The Saturday Read – Gift a book this holiday season

One of the best presents one can give or receive is a book. #ShopSmall today and visit your local bookseller to find the perfect gift for everyone on your holiday list.

Let’s start with a client or your boss, two challenging categories for gift giving. You could go with a bottle of wine, chocolates, fruit basket or Starbucks card. But that’s what they’ll get from your competitors and colleagues. If you want to stand out and demonstrate, in a very tangible way, that you’ve been listening when they talk about their interests outside of work, a book just may be the way to make a connection. And I’m not talking about the latest business best seller.

Former Seattle librarian and current NPR commentator, Nancy Pearl has written a series of ‘Book Lust’ books recommending current and back list titles for “every mood, moment or reason and travelers, vagabonds and dreamers”. Her suggestions sample the catalog of titles published since 1960, so you will no doubt rediscover some gems to twinkle under the tree.

Create a list of folks @work. Then make a few notes about each and their interests. Visit an independent bookseller today, #SmallBusinessSaturday, and ask for suggestions. Often the best books of the year will never make The New York Times bestseller list, so you will need a little help from someone whose life is about books.

Barnes and Noble, Amazon and Costco don’t count. For the important task of matching books with colleagues and clients, you need the expertise of someone invested in presenting a diversity of titles.

“Independent bookstores never had to answer to the dictates of public markets. Many of their proprietors understood, intuitively and from conversations with customers, that a well-curated selection—an inventory of old and new books—was their primary and maybe only competitive advantage. In the words of Oren Teicher, CEO of the American Booksellers Association, “The indie bookselling amalgam of knowledge, innovation, passion, and business sophistication has created a unique shopping experience.”

Some may think a book is a risky gifting proposition. The risk lies only in not  paying attention and failing to seek out help from experts. Take some time today to shop on Main Street and pick up a few books for the holidays.

“Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside them, and it’s much cheaper to buy somebody a book than it is to buy them the whole world.” Neil Gaiman





‘The Tables Turned’ a poem by William Wordsworth

Today is the day to #OptOutside, a campaign initiated by the U.S. retailer REI. In contrast to it’s competitors, their stores will remain closed today and they are encouraging all of us to join them and post our outdoor experience on social media.

“REI believes that being outside makes our lives better. That’s why this Black Friday, we’re closing all 143 of our stores and paying our employees to head outside.”

The Friday poem was written by William Wordsworth in 1798, carrying a similar message,”Up! up! my Friend…” and #OptOutside.


Up! up! my Friend, and quit your books;
Or surely you’ll grow double:
Up! up! my Friend, and clear your looks;
Why all this toil and trouble?

The sun, above the mountain’s head,
A freshening lustre mellow
Through all the long green fields has spread,
His first sweet evening yellow.

Books! ’tis a dull and endless strife:
Come, hear the woodland linnet,
How sweet his music! on my life,
There’s more of wisdom in it.

And hark! how blithe the throstle sings!
He, too, is no mean preacher:
Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be your Teacher.

She has a world of ready wealth,
Our minds and hearts to bless—
Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health,
Truth breathed by cheerfulness.

One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.

Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:—
We murder to dissect.

Enough of Science and of Art;
Close up those barren leaves;
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
That watches and receives.

William Wordsworth 1798



A Simple Thanksgiving Recipe

A simple Thanksgiving recipe:

Ingredients: Friends, family, food

Directions: Mix equal parts of all ingredients, taking 8 hours to rest between servings. Add 12 – 15 hugs per 12-hour period until warm. Early in the day take a long walk to clear the mind and spirit. Be careful not to watch any news programming it may spoil the mixture. Take deep breaths and short naps as needed. For seasoning: share stories, laughter and tears. For a dessert variation on this recipe add music and dance. Keep warm and repeat for leftovers. I find that a loose interpretation of this recipe will result in a slightly undercooked, but refreshed mind and body.

#TheGreatListen 2015

What if you could capture a generation of American lives and experiences in one holiday weekend? That’s the vision of StoryCorps founder, Dave Isay, and he plans to fulfill his mission this Thanksgiving weekend through a combination of an app and an educators toolkit to enable DIY interviews to gather the wisdom of others. It’s the #GreatThanksgivingListen and you are invited to attend.

StoryCorps recently celebrated twelve years of conducting and recording oral history interviews, beginning with a booth in New York’s Grand Central Station and later taking the booth on the road to all 50 states creating the largest single collection of human voices ever gathered. The next step is to grow the archive of 100,000 to tens of thousands.

Dave Isay and his organization are the recipients of the 2015 TED Prize, and it was in his presentation to the annual conference in April that he outlined his proposal for a “national homework assignment”.

Here’s the plan. Download the app, select ‘helpful hints’ for a short tutorial. Select ‘browse’ to view previous StoryCorps recordings. Go to ‘my interviews’ to outline and record your interview. You can choose  from a list of sample questions by categories. Next step –  record!

“Who are they? What did they learn in life? How would they like to be remembered?”

And here’s the magical part. You can keep your recording for yourself or opt to upload it to the StoryCorps archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Imagine the story of your family intertwined with other American voices building upon a historical record of their time.

In his April TED talk, Isay described the power of “…everyday people talking about lives lived with kindness, courage, decency and dignity…it sometimes feels like you are walking on holy ground…”

If you believe that you learn from the wisdom of others, this holiday offers an opportunity to join “…a global movement to record and preserve meaningful conversations with one another that results in an ever growing digital archive of the collective wisdom of humanity.”



The week@work – Mark Zuckerberg’s parental leave, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Gloria Steinem have lunch, and 29 words to avoid in an interview

The stories selected from this week@work include Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to take two months of parental leave, a conversation between Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Gloria Steinem, and advice on words to avoid in an interview.

Mark Zuckerberg’s choice to ‘lead by example’ and step away from work to care for family may signal to Facebook employees and other CEOs that the world is finally changing for dual career parents.

Covering the story for Wired, journalist Julia Greenberg wrote:

“Zuckerberg is perhaps the most prominent chief executive of a major public tech company to take this much time off following the birth of his child. That’s important, because executives set the tone for a company (and, in some ways, the country) when it comes to balancing work and family.

Like some other major tech companies, Facebook already offers new parents a parental leave plan considered very generous by US standards. New parents at Facebook can take four paid months off. They receive benefits such as $4,000 for each child born or adopted. As we’ve written before, however, employees may feel reluctant to take advantage of such plans if their companies don’t have a culture that encourages taking time off. And company culture typically comes from the top.

 Let’s hope more companies will offer new parents more leave, and that dads will be able to follow his lead.”

One of the highlights of The New York Times Sunday Style section is the ‘Table for Three’ feature. This past week, Philip Galanes shared the conversation between Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Gloria Steinem.

I recommend reading the complete interview, if for no other reason than to provide a historical context for the current conversation on gender discrimination in the workplace. Here is a short excerpt.

PG: One of the cleverest things you did as a litigator was demonstrate how rigid gender roles harm men as much as women.

RBG: There was an interesting case this court decided in the first year Justice O’Connor was on the bench, about a man who wanted to go to the best nursing school in his area, but it was women-only. You could read between the lines what she understood: There was no better way to raise pay for women in nursing than to get men to do it.

GS: Equal pay for women would be the biggest economic stimulus this country could ever have. Big-time profits are being made from gender roles as they exist. It would also be win-win because female-headed households are where children are most likely to be poor.

PG: Last subject: You are both bridge builders. Justice Ginsburg on the court; and Gloria, with a sea of men and women over the years. Any advice for getting along with people who disagree with us to the core — like Justice Scalia?

RBG: Last night, my daughter and I got a prize from a women’s intellectual property group, and Nino [Scalia] was in the video, saying his nice things about me. He’s a very funny man. We both love opera. And we care about writing. His style is spicy, but we care about how we say it.

GS: I think Ruth is better at getting along with people with whom we profoundly disagree. I feel invisible in their presence because I’m being treated as invisible. But what we want in the future will only happen if we do it every day. So, kindness matters enormously. And empathy. Finding some point of connection.

Moving to the job search, Jacquelyn Smith writing for Business Insider provides us with a list of ’29 words you should never say in a job interview’. Drawing on tips from Michael Kerr, here’s a sample:

“‘Money,’ ‘salary,’ ‘pay,’ ‘compensation,’ etc.  Never discuss salary in the early stages of the interview process, Kerr says. “Focusing on the salary can raise a red flag with potential employers that you are only there for the money and not for any deeper reasons,” he says. “More and more, employers are looking for people who align with their mission and values.”Negotiations can and should be done after — or at the end of — the interview phase.

‘Weaknesses’ or ‘mistakes’   Never voluntarily talk about your weaknesses unless they ask you with the standard interview question, ‘What’s your biggest weakness?'” says Kerr. And don’t bring up mistakes you’ve made at work, unless you’re talking about them to show how you’ve made significant improvements.”

Two other articles of interest were published on the Fast Company site this week:

‘Where Google, Apple and Amazon employees want to work next’Lydia Dishman

‘The World’s Five Biggest Employers Aren’t Who You Think’Charlie Sorrel

One more thing…

This past summer I celebrated July 4th in Brussels. It’s one of my most favorite cities in the world. The people I met in shops and restaurants are in my thoughts this weekend. Be safe.

The Saturday Read ‘Every Time I Find the Meaning of Life, They Change It’ by Daniel Klein

A U.S. Senator, a philosophy student and a welder walk into a bar…maybe not. In a debate last week U.S. Senator Marco Rubio questioned the value of a philosophy major in a world that needs more welders.

“I don’t know why we have stigmatized vocational education, welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers.”

I can understand those who seek to define college as an extended vocational school experience, given the cost and potential for significant debt, but to limit the aspirations of 18 year olds diminishes the value of higher education. I think we go to college to figure things out. Part of that is the career decision, but the larger experience incorporates learning how to think, question, listen, reflect and argue in a quest to live our best life.

In defense of philosophy majors, and the politicians and welders who might benefit from their wisdom, The Saturday Read this week is ‘Every Time I Find the Meaning of Life, They Change It: Wisdom of the Great Philosophers on How to Live’ by Daniel Klein.

Like many college students, Klein didn’t have a clue as to what I wanted to do after college; basically all I knew was that I didn’t want to be a doctor, lawyer, or businessman, eliminations that put me in a distinct minority of my classmates. I figured studying philosophy would be just the ticket to give me direction.”

His father, like Senator Rubio, let him know that “studying philosophy was simply a wast of time.”

Fortunately for the reader, Klein continued his studies, recording selected ‘Pithies’ in a notebook hoping “to find some guidance from the great philosophers on how best to live my life.” These quotes and current reflections form the structure of the book.

“I now realized that those how-to-live questions were still very much alive in my mind. Sure, time had crept on and my life, with its ups and downs, had simply happened, as lives tend to do, by my appetite for philosophical ideas about life had not diminished in the least. In fact, as I look at life from the vantage point of my eighth decade, my hankering for such ideas has only increased. Late in the game as it may be, I still want to live my final years the best way I can. But more compellingly, I find myself at that stage of life when I want to give my personal history one last look-through, and I am curious to see how it measures up to fully considered ideas of a good life.”

Why this book? Because legislating, welding and philosophy should not be mutually exclusive terms. As the Thanksgiving inter-generational conversation turns to the big ‘vocational’ questions of choice and what you are doing with your life, it’s the central question of philosophy being posed, how to live the best possible life.

‘Every Time I Find the Meaning of Life, They Change It’ is an accessible, often humorous, tutorial, presenting a pageant of philosophy’s luminaries and author commentaries.

One quote in particular, resonated with me in light of the domestic and international scene this week, from British philosopher, Bertrand Russell.

“The man who has no tincture of philosophy goes through life imprisoned in the prejudices derived from common sense, from the habitual beliefs of his age or his nation, and from convictions which have grown up in his mind without the co-operation or consent of deliberate reason. To such a man the world tends to become definite, finite, obvious; common objects rouse no questions, and unfamiliar possibilities are contemptuously rejected…(But Philosophy) keeps alive ours sense of wonder by showing familiar things in an unfamiliar aspect.”

‘Perhaps the World Ends Here’ a poem by Joy Harjo

The Friday Poem this week is from Native American Poet, Joy Harjo. In September of this year she received the Wallace Stevens award from the Academy of American Poets.

Chancellor Alicia Ostriker summarized Harjo’s contribution to the canon of American poetry.

“Throughout her extraordinary career as poet, storyteller, musician, memoirist, playwright and activist, Joy Harjo has worked to expand our American language, culture, and soul. A Creek Indian and student of First Nation history, Harjo is rooted simultaneously in the natural world, in earth—especially the landscape of the American southwest— and in the spirit world. Aided by these redemptive forces of nature and spirit, incorporating native traditions of prayer and myth into a powerfully contemporary idiom, her visionary justice-seeking art transforms personal and collective bitterness to beauty, fragmentation to wholeness, and trauma to healing.”

Perhaps the World Ends Here

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

Joy Harjo   The Woman Who Fell From the Sky  1994

What are you planning to do after graduation?

It’s the question that can cause one to instantly lose their appetite. It’s Thanksgiving and just as you are about to digest your first bite of turkey, someone decides it’s the perfect time to quiz you on your plans after graduation.

Here are a few ideas to manage the conversation.

If you have a job offer, focus on discussing your plans for starting your career. You may find that family and friends have contacts within the organization or career field you are entering. Ask for names and start to build your professional network.

If you have recently started your job search, share your experience to date and ask for advice. My favorite response is “I am considering a number of options, what ideas do you have for me?” This turns the question around and you may gain some new insight in the responses you receive.

Let’s say you have been focused on midterms and getting through the semester. You haven’t started to look for a job or internship. You may still be undeclared, considering a variety of concentrations. Ask for advice. Talk about the classes you enjoy the most and your activities outside the classroom. This gives people a starting point to respond and suggest possible options.

Whenever possible, give people something they can work with. The more specific you can be in talking about what career interests you have, the better the chance they will be able to help and provide a referral. Bring home a few copies of your resume. I am not suggesting you leave them on the dining room table, but it is a good idea to be prepared.

Planning for the Thanksgiving Career Conversation

It’s the annual celebration of Thanksgiving, that time of year when families get together and complain about dissatisfaction with work. What if we approached the holiday season as an opportunity for taking action on shelved career plans?

We tend to think of the holidays as a time to get away from our workplace. And yet, it can be a time to reconsider career choices and solicit input from family and friends.

Let’s reimagine the pre or post-dinner conversation that has previously been a competition to demonstrate who has the worst boss, longest hours, deadest of dead end jobs. Consider a conversation where you identify your spot on your career timeline, articulate your goals and ask for guidance on next steps.

Your friends and family are your most trusted advisors. They’re the folks who know all your faults and are still there. Don’t waste their time with a whining session. Respect their abilities to listen and share feedback.

Start with the past year and what you have accomplished. Even in the worst job situation we can salvage a few learning experiences, from both failure and success. Come up with a way to communicate your skills, leaving out acronyms, to enable folks to envision how your strengths apply across fields.

Next, recall that dream job that has been tantalizing you, but disappears in the fog of the everyday demands of the workplace. Got it? Now you have your baseline and end goal. Don’t be shy about sharing it.

What’s missing? The interim steps to get you from point A to point B.

And this is where those negative conversations turn into positive and productive discussions. Now that you have shared your goals, folks are empowered to help: adding to your list of skills based on a long term view of your career, providing input on strategy and offering connections to keep the conversation going after the holidays.

It’s not just the folks who are contemplating career transition that can benefit from these holiday interactions. If you think all is well in your career, a close confidant can often detect warning signs you may be missing in your optimism.

The real value of your family/friends ‘board of advisors’ is their ability to hold you accountable to your dream. You will see them, same time next year, and they will ask you how far you’ve travelled on the road to your destination.



The week@work #PeaceForParis

On Friday evening Parisians went to work at cafes, a soccer stadium and a concert venue. An American band from Palm Desert, California prepared to take the stage @work at their dream job. And then the trajectory of hundreds of careers changed.

This week @work tells only one story, of graphic designer, Jean Jullien @work and his response to terror in the City of Light.

A year ago, Jean Jullien gave an interview to designboom, answering the typical questions about his career choice, his approach, his influences and skill. As a young artist he was preparing his December 2014 solo show at Kemistry Gallery in London.

“I’ve always loved drawing, but originally wanted to do animation and comics (which I’m ironically just sort of getting into doing now). I applied to many schools but got rejected by all and ended up in a small graphic design course in le paraclet which was actually a blessing in disguise. despite its serious and practical approach, the course was run by passionate teachers who introduced me to the work of masters such as milton glaser, saul bass, raymond savignac, and many others. it made me realize that design and illustration were basically about making the everyday exciting and creative. design for the people, design for the routine, is what really got me into what I do today. the idea that art didn’t stop at the exit of a gallery, but that it could carry on anywhere and that by intertwining with real objects and things, it enhanced them and found a use.”

In response to a question about his strengths and skill, he responded:

“I don’t think of myself as skilled. not in my drawing at least. I’ve become overly critical and empathic at the same time but I’m not sure either of these qualify as a skill, although they are my number one working tool.”

On Friday, the world discovered Jean Jullien’s skill as empathy translated into a representational image that spread across the internet.

eiffel peace journalist Nolan Feeney spoke with the illustrator on Saturday and published the transcript of his Skype interview.

Jean Jullien had just begun his vacation when he heard on the radio about the terrorist attacks in his native France that killed more than 120 people on Friday. While others around the world struggled to put their feelings about the violence in Paris into words on social media, Jullien, a professional illustrator, picked up his brush instead.

“I express myself visually, so my first reaction was to draw a symbol of peace for Paris,” Jullien, who says his friends and family are safe and accounted for, told TIME over Skype on Saturday from a location he did not wish to disclose. “From there it seems to have gotten a bit out of my hands.”

The last question in the designboom interview was “do you have a personal motto?”

His answer: “carpe diem or something like that.”