Can we apply the architecture of March Madness to job search?

Let’s say you’re totally undecided (confused, terrified, ambivalent) about your next career move. All you know is you’re not happy with your current options. Where do you begin?

Try categorizing your interests using the bracket system. Instead of four regions, fill in four career fields that might interest you. Next, identify sixteen possible employers in each field. Once you have your potential employer roster identified, begin your research.

This may be a good time to develop a parallel list of contacts: a bracket representing your network. Use the same four career categories and identify folks who have broad expertise in the profession. In this ‘exploration’ phase you are aggregating data about industry trends, market leaders, and potential for growth.

As you progress with your data gathering, you will begin to eliminate some organizations in favor of others. Once you get to your ‘elite eight’ employers, schedule your in-depth information interviews.

As you talk to people you will begin to establish a realistic assessment of ‘organization fit’, and evaluate your chances for success.

The ‘elite eight’ forms your target list. By the time you have narrowed your selection to eight, you should feel comfortable that each employer presents a realistic starting point in the next phase your career.

As with any selection process, you don’t have total control. The employer extends the offer and you have the choice to accept or continue to pursue other options.

Add a little ‘March Madness’ to your job search, and some fun to a typically stressful routine.

The Friday Poem ‘After Work’ by John Maloney

It’s Friday and the poem selected to start off this weekend is ‘After Work’ by stonemason and poet John Maloney.

There’s a line of demarcation, even in the 24/7 workplace, where we cross over from the identity we carry @work to perhaps the more authentic persona of how we see ourselves. It’s that transition space in a car stuck in LA on the 405, hanging tight on the subway in NYC or driving a pickup on the backroads of Tennessee. “No one can take away the contentment of the first few miles.”

After Work

They’re heading home with their lights on, dust and wood glue,
yellow dome lights on their metallic long beds: 250s, 2500s—
as much overtime as you want, deadline, dotted line, dazed
through the last few hours, dried primer on their knuckles,
sawdust calf-high on their jeans, scraped boots, the rough
plumbing and electric in, way ahead of the game except for
the check, such a clutter of cans and iced-tea bottles, napkins,
coffee cups, paper plates on the front seat floor with cords
and saws, tired above the eyes, back of the beyond, thirsty.
There’s a parade of them through the two-lane highways,
proudest on their way home, the first turn out of the jobsite,
the first song with the belt off, pure breath of being alone
for now, for now the insight of a full and answerable man.
No one can take away the contentment of the first few miles
and they know they can’t describe it, the black and purple sky.

The week@work: digitizing common sense, Vatican women@work, Dee Rees on cinema and Radhika Jones on journalism

Since we’ve done so well with humans’ ability to demonstrate common sense, it follows that there would be an effort to teach machines ‘native intelligence’. This week@work we follow the efforts to digitize common sense, and explore the lives of women@work in the Vatican, cinema and journalism.

Common sensesound practical judgment that is independent of specialized knowledge, training, or the like; normal native intelligence”. It’s one of those ‘must have’ components in a successful work/life portfolio. Cade Metz reports on Paul Allen’s endeavor to translate ‘native intelligence’ into ‘artificial intelligence’.

“A.I. “recognizes objects, but can’t explain what it sees. It can’t read a textbook and understand the questions in the back of the book,” said Oren Etzioni, a former University of Washington professor who oversees the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence. “It is devoid of common sense.”

Success may require years or even decades of work — if it comes at all. Others have tried to digitize common sense, and the task has always proved too large.”

Perhaps it’s impossible to duplicate what’s not totally present in the original.

The ‘random’ compensation of nuns

If you were raised Catholic or attended Catholic schools, you’ve probably been influenced by the women, ‘sisters’, who served as teachers, administrators and counselors. In a stunning report this week, in a monthly supplement to the Vatican daily newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, these women confidentially shared the realities of their 24/7 workplace.

vatican nite.jpg“It is hard to evaluate the extent of the problem of the unpaid or badly paid work of these women religious which is in any case barely recognized…Yet it is not only a question of money. The matter of financial compensation constitutes rather the trees which hide the forest of a far greater problem: recognition of how matters stand. So many women religious have the feeling that much is being done to give new value to male vocations but that very little is being done to do the same for female vocations. “Unfortunately behind all this lies the idea that women are worth less than men and, especially, that the priest is all whereas the sister is nothing in the Church.”

“We are religious in order to serve to the very end and it is precisely this that causes a slippage in the subconscious of many people in the Church, creating the conviction that paying us does not fit into the natural order of things, whatever may be the service that we offer. The sisters are seen as voluntary workers to be made use of as desired which gives rise to real abuses of power. Behind all this lies the question of the professionalism and competence of women religious, which many people have a hard time recognizing”.

As we reflect on the ‘power’ relationships in film, politics and corporations, perhaps @TIMESUPNOW should broaden the tent to include folks who took a vow of poverty not realizing it meant losing their voice, being invisible.

Dee Rees delivers a tutorial on the art of cinema
On Saturday, writer-director Dee Rees was awarded the Robert Altman Award for her movie, Mudbound. She accepted with a speech that many industry insiders described as a cinematic manifesto. It’s a must read for anyone who considers themselves a film-maker.

DGWG0odUMAEyXHa.jpg“I know that as Independent Filmmakers, as the so-called Rebels, as the Outsiders creating without respect to means or access…

I know that we, of all makers, are far, far beyond any Identity Tokenism or Snobbery of Form 

In both production and distribution

Because we know that cinema lies not in

A strip of celluloid 

A length of magnetic tape

Nor across the blind plain of an image sensor 

No, we know that

Cinema lies in absorbing , electrifying Performances by committed actors 

That make audiences feel, that make them think, make them observe themselves and world around them in a more expansive way

Like Rob Morgan’s intelligent, deliberate, emotionally exquisite performance of Hap Jackson, a man whose capabilities, ambition and work ethic are continually undone by the ancient and overlapping systems of social and economic oppression that still exist today 

We know that cinema lies in the thoughtful and narrative Composition and Choreography of subject, movement, color, and light 

Like  Rachel Morrison’s compelling, sculptural,  humanistic photography that elevates reality into a visceral, highly textured symphony of feeling…”

(Full text and video at

Radhika Jones on culture, conformity and journalism
In November, Radhika Jones was introduced as the new editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair, adding to her resume of experience at Time and The New York Times. March marks the first issue under her guidance and in her first editor’s letter she connects her background to storytelling and her new “responsibility to interrogate the culture’s most powerful players and hold them to account.”

edit-master768.jpg“There’s a movie coming out this month that I’ve been waiting all my life to see: A Wrinkle in Time, based on Madeleine L’Engle’s fantasy novel, which was published in 1962 but is only now receiving its first big-screen adaptation. There was almost no novel to adapt. Twenty-six publishers rejected L’Engle’s manuscript before John Farrar, of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, took it on. You can imagine how A Wrinkle in Time may have perplexed publishers. The plot hinges on shortcuts through the space-time continuum; it leavens its central fight against evil with amusing scenes involving midnight liverwurst sandwiches. But at its core L’Engle’s tale tackles a problem most people have to cope with sooner or later: how to be yourself in a world that prefers conformity.

I was born in New York City and grew up in Cincinnati. My first name, common enough in India, was unusual and often threw people off. I tried not to mind, though I secretly wished I were called Elizabeth. I grew up, grew into myself, became an editor, and learned the delights of helping writers shape their stories.

For those of us who care about storytelling, about influence, about soft and hard power, this is a singularly rich moment to be in journalism. I had my first, heady conversation about the editorship of Vanity Fair on September 20 of last year. Two weeks later, The New York Times published the first of its series of reports about Harvey Weinstein. Arguments that have simmered for years—about the importance of championing women, new voices, people who come from a wide range of ethnicities and backgrounds—are finding an audience.”

And, one last storyMichael Cooper‘s profile of conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the new music director of The Metropolitan Opera.011618_2330a.jpg

If binge watching ‘Mozart in the Jungle’ has prompted you to consider a career as maestro, spend 14 hours ‘shadowing’ the new conductor at the Met.

“If there is one thing Mr. Nézet-Séguin has been criticized for, it has been for taking on too much: He is also the music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Orchestre Métropolitain in his native Montreal, and is wrapping up his final season with the Rotterdam Philharmonic. But earlier on Friday, as he headed back to conduct “Parsifal,” he had brushed off the suggestion that he was overstretched.

“Yes, I do have a high level of energy — that’s clear,” he said. “That’s maybe why I love New York. There is this kind of pace. But I am able, definitely, to also stop and do nothing.”





Photo credits: Ms. Jones – The New York Times, Mr. Nézet-Séguin – Rose Callahan Met Opera

The Friday Poem ‘The Benefits of Ignorance’ by Hal Sirowitz

Sometimes the Friday Poem is the perfect exclamation point for our times. This week’s selection is ‘The Benefits of Ignorance’ by poet Hal Sirowitz.

“If you’re not getting the benefits that most people get from acting stupid…”

The Benefits of Ignorance

If ignorance is bliss, Father said,
shouldn’t you be looking blissful?
You should check to see if you have
the right kind of ignorance. If you’re
not getting the benefits that most people
get from acting stupid, then you should
go back to being what you always were –
being too smart for your own good.

Hal Sirowitz  ‘Father Said: Poems’ 2004





A new definition of success for the ‘gig economy’

How do we find meaning@work, when work is a 24/7 hustle? An article in the March/April issue of the Harvard Business Review offers some answers. ‘Thriving in a Gig Economy’ builds on research published by McKinsey in October, adding results of interviews with 65 gig workers.

As more folks opt for independence@work, new models emerge beyond the stereotype of ride-hailing service employee. The McKinsey survey of 8,000 respondents across Europe and the US found “up to 162 million people in Europe and the United States—or 20 to 30 percent of the working-age population—engage in some form of independent work.” This is no longer a trend, but a significant employment sector, attracting new members daily out of choice or necessity.

Authors of the HBR article: Gianpiero Petriglieri, Susan J. Ashford and Amy Wrzesniewski discovered commonalities among those who chose the ‘gig life’.

“We found remarkably similar sentiments across generations and occupations: All those we studied acknowledged that they felt a host of personal, social, and economic anxieties without the cover and support of a traditional employer—but they also claimed that their independence was a choice and that they would not give up the benefits that came with it. Although they worried about unpredictable schedules and finances, they also felt they had mustered more courage and were leading richer lives than their corporate counterparts.”

Ownership is the shared value of gig workers, productivity the measurement, uncertainty the trade-off, and work identity – it’s continually evolving.

“…the price of such freedom is a precariousness that seems not to subside over time. Even the most successful, well-established people we interviewed still worry about money and reputation and sometimes feel that their identity is at stake.”

What does success look like in this new workplace?

“Our conclusion is that people in the gig economy must pursue a different kind of success—one that comes from finding a balance between predictability and possibility, between viability (the promise of continued work) and vitality (feeling present, authentic, and alive in one’s work). Those we interviewed do so by building holding environments around place, routines, purpose, and people, which help them sustain productivity, endure their anxieties, and even turn those feelings into sources of creativity and growth. “There’s a sense of confidence that comes from a career as a self-employed person,” one consultant told us. “You can feel that no matter how bad it gets, I can overcome this. I can change it. I can operate more from a place of choice as opposed to a place of need.”