This morning I was surprised to be asked to
extemporaneously say a few words. It was
an ‘out of the blue’ request so my response
might be interesting.
At first I posed to myself who is the most
knowledgeable and representative person
for the audience and for delivering the message?
I conceived to two situations– the most senior
person and a tandem representative of the
That is what happened, as the most senior
person recognized his role and did a fine job.
The back-up plan was in place, as a lady and
I were ready to rise to the podium, if I were to
A number of things came to mind– microphone,
stage presence moving to the front, eye contact,
how to start out, key message to deliver, and
final closing. These items were summarized in
a NYTimes article by P. Korki, but a clean
.ppt file by T. Farmer nicely defines helpful
So read through this as it may help prepare you for
those occasions when you least expect it to
represent yourself and team well.
At an event last week, a recent post-doc
who had taken a teaching position at a mid-
level research university shared some insights.
The following were taken from the comments
of Professor Brenton deBoef — URI
1. Objective: generate many publications
in highly desired journals
We generally suggest developing your top
5-7 people list. He offered–
consider working with a new professor at
a prestigious university or an established
professor at a mid-level research university.
2. Objective: send coordinated documents
to get the attention of PI
Public relations documents: Really tailor
the cover letter and CV to the individual
professor and her(his) location
he provided examples of how he reorganized
his CV to re-order his research interests
3. Objective: Display academic research
management and leadership
Plan to state in your interview that
you desire to write proposals or sections
of proposals and review manuscripts.
This could be a continuation of what you
would be doing in grad school.
These are elements of gaining expertise
in needed areas and developing academic
leadership skills needed to be demonstrated
to move to your academic position.
There were several other strong points
about post-docs, that were covered in
the overall PfLAGS program.
At a wonderful experience last week with two
dozen graduate school chemists, one of the
speakers, an expert in the field, spoke about
work/ family life balance.
This is a complicated subject that has as many
viewpoints as there are answers. It is hard
to be an expert on all topics. To say the least, I
learned a lot.
However, my only claim to this topic is as
one who has experienced it personally and
observed many others anecdotally (meaning
in partial context) and read deeply on the topic
(however only non-professional literature.)
In some contexts this is called the “2-body
problem” and in other contexts this is called
the “working care-giver dilemma.” There are
common elements and many different elements
to balance in work/life, however, it is very
curious that most talks, books and articles
usually do not talk about both.
One did. It may be worth sharing.
What balance is not…
an “equal balance of hours, activities, meetings”
CONSIDER BEING MORE FLUID
a constant disciplined distribution each day
CONSIDER FLEXIBILITY AND
a perfect, one size fits all striving
CONSIDER IT BEING DIFFERENT
FOR EACH ONE OF US AND IMPERFECT.
The authors simplify the core of effective
work/life balance as achievement and
enjoyment. These core elements answer
the question, ‘why?‘
Following this introduction to work-life
balance issues are comments on
- impacts of poor balance
- 2-body problem considerations
- working care-giver considerations
- infringement of workplace into family
60 minutes had an insightful segment tonight
on the importance of sleep.
It revealed the importance of a good night’s
rest for how it impacts people’s judgment and
performance doing important things.
I bring this into the discussion with regard to
interviewing how we might prepare to
do well in interviews.
Tomorrow, for example, I am expecting to
do an interview, which will be followed by
several days of performances, like interviews.
For my planning
1. Know where you’re going
While travel (flight, etc.) and hotel room
will likely be arranged for you
You can change things, but show discretion.
For example, I learned that a place that
was scheduled for me had dogs that
disturbed previous lodgers sleeping
in a recent stay. I elected to select a
chain hotel with a better researchable
Figure out how to get from the airport
to the hotel ahead of time. Call
hotel and ask about transportation
options. Do some research ahead of
time about things like shuttle service.
2. Get some sleep
Call the hotel ahead
of time and ask
for the complimentary turndown service.
Get a cup of
hot tea (decaf), and get a
good night’s rest.
Upon arrival, check the room out for
dark environment, a comfortable
temperature, all the expected
sanitary cleansing, and whatever things
will help you prepare for upcoming events
like workout, nap, relaxation.
Consider bringing a night light to limit
light exposure if you need to awaken.
not oversleep. Set the alarm in
the room, and bring a battery-operated
alarm in case the power goes out.
Ask the front desk for a wake-up
Do everything to ensure you are not
late or rushed.
Have the cell or contact telephone
number in advance. Plan to greet the
receptionist no more than 15 minutes
before the planned time. This reminds
me to agree in advance with your host
the time of your first and last meetings.
However, situations can overtake us.
Be prepared to call if you are unable to
meet a planned appointment.
Recently, I traveled for most of the day
to reach an appointment. When we
learned when our estimated time of
arrival was, yet before our expected
time, I phoned two key contacts.
When I arrived, I did not go directly to
the meeting, I refreshed myself and got
cleaned up. The meeting commenced
nicely despite the delay.
4. Carry cash, Pack wisely
Make sure you have some cash on hand
for taxis. Kristi Kecks recommends
taking $150, including single bills for
Obtain receipts for all expenses.
They will be necessary for applying for
reimbursement and tax records.
Recognize the limits of carry-on sizes.
I find if I carry my laptop and will be
more than two days, I plan to check
bags with a plan what to do if bags
are lost or there is a flight delay with
Consider double bagging everything
that is liquid and could spill.
Have a plan for hand-outs, equipment
Pack a light snack. I bring modest candies
that help refesh and provide small nourishment.
When you do get hungry, don’t raid the
Remember to be courteous and professional.
I recall a trip back from Madison WI through
a snowstorm in Chicago. Needless to say, I was
one of hundreds staying an extra night away
from home. Understand the pressure, stress
and uncertainty the airlines staff is going through.
Pay them compliments when they stand down
offensive customers. They look forward to
serve those who look at the problem from
their point of view and are professional.
As we engage in the employment scene as technical
professionals, view your career from a long-term
and a short-term perspective.
Last year, we reported several experiences and
discussions with PW who had successfully landed
a “temporary-to-permanent position” with a creditable
firm in the Boston area. It was a good fit for himself
and his family.
We ended our consultation on a good note. I
invited him to keep me posted.
Well, he did. This is a lesson for others.
Sorry for the communication blackout on my
end but I have been
very busy having my
schedule shoved around by the group I am
here at W. I have to say I really
was suprised how much I enjoyed
working in a
manufacturing lab and doing industrial scale
cell culture. It
may be that we have a great
group working together on a new project,
may be that I just really needed to learn
something new, but I have had a
these past two months. It really surprised me
how much I
wanted to work for W.
But the project has been taken away from
group….and I will be
let go soon, so I am
back into looking for a new situation but this
have more options to look at.
….I have developed some
new skills that
should make it that much easier to find a
am attaching an updated copy of my
resume for you to look over. Once I am
officially let go I would like to give you a
call and talk about what I
learned and how
I may apply it most effectively
(if that is okay with
Several years ago, a lady came to me for
a mock interview. We reached a
point of conversational comfort, both
graduated from the same grad school,
helpful suggestions for introductions, and
so forth. Then, she posed her major
She had been out of work for nearly two
years due to a bout with cancer. She was
cured at that point, in remission and her
prospects were good. She was concerned
that the time gap in her resume would raise
“red flags” that would prevent her considerations.
Perri Capell wrote a compelling case in the
WSJ on responses to a similar question.
Her case concerned a man.
1. This should permit you to point out
one of your key strengths: overcoming
major challenges. It is no different than
the courage of people who have been in
the service of our country, in this respect.
2. Hiring managers seek the best, most
qualified person they
can. If you are that
person and this illness is a roadblock for
being hired. it is likely you or I would not
choose to work at this firm.
3. Be armed with the statistics from your
medical case. This will point out that
employers have little to be concerned,
especially considering the more mobile
4. As Capell said, “Spin your recovery
as a positive, like Lance
“Tell interviewers that you’re among the
fortunate people who beat cancer and
weave the fact that you are a
into the story of your career.”
“Use words like succeed and conquer in
5. Remember, trying to conceal things
only to uncover them later could hurt
6. Health insurance issues should not
be a factor, as Capell indicates. These
are already factored into premium
Did you ever notice how successful leaders,
managers, and directors gracefully address
other people’s requests and needs and are
able to work their own?
This is in part due to their unique talent, skill,
and hard work and know how to address
possible “time sinks.”
1. Before they go on the internet or read their
email, they accomplish at least one thing on
their important priority list.
2. They define quick projects. that take five
minutes or less to accomplish. When there is
a break, they tackle them in a coordinated
3. They don’t wait for problems to come to
them. In approachable manner, they stop
in and visit workers and observe and get
informal status updates. This way they can
leave whenever they wish.
4. They work with their mentors to identify
their “delay task” list. This list picks out
important tasks that need further investigation
and tasks that are inconsequential. Do I
buy gas now when it is half full or next week?
5. They empower the action and decision-
making of others, rather than having to be
in on every action.
6. They empower thought power:
- say it in 30 seconds, rather than a minute;
- write it on one page, rather than more,
- create open networks for information
flow, where others can get what is
a good method, and learn from others’
7. They have critical redundancies:
back-up files, calendars, computer
records, project work.
David DeLong authored an insightful book
“Lost Knowledge: Confronting the threat
of an aging workforce”, Oxford, 2004 which
is targeted for today’s managers, and
provides a pivotal tool for mature workers.
DeLong tackles the complex notions of
explicit and Tacit knowledge important
in today’s knowledge economy and
nicely outlines the best and worst methods
to have mature workers pass it on to
the current workforce. This has implications
on how to package and deliver useful
knowledge as consultants, workers-
in-transition or problem-solvers.
Explicit knowledge is easily codified and
normally captured, stored and shared in
documents. Much can be shared independent
of source. (A)
Tacit knowledge is classified in six forms:
- cognitive skills, comprised of beliefs, images,
intuition and mental models
- technical knowhow, that is craft and know-how
- implicit rule based knowledge, not documented
- implicit know-how that is knowledge
in complex contexts, often based on asking
the right questions; can also be undocumented,
unarticulated case information (C)
- tacit know-how, known by individuals,
hard to verbalize (D)
- deep tacit know how, known by groups,
very hard to verbalize, like flexible critical
mass management. (E)
DeLong studied the technology transfer and
transmission and evaluated traditional
sharing methods in the following simplified
KNOWLEDGE A B C D E
Interviews - G - N N
Documentation G N N N N
Training G - - - -
Storytelling N - G - -
Mentor/Coach - - G - -
Review Process N - - - -
Networks - G G - -
G = very effective
N = ineffective