We had an interesting problem dealing with a vendor who wanted us
to commit “right now.” It is a situation that can happen broadly in
many employment scenarios.
James Baker provides situations where you might feel manipulated
in making decisions–
1- pressure with deadline: question how real the deadline is, test
the parties motivation and propose what will be best for both
2- pressure with competitive price, vendor or approach: ask for
details on the quality and terms of the competition. Look for other
features you offer or provide.
3- missing person to be consulted or limited authority: ask to meet
with the person who has final authority or find out who makes the
final decisions regarding delivery, price payment, exact details of
4- moral appeal: what is underlying motivation, indicate you are
looking to be fair with all and create good long term relations
5- good guy/ bad guy: understand the manipulation and understand
that your requirements and needs are included
6- name dropping or association of related situations, number of
other clients, or similar customers.
Intimidators will use every trick they have and know. When they
find it will not work, they will become friendly. It is just another
“face.” We need to find a way to convert them into someone who
we can reach an agreeable outcome with.
Another good resource is provided.
There is a section of Brynjolfsson and McAfee’s book
Second Machine Age that reviews the term “technological
unemployment.“ It is attributed to the use of human labor
not finding application in the emerging economy and finds
causes from inelastic demand (machines, robots and computers
replacing and not taking breaks in fault-tolerant activities),
people not adapting to skill needs and long term cost
reductions. Two recent articles speak to recent job loss
in the chemical enterprise and the perspective from a
different field, economics.
I cannot think of another situation where there is
big news of finding an unexpected source of a
needed chemical other than rare earth elements
in China.. This time it is helium.
Food science resources that might help us
manage chronic diseases seem to be rare. The
resources we see available are mostly proponents of
use or pharma companies for encouraging various
drug candidate use. Here is one on sweeteners that
should be shared widely.
SOURCES: J. Bessen HBR 2016, “Computers Don’t
Kill Jobs but increase Inequality“
The Economist, 6-25-2016 “Special Report:
Dolan, Detroit Free Press, “Dow to cut
700 Jobs in Central Michigan“
Despite simple explanations that computers are growing
jobs due to new applications and broader usage, the
story is not as clear as Bessen writes. You cannot
predict what you should learn and additionally, academics
are generally a technology generation behind actual
usage. The Economist special section covers briefly
what is known and gives more up to date detail that
many fields are continuously evolving with new AI
methods ie ‘deep learning software available on open
Dow recently announced job losses in the chemical
enterprise that will have ripple effects as they “rationalize
their labor force needs”. Sure there are business priorities
globalization will play a role as information can be shared
instantaneously and worked on anywhere in the world.
so you can see technical experts with advanced expertise
surviving, but there is much uncertainty for those seeking
full time, longer term employment.
The Economist series places one leg on each side of the
fence (pro and con), but you should look for areas of
opportunity (what robots and computers cannot do).
The longer term ripple effect of Dow-DuPont acquisition
and spin-offs are a visible example that the chemical
enterprise is not immune from this despite what popular
literature tries to sell.
HELIUM FIND IN AFRICA
SOURCE: NYTimes feed “Huge Helium Source found in Africa“
I was somewhat aware of the shortage of helium used
in many advanced technologies from Nick Leadbeater.
Working with Helium One, a Norwegian exploration firm
Oxford geologists uncovered a gas field rich in helium.
It is material released from rocks due to volcanic heat
in adjacent rocks. The finding is of large commercial
value and may lead to testing other similar formations
There are important implications for industry.
TEMPTING SWEETS MAY NOT BE ALL THAT GOOD
SOURCE: S Ernst, Amer. Laboratory, “Sweet Tooth”
June/July 2016 p. 6-7.
Ernst’s article on Sweet tooth captured my interest.
and led me to look at Sugarscience.org. There are
a number of metabolic tendencies that may the result
of food formulations that attract customers to purchase
and ingest what may not be best for them. The website
seems to be a terrific repository of reviewed information
not biased by organizations that profit from its content.
In the past seminars have been offered about “other documents“
[realizing as Don Straits has indicated that often we need to
convert an uninterested reader to an interested reader] and
“dealing with uncertainty” in our lives [where we referred to a
matrix that identifies what we might do if we feel anxious, confused,
frustrated or stuck].
While these are helpful in certain aspects of career development,
we are looking to address things we can do in graduate school to
gain skills and prepare for career paths.
For this seminar I thought it helpful to review some trends,
review psychological factors that influence our decisions and
talk about the concept of professional presence. What I think
might be meaningful for the audience will be to highlight several
Mind organizing tools reviewed in Daniel Levitin’s book,
The Organized Mind. ”
- shift the burden of organizing to the external, learn the
patterns that already exist and build on them
- encode new information with mental discipline tricks–
spell a new name, formulate an association strategy
- learn and value the “daydreaming mode of thinking”
- searching and filtering
- blend in organizing home, personal and social lives,
time and business.
Today’s graduate education is so often concentrated on
the technical literature devoid of application and a notable
absence of practical psychology of what it is like being a
professional… shall we call it meta-science?
No one tells you that when you are out of state or country, your
credit card may be rejected for a purchase. It is helpful to have
a second card handy and available and to notify the credit card
company of foreign or out of state purchases/travel and when
there is a sizable purchase.
The world of commerce and business can be modeled and projected.
Nonetheless, models are always approximations and usually wrong.
So, when looking for positions good mentors point to looking at
the real data and emerging trends. Two sources are this month’s
Fortune magazine and a ground breaking book by Brynjolfsson and
McAfee about the second machine age which points out so many
things about the growth and decline of career paths, companies and
the job market itself.
CREDIT CARD NOTIFICATIONS
We were traveling 3000 miles away from home. We had stayed at
a hotel where we charged our room and I believe we had charged
a meal purchase. Marriott Card
Then we stopped to fill the gas tank and charged the purchase. Our
Fidelity and AAA VISA cards where rejected. We learned that
international purchases, electronics or jewelry purchases, credit
card balance [for those who carry a balance]. expiration date or
security code errors, expired credit card, gas or rental car charges
[especially if out of state or there is no credit delinquency in your
history], can lead to card rejection.
Fortunately we had a Marriott Rewards Visa that was accepted.
Lesson Learned: Call your 800 number on your card before your
trip, telling the operator where you planned to travel.
As a result, we needed to call the two card companies that rejected
the purchase to reinstate the accounts.
PROFITABILITY AND GROWTH TRENDS — INDUSTRIES,
SOURCE: Fortune, June 15, 2016 “Fortune 500 Lists” of
Companies and Industries.
This issue is a must for job seekers who wish to consider a
corporate career path. First glimpse at Pp. 16-17 which
shows the “profitability of different industry segments” from
1995 - 2016. The energy sector has taken a major nosedive
from top to bottom in the last 2 years. Three sectors that
consistently led the pack are financials, technology and
healthcare. This does not mean there are no jobs in energy
or sectors not in favor.
Brynjolfsson and McAfee have written about the second machine
age that we see upon us with sustained exponential improvements
in digital technologies and areas of commerce that use and
benefit from digitization, winners-take-all economy, and
the new ranking of fields, leaders and superstars.
P. F29 - F36 gives industry sector rankings of companies.
P. F37 - F42 gives ranking based in each US state
A colleague was encouraged by her PI to apply for a postdoctoral
associate (PA) position. She was screened and traveled to an on-site
interview. She reported back that the interviews went quite well
and she was optimistic. Soon after (less than a week), an offer letter
came for a one-year appointment as PA. The first paragraph also
included starting date, annual salary of $42K, the supervisor’s name
and proviso that a background check was a precondition.
[There were usual links to policies and benefits.]
My follow-up comments to her included:
- congratulations, but keep looking
- concerns about inserting phrases in the offer letter about learning
what they find in the background check, following Al Sklover
The “Background-Check” Provision in Offer Letters –
A Risk You Should Try to Reduce
- critical review of the starting salary using ACS salary comparator.
[$42K is at the 30 percentile of such offers.]
Initial back and forth negotiations said nothing could be done with
salary, but relocation assistance would cover all expenses. No
support for green card application was forthcoming but they
understood the background check concern as her name is common
and could easily lead to confusion in such checks. She approved
the offer and signed the document.
Not two weeks later did she attend another conference and met
an entrepreneur who invited her to come for an interview for a
position that looked even better than the post-doc.
She was encouraged to pursue the position. She had two separate
interviews and dinner with the firm’s president. The result was
a very nice offer, more than $20K higher, with a series of positive
incentives (including assistance with obtaining a green card).
The problem was that she had accepted a post-doc offer.
Can you go back and turn down an offer to accept a better one?
Yes! It is entirely feasible. Yet, it is important to respond
professionally on both offers. Review the second job offer diligently
and confirm the offer details and starting arrangements (like
background check as, above). Then, practice a turn down
conversation with the first supervisor. Have all the details ready
and professionally articulated.
Then, do it in person, not via an email.
“I thought phone would be better and direct rather than just sending
an email. As mentioned in this article you just sent, Dr. …. said that
my decision is certainly not convenient for them. But he appreciated
that I called in a timely manner and discussed the situation. He
realized that my preference has always been to work in industry, and
this job sponsors me for work authorization in the US. I also told him
that I would be happy to help them in finding the best candidate for their
position. So, in the end, he wished me best luck for my future career.
…After the phone conversation, I sent an email to the HR person …
acknowledge her and let her know my decision. So she won’t [proceed
with other paperwork.”