Now looking in the rear view mirror on this, it is possible
to offer a perspective.
One of the key things is to join and participate in professional
societies. This was a strong recommendation of a former
boss at Exxon Research, Jim Amick
. Our conversations led me
to pursue roles that might provide experience in leadership and
networking. It was not broadly spoken about at my first two
positions and it was not easy to get approval to attend meetings.
Yet when my turn for facing the music of job loss came,
it was my good fortune that managers encouraged me to
attend a national ACS meeting to participate in the job clearinghouse.
That led to several interviews and offers.
Weathering the storms of corporate life is mostly being in the
right place at the right time, by good relationship and
skill building. Accepting roles that are not part of my formal
background did stretch employment longevity. But looking for
volunteer opportunities for the common good– chairing meeting
sessions, reviewing articles, volunteering as local section member
at national meetings and then learning from successes of others.
Then, help others pursue their career aspirations.
As I saw happen to even the most talented colleagues, cut backs occur.
Through no fault of their own I saw many people get “sacked” and
pick themselves up and resume their career somewhere else. My
content here is to bring up end of career observations, as are described
in Mark Miller’s article
. [LISTEN TO THE PODCAST!]
- Center for Retirement Research (BC) found 37% retire earlier
(55% fail to reach age 66 target)
- one quarter of loss of jobs due to health (UMichigan,
- Workers 55 and older: unemployment rate 2.6%, but long term
unemployment of >27 weeks, is 26.6%, [that is, if you get laid off,
recovering is less likely]
- Sporadic income is hard to manage, but expecting to reach your
retirement goals set early in life, is getting harder and harder.
Pointers from Mark Miller
1. Assess your health and employment statistics in viable fields, as
time goes on.
2. Create interim plans including health care insurance and alternate
income streams that match outflows.
3. Fees and costs of retirement accounts. Look for financial advisers
who pursue your goals [interview several and don’t just depend on
Profile: Technology Specialist, Science and Technology Patent LLC
Style and Responsibilities
Proficient in both experimental and computational exploration of
synthesis and evaluation. Developed technology assessment
experience through post-doc and internship.
Personable and highly organized with different cultures.
Position involves bringing technical skills to bear on business
strategy and best legal practices for technology concept protection
for biomaterials, formulations, optophotonic electronics, food
Challenges and Stresses
Time is currently a limited resource with long commute,
management of household with preschool children and
current housing arrangement. Am using mentors to figure
out longer term strategies and encouragement to ask questions
and seek help.
Landing Current position and openness to new opportunities
The search for my current position that I started a month ago
faced several hurdles. We became new parrents, had my
work papers approved and dealt with several months break in
appointments. Yet we were successful due to persistence,
preparation and practice.
Just as one might expect, as soon as I started a new position
other opportunities arise. While the benefits package is quite
satisfactory and meets our needs (eg. salary exceeds ACS
Salary Comparator benchmark), I will find a way to accept
interview invitations. I do not do them from my employer’s
locations nor on employer’s time. I keep all engagements
confidential and record notes.
Interestingly, since this is a legal position “billable hours”
is a new work constraint that I am learning to include in my
Opportunities for Growth
In addition to a highly skilled staff and generous benefits,
the firm offers continuous in-house training, support for
personal growth and patent agent certification and help
in pursuing a legal education.
Are you planning international travel in the future?
I know when I was in grad school, the situation came
up that had me travel to several European countries.
Emergencies happened and we had to cut it short.
An article, Think you only need a passport?
WSJ 3-27-2019 by Scott McCartney
should be read, as it includes great trips:
- make sure your passport is valid for at least another
6 months from the end of your travel
- carry extra passport photos with white background.
[remember AAA offers photos– free for some members]
- carry at least $50 cash for on-the-spot visa fees
- register with the state department’s Smart Traveler
Enrollment Program STEP for contact with updates
- carry a copy of passports, itinerary, birth certificates,
medical prescriptions, credit cards in case of loss.
- plan a contact near home who knows where you are
and can help in an emergency
Another area of interest to readers might be journal articles,
where to publish and availability of publications.
I searched the ACS evolving policy and viewed the page
This is an area we should all take note of in consideration
with what is occurring with the rest of the global scientific
community aiming for Open Access by 2020. See details
I was tuned into this by an editorial in Interface by Jannuzzi
who linked to Richard Kiley at University College London
who wrote about the aim of “Plan S” to ensure research that
is publicly funded to be openly available. As a species we
face climate change, epidemic preparedness, major disasters.
He wrote of the Liberian government not being aware of
research of the potential impact of an Ebola outbreak.
If research was openly available and acted upon, some of
the thousands of death could have delayed to their normal
There is a sizable cost for ACS members
to participate in
OA open access. We can influence this by voicing what is
being done in proactive societies giving its members a
OKR Systems described in outline and detail in Doerr’s
book Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono and the Gates
Foundation Rock the world with OKRs see also videos.
Goal setting is not bulletproof: When there are conflicting
priorities or unclear, meaningless or arbitrarily shifting goals,
people become frustrated, cynical and demotivated.
Goals may cause systematic problems in organizations due to
narrowed focus, unethical behavior, increased risk taking,
decreased cooperation, and decreased motivation. Hard goals
drive real progress more than easy goals. If they are specific
results observed are on target more than vague ones.
For those making the transition from academic experiences
to commercial or mission oriented organizations, Doerr is
a powerful mentor.
This entry was all set to go then a terrific article on
travel came across my screen. Let me start there …
broadcasted a comprehensive article containing
travel tips that many would be advised to take heed of.
1. Plan for the unexpected. Medical emergencies,
Cutting short your travel. Natural phenomena.
2. Know what to do in an emergency. Contact list.
Have it available wherever you are.
3. Get your home, auto, finances in order and secured.
Now to the entry. WSJ editorial page had a
. It is an eye-opener
and worth reading, especially if the reader is early in
There are “tells” [poker analogy):
-Pres. Clinton telling people he liked their tie.
-Person takes a call in the middle of a meeting.
-Person asks to have the material sent to office and follow
up. No follow-up occurs.
-Person takes your business card and picks his teeth with it.
detected by a series of astronomical devices
confirming a source as a “blazar” the first known source of
extraterrestrial gamma rays. this is the beginning of high
energy neutrino astronomy. This nerdy finding is like
gravitational particles and other recent discoveries that
may introduce new concepts in science and applications.
(think: x-rays, isotopes, DNA)
Using Electrochemistry to perform organic synthesis.
A half dozen authors reviewed advances in organic synthesis
that is energy and environmentally efficient in
. They provide experimental essentials and dozens
of documented examples. This could be a resource for
your research notebook.
.One of the areas that you should keep updated on iswhat is happening in cyber-security when we get spam.
Another is cyber attacks especially if you are in a governmental
lab or project or other technically sophisticated project.
Industrial spies are not commonly mentioned, but are
sharing some of his insights. There is an arms race in the
cyber world and it uses special techniques like turbosquatters
More and more, IT departments need to take a defensive
strategy against these kinds of pernicious attacks.
Historically, photographing or copying pages of reports
and data was the mode of spying. With systems going
digital and so much being Internet enabled, it is something
you need to understand how to protect.
Harold Pollack shared a meaningful list that fits on an
Index Card of hints to deal with transitions. Nine items
- Live within your means, restraining impulses that
can get the best of you where your belongings can
- Within one year, spend no more than 14% of
- Set up accounts to deal with requests and bequests
where you limit budget items.
- Control debt lines of credit where you avoid
high interest financial burdens. Determine strategies
to eliminate existing ones. Help others achieve the
- Stick to your core expertise. Consult with a
professional about personal investments. Beware
of IT recommendations without the full picture.
- Manage investment choices using low fee vehicles,
shield investments from taxes and other obligations.
- Interview and choose committed financial adviser,
attorney and insurance provider, so you are proactive,
thoughtful and within the law.
- Bring in experts to financial decisions.
- Give generously to reputable causes that meet your
purposes, knowing that you are responsible to
Many of these suggestions seem fit for approaching
retirement. Yet, it is not too early to have these in
mind much earlier in your career and have them
carry over as good habits.
You prefer to wake at a certain time. You do your best
thinking, analytical work at certain times during each
day. Physical work feels right, too, at definite times.
that offers a classifying tool with some quick observations
about each “type,” similar to MBTI personality and
Behavioral tools. I have not decided if chronotype is
definitely a feature that will help you understand yourself.
broadens the scope of time, timing and psychology
that you should pay attention to. Using physiological
observations he relates body temperature routines to human
concentration and deduction powers , test taking, daily
activity scheduling, taking breaks, naps, interviewing,
how to begin important tasks and endings.
INTERESTING POINTS (book or You-Tube)
LIWC - peak-trough-recovery pattern of mood
- earnings calls of CEOs; morning better
Breaks and naps; break out of “trough”
Brene Brown - mid-career slump relief
James Dean Effect - careers, life style assessment
Peak-end rule of Kahneman
Synching forms: codes, garb and tough times to
From–CJ’s mailbag from 5-21-18 CEN, p. 27
Question/Answer: Is it better to jump from one company to
another or stick with a company long term?
While the question is an appropriate one, his short
answer was not satisfying. (It was: no one knows!)
Where I come out on this question: There are five features
that will help you answer the question for yourself.
1.CULTURE AND GOALS.
.CJ offers the big company, small organization
argument saying larger firms desire loyalty.
My view suggests that you might assess whether you are
comfortable in the company culture of how things work and
what your title, responsibility and security-opportunity-
influence triad balance is.
2.YOUR BOSS AND MANAGEMENT STRUCTURE AND POLICIES
. Do you like and communicate well with your boss and
your support staff? Is there trust and honesty. Are the policies
flexibly meeting your needs for the present and the future? Look
out for more than the present. Can you ask hard questions and
get honest answers?
3.YOUR FAMILY SITUATION AND NEAR TERM GOALS
We work to satisfy our particular families’ needs, first.
Are hours of work, travel, stress level such that it allows your
personal needs and wants to be met? outside of work life.
4.YOUR LONG TERM HORIZON
We all must stop being an employee
at some point. Do
you want it to be your choice or business conditions or an
arbitrary “committee beauty contest” selection? When you
leave will it be fair and open, on good terms? Can you
have the benefits your family needs and are they protected?
5.YOUR CURRENT POSITION AND ASSIGNMENT AND
WHERE IT LEADS YOU AND ALLOWS YOU TO LEARN
Are you challenged and learning important things every day?
Do you feel positive about what your goals are and look forward
to each day’s challenges?
Telling the truth, for myself, and for those for whom I
have mentored, have a mentor team that will help you
pose questions and look at the big picture for you.
I could not have gotten to where I am now without the
outstanding help of mentors. Two qualities that I felt
they provided were persistence and outside of the box
You should always have radar ‘on,’ to learn about your
field. You should always have an early warning system
telling you the good and bad (remember: management usually
holds back on delivering bad news and too often uses
rose colored glasses and a ‘bow on top.’)
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.
As we use artificial intelligence more and more and depend
on machines for decision making, critical thinking becomes
more important. In particular topics like false positive results
and limits of detection. This was brought up earlier in a
misused when we apply statistics to test results. It indicates
that a given condition exists when in reality it does not.
This conclusion can many times result in unnecessary
testing and costs (both to clinical patients (anguish) and
The previous entry pointed out limits of detection series
by Deming. Two other notable contributions– one on being able
to compare quantities resulting from different methods (
My experience is where a physician recommends a
prescription for a chronic condition based on analyte
readings. The algorithm is designed to predict a per cent
likelihood of an outcome. However, the clinical testing
is much more complicated with false positives entering
the picture. Not all of the people have have a minimmum
value will reach that specific outcome. This is not
revealed in the analyte results.
This leads to needing to ask more questions of the
results and their “true meaning.” Often the physician
will not assess these critical elements leading to over-testing
and over prescribing.
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!
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…
Two organizations that employed me had rules for
absenteeism. One was quite strict in that you could
choose certain number of days off with pay. Requests
should be made in advance.
Importantly, attendance records were criteria for
advancement and ‘perfect attendance’ was clearly
and widely recognized and rewarded.
Thus, even when you are ill, with a flu or fever,
people were expected to come in, and ,if you could,
visit the company nurse who could dispense some
over the counter remedies.
Another employer left it to supervisors to decide whether
it was in appropriate to report not coming in to work and
exposing everyone to the spreading of illness. Interestingly,
it was recorded but did not seem to make a difference in
assignments or promotions. [We were to call the supervisor
and report illness. As many sick days as needed were
granted. I do not know of any specific limit.]
in the workplace, noting its costs to employers to be on the
order of half a billion dollars. Since absenteeism can cost
in productivity and revenue, time off for illness has varied
treatment and risks. Many places seem to go the route of
PTO paid time off for vacation, special event or illness.
Others provide an annual number of sick days one is
entitled to take.
Various medical organizations have investigated personal
illness and its impacts on the organization and the individual.
While it may not be part of policy, one might argue a case
- encourage people to take preventative measures
- limit contact with others to avoid spreading; even
stay home 24 hours when symptoms are real and invasive.
- supervisors should be proactive at every level in protecting
individuals and noticing symptoms
Recently, this writer was beset with a sinus like infection.
I limited contact as much a possible for as long as spreading
symptoms existed. It meant sending condolences to events
I was expected to attend. It is important to be the first
example of proactive behaviors and enforce similar
recommendations on others. It should start in the class
room and grad school research labs.
Then, practical policies of dealing with this perennial
issue of staying home when you are sick can be the general
policy, with appropriate checks and balances when
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
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.
Two interesting email requests arrived in my inbox, recently.
One was asking for participation in a job search workshop
by a professional society local section.
The second was a request from a graduate student seeking
help with his resume.
INTERESTING WORKSHOP DILEMMA
We were away on a vacation that delayed our responses.
However, I sent a follow up note to a colleague who was
a recipient of the job search workshop note asking to speak
before talking with the assistant professor who was coordinating
TH and I spoke on a telecon to address our concerns and
requirements before “meeting” with the prof and TH volunteered
to set up a Webex.
From this arrangement, several things emerged…
1. email is not a useful vehicle to coordinating a program between
different participants. It is so easy to misinterpret what is going
on. It is much better to do it in person, if possible, by Skype
or as a last result, telecon, if the participants know and trust
2. the resulting meeting request was misinterpreted. In addition,
a follow-up first discussion was delayed.
TH asked for a webex time slot. It was then felt that not everyone
responded to the professor…
The professor had urgent reasons for not being able to talk for an
3. The prof indicated his desired date is two months in the future
on a Saturday, but provided a date for Friday. This kind of
mishap can happen to any of us. But it suggests some problems.
On top of that there is a conflict with the Saturday date that
prevents everyone from participating.
BOTTOM LINE. These kind of workshops need to be planned
4-7 months in advance with back ups for most critical items.
It is useful to have a team of organizers.
PROVIDING HELP FOR INTERNATIONAL JOB SEARCHER
This personal consultation can be related to the workshop.
In a way, this is one of the key goals of what a workshop might
The initial email request asked for help writing a resume for
a job. Well as we know it is critical to be both more specific
and have a strategy in mind for narrowing down options.
The first draft of the resume was sent as an attachment. It
revealed that the grad student was at “square one” of his
search. He inserted some relevant data into an online
resume platform without understanding the hard preparation
that needs to go into it.
A response email was sent with several attachments.
The email pointed out that
- multi-colored, underlined, fancy documents are not
well received for technical professional resumes
- the application should involve a well written cover
letter and other documents that would positively
separate your application from the other applicants.
- have a specific position in mind that provides the
keywords critical for inclusion in your documents
BOTTOM LINE: The process, timeline and goals are
not defined. So, as with the workshop planning,
creating a workable structure and organization will
be as important as developing viable content.
Academic world revolves around an academic calendar;
the rest of the world employs different time charts.
Job searching is often a full time effort usually out of
sync with the environment you are in.
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
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.