCE AND THE LIMITS OF DETECTION
SOURCE: S. N. Deming, Amer. Laboratory June/July 2017
Deming teaches in this article L(D) the limit of detection, which
he points out is different than the smallest amount of
analyte that can be detected or the limit of quantitation (appearing
in future articles.).
He points out:
- false positive risk needs to be appropriate for the application.
[drug testing example]
- in a plot of a calibration curve with a non-zero intercept, L(D)
the limit of detection is the amount of analyte that yields a
signal outside the error of the false negative.
These comments are often not brought out in many classes.
SOURCE: J. V. Hinshaw, LC/GC North America 11-2016, P. 41
What I like about Hinshaw is that he does a fishbone diagram
to assess a wide variety is issues that could come up in
working with a common analytical tool.
Recently a colleague reported his experiences he observed
during his job search. It points out the importance of networking
 , doing After Action Reviews, knowing that you can build your
career by taking related positions, where you learn and practice
applicable skills productively. After all, a career is a process of
growth combined with continuous learning.
applied online and got a personal contact of mine to forward my resume
to the hiring team…he felt comfortable to refer me.
it was too late, they had already considered a candidate.
This year they contacted me. So as you have so many times emphasized,
networking is key to getting one’s resume noticed.
Career is a Process:
A senior level manager:
- Asked about my industry experience and was probing about my interests,
strengths and ability to work in a team. We really clicked in the interview.
It was a pleasant conversation about various aspects of manufacturing, QA,
QC , work ethics, and honesty. he was very pleased that I was familiar with
Quality Management System. I felt we were already colleagues in the interview.
Among questions asked:
- what I do not like, and what I like.
- given a situation what do I prefer: perfect and late, good and on time, or quick
and early…something like that. I elaborated on each as it all depends according
to me. For example, I recall saying it depends on how critical it is. In a situation
where you are looking at an API, it is critical to be within the acceptance
criteria/specifications, better be late but safe. But for a report, as long as all
the important information are there, I won’t delay it for perfection. I recall also
talking about how in a team, different people have their own preferences - in
terms of how to present a table. I personally don’t like to delay output for these
things (as long as it is not wrong).
Another Interviewer/non-technical manager:
- were able to relate a little as I had previous experience in the finance
department when i was in accounting.
- ended up in a conversation about the market, competitive advantage, pains
of month/year/quarter ends.
- Talked about SAP and Oracle.
- He actually appreciated that I knew about science and financial side of the
After Action Review:
- if I run into a situation like that again, I should transition my mindset into a
“sales pitch”- meaning, I should do the best I can to use facts from my
experience to support each criteria they are looking for.
- asked to visit the lab and areas of interests. I found it odd they did not propose.
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.
FL and I have been working together for several years,
first during a post-doc, then, a second post-doc and a series
of interesting temporary positions. While the post docs
were related to her graduate training in advanced biomaterials
and coating technology, the temporary positions were in
a wide variety of disciplines from project management and
accounting, to analytical services, to quality control.
FL contacted me from outside the US about negotiating
a higher salary at a 10 year old company where a network
member currently works. FL was offered a position for six
months, after which there would be a review to determine fitness
for longer term. The contract specified starting date, supervisor,
and broad assignment responsibilities along with a starting
The initial request involved discussing what can be expressed
to bring up salary and that the salary being offered was
lower than current pay as a temp. The position is located in
Toronto, so it is a stretch to correlate ACS salary survey data
results, based on limited data and currency differences (although
I did approximate using estimated analogies.
SALARY INCREMENT IDEAS
First, however, thank the company for the pleasant news that
was received for the generous offer. It was highly sought and
enthusiastically received. FL is flexible in scope of the position
and hours of work, however, is there any room for compensation
discussions….wait, don’t fill silence with excuses, let the hiring
manager think and respond. State what your needs and desires
are before offering up give ups (you never know if your spouse
might not have separate benefit coverage.).
Ask for the firm’s annual report, employee handbook, and a
formal job description. After you receive and review them you
will be better able to discuss the offer details.
FL sought a $10K improvement. So we reviewed areas of
possible approaches– spousal health insurance, no relocation
expense, day care needs, hours of work, self improvement plan,
other deferrable benefits. Since FL’s spouse has family health
care coverage and there are no relocation needs, these could be
offered as “give ups” to measurably increase salary. FL is flexible
for hours of work and has no immediate day care needs.
If salary is not negotiable, ask if a sign-on bonus can be brought
up to compensate for the difference from your current position
and the unique bonus you might forfeit leaving your current
Have a list of other negotiating wish items– personal computer,
loaded with professional responsibility software, professional
society memberships, special training programs, special
commuter passes not listed in the employee handbook.
We also shared details of negotiating workshops brought up
It is worth asking for details of the firm’s current and recent
past finances that would be listed in the annual report. That
not being shared, along with number of employees and
ownership of properties where company activities are
Through Fidelity Investments, we were able to share
financial data on this start up. It is relevant to see if the
same data is offered. Going to work for a company is just
like investing in the company and it is important to perform
due diligence in its financial and commercial viability. Who
owns the company, what is the market value and trend
and are there legal issues of concern.
After critical elements of the position negotiation are resolved
satisfactorily, request that an updated offer letter be sent for
approval. Since its location is relatively close, it might be
a nice gesture to personally go to the location, sign it in
person and meet other employees with whom you will be
Send thank you notes to all members you meet. It will
leave a positive impression.
to support business research
Mlodinow, in Subliminal, delivers a clearly written book that helps
us understand Listening and Remembering. He explains that it all
comes from William Carpenter’s book “Principles of Mental
Physiology” in which he told that human brains carry out three
things simultaneously– autonomous functioning (without formal
thinking), conscious mental actions, and unconscious processing.
When we listen we hone in on specific utterances and fill in the
gaps with our unconscious. It is similar to the way computers
capture images and store them as thumbnails. Taking in certain
‘pixelated’ data, allowing us to reconstruct by filling in the details.
Our memory on the other hand is known to be “faulty”. We are
almost always never right with our recollections unless we take
special precautions to capture details. People try to maintain a
story’s general form, drop and change others to make us be able
to tell stories “confabulating” choices we make in the dropped
Thus, false memories and misinformation is a common human
frailty. With time we drop more and more information.
Mlodinow offers several examples one of the most striking is
James Dean, President Nixon’s personal attorney, in his responses
in the Watergate hearings. Mlodinow writes that Dean misstated
and mixed up nearly every detail of the affairs in which he was
involved based on a comparison of actual tape recordings from
the Oval Office and the Watergate hearings. At the time, we
were informed that Dean had a nearly perfect memory.
This goes to point out the importance of having and maintaining
a calendar, a professional daily diary, an ‘idea notebook’ and records
of key goals, accomplishments, master resume, and personal
You know, I am a strong proponent that scientific professionals
have a strong understanding of working with statistics and
perceive the hazards in our environment, that have good and not
so good effects on humans.
So in our final class we talked about three features we should
look for in evaluating statistical data. [I am always amazed that
their relevance is not emphasized in classes.] variation, shape
and central tendency.
In our daily lives we are faced with statistics for nearly everything
and given “selective” interpretations to sell or convince us of various
- insure the data provides its sample size and range and variability
[small sample size, limited range, no measure of variation should
not be basis of a general position.]
- If the data is presented with many significant figures, it should
raise “red flags” in your mind. [10,234,511.39 ?]
- The shape of the distribution of measure reveals critical insight.
[power law, normal, bimodal, skewness…]
- What is the appropriate central tendency representation? Mean
if it is normal distribution…Other than that, questions are needed.
There are two radioactive species in our environment that we
should be aware of some things. One I encountered when I was asked
by a middle school student about a science project on radioassays.
That is when I learned about technetium. Technetium-99 is most
useful as a radioassay measure for imaging internal organs.
published a short factoid recently about this lightest, artificially
produced element. ”Technetium cows
” were developed by BNL
researchers and have been in use for more than 50 years in
medical diagnostics and research. In addition, technetium is a
by-product of U-235 decay and thus can be a valuable monitor
for nuclear reactor spent fuel rod decay and storage.
A second radioactive element is the gas, radon. Radon is naturally
occurring in the environment and is attributed to be an effector of
. Radon decays naturally producing alpha
of the prevalence of radon in the US point to where
it is. This should be a point of reference for us where we live
Our Professional Development class is interesting because
we can use feedback from class members for future discussion
items and exercises in class.
One feedback card read: Could we engage in networking
conversations and elevator speeches from each person in class?
It is better than describing them.
>In subsequent classes we asked people to deliver elevator speeches
to their team mates [which should be done in all team situations].
Then when we brought in guest speakers, we asked each class
member to deliver an elevator pitch to the guests.
A couple of other situations that are intriguing. One class member
met privately and said she did not know what to do as her team
was unresponsive to requests to work together and complete tasks
on time. We talked about it and in class performed an exercise.
What can you do to work better as a team? There are many excuses:
too busy, lazy, procrastinate, think the assignment is dumb….
- plan ahead; discuss the work assignment
- know yourself; study your teammates behaviors, values, likes
- keep in touch; communicate, even over-communicate
- offer help if others have trouble understanding/solving the assignment
- Team formation usually follows easily recognizable stages, known as
“forming, storming, norming, and performing.”
YOU ARE EXPECTED TO GET TO NORMING QUICKLY
- learn about your team-mates: their values, behavior, goals, time lines,
honesty, promptness, caring; strength and weakness
- When do you report to higher Ups?
- Influence: consistency, scarcity, authority, trust worthiness,
- Work together, share ideas and don’t just divide up the work.
- Use people’s strengths and interests to produce something that
- Become familiar with due dates, put buffer between team
deadline and final deadline alert people in advance
- Givers succeed most, reciprocators are a close second
- Adam Grant’s book “Givers and Takers”
A second class exercise was inspired by an incident where a class
member forgot an attachment when sending an email. It happens to
all of us.
The class came up with several and discussion ensued about how
some recipients might feel it revealed lack of attention to detail or
how you perform under pressure. There are technological solutions
that we should know and use.