The C&EN article on (+) and (-) sparteine, which had an
origin in “In the Pipeline,” talks about shortages of specific
chemicals. Interestingly, this unresolved shortage is a
business of chemistry concern and something, as the C&EN
article portrays, that can be of interest to many scientists for
Some universities have a section of their graduate
school orientation that will involve self assessments
for each. It is so important that this part of
technical professionals education is incorporated
as it is so often missed or at least delayed so that
reflection and use of the learning can be part of
- Who likes “small talk”, working by themselves,
who gains energy from crowds.
- Pointing out the difference between the
“golden rule” [treat others like we want to be treated]
One of the evolving trends in chemical fields but not
often developed in education programs is life cycle
assessment. I learned about this as part of reviewing
EPA proposals. This was one of the aspects that proposals
could enhance their consideration for support.
Only one proposal incorporated an LCA.
What motivated entering this topic into the blog also was seeing
LCA in a psychology and ’science of attention’ book by
Daniel Goleman. He talks about human brains’ ability to
have a razor-sharp focus on certain things, like smiles, frowns,
growls and babies, while we have “zero radar” for threats to the
global systems that support human life.
Goleman talks about LCA profiles using glass making as
his example which has 659 ingredients in its manufacture.
There are “too many factors to assess.” We need, however, to
focus in on a manageable number in meaningful patterns to
deal with them.
For the present readership BASF and SKB 2 have delivered
meaningful ACS presentations on how they have developed
Life Cycle Inventories and assessments for specific processes.
They used a process flow diagram that has co-products and side
reactions, energy inputs and outputs for sustainable development
Life Cycle Analysis is as meaningful an area for technical people to
have some grounding in as hazards analysis and review.
LCA is life cycle assessment, also known as ‘cradle-to-grave,’ analyzes
the human impacts of a product’s life from cradle to grave. Wikipedia
describes Life Cycle Supply Chain, Life Cycle Inventory and Total
Life Cycle Impacts.
Do you look into TED Talks every once in a while like
I do? I find many engaging and helpful. One by Peter
Doolittle caught my attention recently that seemed
related to a recent book, article and podcast of Daniel
Goleman. It wasn’t until I listened to Randi
Zuckerberg’s podcast that they all made sense to me.
…retroactive sensemaking… an Aha moment.
Intentional Attention is an important skill to master.
Randi (of Facebook fame) made the case best for me.
There are two ends of the spectrum. Those whose lifestyles
are strongly disrupted and interrupted by modern social media.
The second end are people who are resistant to change
and will not adapt.
Both ends lose out. This is where Doolittle and Goleman
Goleman makes a strong case for needing to manage
the modern 24-7 hyper media and diagnoses where over
use leads to loss of “cognitive control” and an “empathy
gap”. He also poses that too much addiction leads individuals
to laser focus into the present and narrow, losing sight of
others and of the wider world.
Doolittle and Goleman both offer intentional attention
management skills building up the “attention focus muscle”
identifying tools, systems and practices that can be used
and offering that we need to proactively employ the modern
social media with:
-Mindful moments [meditate to sharpen our focus]
-Wise waiting [restrict and plan your digital and fun times]
-Unit tasking [small wins each day with and away from media]
-Digital awareness [personal mindfulness of best practices
where media enriches, solves problems, enhances creativity]
-Mindful transitions [permit ‘open awareness’ to unconsciously
-Scheduled digital “detox” [creative cocoon] and
-Focusing signals to task at hand.
Learn that our short term memory has a limited capacity.
Assess information systematically by asking questions and
seeing where it fits. Determine if it is knowledge that it is
elaborative or illustrative. Have a “capture mechanism” allowing
you to come back and reconsider. Fit it into a structure
where you can share with others with meaning and example.
At the end of the Professional Development class an
interested person asked for some additional relevant
reading references. This is the second listing of outstanding
books that I recommend: (First)
Tara Bennett-Goleman, Mindwhsipering: A new map
to freedom from self-defeating emotional habits
Harper Collins, NY 2013
Kelly McGonigal, The Willpower Instinct: How self-control
works, why it matters and what you can do to get more of it
Avery Penguin NY, 2012
Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, The New Digital Age:
Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business,
Alfred A Knopf NY 2013
Douglas Rushkoff, Present Shock When everything happens
Current Penguin Group NY, 2013
Guy Kawasaki, Reality Check: The irreverent guide to
outsmarting, outmanaging and out-marketing your
competition, Portfolio Penguin Group 2008
Samuel Arbesman, The Half Life of Facts: Why
everything we know has an expiration date
Current of the Penguin Group, 2012
Liz Wiseman Multipliers: How the best leaders
make everyone smarter, Harper Business, NY 2010
Daniel Pink, Drive: The Surprising Truth about What
Riverhead Books, Penguin NY 2009
Chip Heath and Dan Heath, Switch: How to change things
when change is hard, Cengage Learning, Detroit
Sarah Horowitz, Freelandcers Bible, 2012
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Fooled by Randomness: the Hidden
role of chance in life and in the markets, Second Ed.,
Ray Kurzweil, How to Create a mind: A secret of Human
thought revealed, Viking, 2012
Frank Partnoy, Wait: The art and science of delay,
Perseus Book Public Affairs, NY 2012
Keith Ferrazzi, Never Eat Alone: And other Secrets to
Success, One relationship at a Time,
Currency Doubleday, NY, 2005
Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit: Why we do
what we do in life and business,
Random House, NY 2012
Martin Lindstrom, Brandwashed: Tricks companies
use to manipulate our minds and persuade us to buy
Crown Business NY, 2011
Dan Ariely, The Honest Truth about Dishonesty: How
we lie to everyone—especially ourselves
Christopher Hayes, Twilight of the Elites,
David McRaney, You are not so smart: why you can have
too many friends on Facebook, why your money is
mostly fiction and 46 other ways you are deluding yourself,
Gary Marcus, Guitar Zero: The new Musician and the
Science of Learning,
Penguin Press New York ,
It seems quite strange to me, being an industrial scientist-
manager-researcher, turned semi-academic, to hear my
colleagues talk about alternate careers in industry as going
to the “dark side,” so to speak. It is a common attitude many
students and post-docs speak to me about. [Their PIs often
say, if you go into industry or government or commercial
fields, you will not be able to follow your passions any
longer. Your life will be dominated by profit-loss-risk
and your motivations will be “less-pure.”]
To give it legs, my colleague R. Bretz [an academic] shared
a blog piece about NIH offering “non-academic career
training” for PhDs and Post-docs. One of its pillars
is the writing of C. Fuhrmann as she relates to the biomedical
field. [but it seems many academics ascribe to this line of
Perhaps wiser perspectives on the matter of choice of
career paths, in many scientific, engineering and technology
fields are offered in the comments section of a “harebrained
scheme for science curriculum training.”
People should resist the temptation of the “path of least
resistance” of going to grad school because I got good grades
in courses and seemed to like the free flow of ideas in an
academic setting. They might want to take up, as we have in
certain programs, a realistic self assessment and tactical
action plan of exploring different career paths. It is more
than “have you thought about going into business or consulting?”
1 2 3 4
It puts students in the self imposed position of asking themselves
without recrimination and with data of likely outcomes in terms
of life span paths, what does it mean if I earn my PhD in
biochemistry or physics or electrical or computer engineering?
In the view of academic career paths, it means needing to do
a post-doc or two over the next three to five years. Then, tirelessly
working to develop your application package before similar
challenging grant-seeking applications, with tighter and tighter
In the view of industrial career paths, there are different challenges
many of which are hard to predict. Thus, the uncertainty dilemma.
Nonetheless, we have been trained in our careers to reduce
uncertainty by experiment and gain perspective by asking good
questions and make progress despite challenges and uncertainty.
Government service positions can be assessed, yet often involve
doing a post-doc in a government lab. It seems to be a combination
of academic tenure process and willingness to change directions
as in industry.
There are other entrepreneurial routes that should be explored and
paths not defined because they have not existed before and we will
be developing them. Again, this is what the graduate degree program
has been teaching us if we have been paying attention.
Thanks for sharing, Rich.
When we open ourselves up for examination to find
what makes ourselves tick, motivated and happy,
your skills, interests [often called values and drivers]
, and work style are common facets. Company culture
revealing how things get done and communicated and
its match to our perceptions comes to fore usually
after a while, too. A fifth feature that is not often
highlighted, but is essential in working with teams or
customers is your Emotional Understanding.
Daniel Goleman is one of the leaders in describing
the importance of this aspect. Goleman describes
his academic portrait in his book, The Emotionally
Intelligent Workplace. Interviewers consciously
or unconsciously probe for this in often subtle ways.
Are you aware if you are patient with others?
Are you comfortable with a constantly changing
Are you cool under pressure? Do you know the
difference between pressure and stress– in yourself
How do you respond?
I like Goleman’s view of emotional intelligence as having
at least four components:
self awareness- what are your feelings in different
situations; how do you respond or react/your
self-management- what tactics do you use to engage
the behaviors you desire as fitting
social awareness- how well do you observe and
perceive the behaviors of others and know how to
respond to the emotions of others
relationship management- honing your emotional
skills to effectively manage your interactions with
others; including listening,encouraging diplomacy
and debate, orchestrating win-win outcomes, reaching
symbiotic understanding in negotiations.
Developing stories to evoke these is important in
interviewing, giving presentations and mentoring.
What are you looking for in your employer?
What are you looking for in your investments?
… in the supplier of yours and your company’s
products? It used to be cost and quality, then
it included customer and community service.
Integrity, transparency and being leaders in
their field seem to make sense. So does the
concept of “sustainability.”
Environmental excellence is not at most people’s
foremost item on their list. Not yet. It could
become if trends speed up and segmentation
separates high-quality/low-impact companies
from low-cost/high-impact companies.
While there remains some controversy over
implementation and interpretation, the life
cycle assessment concept that Daniel Goleman
highlights is something to consider or ask about
when deciding firms to work for.
An interesting article about implementation of
sustainability in chemical business models gives
the leading firms involved in this cultural shift
calling upon the three ’swarm rules’
Know your impacts
Share what you learn
If ’sustainability’ is an important criterion for
your work, look at the job site 1
We are carrying on a long distance
conversation. We are doing some
of it by email. Did you notice how
much email you get these days,
how much each of us depend on it
and how we get home or have a minute
and want to “check our email”?
Daniel Goleman wrote a nice piece
opening up several ideas that can be
shared with you. In the article, he states
“E-mail [and other CMC]… has a
multitude of virtues … quick and
convenient, democratizes access
and lets us … accomplish huge
amounts of work together… clearly
greatest when there is trouble at hand.”
[CMC– “computer mediated communication,”
see K. Byron, Whatman School of
Management, Syracuse University]
“But … e-mail may subtly encourage … trouble …
[It encounters] a ’design flaw’ [when
humans use it to interact]. There are
no online channels for the multiple
signals the brain uses to calibrate emotions.”
“Face-to-face interaction, by contrast,
is information-rich. We interpret what
people say to us not only from their
tone and facial expressions, but also
from their body language and pacing,
as well as their synchronization with
what we do and say.”
“… e-mail can be emotionally impoverished
when it comes to nonverbal messages that
add … rich emotional context ..”
Sue Shellenberger has authored a
piece about companies promoting ‘no
email’ days to encourage more face to face
interactions. The point of all this is that
email has unrecognized limitations.
So, what should you consider to
communicate clearly on the internet?
- Make sure the subject line (email)
or title (blog) reflects your content
- Use appropriate words and phrases.
If your mood is not right, it may be
reflected in the words you choose.
Review it and send it later.
- Don’t USE ALL CAPITAL LETTERS.
- Brevity and smart organization encourages
people to read the whole message
- Selectively use information on the Internet.
You don’t know where it will go or how it will be used.
- Understand copyright laws and citation rules of thumb
- Delete and do not forward spam and chain letters