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.
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?
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.]
Innovations in the way we present ourselves, our
research and technical work should impact how we
format and what we include in our CVs for academic
General guidelines for having
- the document be in screen-readable sized font,
- your name on each printed page with a page number,
- keywords that reveal that you understand that you
meet requirements (musts/wants) of the position being
- your experience section state accomplishments led
by action verbs
- sufficient information to evaluate your academic
credentials and accomplishments (your thesis and adviser,
titles of presentations, patents and articles)
are certain. Just as the essential need of a signed cover
letter that cites all the documents in your package.
Reviewing so many documents usually means that
they are in electronic form and items should be digitally
While several references suggest Purdue’s Online
Writing Lab and registration in ORCID
provides items to consider including as topics.
In addition to those, it is now important to include
web-pages, blogs, open access articles on both technical
and topical interest, Internet commentaries, and
appropriate communication contact points (texting,
More and more academic position applications will ask
for teaching philosophy, diversity statement, research
proposals, list of publications, patents, and presentations
and list of references. All of the information should be
appropriately integrated to support each other.
Of interest to many academic positions is seeing your
contribution and participation in “service” to department,
university and field of endeavor and presentations to
organizations and audiences outside of your main field.
Special mention should be made about CVs for outside
the US. If you are seeking positions in Europe, you should