The week@work – Davos, transition, transferable skills and a ‘profundo’ life

 

The headline of the week@work did not originate in Washington D.C., but in Davos, Switzerland: ‘Davos Elite Fret About Inequality Over Vintage Wine and Canapés’. “…globalization has reduced the bargaining power of workers, and corporations have taken advantage of it.”

In other news – January is often a month of transition, not just in government, but across all fields. Articles this week@work explored the value of being fired and finding the right ‘fit’ next time. Physicists are the new software engineers in Silicon Valley and PhDs just may be the newest entrepreneurs.

Finally, this week@work we remember Kevin Starr, who went to work every day as a historian chronicling the past of his home state, California. “I’ve always tried to write California history as American history.”

4096.jpgPeter S. Goodman covered the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum for The New York Times.

“What is striking is what generally is not discussed: bolstering the power of workers to bargain for better wages and redistributing wealth from the top to the bottom.

“That agenda is anathema to a lot of Davos men and women,” said Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate economist and author of numerous books on globalization and economic inequality. “More rights to bargain for workers, that’s the part where Davos man is going to get stuck. The stark reality is that globalization has reduced the bargaining power of workers, and corporations have taken advantage of it. ”

That perhaps private equity overseers should not be paid 1,000 times as much as teachers while availing themselves of tax breaks is thinking that gets little airing here.”

1e97282770fb153b749b691b25832c03.jpgFor those of us not networking with the super elite in the Swiss Alps, Julie Ma compiled a sampling of quotes from ’25 Famous Women on How Getting Fired Makes You Stronger’.

“If you don’t get fired at least once, you’re not trying hard enough. This isn’t quite true yet, but it is becoming truer. As the pace of change in business increases, the chances of having a placid career are receding. And if in this period of rapid change, you’re not making some notable mistakes along the way, you’re certainly not taking enough business and career chances.” Sallie Krawcheck, chair Ellevate

“Is it hard to say I was fired? No. I’ve said it about 20 times, and it’s not. I was in fact insistent that that be publicly clear because I was not ashamed of that. And I don’t think young women — it’s hard, I know — they should not feel stigmatized if they are fired. Especially in this economy people are fired right and left for arbitrary reasons, and there are sometimes forces beyond your control.”
Jill Abramson, author and faculty @Harvard

IMG_8148.jpgMost folks leave their life @work because of the ‘human factor’: colleagues, leadership and values. Sharon Daniels offered advice to those starting the job search.

“If you have passion and enthusiasm, you’re on your way. People want to be around people who have passion and enthusiasm, because we all gravitate toward something greater than ourselves. If you do something wholeheartedly versus halfheartedly, it’s going to have a completely different effect.”

Cade Metz reported on how transferable skills are changing the profile of some tech workers, ‘Move Over, Coders—Physicists Will Soon Rule Silicon Valley’.

“If physics and software engineering were subatomic particles, Silicon Valley has turned into the place where the fields collide…It’s not on purpose, exactly. “We didn’t go into the physics kindergarten and steal a basket of children,” says Stripe president and co-founder John Collison. “It just happened.” And it’s happening across Silicon Valley. Because structurally and technologically, the things that just about every internet company needs to do are more and more suited to the skill set of a physicist.”

Ainsley O’Connell described another experiment in skill transference, ‘Can Entrepreneurship Revive The Troubled PhD?’

“PhD students once dreamed of lifelong tenure, generous sabbaticals, and a closet full of jackets with elbow patches. Academic life, with its dusty-booked charm, ruled the day. No longer. Even in STEM fields, roughly 40% of PhDs are graduating without employment commitments. Could the solution be teaching postdocs to create their own jobs, as entrepreneurs?

In the heart of Manhattan, in a set of conference rooms on loan from Google, one radical experiment in postdoc entrepreneurship is now entering its fourth year. Called “Runway” and managed by Cornell Tech’s Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute, the program bills itself as “part business school, part research institution, part startup incubator.” Since its founding, Runway postdocs have founded 13 companies, from an intelligent baby monitor to an urban planning analytics platform, and collectively raised $15 million in funding.”

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Finally, this week@work, we remember Kevin Starr, former California State Librarian, professor and author of an eight-volume history of his home state ‘Americans and the California Dream’.

Colleague William Deverell remembered the historian and author as ‘A Golden State Champion’.

“I knew Kevin Starr only as profundo. He was big, his voice was big, his persona was big, his books are big, his ideas are big, his influence is big. Some, and only some, of this has now been silenced by his death Saturday. Kevin’s outsize impact and his sheer significance to both our regional and our national culture, will continue long hence. Death has robbed us of the most important guide we have ever had to our state’s history and culture, our ingenious interpreter of the elusive and many meanings of the California Dream over several centuries.”

 

 

 

 

The Friday Poem ‘Calling Him Back from Layoff’ by Bob Hicok

The Friday Poem this week captures a moment when a telephone rings and life changes for two American workers. ‘Calling Him Back from Layoff’ is poet and English professor Bob Hickok’s intimate portrait of the effects of economic downturn.

Written at a time when Detroit was the epicenter of job losses in manufacturing, the words continue to resonate today, as we address income inequality and the impermanence of the ‘gig’ economy.

Calling Him Back from Layoff 

I called a man today. After he said
hello and I said hello came a pause
during which it would have been

confusing to say hello again so I said
how are you doing and guess what, he said
fine and wondered aloud how I was

and it turns out I’m OK. He
was on the couch watching cars
painted with ads for Budweiser follow cars

painted with ads for Tide around an oval
that’s a metaphor for life because
most of us run out of gas and settle

for getting drunk in the stands
and shouting at someone in a t-shirt
we want kraut on our dog. I said

he could have his job back and during
the pause that followed his whiskers
scrubbed the mouthpiece clean

and his breath passed in and out
in the tidal fashion popular
with mammals until he broke through

with the words how soon thank you
ohmyGod which crossed his lips and drove
through the wires on the backs of ions

as one long word as one hard prayer
of relief meant to be heard
by the sky. When he began to cry I tried

with the shape of my silence to say
I understood but each confession
of fear and poverty was more awkward

than what you learn in the shower.
After he hung up I went outside and sat
with one hand in the bower of the other

and thought if I turn my head to the left
it changes the song of the oriole
and if I give a job to one stomach other

forks are naked and if tonight a steak
sizzles in his kitchen do the seven
other people staring at their phones

hear?

Bob Hicok  ‘Insomnia Diary’ University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004

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Listen to Bob Hicok read the poem for ‘Poetry Everywhere’

 

The week@work – end of summer, Wells Fargo issues an apology to artists, start-ups adapt, cycling is the new networking, and the August jobs report

In news this week@work: Wells Fargo placed advertising in advance of ‘Teen Financial Education Day’ implying the worth of career aspirations in the sciences rank above those in the arts, Silicon Valley start-ups are adapting  to anticipate a market downturn, networking has moved from the bar to the bike (that’s a good thing), and the U.S. unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.9%.

Late Saturday morning I checked my Twitter feed and found this from novelist Caroline Leavitt. Forget post-tropical cyclone Hermine, this was the Labor Day weekend’s perfect storm.

According to Forbes contributing writer, Emily Willingham,“Wells Fargo rolled out an ad campaign this week that it almost immediately withdrew following on Internet outrage from a lot of angry artists and humanities professors. That may not sound that scary, but these folks know how to use words and emote.

The ads, using images depicting teens engaging in sciencey things, urge us to “get them ready for tomorrow” by ensuring that the aspiring ballerinas and actors of today become engineers and botanists of the future…

The message here is, of course, that the future is science. That becoming a ballerina or an actor is a dreamscape fairytale that has no place in a real world of cold hard cash and sciencey-sounding things like botany. Imagine if some parents buy into that ad’s message and try to push their budding ballerina into botany instead. The world loses an artist and gains a mediocre, uninterested botanist who’s given up her life’s dream? Lose–lose.”

This was not just a ‘business section’ story. Olivia Clement reported on Broadway’s reaction on Playbill.com.

“A new advertising campaign from Wells Fargo, an American banking and financial services company, has prompted outrage from the theatre community. The ads imply that it is more valuable for young people to pursue a career in the sciences rather than the arts.

A Wells Fargo brochure depicts a young man in a science lab. “An actor yesterday. A botanist today. Let’s get them ready for tomorrow,” reads the accompanying text. Another, depicting a young woman in a lab, reads: “A ballerina yesterday. An engineer today.”

Among those to express their disappointment and frustration at the campaign on September 3 were Alex Brightman, Ann Harada, Cynthia Erivo, Heather Headley and Benj Pasek—who took to Twitter to call out the company directly. “Apparently @WellsFargo doesn’t think that an actor or ballerina require any work at all. Shame!” read Erivo’s tweet.”

Wells Fargo apologized via Twitter late Saturday.

Anticipating the end of the boom, Katie Benner delivered a tech industry status report, ‘Warned of a Crash, Start-Ups in Silicon Valley Narrow Their Focus’.

“Last year, many tech executives, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs were convinced that a multiyear boom that had propelled young companies to great heights could no longer sustain itself.

The worst fallout may yet come, but many of the start-ups have hung on. Across Silicon Valley, engineers are still commanding annual salaries that average $136,000, according to Hired, a recruiting firm. Demand is brisk for $4 buttered toast, and office space rents remain near record highs. The biggest start-ups, like Uber and Airbnb, continue to land billions of dollars in funding. And investors are shoveling money into venture capital funds, which raised so much cash in the first half of this year that it rivaled the amount raised in all of 2015.

For all of the hand-wringing, “there just hasn’t been much of a downturn,” said Paul Buchheit, a managing partner at Y Combinator, a prominent start-up incubator that nurtured companies including Dropbox and Airbnb. “I don’t even see many companies going out of business.”

Wondering where you might meet one of those tech execs or VCs? This past week Sarah Max covered a story that has been growing globally over the past year, ‘Cycling Matches the Pace and Pitches of Tech’. In other words, cycling is the new networking.

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“Thinking he needed to take up a “California sport,” Greg Gretsch started cycling in 1988, when he moved to the Bay Area to work in marketing at Apple after graduating from the University of Georgia. He bought a 10-speed road bike and joined a group of other Apple employees for a standing noon ride.

Today, Mr. Gretsch, 49, is a founding partner with San Francisco-based Jackson Square Ventures, which makes early-stage investments in fledgling companies, including a social network and performance-tracking app for athletes call Strava. He rides an average of five days a week on paved roads in the Bay Area and on trails near his second home near Lake Tahoe. Cycling is primarily for exercise and escape, he said, but it has also been good for his career.

“Connecting with people is important to what I do, and you can learn a lot about a person, and from a person, on the bike,” said Mr. Gretsch, who founded three companies before going into venture capital in 2000 at a firm called Sigma Partners.”

On Friday, the U.S. Labor Department released the August jobs report. Camila Domonoske summarized the data for NPR.

“The U.S. added 151,000 new jobs in August and the unemployment rate held steady at 4.9 percent, according to the monthly jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Both those metrics fell short of expectations: Economists were expecting about 180,000 new jobs, and a slight dip in the unemployment rate, to 4.8 percent…”

Finally, this week@work, we celebrated the last weekend of summer.

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Photo credit: Boulder cyclists, Cliff Grassmick, Daily Camera

 

The one thing every Olympian should do before they leave Rio 2016

The one thing every Olympian should do before they leave Rio is update their social media identity across all platforms.

For a brief moment in time Olympic athletes capture the global stage and water cooler conversations. It’s not only those who make the podium, but those we discover in the diverse narratives of their journeys to Rio. The majority will return to their home countries as national heroes, contributing to society, away from the media spotlight. A few may return as coaches or commentators in four years. Most will miss the opportunity to capture the Olympic experience as a bridge to the next phase of their career.

In the past I have worked with returning  Olympians who hesitate to include their achievements in sport on their resume. The most competitive athletes are the most reticent to record their accomplishments.

They just don’t think it’s relevant. It is.

In the global workplace, it’s not just the resume; social media communicates talent instantaneously to potential employers. Your professional image is transmitted through your social media identity.

On Saturday, American Virginia Thrasher won the first gold medal awarded at the games in the women’s the 10-meter air rifle. Within a few hours she was taking her first TV interview on NBC, describing her hectic schedule of additional events and starting her sophomore year at West Virginia University.

In describing her life over the next couple of weeks, Thrasher gave voice to the stress that accompanies the life of every student athlete, combining sport with academics. Often lost, is time for reflection on how these experiences transform the athlete into a professional @work.

How do you build the bridge from sport to work on social media?

Take a look at your social media presence across all platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter…

Do all the pieces fit into a unifying narrative? If not, it’s time to edit. As an Olympian, expectations have been raised and your online image should reflect your aspirations vs. social missteps.

Have you created links to videos and press coverage of your accomplishments?

Do you post videos and press coverage on your Twitter account?

Have you checked with third party sites to ensure your profile information is up to date?

Do you have an account on LinkedIn? (If you’re making the transition from sport to your next career, this component of your professional online identity is critical as you build your ‘next career’ network.)

There are many athletes who hesitate to be defined by their sport, but the skills developed in pursuit of Olympic gold closely match those sought by potential employers: teamwork, goal orientation, communications, problem-solving, and resilience.

Whether you are a summer Olympian, or a star on your own professional stage, it’s time to seize the moment and refresh you social media identity.

 

Photo credit: US Women’s Rugby Seven – Geoff Burke for USA TODAY Sports

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I did this summer…

What happened to summer? Is it me, or does time go by more quickly after July 4? Before your experiences of the past few months are lost in the excitement of fall work assignments, take some time to reflect on what you learned.

Did you travel, study, volunteer or all of the above? Did your curiosity lead you to interviews with folks outside your career field? What did you learn about yourself?

Catalog your experience including the skills you acquired or any challenges you overcame. Some of these will fall naturally into a resume, but others will provide the content for future professional conversations.

How did you grow as an individual or as a professional? Can you identify ways to link your summer experience to your current work?

Sanity and survival compel us to try to separate work from the rest of our lives. But when we return to work after vacation, maintaining the separation can be a barrier to creativity.

Refreshing the view allows us to be open to new opportunities.

Develop a narrative that tells your story of the summer – a story that incorporates all the elements of the ‘new and improved’ you. Keep it simple. Focus on experience that adds value to your ‘brand @work’.

A conversation poolside that sparked an idea for a new product. An article/book that offered an alternative approach to problem-solving. A civic engagement project that spurred ideas to motivate your team. A faculty member or classmate who provided a connection to a potential new client.

Or, did the chance to step away and just daydream provide new insight into your next career?

 

 

 

 

‘Other duties as assigned’- In search of a congressional job description

Last week members of the U.S. House of Representatives staged a ‘sit in’ on the House floor – #NoBillNoBreak and then went home. In London, Members of Parliament argued the outcome of the #Brexit vote, trying to gain a foothold in a new world order. It got me thinking. With all this visibility, maybe more folks would be interested in a career as a congressman/congresswoman or MP.

Like any job seeker, I decided to look for a job description. You know, one of those outlines of responsibilities and ‘other duties as assigned’. I started my research where we all start, on Google.

For the UK, it was quite easy to come up with an ‘MP’s generic job description’ on the official UK Parliament website. Although it seems not to have been updated since 2001, it clearly sets out the scope of the job.

Job purpose

Represent, defend and promote national interests and further the needs and interests of constituents wherever possible.

Principal accountabilities

1.Help furnish and maintain Government and Opposition so that the business of parliamentary democracy may proceed.

2.Monitor, stimulate and challenge the Executive in order to influence and where possible change government action in ways which are considered desirable.

3.Initiate, seek to amend and review legislation so as to help maintain a continually relevant and appropriate body of law.

4.Establish and maintain a range of contacts throughout the constituency, and proper knowledge of its characteristics, so as to identify and understand issues affecting it and, wherever possible, further the interests of the constituency generally.

5.Provide appropriate assistance to individual constituents, through using knowledge of local and national government agencies and institutions, to progress and where possible help resolve their problems.

6.Contribute to the formulation of party policy to ensure that it reflects views and national needs which are seen to be relevant and important.

7.Promote public understanding of party policies in the constituency, media and elsewhere to facilitate the achievement of party objectives.

It’s even written in clear ‘accomplishment’ language that can easily transfer to a resume or CV.

Next, I searched House.gov, the official website of the U.S. House of Representatives. This is what I came up with.

What is a Representative?

Also referred to as a congressman or congresswoman, each representative is elected to a two-year term serving the people of a specific congressional district. Among other duties, representatives introduce bills and resolutions, offer amendments and serve on committees.

Not very accomplishment oriented.

Maybe I was using the wrong search terms. Following logic, I decided to check if there was a ‘new employee handbook’. There is – a ‘Members Congressional Handbook’ that spells out, in painful detail, staff categories, office expenses, communications, travel and House Documents. Still no job description. But clearly, you need to hire folks, budget, manage a staff, talk to colleagues, travel and submit expense reports.

And then there is the fundraising. A CBS 60 Minutes segment examined another ‘job requirement’ – telemarketing – for 30 hours a week.

“The American public has a low opinion of Congress. Only 14 percent think it’s doing a good job. But Congress has excelled in one way. Raising money. Members of Congress raised more than a billion dollars for their 2014 election. And they never stop.”

Check the box on fundraising, but 30 hours?

Here’s my question. How can we measure our representatives without a job description? We think they’re not doing a good job, but where in that short paragraph does it spell out how a member of Congress ‘serves’ the people.

In the UK, elected leaders are beginning a process to decouple from the European Union, not because they want to, but because the democratic referendum requires them to proceed. They have a job description that clearly guides their actions.

In the U.S. if you are 25, a U.S. citizen for seven years, and a resident of the district you wish to represent, you can begin the process to run for election. But what are you running for?

I think it’s time to create a few goals for our elected leaders; not political, but aspirational. For example – at the end of your two year term you will have effectively represented your constituents by visiting, listening and communicating their hopes for this country to your colleagues. You will represent the interests of your party as long as they coincide with the interests of your district. And when your personal views contradict those you represent, you will have the courage to be a servant leader.

We all operate in a workplace where half our day is spent doing things outside our job description. The point is, we are compensated for what we were hired to do. When the ‘other duties as assigned’ overwhelm our original purpose, it’s time to redefine the scope of what we do.

It’s time for a job description for Congress.

 

 

 

 

Should I accept an offer with an organization embroiled in controversy?

Imagine a scenario where you are nearing the end of the candidate selection process for your dream job, and news breaks that the organization is under federal investigation. What do you do?

A post on the Fast Company website last week, ‘How To Hire When Your Company Is Embroiled in Controversy’, summarized expert advice to organizations who continue to recruit new employees while managing a crisis.

Veteran recruiter, Dave Carvahal was quoted in the piece, offering recruitment advice – “Be honest about where you actually are, the problems that exist, and the media attention amplification,” he says. Recruiting is about human relationships, Carvajal explains, pointing out that hiring managers shouldn’t be afraid to be vulnerable. “Emotions can be powerful allies in lifting our common humanity,” says Carvajal. “They build trust.”

Reality check – organizations who are being investigated by the Feds, or who are facing bankruptcy inducing lawsuits are probably not the most forthcoming with the truth. You cannot ‘spin’ fraud.

Recruiting is about relationships, ethical relationships. Working for a company in crisis may be a platform for a ‘budding’ leader to achieve visibility, but it’s no place to embark on a new career.

Reading the story was a ‘deja vu’ moment for me, reminiscent of 2002.

In January 2002, Arthur Andersen, then one of the ‘big five’ accounting firms found itself being investigated because of irregularities in its relationship with Enron. As congress grilled company executives, corporate recruiters continued to aggressively woo potential hires to accept offers. Candidates who had been initially attracted to the values of the organization began to question their decision. For most, the recruiting season was over. They had committed to Andersen and declined alternate offers.

Three months later, in April of 2002, Arthur Andersen laid off 7,000 employees. Soon after they began to recind offers to new employees. The folks who had been actively recruiting on college campuses had been simultaneously updating their own resumes.

My advice then, and today, if you find your dream employer had transitioned into public nightmare, withdraw yourself from consideration. This is not negotiable. Whatever perception you had of a cultural ‘fit’ has been disrupted by negative publicity. Your reputation is your brand.

If there’s ever a time to let common sense be your guide, it’s when your career trajectory collides with ‘above the fold’ news. Mobilize your networking resources to assist as you recalibrate your strategy.

Once you have declined the offer, reconnect with the organizations that had previously demonstrated an interest in hiring you, and reestablish the relationship. Be candid about what has triggered your change of heart. If it’s in the news, your alternate employers will be well aware of your motivation.

Job search is about long term relationship management. From your first internship to retirement, maintaining and nurturing your professional contacts is a priority for long term success, and overcoming the challenges posed by the rare, ‘questionable’ employer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The week@work – guaranteed basic income, college grad stats, internet trends and the world’s longest tunnel opens

This week@work the Swiss electorate rejected a ballot measure to provide a guaranteed basic income for citizens, the college graduate unemployment rate is 2.4%, with history majors matching mid-career salaries of business school grads, Mary Meeker projected her 2016 internet trends and 2,600 workers completed 17 years of work to open the world’s longest tunnel under the Alps.

On Saturday Swiss voters rejected a proposed plan to provide an unconditional monthly income of 2,500 francs by a margin of 77% to 23%.

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Philip Oltermann surveyed the growing economic trends toward guaranteed basic income, ‘State handout for all? Europe set to pilot universal basic incomes’.

“Universal basic income has a rare appeal across the political spectrum. For those on the left, it promises to eliminate poverty and liberate people stuck in dead-end workfare jobs. Small-state libertarians believe it could slash bureaucracy and create a leaner, more self-sufficient welfare system.

In an increasingly digital economy, it would also provide a necessary injection of cash so people can afford to buy the apps and gadgets produced by the new robot workforce.

Crucially, it is also an idea that seems to resonate across the wider public. A recent poll by Dalia Research found that 68% of people across all 28 EU member states said they would definitely or probably vote for a universal basic income initiative. Finland and the Netherlands have pilot projects in the pipeline.”

The New Yorker contributor, Mark Gimein summarized recent discussions on the topic, comparing U.S. views to European counterparts.

“…when they look further into the future, Americans talk about a national minimum income in the context of a jobless future, an employment apocalypse in which workers compete for fewer and fewer good jobs. Robert Reich, the former labor secretary, sees a national guaranteed income as the most likely endgame in an economy with “more and more people getting pushed out of the middle class into the personal service sector of the economy getting lower and lower wages.” When the Swiss talk about basic income, they’re talking about a utopian vision. When Americans like Reich talk about it, it’s a last bulwark against national impoverishment.”

‘The Upshot’ analyzed the May unemployment numbers and drew a positive spin on disappointing results. “A better gauge of the underlying rate of jobs growth is to take an average over the past three months. By that measure, the labor market is creating around 116,000 jobs per month. This is a notable slowdown from jobs growth in the 150,000-250,000 range over most of the past five years. But it’s a slowdown and not a sudden stop.”

Here’s the good news for college grads. In a separate post, the folks @UpshotNYT posed this question: “What do you think the unemployment rate is for 25-to-30-year-olds who graduated from a four-year college?”  Most folks guessed high. The actual rate is 2.4%, without a four-year college degree it’s 7%.

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While we’re on the topic of debunking ‘value of college myths’, let’s turn to a story about the much maligned history majors. (Full disclosure, I was one)

Writing in the LA Times, James Grossman, executive director of the American Historical Association lamented the decline enrollment in undergraduate history programs and countered with new research that suggests undergrads might want to reconsider their choice of major.

“Over the long run, …graduates in history and other humanities disciplines do well financially…after 15 years, those philosophy majors have more lucrative careers than college graduates with business degrees. History majors’ mid-career salaries are on par with those holding business bachelor’s degrees. Notably these salary findings exclude those who went on to attain a law or other graduate degree.

The utility of disciplines that prepare critical thinkers escapes personnel offices, pundits and politicians (some of whom perhaps would prefer that colleges graduate more followers and fewer leaders). But it shouldn’t. Labor markets in the United States and other countries are unstable and unpredictable. In this environment — especially given the expectation of career changes — the most useful degrees are those that can open multiple doors, and those that prepare one to learn rather than do some specific thing.”

On Wednesday The New York Times announced ‘the Internet is over’. They are changing their style rule to join the rest of the world to lowercase the word ‘internet’.

The same day, venture capitalist Mary Meeker presented her 2016 internet trends report. Inc. contributor, Jessica Stillman cited five ‘take-aways’ from the deck of 200 slides.

“Internet growth is slowing dramatically. Advertisers aren’t spending enough on mobile. Privacy concerns are “a ticking time bomb.”Search is about to be revolutionized…and so are messaging apps.”

Moving from technology trends to engineering marvels, BBC News reported on the opening of the Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland, culminating 17 years of work by 26,000 workers.

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“Swiss engineer Carl Eduard Gruner first imagined it in 1947: a massive tunnel, unprecedented in length, buried a mile and a half under Switzerland’s symbolic Gotthard mountain range.

Nearly seven decades later, after redesigns, political disagreements and the long, slow work of drilling beneath the Gotthard massif, as it’s called, Gruner’s dream is complete.

The Gotthard Base Tunnel — a record-setting 35.4 miles long, and farther below ground than any other tunnel — was inaugurated Wednesday. The occasion was marked with a celebration that promoted “Swiss values such as innovation, precision and reliability…”

Now the completed tunnel, delivered on time and within budget, will create a mainline rail connection between Rotterdam in the Netherlands and Genoa in Italy.

When full services begin in December, the journey time for travellers between Zurich and Milan will be reduced by an hour to two hours and 40 minutes.

About 260 freight trains and 65 passenger trains will pass through the tunnel each day in a journey taking as little as 17 minutes.”

The mysteries of networking #4 ‘missed opportunities’

Many of us consider networking a ‘dark art’ that requires a magical ‘insiders’ key to gain access to the influential. What we miss is the daily opportunity to connect, as we ride the bus, the train or stand in a long TSA line at the airport. Wisdom can present itself in all shapes and sizes if you open yourself to conversation.

This past week, consultant, Whitney Johnson shared a recent experience via a post on LinkedIn,  ‘An airline cancelled my flight and put me in a van. Along the way, I got lots of lessons on how *not* to network.’

After offering a fellow traveller, a member of the Class of 2016, a ride home after a diverted flight, she realized her passenger had no clue how to network.

“As I was giving him a lift home, I learned a lot about him: his name, where he grew up, where he goes to school, his major, what his parents do for a living, his own career aspirations when he graduates in a few months. We even discovered that we have an acquaintance in common. Meanwhile, I made a few mentions of my children, such as my 19 year-old son is living in Brazil, my husband teaches at a local university. Conversation starters.

I’ll confess I felt a little invisible—and exasperated. I find it easy to ask people about themselves. I genuinely enjoy doing it. It’s one of my strengths, and we’re often exasperated with people who aren’t likewise adept at the things that we do well.

But here’s the real take-away from this chance encounter: this young man is looking for a job when he graduates in a month… I could have potentially helped him, if he’d just shown a little of the moxie that would have motivated me to recommend him.”

This is not just about a ‘newbie’ to the job search process, it’s a story that recurs daily. Just walk through an airport departure area and observe the diversity of folks and contrast that with the homogeneity of technical disconnection. Each individual, existing in the ‘comfort cocoon’ of their temporary piece of real estate, happily texting colleagues and friends, totally ignorant of the ‘chance’ professional encounter in the adjoining seat.

There’s no magic in networking. The magic is in the conversation, perhaps leading to a relationship. All of us harbor ideas and dreams. What are they, if not shared?

This afternoon, seize the moment, and start a conversation with a stranger, or maybe the acquaintance you pass in the hall every day. Listen, share, and you may be on your way to mastering the ‘not so mysterious’ art of networking.

The week@work – Millennial myths, millennials@home and relocation stagnation

Apparently, Americans are less geographically mobile today than at any point since 1948. Interesting fact to contemplate as 38 million of us return from our adventures over the holiday weekend. It probably doesn’t help that for the first time, young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 are more likely to live at home, with their parents. Experts, not just parents, are voicing concerns about how this relocation stagnation is destroying what economists refer to as ‘dynamism’ in the job market.

This week@work we take a look back at the week’s stories of millennial myths and our dwindling pioneer spirit.

In April we reached a generational tipping point, when the number of folks between the ages of 18 and 34, aka millennials, overtook Americans between 51 and 69, the baby boomers, by 75.4 million to 74.9 million. And, as every move of the post WWII generation was observed and chronicled, so have we had this new majority under the microscope. It has been quite a lucrative vocation for the thousands of corporate consultants who advise executives on recruitment and retention.

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But what if they got it wrong? Farad Manjoo thinks the “collectively homogenous cliche” portrayed in the media is a far cry from reality and believes it’s time to break away from the stereotypes. Thank-you.

“If your management or marketing theories involve collapsing all millennials into a catchall anthropological category — as if you’re dealing with space aliens or some newly discovered aboriginal tribe that’s suddenly invaded modernity — you’re doing it wrong.

Kim Parker, director of social trends research at the Pew Research Center, said demographers have noted large differences in millennials: Compared to older cohorts, they tend to be more socially liberal when it comes to issues like gay marriage and marijuana use, they marry later in life, and they are less enamored of traditional religious and political institutions. Looking at these shifts over time “is a useful construct when you’re trying to analyze a whole population,” Ms. Parker said.

But these broad trends leave lots of room for individual differences that matter in the real world, and that are often papered over when we talk about millennials as a monolithic collective.

Considering that millennials are the most diverse generation — spanning many racial, ethnic and income categories — intragenerational differences are bound to play an important role when you’re talking about individual people. Though both are “millennials,” a young immigrant working three sharing-economy gigs is likely to look at the world very differently from a trust-fund baby who’s tending his Tumblr in Brooklyn. Yet only one of these stereotypes tends to make it into media accounts of millennials.”

The busy folks at Pew Research released additional millennial data this week, “For First Time in Modern Era, Living With Parents Edges Out Other Living Arrangements for 18- to 34-Year-Olds”.

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“It’s worth noting that the overall share of young adults living with their parents was not at a record high in 2014. This arrangement peaked around 1940, when about 35% of the nation’s 18- to 34-year-olds lived with mom and/or dad (compared with 32% in 2014). What has changed, instead, is the relative share adopting different ways of living in early adulthood, with the decline of romantic coupling pushing living at home to the top of a much less uniform list of living arrangements.”

Gillian B. White examined ‘The False Stereotypes About Millennials Who Live at Home’ for The Atlantic.

“…the Millennials who are most likely to wind up living with their relatives are those who come from already marginalized groups that are plagued with low employment, low incomes, and low prospects for moving up the economic ladder. Millennials who live at home are also more likely to be minorities, more likely to be unemployed, and less likely to have a college degree. Living at home is particularly understandable for those who started school and took out loans, but didn’t finish their bachelor’s degree. These Millennials shoulder the burden of student-loan debt without the added benefits of increased job prospects, which can make living with a parent the most viable option.

And while there may be comedic fodder in the idea of adult children trying to share space with their parents, staying at home for many Millennials and their family isn’t all that funny. For parents who are struggling to make ends meet, an extra mouth to feed or the inability to downsize to a smaller place can be truly burdensome. For many Millennials, moving out, even if they want to, could lead them to make financial decisions that would put them in an even more precarious place, and that’s precisely the opposite of what they, or the economy, need.”

Why will we travel 2,500 miles from home to attend our ‘first choice’ college, and yet resist relocation to a new urban environment for a job? Why do we spend a semester abroad in an internship or academic program and fail to accept a job offer fifty miles from home?

Has our pioneering spirit disappeared in the noise of descending helicopter parents, or are there more serious institutional prohibitions to career adventure?

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American Enterprise Institute president, and conservative author, Arthur C. Brooks offered advice on how to get America moving again, painting a grim picture of our current adventure deficit.

“Through census data, we know that Americans are less geographically mobile today than at any point since 1948. Other scholarship suggests that the decline stretches back further. This might help explain why our country is having such a hard time getting out of its national funk.

Mobility is more than just a metaphor for getting ahead. In America, it has been a solution to economic and social barriers. If you descended from immigrants, I’m betting your ancestors didn’t come to this country for the fine cuisine. More likely they came in search of the opportunity to work hard and get ahead.

Even for those already here, migration has long been seen as a key to self-improvement. As Horace Greeley so famously advised in 1865: “Go west, young man, and grow up with the country.”

Patricia Cohen followed up with a more in-depth review, ‘A Dearth of Pioneers’.

“Staying put can mean that workers are not moving to jobs where they would be more productive. At the same time, many are forgoing the raises and ascents on the career ladder that often come with a job switch. Fewer openings can also have a ripple effect, shrinking the bargaining power of workers in general, making it tougher to ask for a bump up in pay.

The declining churn in the labor market may surprise those who assumed that the era of lifelong employment capped by a gold watch had given way to serial job-hopping. But the reality is more complicated, said Abigail Wozniak, an economist at the University of Notre Dame and one of the authors of a new report on the subject. While it is true that fewer people have very long tenures at a single company, she said, that trend has been swamped by a countervailing one: People are not moving as much out of what used to be entry-level and temporary jobs.

One of the more intriguing findings was the role of declining social trust and what is known as social capital — the web of family, friends and professional contacts. For example, the proportion of people who agree with the statement, “Most people can be trusted,” has been shrinking for more than three decades. Researchers found that states with larger declines in social trust also had larger declines in labor market fluidity. The lack of trust may increase the cost of job-hunting and make both employees and employers more risk-averse.

As social trust diminishes, people may feel more comfortable sticking closer to home where the faces are familiar even if job opportunities are scarcer, researchers suggested.”