The week@work – How to live wisely, raise strong women, the value of a liberal arts education and more

It’s that time of year, ‘back to school’. It doesn’t matter if you are preschool or college, your local retail outlet is ready to meet every consumer need to outfit you or your dorm room. It’s also ‘back to work’ for those returning from vacation ( if you are one of the six in ten who took some leave this summer). There was a lot going on this week@work. Here are a few stories to get your Monday morning office conversations going.

Harvard professor Richard J. Light, the author of a 2001 book, ‘How to Make the Most of College’ asked New York Times readers to imagine they were dean for a day in a new article, ‘How to Live Wisely’. Before you skip to the next paragraph, stay with me. His questions have relevance for all leaders.

“Imagine you are Dean for a Day. What is one actionable change you would implement to enhance the college experience on campus?

I have asked students this question for years. The answers can be eye-opening. A few years ago, the responses began to move away from “tweak the history course” or “change the ways labs are structured.” A different commentary, about learning to live wisely, has emerged.

What does it mean to live a good life? What about a productive life? How about a happy life? How might I think about these ideas if the answers conflict with one another? And how do I use my time here at college to build on the answers to these tough questions?”

Once we leave college and begin to move ahead in our careers these questions become even more critical in our quest of life long learning.

Professor Light offers “five exercises that tackle the big questions”. Number three:

“I call this the Broad vs. Deep Exercise. If you could become extraordinarily good at one thing versus being pretty good at many things, which approach would you choose? We invite students to think about how to organize their college life to follow their chosen path in a purposeful way.”

Rephrase this one in respect to your career preparation. Have you organized your life around your choice to develop an expertise or be more of a generalist?

The next story may be too late for some struggling small colleges, but Forbes magazine reported ‘That ‘Useless’ Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech’s Hottest Ticket’. ( Full disclosure here, I have one of those ‘useless’ degrees and have found it extremely complementary to my career choices.)

“Engineers may still command the biggest salaries, but at disruptive juggernauts such as Facebook and Uber, the war for talent has moved to nontechnical jobs, particularly sales and marketing. The more that audacious coders dream of changing the world, the more they need to fill their companies with social alchemists who can connect with customers–and make progress seem pleasant.”

Liberal Arts = Social Alchemy? Has a six figure ring to it.

On the millennial front this week there were two stories in The New York Times. The first reported on a new Pew Research Study which found that millenials are less likely to leave the nest.

“In 2010, according to the study, 69 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds lived independently. During the first four months of this year, just 67 percent of that same age group was living independently. From 2010 to April 2015, the share of young adults living in their parents’ homes has increased to 26 percent from 24 percent, the study said.”

For those who have left the nest to build their own, another Times report found ‘Millennial Men Aren’t the Dads They Thought They’d Be’.

“Young men today have aspirations of being hands-on fathers as well as breadwinners — supportive husbands who also do dishes.

But as they enter that more responsibility-filled stage of life, something changes: Their roles often become much more traditional.

Millennial men — ages 18 to early 30s — have much more egalitarian attitudes about family, career and gender roles inside marriage than generations before them, according to a variety of research by social scientists. Yet they struggle to achieve their goals once they start families, researchers say. Some researchers think that’s because workplace policies have not caught up to changing expectations at home.”

This research and story is one to follow as this generation now makes up the largest % of the workforce. As they progress in their careers it will be interesting to see if attitudes begin to align with work/life policies.

Amy Joyce reporting in the Washington Post poses the question: ‘Are you holding your own daughter back? Here are 5 ways to raise girls to be leaders.’ This is another must read article with research backed practical suggestions for parents to avoid gender bias.

“Think you’re raising your daughter to be a strong leader? Look more closely: You, and the people around her, may unwittingly be doing just the opposite.

Teen boys, teen girls, and, yes, even parents have biases against girls and women as leaders, new research from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and its Making Caring Common project found.

Richard Weissbourd, a Harvard psychologist who runs the Making Caring Common project, said he was “surprised by the extent of it … how gendered both the boys’ and the girls’ responses were.”

Weissbourd decided to look at bias as part of the larger goal of helping children learn to be kind. “We were concerned that biases get in the way of people caring about and respecting other people, so our initial study was just looking at biases,” he said. “And one of the striking findings that emerged was gender bias.”

And the last story is related to the photo in the header. Erica Murphy, editorial assistant at Levo shared ‘7 Things I Learned About Life From Completely Unplugging’. (This one’s for you – the 4 in 10 who have not taken vacation this summer) My two favorites (you can read the rest) – “No one cares & a tech free world does exist”.

“When you live in a big city like New York, you forget that people out there do lead simple lives. And honestly? It’s not so bad. I don’t think I could deal with no running water all the time, but it’s nice to be out in the country sometimes and just relax. Maybe Potter County isn’t on your radar, but it’s the same idea as finding a nearby park and leaving your phone at home. Or maybe you go hiking for the day and really connect with nature. With our lives getting more hectic every day, it’s important to find that time for yourself to decompress.”

Hoping you find time to unplug this week@work.

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