This blog entry is aimed at exposing introspection. Asking what
are each of us are thinking and feeling. I asked several individuals
if they would be willing to respond to a series of questions.
1. Describe your title and most enjoyable responsibilities and
2. How did you land your current position?
3. What do you believe aided you in enhancing your candidacy?
4. What opportunities and challenges do you see to provide
growth for you?
5. What is your experience for the length of time for positions
before you see people moving on to another professional positions?
7. What are special ways in which you expand you network?
8. What comments do you wish to make for people who are
graduating or planning on moving on in the next year?
Positions: Applied Researcher, Rechargeable Batteries,
Solar Energy, Complex Fluids for technical applications
. Photographic Chemistry Process
Chemist, Process Safety, Scale-Up, Process Analysis
. University Adjunct and
Professional Behaviors, Workshop & Seminar Presenter
Personal Style and Responsibilities
My chemistry career span started out with JFK’s “Let’s go to the
moon” message and it was encouraged by summer laboratory research
jobs and honors research projects before grad school. Grad school
occurred during the Vietnam War escalation and Arab Oil Embargo gas
lines. My early career style revolved around ‘working harder than
expected,’ experiencing many different things, and being observant for
surprises and opportunities.
I took in that I had to aim very high and learn from rejection. Rejection
is not permanent. That “No:” can often mean ‘not now.’
In addition, I need to learn something more or do something special.
So, to an observer I was an assertive, analytical go-getter who worked
through all four undergraduate years on a straight and narrow path with
purposeful objectives that evolved over my career with changing
circumstances: family, economy, business prospects, health and longevity.
That personal strategy operated in a time when fellowships
and research was well supported. Economic cycles, competition from
emerging technologies and war time priorities change hiring and support.
Being ‘dropped’ by one firm opened my eyes to keeping options available
via professional society participation and developing other income streams
for unexpected events.
ADAPT IN MID CAREER
In my first 10 years I was an individual contributor. I soon learned that
I needed to develop leadership,
communication, and technical breadth for
problem solving skills that employers ‘hand select’ individuals for training.
societies and networking offered one alternate way of gaining skills.
[Began initiatives for the company related to manufacturing efficiency
at university collaborative. Developed and completed Six Sigma projects
as a black belt master.]
ASK FOR HELP AND HELP OTHERS
Many times companies do not reward employees for
professional and technical societies. Oh, they don’t [surprised?]?
It was interesting that by volunteering to
support as a member-volunteer,
I learned many insider skills, met hundreds of
informative and distinguished
professionals and grew as a professional
scientist. The more I gave, much
did I receive in benefits and experience.
The mid-career span was quite stressful with long, variable
unexpected problems with complex causes, business challenges—take-overs,
mergers, change of managers and business objectives, and bankruptcies.
[Be thankful, express appreciation and optimism.]
I started interviewing for ‘other positions’ about five years
school. Learned thant not having the experience
and training for managing
and leadership slotted me for only entry level roles. I perhaps stayed too long
for career advancement purposes at my applied research positions. That
my background and I did not ask for specific opportunities (Maybe I should
have.). Staying longer in organizations does provide pensions at the end of
my life span (not a lot, but of some value. Bankrupt company yield PPGC
insured retirement. Otherwise, I made some poor investment decisions and
some productive ones.).
Rather than exploring permanent positions, which many of my
contemporaries chose and were successful choosing, I pursued professional
society support, participation and leadership roles in mid-career. In one
situation, I wished to attend a conference 50 miles away
and was unable to
obtain management approval.
I volunteered to assist workshop AV and
projection in exchange for
registration. Soon I was offering
and offered registration, room and board compensation at meetings
the country, as long as I could get time off from work.
Another experience involved a dinner with department faculty where
explored offering a graduate level course.
This led to a decade of productive
activities near the end of my career. Dozens of former attendees, students
consultees have reached out for various support roles to advance their
There are few things in a technical career better than
achieving your goals. One of them is
having your goal helping others
maximize their skills. Another is realizing we are one of a small
of people with a common thread
holding us together. We do not know
what is in store for the future. We can
project and guess. There are
who have freely given of themselves to me that have
made all the difference. I want to do the same for those who follow
Second-guessing choices: No. I put 110% effort into each of my
commitments and try not to have regrets. I have a habit of creating
back-up plans in case we need to go in a different direction.
Suggestions: Volunteer for different roles and responsibilities,
especially in professional societies.
Study successful people and learn their habits. Read biographies.
Learn and adopt worthwhile habits. Continue to develop communication
skills. in various media.
Just finished reading Rudy Guiliani’s book Leadership.
We (M. Godek and I) asked our seminar group:
What might you seek from a mentor?
Some answered one or two of the following–
Where are your career directions moving? Where are you now?
What are your visions and aspirations, strengths, weaknesses
and how to relate them.
In addition, suggestions to build soft, technical and wise skills
Navigate the organization, explore new ideas, new career path
Expand your committed network, build confidence.
Then, with many questions and stories, we discussed
characteristics of good mentors, how to meet and invite
a mentoring relationship that is win-win.
This topic may apply to working in teams, dealing with
customers and managing challenging situations. Three
useful concepts come out of Leonard Greenberger’s
soft cover book, “What to Say when things get tough“.
What counts is your audience’s perception of what is happening
and whether or not you are trustworthy and credible source of
See events through the eyes of others.
Facts do not equate to winning people over. When people are angry,
worried and suspicious, they absorb and sift through information
with the emotional areas of their brains.
Life is divided between things that make you feel and things that
make you think. This is hard for scientists and engineers to
fathom. Situations seek reassurance and empathy. Understand
how others feel, rather than offering facts.
To achieve success, remain positive. Words used can often
embody the feeling. But receivers may pay more attention to
Use third party resources to provide supporting feeling and input.
It helps that they have higher credibility. The closer to your target
audience is to your source the better.
C. CODE FOR DEVELOPING TRUST AND CREDIBILITY
Caring and empathy 50
Openness and honesty 10-15
Dedication and commitment 10-15
Expertise and competence 10-15
Angry, worried and suspicious people pay attention not only to
what you say but also to what you do with your eyes, hands,
posture, clothing and other nonverbal cues.
Caring and empathy accounts for about half of the trust and
credibility judgments that people will make of you.
Telling relateable stories can be key.
Let me share some insights gleaned from recent eBook by
Michael Nir, Silent Influencing, that offers meaningful
guides enhancing our communications and interpreting
others combination of verbal and nonverbal messages.
- Use a “cluster” of signals, gestures and “emblems” to
provide clearer messages. In other words avoid choosing
to interpret one nonverbal element in interpreting another’s
views, thinking or opinion.
[”steepling one’s fingers” is a ‘gesture,’ while “stroking one’s
chin,” as if thinking about something, is an ‘emblem’.]
- When there is an apparent contradiction between nonverbal
signals and words of speech, many choose to find stronger
meaning in the nonverbal signals. Think of a person shaking
his head “no” and saying “yes” with arms folded and eyes looking
down to the ground.
- First impressions stick with us and our human tendency is
to confirm our initial impressions, rather than keeping an open
- It is possible to influence thinking, judgment and decisions
by changing simple things like seating arrangements. The
surrounding environment can sometimes make a difference.
- To overcome resistance or reluctance revealed by a silent
and closed and distant person, engagement by enlisting
support and handing them something to induce opening
up, coming closer and agreeing to participate
Habits, as many know, reduce “brain [or thinking] overload.”
We just do things the way they have always been done and
move on to the next thing in time.
This week we started building a process for “committed
networking“ 2 by sharing some ‘networking tips.’ During
the class and after people both displayed and asked for
help to break bad habits. As we have mentioned in
earlier entries, habit stacks are the basis for soft
TIPS FOR MINI-HABITS FOR NETWORKING
This entry lists some tips and tricks for networking
using mini-habits that can be aligned into stacks–
- meet, greet speakers - offer to help speaker
- don’t go in “cold” - warm your voice up
- travel light - if arriving late, take a moment
to look good and have a plan
- google the speaker - “sticky eyes“
- visit and meet VIPS - “wet glass syndrome“
- Amy Cuddy pose
BREAKING BAD HABITS
A couple of individuals discussed frustration over
personal behaviors that they found hard to break and
asked for assistance. Sharma’s blog entry was instructive
in that he isolates nervous habits from dependencies or
addictions and breaks the bad nervous habits into actions
to reduce internal tension and motor/ verbal tics.
Sharma offers that these bad habits can be dealt with
by recognition, meaningful and purposeful alternative
and positive reinforcement.
We see a real world case in front of our eyes, if you
want to learn about realities of commercial based
careers. DuPont’s CEO Kullman is making her case
to the investment and ownership communities
(These are different, as you will learn.) that DuPont
should remain a R&D giant that harnesses skills,
ideas, trial & learning, from thousands of experienced
She contends that useful developments need to be
incubated and encouraged and cannot be PERT
charted so easily. Her direct adversaries, Trian
Fund Management LLC, in the investment
community say split this chemical enterprise up
into smaller, focused businesses that can be
“managed” to obtain shorter term profits. The
business investment community cite eBay and
HP which are in different technology sectors
with different development timelines and strategies.
Reading deeper into the scientific management
of DuPont, you can see their documented mission
and objectives. Learning from the results of other
splits, we find that some investors benefit in the
I urge you to watch what happens over the next
half year about a possible split and 2-3 years the
patenting and profitability outcomes, if it does
or does not split. This is a good “case study” for
the chemical enterprise community.
Over the last few years in graduate student self-assessments, one
of the leading values that they express is for Security. In a sense,
we can all relate to the desire for a secure future.
Interestingly, very recently an accomplished scientist who was hired
by a drug discovery company CEO was publicly fired
(ie. story in the WSJ) for not rapidly leading his team to develop
new profitable products.
He had been there but 7 months…
Security needs “a 21st century meaning in technical careers.”
It is the ability to look where fields and needs are moving and
proactively seek out skills preparing us to contribute and
have further development plans.
Desperation, exasperation, and despair appear in the eyes of many
STEM field graduates about what they will do for STEM JOBS. It is
more about “minding the gap” between what is taught and practiced
in your education and training and what is needed in emerging and
growing fields. Just as the great hockey player Wayne Gretzky
said ‘pay attention to where the puck is going to be, not where it
What societies do you belong to? What local sections do you
actively participate in? How do you decide? What is offered and
WIIFM (what is in it for me)? Just as the Internet has triggered
changes in marketing and sales of books, consumer items, and all manner
of knowledge sharing (MOOCS, weblogs, webinars) it is also changing
the playing field for technical societies.
SECURITY IS THE VALUE OF APPLYING YOUR STRENGTHS
FOR EVOLVING DEMANDS AND PROACTIVELY WORKING
ON PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT PLANS GETTING US READY.
SOURCE: Career Planning Career Mapping Tool MONSTER
Monster has put forward a forward seeking tool that might
be of value to your thinking process about managing your
However, leaving this on a computer or in a cloud file
while seeming to be current misses the urgency humans place
in face-to-face interactions.
Plan to develop mentors, sponsors and referrals by working hard
to help others meet their goals. Lou Adler offered salient advice
- get help in being a “perfect fit” for an opening.
- people who refer you for an opening, help themselves by helping
- know what recruiters seek when filling a position (they work for
the company), and give examples in your resume and relate stories
when you interview
Security is also about protecting your valuable information,
reputation and computer resources. In a podcast I recently listened
to I became convinced to explore ‘Krebs on Security.‘
- security tools
STEM JOBS: SHORTAGE OF JOBS or SHORTAGE OF SKILLED
We need to “keep up with the times.” If my university is not dedicated
to doing it, I need to find other avenues. If my employer does not have
the funds or give me the time to do it, I have to find other avenues.
We must keep abreast of evolving needs of employers.
EXAMPLE: 25 years ago only a few places sought HTML coders.
Ten years later, your entry card was punched with HTML experience.
HTML is less a key but a commodity today. Jobs can be had with a
lower salary or for niche hiring (projects).
Other experience with cloud computing and analytics seems a better path.
There is a “gap” between curves of skill level in what we learn and
what is needed in positions. Peter Grey points out to independently
learn and gain experience in emerging technologies and critical ‘hard
skills’. Gain experience and meet goals in new areas of challenge
instead of repeating previous career path efforts. Learn from and keep
peers in your network.
Further reading from a recruiter about STEM jobs.
TRENDS IN TECHNICAL SOCIETIES
The debate goes on: Is it worthwhile to belong to a technical
The presence of the Internet and online Open Access Technical literature
might influence some segments of the professional population.
The need shifts depending upon the fields that you are involved,
your current and future needs, and your personal assessment and
how you would use the society for your advantage (WIIFM).
Some questions to help you decide about society membership:
Are you stuck where you are with little or no help out? (connections,
networking, sense for where field is moving and what is emerging,
access to leaders and hiring managers, finding solutions to problems,
finding resources and tools to solve problems)
Do you have mentors to ask about alternatives for decisions?
Do you feel that you are doing something that has already been solved
by someone else before? (Googling your question does not help!)
Are there situations that a group effort in advocating a cause would
be much more effective?
Some questions to help you decide about belonging to a large, broadly-
involved organization or a smaller, more cutting edge, faster moving
Do you want to be elected, volunteer for and serve in a leadership
capacity? (chances are better in smaller org. or a local section)
How are you planning to continuously improve and update your
skills to be prepared for the future?
How will safety and common good be served best? Prevention
(like checklists) rather than band-aiding failing flow chart or procedures
BONUS: It is noteworthy to point out an organization that is
reinventing itself as it sees the changing landscape in publishing.
The way they are doing it is an example to point out.
Since we use rechargeable lithium batteries in so many
places, chemists, material scientists and engineers should
understand a little about the 787 lithium battery issue.
A trend that is happening right before our eyes is BYOD.
So a series of sensible questions connecting to LIMS
is shared. A case is made for case study interviews and
a limited trend in getting feedback from interviews
787 LITHIUM BATTERY FAILURE MECHANISM
SOURCE: A. Heller, Interface 22(2), 35(2013)
While the ACS is a forum for chemical science, I am troubled
when letters to the editor are not technically reviewed. (See
C&EN 6-17-13, p. 4 by A. B. Lees) A noteworthy comment that
all chemists who have interest in and concerns about the Boeing
787 lithium battery problem. A respected power systems
expert, A. Heller, has proposed a meaningful strategy and
most plausible mechanism for the lithium-ion battery with
carbon anode and LiCoO2 cathode problems being dendrite
formation at low temperatures. Keep the battery as warm as
the passengers. ECS Interface 22(2), 35 (2013), first issued
online 3-25-13. [The G. S. Yuasa-Boeing Li-Ion Battery: Test
it at a low temperature and keep it warm in flight.]
LIMS MOBILITY QUESTIONS
SOURCE: E. Winstanley, Amer. Labor.45(6), 26-7(2013)
LIMS MOBILITY: The new frontier
Mobile devices BYOD used in laboratory settings are a trend
that is happening rapidly. The author outlines key questions:
- LIMS use industry-standard software, up-to-date?
- LIMS can interface with modern browsers and on mobile
- Mobile applications work with camera, GPS and facilitate
- same code and operating system independent of user
platform– desktop, tablet, laptop, phone?
PROBLEM BASED LEARNING
SOURCE: J. Donnelly, Photonics Spectra 2013
Many resume reviewers and interviewers cannot
tell from the documents and standard questions
whether candidates can solve problems, communicate
effectively or critically think and collaboratively
solve issues. As a result, more and more situations
are finding case study questions and interviews where
this is posed. It helps to have problem based learning
as the New England Board of Higher Education
began in 2006 and has been further applied in the
FEEDBACK FROM INTERVIEWS
SOURCE: L. Weber, WSJ 6-5-13, p. B6 “Didn’t
get the job? You’ll never know why“
Although reported that things may be changing,
but it may be just recruiters who give feedback
on interview performance. More typical:
“Once you cross the line between objective and
subjective, it gets very, very challenging…. and
many firms that want to provide feedback have
their hands tied by company lawyers.”
If you were not able to attend the NOLA meeting, and you
seek your next position or you want to be prepared for
whatever may happen next in your career, did you think
to attend the “Virtual Career Fair” over the last two days?
Out of a job, need help? VCF is one of the services the
ACS provides— free…In fact one of the people JC I
spoke with yesterday via telecon [more about this later]
had let her membership lapse. She informed the ACS of
her situation and requested a waiver-membership extension
so she could attend.
RESULTS: We video-teleconned, via Skype, for 90 minutes,
where we not only reviewed her current resume and a cover
letter, but also prepared her for a video screening interview.
What to wear [she was professionally attired],
background set-up [we removed glare and unattractive
background items, placed her in the center of the screen, had
her sit back to we simulated being in the same room, and
suggested that she use a microphone for voice clarity.
Look into the camera[, as if, right above my eyes.]
Manage non-verbal behaviors.
Then I suggested JC to contact a recruiter who seemed to be
well suited to her quest who was also attending the VCF,
ZyomicJobs . Earlier, I had a warm conversation with Alan
Meyer who has a genuinely unique and helpful approach for
laboratory scientist careers.
There were four kinds of people who I observed in the VCF.
Browsers: less than 30 minutes to spend, what is it about?
Curious: Had one or more Specific questions and sought
People who wanted a resume or CV reviewed or a consultants
insights into the job market today and what they might do.
They were often willing to spend some time to engage a
consultant. Most did not wish to Skype.
These three groups were not quite ready to do a video-telecon.
The 4th group wanted to full experience of a virtual video-telecon
review and mock interview practice. They were ready to
Skype and got the most, by far, from the VCF.
- Specific questions asked and answered
- resume reviewed on the spot [They emailed me their resume,
I worked with them line by line to point out pros and cons and
what reviewers seek.
- mock video-telecon interviews on the spot.
Other specific examples included:
Career advice for recent mothers telecon from home taking
care of a newborn.
Where and how to find keywords for a dad waiting for his
teenagers to come home from school for his resume…job
descriptions and information interviews
…considerations about attending a regional ACS meeting
vs. a national meeting.
These kinds of things are much better to handle with a
RECOMMENDATIONS: This VCF approach is incredibly valuable
for members who cannot attend a national meeting. Preparation
is very important.
1. Have your goals established, questions prepared and your
2. Have back-up plans ready to go. Cell phone handy to call
in case of computer interruptions. [In fact most people’s
computer systems could not be integrated with the VCF
system to do a video/audio interaction. Many reduced themselves
to keyboarding which is a FAIL in my view.]
3. Dress professionally.
The drug discovery business is in an “arms race” against
nature, Andrew Read describes in a TED talk I enjoyed
this morning. However, this business treats the hard
reality of evolution as “someone else’s business”.
C&EN has to its credit trumpeted the great advances
in Pharma and Biotech with therapies, vaccines and
improved hygiene regiments. My sense is it loses sight
of the bigger battle in the multi-disciplinary world of
We all have at some point experienced and followed
Alexander Fleming’s 1945 recommendation to take the
full dose of antibiotics to eliminate all of the bacteria
it targets. The current day problem is that a new drug
resistant breed of bacteria have evolved which can not be
treated by current therapies. [See a blog item talking about
Prof. Read’s focus.]
Interestingly, two factoids:
More people die from drug resistant bacteria than from
Medicines, despite recent C&EN described advances,
drive evolutionary “pan-resistance”.
As scientists in a multi-disciplinary world, we need to
open our eyes to this problem and proactively attack
our common enemy– bacteria.
- identify and isolate CRE infected patients
- take necessary hand-washing and infection spreading
precautions and enforce
- measure changes in species and in their populations
- use current therapies more wisely [reduce over uses]
- study what works [ie, malaria therapies]
- evolution management
ACS needs to join forces with other disciplines and
understand how we can support smart therapy deployment
and participate scientifically in evolutionary management.
Recently, I had a conversation with a person who has been
without a position for an extended period. We had communicated
via email, where I learned she was obtaining interviews in the
tight job market for lawyers but not landing a position. This is
despite feeling quite good about a couple of the interviews.
She had visited her alumna placement office and met with various
people but it was clear there was a mismatch of expectations
in those encounters. So, we set up an appointment to meet
and we outlined what we planned to do in the meeting.
- learn about several of the unsuccessful experiences
- define clearly what her goal position would be
- study and coach her interview approach in an informational
- perform a mock interview and develop a muscle memory
of improved actions, behaviors and responses.
BEGINNING THE CONVERSATION
Much to my surprise, we met and began our conversation,
however, I did not feel she was able to relax and relate and
show confidence in her accomplishments. She seemed
intent on defaulting to the differences she had with her
employer and being associated with his reputation.
Body Language and Appearance
How was this revealed? This was apparent from facial
expressions, slouching and orating, rather than conversing.
She would speak with a lot of emotion using nonverbal
gestures of arms in closed and then pleading positions.
Legs were crossed at the knee, sitting deep in her seat
in an all too dependent position.
Generally, people in hiring positions will feel more
comfortable with people like themselves. So, I asked
her to note my body positions and facial expressions.
Try to note and then reflect on my tendencies, for when we
mirror we are relating well and likely in agreement. Non
similar behaviors alert the interviewer of disagreement and
perhaps a different mindset or goal.
[This also relates to the desirability of a hair style that
does not fall into the eyes or tempt you to fiddle with
it during an interview. Consider tie-back, barrette or bobby
pin or a light touch of hair spray. Preventable tendency]
Mirroring occurs at a preconscious level. But in the
practice mode we need to make it conscious and
practice to build a certain “muscle memory.”
CONVERSATION RATHER THAN INTERROGATION
Although an interview is not an interrogation, it can sometimes
feel like this to an interviewee. Early excitement which happens
frequently in interviews better serves the interviewee if it is
harnessed and directed to reveal excitement about the meeting
to fill a position. It should also provide enthusiasm
in retelling stories that relate accomplishments and send
signals that the interviewee is confident, likeable and competent.
Storytelling with a Goal in mind
We made our introductions in the mock interview and
explored some “what if” scenarios. Then, we guided our
way into defining strengths and weaknesses. This is
a very common self assessment direction. Telling stories
helps us create an imprintable image for remembering.
We had her learn, practice and strengthen the S-A-R-I
acronym for story-telling: Situation, Action,
Business card, taking notes, sending thank yous and
describing why you are no longer employed and what
you are currently doing were other areas of sharing,
coaching and practicing.
I told her I was pleased that she recognized she could
value and use some help and coaching.
CAREERS AWAY FROM THE BENCH, LEGAL
Did you see the CBS segment on human infants? How
they are learning at their very earliest moments and
often make decisions based on what they have observed
and been taught? Striking.
What does this have to do with Resumes, Interviewing
and seeking jobs, Dan? you may ask.
Short story. A member recalled applying for a position using
Monster.com and obtained an on-site interview. In the
interview in which he demonstrated his communications
skills and story telling ability he learned through several
mock interview experiences, he mentioned who he worked
for at UCONN. The long and the short of it, the hiring
manager also worked for the same professor decades earlier.
It helped form a connection, a common-ground, and ultimately
a difference with all the other candidates. He was offered the
The video segment reported that newborns listen, like faces,
like common aged people, like languages and music they
are used to hearing. The also form preferences from positive
This early preference learning extends to adult years and making
decisions. David McClelland offers that affiliations is one
of the three leading motivations for human behavior. The need
is associated with desires to be linked to groups, organizations
AFFILIATIONS CAN ALSO BE MORE SIGNIFICANT
Lucy Kelleway posed that today there are fewer “big
names” that signal the achievement of one person. Achievements
are more commonly a group effort.
When people effect things it can be signaled on a webpage
or twitter or social media. While individual achievement
does stand out, most do not do it alone. Flashy
affiliations with big names and associations stand out.
AFFILIATION STANDS OUT IN BUSINESS
You can gain trust in customers by being in partnership or
affiliation with a known business. Affiliation is a fast way
for businesses to gain trust and credibility in the eyes of
VALUE OF AFFILIATIONS SECTION IN RESUMES
As a professional scientist you show you care about
what is happening in your areas of science when you are
a member of the ACS. You care enough to
- subscribe to a code of ethics, society journals and magazines,
- attend conferences where you share and learn and
- take some initiative in actively being involved for the greater
When you include ACS [and other pertinent organizations]
in your resume AFFILIATIONS section, it reveals a lot
when you include participation in groups, organizing
conferences, task forces and committees) since they are
voluntary and tell of your commitment to the other members
and the whole chemical enterprise.
We tell interviewees and presenters, being able to provide a
story of involvement during interviews and when delivering
presentations also reveals your professionalism in meaningful
ways in these contexts. In a very human way it finds its traces
to our early human preferences.
This blog post concerns time management in a three
An email came from a colleague that was friendly and
also brought up some human frailties. Different people
have different tactics and styles when dealing with dilemmas.
SETTING PRIORITIES: 80/20 RULE
Her note said: “…I am analyzing the data for two [projects]’
[An]other post-doc … is cooperating with me, but whenever
we meet with some issues about [our] joint study, he always
asks me where to find a “quick solution” instead of solving
it together. It is obvious to me that there is no quick solution.”
This is part of human nature to test a self deception (Short-cuts)
by testing if others would do it the same way. As we know
sometimes shortcuts have value, yet each situation has to be
evaluated on its own merits. This brings to mind a rule of
thumb that is often used called the 80/20 rule or Pareto
Principle. You can get 80% of a list of things done in 20%
of the time, but to complete the other 20% of the things done
it will require 80% of the time. So prioritize, evaluate and
organize the order of things.
Others have their approaches. My strategy attempts to define
critical efforts and goals frequently, determining tasks that
are urgent and important. Spend the time and effort on tasks
that are important. Avoid or dispose of distractions and
interruptions by using shortcuts. Don’t take short-cuts on
critical or on important tasks.
2-MINUTE RULE - TASK MANAGEMENT
David Allen takes on task management in a thoughtful rule
that frames tasks that can be done in a short time (say 2
minutes), you should do it right as they are identified. It
will require more time to organize each task over again,
and review them than it would be to complete it the first
instant you assessed its need.
These are either “not critical” or “urgent and easy to
5-SECOND RULE - PRESENTATION GRAPHICS & WEB
Any time you present visual information be aware that the
eyes of your audience reflexively moves to process the
image. Information-denser images take longer. Confusing
images trouble and turn off audiences. They stop listening
and focus to process the image. If key information or
organization is not clear, the audience turns off.
Apply this to the design of your documents and web pages.
eBooks, eJournals, eMagazines, presentations
in electronic format is changing the world view
of technical information and personal data.
It is incumbent on professional knowledge workers
to keep abreast, follow with some diligence and
Not long ago, commercial sites wanted to control
the flow of eyes to those leading to income, now
they encourage sharing broadly. Several observations
like this fill a recent Economist article on
copyright rules, including
- new Canadian rules expanding “fair-dealing”
(fair use in US) and non-commercial use
- copyright exemptions for data-mining
- new ideas about format shifting accessing data
on different instruments is being looked at.
ORGANIZING DATA, FORMATS LONG TERM
Kelley Greene wrote a piece about legal concerns
around digital assets we will acquire, compose or
be responsible for through our lives. Included is a
link to online services list and commercial vendors
We depend on google to help us explore and recover
just based on adding search terms. However, what
happens when items are no longer available on servers?
A recent article listed several items that may help
but this is a long term problem that technical
knowledge workers should follow. I remember
a colleague reminding me not to throw out key
reference books that derive fundamental equations
in electrical engineering and physics. Only popular
or commonly used versions with often unstated
assumptions and boundary conditions are in current
literature. It would be well to confirm that archives
store essential material. 2
eBOOKS AND WRITING CHEMISTRY EQUATIONS
There are many pros and cons with putting chemistry
into electronic media.
You can take it anywhere, but you can run out of
It is portable but that does not mean into water or
It is possible take take notes in eMedia. Have you
ever tried to enter in a page of chemical formulae?
Please share your pros and cons of working with
As soon as I read the article by C. Lu-Lien Tan, I
checked back to my LinkedIn.com profile to confirm
it was as Nicole Williams recommends.
WSJ 10-20-11, p. D6, “The art of Online Portraiture”
Please consider posting an image of you alone
reflecting the norms of the profession you are in
or aspire to.
Ms. Williams recommends:
- being caught in the moment
- presenting good posture, with a smile and open
eyes, indicating confidence and competence.
- in a wardrobe fitting for the technical field.
LinkedIn offers that a page is 7 times more likely
to be viewed if it contains an image presenting
an authentic view of you. [C. Lu-Lien Tan article]
We’ve known each other casually for a few years.
He came to me with concern in his eyes as he
received vibes a few months ago that he was
going to lose his job. He is an accomplished
mechanical engineer, five years at his company
[name not important] and with more than 30
years of strong contributions in design, problem
solving, innovation and engineering analysis.
He did not seek a senior manager role, at this
point in his career, but rather a challenging
engineering position. If he has the choice he
told me he preferred not having to travel a lot
and move from his current residence in eastern
We discussed several things and offered
suggestions to his public relations documents–
shortening his extensive resume, creating a
project list (with short summaries) and cover letter.
We had not brought up the subject the last few
times we had been together. Last night, however,
he came to me and told me he had good news
to share. He had been in a new position for
nearly a month and seemed to be quite pleased,
all things considered. Sure, there are challenges.
Aren’t there always [and he described them].
For our purposes here: what were the two most
helpful things? He pointed out that the position
was offered him via LinkedIn.com in which
he provided a nice profile. This is how the
recruiter discovered his skill level and experience.
He has a unique skill set in a particularly
important critical technology area– nuclear reactor
piping, valving and anti-corrosion design. He
worked in this area more than 20 years ago
and there are very few people familiar with
the intricate details. Most people will have
studied and worked in more recent designs and
materials. He, on the other hand, is well
acquainted and perfectly suited.
The second suggestion after Linkedin.com
listing was decide what he wished to do that
will make him happy. And, be able to articulate
it clearly and specifically.
Which he was able to do.
Nothing could make me prouder than his nice
My eyes were opened by discussions with an audience
at the Bidwell Training Center Chemistry laboratory
technician program. A number of people had accomplished
translatable skills for industrial roles, if they only
knew the skills mattered.
One gentleman, Paris, had installed and debugged
computer sampling systems, bar code readers, set up
databases and analyzed data from databases. He did not
realize the growth in the field of laboratory automation.
See SLAS for example. 2
Another person was an accountant in the chemical
technician workshop who had lost the desire for
accounting full time. She enjoyed working with and
organizing numerical structures yet missed interpersonal
contact. She simply was fascinated working in a
laboratory with chemicals. There is a unique combination
she was advised of her previous strengths (numbers and
interpersonal) and chemistry laboratory skills as a project
To her it was a revelation that roles like this existed
and were in demand.
This constitutes a form mentoring that seems to be
missing in many highly accessed searches. 1 2 3
It requires the mentor being an “inquisitive listener”
looking to connect things for the protege.
In a conversation, a member asked–
“when I attend a meeting, I want to be
sociable and engage in conversation. I
just don’t know what to say. Can you offer
There are four tactics to consider: People’s
names, introductions, small talk and
elevator speeches. Remember with all
of them we communicate a lot with our
- remembering names
hone the skill of remembering people and their
names. [View the link.]
- introductions: consider–
“Hi My name is Theodore Roosevelt. But
you can call me “TR.” No one ever recalls
Theodore as it is not very common these
days. This morning when I was coming in
my car battery died on me. I had to call
around to let my colleagues know and see
if other arrangements could be made. I
was flying from Hartford, as I am finishing
up my graduate degree at UCONN in
materials science with Professor Zhao.
As you can see AAA saved the day and
I made the flight.” A little story with key
items makes a big difference. Make it
easy on your audience to remember you…
- small talk 2 3 4 5
Each day assemble three topics you can speak
to nearly anyone extemporaneously.
- “elevator speeches“ 7
Observe marketing experts and adapt to
yourself. Consider bringing a sample of
something that helps you tell a story about
creativity or problem solving.
There are some meetings you attend where
most everyone needs little introduction to
everyone and the people have a history of
working together. That is, unless you are
new to the group.
That situation happened to me yesterday.
It was fun to apply some of L. Lowndes ideas.
This was my first time attending this meeting,
so I made it a point to be introduced to the
organizer and try to offer help.
First thing we did was set up our presentation.
Well, the hotel, we learned, charges $150 for
use of their screen and extension cord. It is
another $450 for use of their projector.
OMG! We brought a projector so we could
substitute ours and went out to the local
hardware store for a $10 extension . As
anyone knows these add-on fees are
outrageous. In our smaller room setting,
we could project on a white board and
ask attendees to gather closer to see.
Some body language signals I observed
and used included
- first impression posture, smile and
- “glued eyes” with people, to show
interest in what they were speaking about
- treat people as old friends, that you
- invite people to your table to eat
with you, politely giving up your seat
so that others can sit and move on
[they will often want you back because
of the gesture]
Some small talk art that worked
- while one can stay with a conversation
partner, recognize it is more polite to
meet, introduce and circulate. Then, if
the situation arises where you can
continue the conversation with ease,
learn about what brings the person to
the meeting and travel
- ‘tell me more about…’ [conversation
the overnight train ride from
Boston to Philadelphia
the hobbies you like[ expressed as:
how do you relax] and do occasionally
the plays you like to attend
what it was like in Turkey and
- then share your adventures and recent
While the mock interview is highly
- credibility signals of posture, using the
whole room as the stage, reducing the
nervous energy and inviting late comers
to join the group and offer input.
- ask for help, but pick up on limitations
- set the agenda in the meeting room
and post it so that late comers can see
what is being done
- engage everyone in the group in
one way or another (groups less than
10, involve all)
- observe and take advantage of
every teaching moment, from
‘meta-language’, to crossed
arms, to appropriate distance
- build confidence in each person by
finding several positive elements on
which to comment.