From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development

December 2014
« Nov   Jan »
Communication Skills. Goulston’s “Just Listen” book
Filed under: Interviewing, Mentoring, First Year on Job, Leadership, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 8:14 am

Another book I wished I had read when it was published is
Mark Goulston, “Just Listen.2 

While the above review covers some excellent topics, seven
take-aways for me about communication were:

Amygdala Hijack
:  the way our brains shut off the “delay and
think mode” and goes right into “react mode.” when we sense
a threat.  Your ability to reason drops, working memory
falters and stress hormones flush your system, preventing
rational, logical thinking.

Many of the approaches to deal with angry, fearful or resistant
people aim to prevent amygdala hijack.  Great story about
Tiger Woods and Earl Woods explains this.

Mirror neurons 2  : Humans have brain neurons which senses
mirror like behaviors and poses.  It may suggest how we
reveal we care about others or they care about us in
situations where we
  tear up when someone is kind
  express warm feeling when someone understands us
  are moved when someone asks ‘are you ok”

His suggestions are:
  State something that shows agreement and understanding
 of another person. 
   Say something indicating, I believe in you.

Empathy jolt:  Generating a change in brain operations
by taking a person out of an “anger mode” and shifting to
“empathetic behavior,” in other words from “me-centered”
to “other-centered”.

Empathetic feeling is a sensory experience in the nervous
system.  Anger is a motor reaction to some perceived hurt
or injury.  By taking an angry person to empathetic behavior
they shift from the motor brain to the sensory brain.

VCP Process:  networking process identified by Ivan
Misner of BNI to be more effective at making connections.
Stands for:
V:  express more than who you are and what you want.
Instead tell why they will like you.  Be ‘interested’ rather
than ‘interesting.’  Talk about other people’s businesses more
than yours.  Ask questions and avoid cutting their answers

C:  1)Confirm rather than assume what the person wants,
expects or needs.  2)Meet promises made.  3)Focus on
what is in it for the other person, not for you. 4) Go to
extra lengths to satisfy the client.

P:  Focus on making the new connection interesting,
valuable and understood.  The new connection will be either
giver, taker or reciprocator.  Learn who is a “giver” and
“reciprocator.”  Know that Good connections take time. 
Relinquish connection with “taker.”

Goal Setting:  Set specific targets and write out a
step-by-step plan.  Plan to follow it with certain
check points.  Write out your goal and plan.

Share your plan and steps with others.  Have regular
check-ins with a  respected person.  Thank the person.

Keep toxic people from derailing your plan.

Awareness Checklist:
 Physical:  define cues and timing
 Emotional:  define specific descriptive words- anger,
frustration, challenge
 Impulse:  learn feelings that lead to impulses
 Consequence:  If I follow through, what will happen?
 Solution:  A better thing to do would be to….
 Benefit:  If I do that better thing, the benefit will be…

Meeting top people:  Some possible situations to consider–
seminars and panel discussions— ask good questions that
make them look good (mirror neuron empathy),
charity events book signings— ask what did you learn about
success from your dad or mother?

Working with Gatekeepers:   People who protect the
attention of top people.  They are often overworked and
under appreciated.  Make them feel felt and significant.

1 comment
Thinking. Stress, disaster, fear and how to learn resilience and adapt
Filed under: Interviewing, Networking, Mentoring, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 3:32 pm

There is something very applicable from a recent
book, Amanda Ripley’s “The Unthinkable Who survives
when disaster strikes

She helps us understand when we face a disaster what
phases our mind goes through–
   the survival arc
denial/ delay/  deliberation/ decisive moment
Survival mode gets triggered.  The brain works differently
under stress.  Panic is rare.  Negative panic, or shutdown,
occurs more frequently.  Some, however, do what is
practical to survive and know what actions to take.
Studying what we should do when a highly improbable
high consequence event occurs and practicing preparation
steps lead to resilience.

Performing appropriate practice, or walk-throughs,
the amydala of our brains gets wired to do what we should do.
This training is what we should all be thinking about
for all situations which can be stressful
.  Breathing
and level of preparation stands out.  Military training,
where we learn that formal simulation of how we
should behave in situations, teaches veterans that
it is a worthwhile exercise to practice for readiness.

This a poignant reminder that
  mock interviews of all types of interview structures
will hardwire desired actions, behaviors, thought
processes and words.
   simulating introductions and handshakes with important
people at meetings to present yourself well
   practicing both being interviewed and interviewing will
prepare you to be effective in both roles and thus in
your career.
   practicing your presentation and what you would do
if something fails
informs your brain some escape
routes when the unexpected occurs.

comments (0)
Watch-Outs. 76. Email concerns, Plagiarism in Science, Roth IRAs
Filed under: Mature professionals, Legal matters, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 10:40 am

An article grabbed my attention, from the online OA publications
of another society.  It indicates how relatively infrequent
plagiarism is now in scientific literature and some causes
and preventions editors use.

My boss used to use his email as a storage cabinet.  The Sony
hacking incident is calling this practice into question
Maybe you should too, if this is your habit.

We do not know how much longer Roth IRAs will last as a
preferred savings medium.  The number of Roth conversions
continues to increase and more companies offer Roth 401Ks.
An article reviews features and trade-offs you might consider
for your longer term investments.

SOURCE:  Don Clark, Ovide and Dwoskin, WSJ 12-20-2014, p. B1
Are you sure you want to use Email
Many firms have email deletion programs for various reasons.
The Sony hack as the authors state opens up retrievable stored
data and conversations to people with no good end in mind.

Since it may require a deeper “culture change” in many places
there is resistance to shorter term required email deletions.
Alternate data storage approaches are indicated in the article.

Our email server limits our data cache.  While I delete most
messages when no longer critical, this note opened the question
again for digital storage strategies.

SOURCE:  A. Staller, ECS OA, December, 2014
“Analysis of Plagiarism in Scientific Papers”
ArXiv founder, P. Ginsparg, reported software maps and compares
text using a massive public database with an algorithm and finds a
small per cent of duplicate text. (order of 3%)

Many new articles are reviewed daily as they are issued. 

Interesting conclusions on sources and causes of copying are

SOURCE:  L. Saunders, WSJ 12-20-2014, p. B7
Is a Roth right for you

Roth:  if your tax rate is higher on withdrawls than current
            tax free withdrawls after 59, taxes paid on contributions

Uses:   emergency fund

Conversions:  between 65-70 when people are at lower tax
rate can be advantage
               are reversible and available after age 70

1 comment
Confidence and Habit Stacks. Dealing with Rude behavior
Filed under: Interviewing, Mentoring, Mature professionals, Legal matters, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 11:26 am

We added one item of several to a detailed list of examples
of rude behavior
we may face.  This was a (1)hand-out in a
recent seminar that gave examples, (2)elicited how people
commonly respond, then reviewed habit stacks that might
help deal appropriately with situations.

The one added item is cell phone misuse in public spaces
and driving.

Most of the time people indicated their reactions would depend
on the situation.  Most would consider rude behaviors they
face as minor and not worth commenting or considering.  These
behaviors do make a difference.  It is estimated to cost $36B in
workplace situations and $160B in driving situations!

What triggers rude behavior?  It is a form of incivility which
has been a subject here citing the work of P. Forni.  Our
seminar covered (3) causes of rude behavior (4) the spectrum
of incivility, (5) suggestion for what to do, a habit stack.

There has been quite a bit of interest in following discussions.
-  MUD CARDS, see the Habit stack at the end for dealing with
rude behavior situation
-  Cite a book by Mark Goulston “Just Listening”  and add
his insights on particular Rude behavior “actors”
-  restate three Forni video vingnettes

This seminar was therapeutic for many, they indicated.  In addition
practicing the habit stack builds resilient confidence and might
be useful in constructing responses to interview questions
which ask for stories in how you deal with situations

Watch-Outs. 75. Passwords, Investments at year end, Microbiomics
Filed under: Networking, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 6:40 pm

What strategy do you use to store, manage and keep your
passwords secure?  It is a common problem that companies
are developing strategies to devise and make profits.  Topic
one offers comments on software for managing secure

When we travel now we realize baggage fees
could amount to a quarter of the airline cost.
It is one logical reason to fly the no-bag-
fees airlines or acquire a credit card that has
bags fly free.  Other strategies to keep costs
down are cited.

We all like it when our investments increase.  Sometimes
they don’t.  Even still we know that we can sell at a loss
and reduce the loss impact via a taking a loss.  Despite
not wanting to take a loss, sometimes it is a solid

Microbiome updates.  I think these two are worth
looking at.

SOURCE:  WSJ 12-10-14, p. D1  Personal Technology,
“New Way to Secure Passwords all at once?

The article promotes Dashlane to do something we
all face– manage our site passwords for computers,
cellphones, and tablets.  The comments to this article
offer both problems with Dashlane and alternatives

An oldschool approach is to write them down on a
notebook in your desk that you constantly update.
This gets to be 5-6 pages long.

Double entry security and some personal biometric
approach offers other possible secure sign-ins.

SOURCE:  C. Hill, Marketwatch,
9 secrets for outsmarting airline baggage fees
What is nice about this article is that it is current
and offers the latest policy changes.

Worth looking at if you are traveling soon,
have a baggage problem and it is “on your dime.”

SOURCE:  J. Burton, WSJ 12-8-14. p. R4
How to be smart about your losses
Article talks a little about the psychological
challenge of taking a loss.  In offsetting capital
gains, it can be worthwhile. 

The article points out where you might have
losses.  Then it addresses your investment
style after the run-up in stocks this year.

The author rationally notes evaluating management
changes, performance departures, and shifts in
process thinking in the investment.

SOURCES:  R. L. Stevenson, American Laboratory
Dec. 2014, p. 6, “Our life and death relationship with
American Laboratory Dec. 2014, p. 6
WSJ, 11-18-14, p. D4, “In the gut, the mix of
bacteria can affect your weight
Suggestions are that more than a dozen ailments
and diseases are influenced by the bacteria and
that antibiotics influence system wide changes
in ways we might not anticipate.  The WSJ looks
at it pretty objectively, not for making immediate

Echoing a similar theme is Bob Stevenson’s
editorial that speaks to the lifelong effects of
antibiotics and a helpful precaution on personal
safety– wearing gloves, use of hand sanitizers,
and hand washing. 
Good conscientious reading!

comments (0)
Job Offer. Clawbacks, title, househunting trip and citizenship
Filed under: Job Offer (Situations), Legal matters
Posted by: site admin @ 10:35 am

The PhD graduate had worked hard.  We had spoken several times
over the last 6 months about documents, interview questions and
follow-up activities.  Now the time had come.  He received a generous
offer from a high tech firm through networking with a previous
member of his research group.

The networking connection, he mentioned, did not land the job
offer for him.  It allowed him to be selected to be interviewed.  He
had to do the rest.  In fact, during group interview sessions, the
person he had an affiliation with was pretty much a silent partner.

Salary, benefits, starting date, position title, bonus plan involvement,
relocation provision of $4K (with a repayment plan if the new
employee left earlier than 2 years;  this is a “clawback” condition)
were nicely covered in the offer letter. 

There are many uncertainties at this point.   So we spoke about
  obtaining clarity on his starting title of “senior phosphor engineer”,
  obtaining an offer to cover expenses of a househunting trip,
  asking for assistance in registering for permanent residence (lottery,
fees, legal) and
  suggestions for what to do with 401K, healthcare spending account,
insurances and vendors, and medical needs.

 It was interesting to note that the offer letter indicated he was “at
will” and gave him just 4 days to respond to accept the offer.  On
the company webpage, the position was listed as temporary.  
Al Sklover’s page is a valuable resource to mention at this point.
He reviews terminology and how to word questions so that they
come across professionally.

We did not go into salary comparisons, however the ACS salary
listed his offer at the 80 percentile using 2013 data.
[Interesting to note listed ~$10K higher salaries
in comparison.]

comments (0)