The week@work – ‘I’MPossible, steady job gains, robots, the multi-lingual advantage, and digital addiction

This week@work a South African big wave surfer completed his Atlantic crossing via paddleboard, the U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 4.7%, research revealed speaking multiple languages restructures our brain, and the time you are spending reading this on your smartphone just may be a symptom of addiction.

What have you been doing @work since December 6, 2016? Chris Bertish, an accomplished surfer, left Morocco on that Tuesday headed for Florida. John Clarke reported ‘Chris Bertish Becomes First to Cross Atlantic by Paddleboard’.

“Bertish left the Agadir Marina in Morocco on Dec. 6. and planned to make the 4,600-mile, open-ocean passage unsupported and unassisted on a 20-foot stand-up paddleboard to Florida in four months.

He changed course south to Antigua because of low pressure systems and volatile weather, completing the 4,050-mile crossing in 93 days, arriving at 8:32 a.m. local time. Bertish averaged 44 miles a day — mostly at night to avoid exposure to the sun — and alternated between resting and paddling every two or three hours.

He made an estimated two million paddle strokes during the journey.”

In other good news, Ana Swanson examined the detail behind the unemployment figures, ‘U.S. added 235,000 jobs in February; unemployment rate dropped to 4.7 percent’.

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“The U.S. economy added a healthy 235,000 jobs in February, according to government data released Friday morning, surpassing economists’ expectations and likely clearing the way for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates this month.

The unemployment rate ticked down to 4.7 percent, compared with 4.8 percent in January, and wages rose by 6 cents to $26.09 in February, after a 5-cent increase the month before.”

In a related story, Claire Cain Miller offered strategies on ‘How to Beat the Robots’.

“The problem, at least for now, is not that there isn’t enough work — there is, but it is very different from the kind of work technology is displacing. Manufacturing and warehousing jobs are shrinking, while jobs that provide services (health care, child care, elder care, education, food) are growing.”

A number of elements in combination could establish viable competition with the robots: education that encourages flexibility and life-long learning, guaranteed basic income, profit sharing, and experimenting with non-traditional approaches to work.

Author Gabrielle Hogan-Brun‘s research has found ‘People who speak multiple languages make the best employees for one big reason’.

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“Speaking a different language—whether it’s your grandparents’ tongue or high-school Spanish—fundamentally changes the structure of your brain. Put a bunch of these malleable minds together in a company, and you create the potential for some truly original thinking.

Observations of multi-language work teams show that mixed-language groups have a propensity to find innovative solutions for practical problems. This is because they use a range of communication strategies in flexible and dynamic ways. When speakers from different language backgrounds work together using a common language, they draw on subconscious concepts that lie below the surface of the language they happen to be conversing in.

These findings show that bilingual people may have highly valued employment attributes: analytical thinking, conceptualizing ability, working memory, and dexterity. Clearly, these skills are assets when it comes to rational planning, managing complexity, and problem solving, which are central for executive function.”

Claudia Dreifus interviewed social psychologist, Adam Alter to discover ‘Why We Can’t Look Away From Our Screens’.

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“Why do you claim that many of the new electronic gadgets have fueled behavioral addictions?”

“Well, look at what people are doing. In one survey, 60 percent of the adults said they keep their cellphones next to them when they sleep. In another survey, half the respondents claimed they check their emails during the night.

Moreover, these new gadgets turn out to be the perfect delivery devices for addictive media. If games and social media were once confined to our home computers, portable devices permit us to engage with them everywhere.

Today, we’re checking our social media constantly, which disrupts work and everyday life. We’ve become obsessed with how many “likes” our Instagram photos are getting instead of where we are walking and whom we are talking to.”

In closing this week@work, this morning’s tweet from Chris Bertish:

“As you head into the new week, remember the mantra that got me through 93 days on the Atlantic…Nothing is impossible, unless you believe it to be”

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The week@work – The ‘Fallows question’, flexibility@work and the long term impact of student debt

On Saturday Night Live actor Cecily Strong delivered a line that summed up what many of us are feeling this week@work, “I want one day without a CNN alert that scares the hell out of me.” 

It got me thinking about the question Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg posed to the Barnard Class of 2011, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

This week@work The New York Times Op-Ed Columnist David Brooks posed ‘the Fallows question’“If you could move to the place on earth where history is most importantly being made right now, where would you go?”

“James and Deborah Fallows have always moved to where history is being made…James and Deb have an excellent sense of where world-shaping events are taking place at any moment — and a fervent commitment to be there to see it happen.

If you want to “observe” history, the Fallows say, go to Washington. If you want to “participate,” go elsewhere.”

If you weren’t afraid, and could pick up and move to where the action is, where would you go? Brooks offered a few destinations to start, but just maybe, this week@work you might spend some time considering a temporary relocation “in search of history”.

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Folks@work are moving forward, finding ways to succeed independent of national politics. Some voice concern about the potential impact of new policies on their workplace, while others seek ways to express a response in their work. For many, the challenges of the gender gap and student debt remain a constant, often extending into retirement.

Claire Cain Miller examined the tension in employer expectations between flexibility and presence@work in ‘How to Close a Gender Gap: Let Employees Control Their Schedules’.

“The main reason for the gender gaps at work — why women are paid less, why they’re less likely to reach the top levels of companies, and why they’re more likely to stop working after having children — is employers’ expectation that people spend long hours at their desks, research has shown.

Flexibility regarding the time and place that work gets done would go a long way toward closing the gaps, economists say.

A new job search company, Werk, is trying to address the problem by negotiating for flexibility with employers before posting jobs, so employees don’t have to.”

And then there are the financial pressures; spanning generations from twenty-somethings being subsidized by parents, as their grandparents face social security payment garnishment to repay outstanding student loan debt.

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Quoctrung Bui reported on ‘A Secret of Many Urban 20-Somethings: Their Parents Help With the Rent’.

“According to surveys that track young people through their first decade of adulthood, about 40 percent of 22-, 23- and 24-year-olds receive some financial assistance from their parents for living expenses. Among those who get help, the average amount is about $3,000 a year.

It’s a stark reminder that social and economic mobility continues past grade school, high school and even college. Economic advantages continue well into the opening chapters of adulthood, a time when young people are making big personal investments that typically lead to higher incomes but can be hard to pay for.”

On the other side of the generation spectrum, The Editorial Board of The New York Times identified an emerging trend threatening older Americans, ‘Haunted by Student Debt Past Age 50’.

“The experience of being crushed by student debt is no longer limited to the young. New federal data shows millions of Americans who are retired or nearing retirement face this burden, as well as the possibility of having their Social Security benefits garnished to make payments.

Americans age 60 and older are the fastest-growing age group of student loan debtors. Older debtors, many of whom live hand-to-mouth on fixed incomes, are more likely to default. When that occurs with federal loans, as happens with nearly 40 percent of such borrowers who are 65 and over, the government can seize a portion of their Social Security payments — even if it pushes them into poverty. About 20,000 Americans over the age of 50 in 2015 had their Social Security checks cut below the poverty line because of student loans, with poverty-level benefits falling even further for 50,000 others, according to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office.”

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The last story this week@work, highlights the importance of art@work and in our lives. The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced the next step in their digital evolution – open access to over 375,000 archive images. (Monet’s ‘Garden at Sainte-Adresse’, 1867 above)

The week@work – Davos, Sundance, transparency and the benefits of procrastination

This week@work world leaders and policy gurus headed to Davos, Switzerland for the annual World Economic Forum, actors and directors arrived in Park City, Utah for the Sundance Film Festival and the rest of us enjoyed a snow day without the airfare. Transparency was suggested as a way to close the pay gap and provide a fair balloting process for the Oscars. And finally, for you procrastinators, research finds your approach to problem solving is more creative.

Of all the tweets emanating from the World Economic Forum, the most stunning came from Sharan Burrow, participating on ‘The New Climate and Development Imperative’ panel. Ms. Burrow is General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation. In discussing the drivers of action for development and climate targets she stated, “For workers, there are no jobs on a dead planet.” If that doesn’t bring home the reality of climate change to each global citizen, I’m not sure what will.

One of the ten major global challenges identified by the WEF poses the question, What does the world of work look like today and what will it look like in the future?

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“The scale of the employment challenge is vast. The International Labour Organization estimates that more than 61 million jobs have been lost since the start of the global economic crisis in 2008, leaving more than 200 million people unemployed globally.

Nearly 500 million new jobs will need to be created by 2020 to provide opportunities to those currently unemployed and to the young people who are projected to join the workforce over the next few years.

At the same time, many industries are facing difficulty hiring qualified staff. One 2015 survey found that, globally, 38% of all employers are reporting difficulty filling jobs, a two-percentage point rise from 2014.

Put simply, we need jobs for the hundreds of millions of unemployed people around the world, and we need the skilled employees that businesses are struggling to find.”

Two additional perspectives of the Davos conference were provided by Alexandra Stevenson for The New York Times, ‘Glass Ceilings at Davos, Now on the Agenda’, and Anne Marie Slaughter‘s ‘A Tale of Two Feminisms at Davos’.

Several time zones west, the Sundance Film Festival began its ten day run in Park City, Utah. Since 1978, it has been the place for independent film makers to show their dramatic and documentary films. A number of these films eventually became Oscar nominees, which brings us to a conversation on transparency.

For the past two weeks, since the announcement of the Academy Awards, the major recognition for those who work in film, the conversation has centered on the lack of progress in diversifying the industry and its major export, films. How many of us even knew how the voting was done as we mindlessly watch red carpet arrivals and comment on fashion, performances and our bets to win?

Glenn Whipp of the LA Times shared ‘Here’s How Oscar Voting Is Done’.

“Who nominates the actors for the Oscars? And how does the voting process work? Here’s a step-by-step primer:

The Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences has 6,261 voting members. The entire body votes for best picture.

Nominations for most of the remaining categories are determined by the balloting of the academy’s various branches. A committee selects the foreign-language film nominees.”

The full article, though short, will definitely make your hair hurt, and prompt the question, why the delay in reform?

Film mogul, actor and producer, Tyler Perry offered his solution “If the Academy – I think all this would go away if they revealed the votes,” Perry said. “If you look at a movie like ‘Straight Outta Compton’ right and just say it got 1,000 votes and ‘The Revenant’ got 1, 001 votes, is that racism or is it just this is the way the votes went?”

We might all benefit from transparency and a clear set of rules beyond the intersection of Hollywood and Vine. Claire Cain Miller proposes we “publish everyone’s pay” as one answer to ‘What We Can Do to Close the Pay Gap’.

“When the comedian Ricky Gervais joked that he was paid the same to host the Golden Globes as the actresses Tina Fey and Amy Poehler — combined — his barbed humor most likely resonated in many workplaces.

When employers publish people’s salaries, the pay gap shrinks.

Jake Rosenfeld, a sociologist at Washington University, has found that salary transparency raises wages, in part by lending legitimacy to employees’ arguments in wage bargaining. “Even being cognizant of gender pay disparity being an issue can change norms,” he said.

That has been true in the public sector, where disclosing pay information is often required. Alexandre Mas, an economist at Princeton, studied the effects of a 2010 California law that required cities to publish municipal salaries. It prompted pay cuts, but only among men.

Women might have been spurred to negotiate after seeing that their salaries were lower, he theorized, or cities might have made salaries more equitable to avoid lawsuits.”

Bottom line, there are a lot of global and domestic problems to be solved and they require serious thought, teamwork and creativity.

Wharton professor Adam Grant shared the benefits of re-thinking his pre-crastination habit in ‘Why I Taught Myself to Procrastinate’, and found “..while procrastination is a vice for productivity, I’ve learned — against my natural inclinations — that it’s a virtue for creativity. It turns out postponement can encourage divergent thinking.

A few years ago, though, one of my most creative students, Jihae Shin, questioned my expeditious habits. She told me her most original ideas came to her after she procrastinated. I challenged her to prove it. She got access to a couple of companies, surveyed people on how often they procrastinated, and asked their supervisors to rate their creativity. Procrastinators earned significantly higher creativity scores than pre-crastinators like me.”

 

 

 

The year @work – equal pay, organization culture, Mark Zuckerberg’s books, the widening class divide, space exploration & Hamilton

Topics of work and the workplace often captured the headlines in 2015. And some of those headlines seemed to echo the 1970’s. As the economy improved, the wage gap between rich and poor increased. And we are still talking about equal pay for equal work.

One flashback was posted on the NPR website on January 2 in tribute to former New York governor, Mario Cuomo, who died on New Year’s Day. The post included the text and video of his speech to the Democratic National Convention in 1984, two years after the Equal Rights Amendment  failed to gain support from the 38 states required to pass.

“We speak for women who are indignant that this nation refuses to etch into its governmental commandments the simple rule “thou shalt not sin against equality,” a rule so simple —

I was going to say, and I perhaps dare not but I will. It’s a commandment so simple it can be spelled in three letters: E.R.A.”

Even though this year’s slate of Presidential candidates includes two women, the legacy of Cuomo’s passion is largely ignored.

Two stories in the past year served to visibly illustrate the continuing inequity.

In Hollywood, major studio, Sony was hacked, revealing, among other things, the disparity between the compensation of lead actress Jennifer Lawrence and her male co-stars. Madeline Berg covered the story for Forbes

“More frequent are anecdotes of discrimination like those recently related by Selma Hayek, Gwyneth Paltrow and even Streep.

All of these women have echoed the sentiment of Patricia Arquette, who brought the issue to the world’s attention at last year’s Oscars when she said in her acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress, “It’s our time to have wage equality for once and for all.”

But it is not only the number on the paycheck that is the problem: Women are also greatly underrepresented on the big screen, leading to fewer opportunities to make money, an issue that Reese Witherspoon brought up at the American Cinematheque Awards in October: “Women make up 50% of the population, and we should be playing 50% of the roles on the screen.”

That is a dream that is far from a reality. According to a report by the Annenberg School at USC’s Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative released in August, only 28.1% of characters in 2014’s top 100 films were female and of that percent, only 21 had a female lead or co-lead.”

The misrepresentation is even worse behind the camera: Of the same films, women made up only 1.9% of directors, 11.2% of writers and 18.9% of producers. This only aggravates the problem. The report found that in productions where women held key positions off-screen—as directors, writers and producers—the films featured women more often, and in less sexualized roles.”

We may find it hard to garner sympathy for those who earn millions @work for acting or competing in sport. But those are the visible workers who set the bar for the rest of us on the lower rungs of the career ladder.

The year in sport was dominated by the FIFA scandal, but women who work in sport created the memorable moments of the year. Christopher Clarey, summarizing the year in sport for women noted ‘Women Surge On Playing Field but Fall Behind in Boardroom’.

“As visible as female athletes were in 2015, women lost prominence and power in another key domain in the sports world: the boardroom.

Stacey Allaster, chief executive of the WTA Tour, stepped down citing burnout and the desire to spend more time with her young children. Debbie Jevans, a Briton who was perhaps Europe’s leading women’s sports executive, also cited personal reasons for resigning as chief executive of England Rugby 2015 less than six months before the start of the Rugby World Cup that she had been instrumental in organizing.

Another industry leader, Mary Wittenberg, who oversaw the New York City marathon as chief executive of New York Road Runners, resigned to lead a start-up lifestyle company, Virgin Sport.

Allaster, Jevans and Wittenberg were all replaced by men, and by year’s end there was no woman leading a major professional sport, not even one for women. Steve Simon is in charge of the WTA, Michael Whan is in charge of the L.P.G.A., Jeff Plush runs the National Women’s Soccer League in the United States and Mark Tatum oversees the W.N.B.A., the most prominent women’s professional basketball league, on an interim basis after Laurel J. Richie stepped down after five seasons in 2015.

Considering the scandals and governance crises that enveloped leading male-dominated federations like FIFA and the I.A.A.F. in 2015, more women in power looked very much like part of the solution. The men could clearly benefit from new perspectives.

“For me, the most important thing about diversity in a workplace is definitely making everyone feel included,” Wittenberg said. “But the diversity that comes from diversity of thinking is also invaluable, and if you don’t have diversity around your executive table or any table, I think you really run a risk today. Organizations, and especially political organizations that lack diversity in any number of ways, including gender — you’re not coming close to representing a world view. Leadership today should be challenged at every turn.”

The topic of work/life balance continues to dominate the water cooler conversations from Silicon Valley to Wall Street. And the conversation is at the heart of defining organizational culture.

In mid-August The New York Times published a story, ‘Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace’ with the following sub-heading: “The company is conducting an experiment in how far it can push
white-collar workers to get them to achieve its ever-expanding ambitions.” 

Definitely not a ‘puff piece’, but an important piece of journalism that ignited a dialog not only between the Amazon PR machine and the editors of The NY Times, but among workers in a variety of work settings about organizational values and personal tradeoffs. How an individual’s values mesh with those of their employer will determine ultimate success or failure. Who will you become? is a far more important question to ask than   What is the salary offer?

This was also the year that Mark Zuckerberg encouraged others to follow his example, and read a recommended book every two weeks. The final recommendation in  ‘A Year of Books’ was announced today, number 23, ‘The Beginning of Infinity’ by David Deutsch.

Richard Feloni compiled a list of the first 20 recommendations.

“Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made a tradition of dramatic New Year’s resolutions, and this year he decided that he’d read a book every two weeks.

He wanted his selections to focus on “different cultures, beliefs, histories, and technologies.”

“Books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today,” Zuckerberg wrote on his personal Facebook page. “I’m looking forward to shifting more of my media diet towards reading books.”

Hopefully, we have all met our resolutions from January and shifted our media diet to include some ‘long reads’ outside our comfort zone.

As the economy continued to improve, the gap between rich and poor widened. Claire Cain Miller examined the impact of differences in child rearing on growing class divisions.

“Children were not always raised so differently. The achievement gap between children from high- and low-income families is 30 percent to 40 percent larger among children born in 2001 than those born 25 years earlier, according to Mr. Reardon’s research.

People used to live near people of different income levels; neighborhoods are now more segregated by income. More than a quarter of children live in single-parent households — a historic high, according to Pew – and these children are three times as likely to live in poverty as those who live with married parents. Meanwhile, growing income inequality has coincided with the increasing importance of a college degree for earning a middle-class wage.”

And for awhile, a movie about space, not that one, the other one – ‘The Martian’, seemed to re-energize NASA’s plan to restart manned space exploration beyond the International Space Station.

Doug Bolton of The Independent reported on last week’s suspension of a proposed mission to the red planet.

“NASA has decided to suspend a mission to Mars scheduled for March 2016, due to the lander springing a leak.

The InSight Mission, which would have seen a rover analysing seismic activity and the interior structure of the red planet, was called off by Nasa bosses after technical staff failed to repair a leak in one of the rover’s prime instruments.

John Grunsfeld, the associate administrator for Nasa’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, said: “We push the boundaries of space technology with our missions to enable science, but space exploration is unforgiving, and the bottom line is that we’re not ready to launch in the 2016 window.”

Which leaves our space efforts to two remarkable American entrepreneurs, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. In May, Jessica Orwig expressed optimism in the future of private space exploration.

“This year is shaping up to be an extremely exciting time for the future of commercial spaceflight, which will be built upon the backbone of revolutionary 21st-century rockets. The private American space companies Blue Origin and SpaceX are paving the way.

Blue Origin, which was founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in 2000, successfully launched its “New Shepard” space vehicle for the first time on April 29. The vehicle was named after Alan Shepard, who became the second human and first American to enter space 44 years ago. It is designed to eventually boost six people to space, where they can experience weightlessness for 10 minutes before returning to Earth. The ride is for entertainment and therefore not exclusively for astronauts, but these kinds of temporary spaceflights could become a new way for astronauts to train for coming space missions.

Two weeks earlier, on April 14, Elon Musk’s SpaceX, founded in 2002, attempted to land one of its Falcon 9 rockets on a floating platform in the Atlantic Ocean. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets are designed to boost spacecraft to greater heights than Blue Origin’s and are therefore involved in other missions outside of commercial spaceflight, including supplying the International Space Station, launching satellites into orbit, and aspirations to reach Mars.”

On December 22, NBC News reported “SpaceX completed an historic vertical landing of its Falcon 9 rocket on Monday night — the first time such a feat had been achieved.

The launch and landing in Cape Canaveral, Florida, were the first from the private U.S. spaceflight company since its rocket exploded on liftoff in June.

SpaceX has come close to landing a rocket but until now, never actually pulled the feat off. Blue Origin, founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, stuck a landing last month — but Musk pointed out that was a suborbital trip, the requirements for which are considerably different.”

And then there was ‘Hamilton’ the musical. Just as the founding father was about to be replaced on the U.S. ten dollar bill, his story took center stage this summer on Broadway. In a 2015 recap article, ‘Surprises from 2015 and Reasons for Hope’, Gina Bellafante examined the ‘Hamilton effect’ on five year olds.

“As if it weren’t surprise enough that a hip-hop musical about the life of the country’s first Treasury secretary would become a Broadway sensation, finding impassioned fans in both President Obama and Dick Cheney, “Hamilton” has found an unlikely cohort of obsessives among 5-year-olds in New York, thanks to the cast album and scenes available on YouTube. At least one kindergartner in Brooklyn is regularly going to school with white socks pulled up over his pants. Some children are demanding quill pens, and many are singing the songs at home over and over and over.

“This is the new ‘Frozen,’” one already fatigued mother observed. Expect heated arguments about the limitations of Federalism among first graders next year.”

 

Marissa Mayer – Tag Team Parent?

On Tuesday, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announced via Tumblr that she is expecting twin girls. On the same day New York Magazine writer, Oz Spies described her life, as a mother of three, as a ‘tag-team parent’. These two distinct narratives provide a vivid illustration of how folks cope with balancing work and life in a world of income inequality.

Ms. Mayer became one of the highest profile working mothers three years ago, not long after her appointment as head of the global internet service. A 2013 profile in Vogue described her strategy to balance work and child care.

“She set up a nursery next to her office, and for several months after Macallister was born, he and his nanny came to work with her.”

In her announcement this week, she implied she would utilize a similar approach with the birth of the twins.

“Since my pregnancy has been healthy and uncomplicated and since this is a unique time in Yahoo’s transformation, I plan to approach the pregnancy and delivery as I did with my son three years ago, taking limited time away and working throughout. I’ve shared the news and my plans with Yahoo’s Board of Directors and my executive team, and they are incredibly supportive and happy for me. I want to thank them for all of their encouragement as well as their offers of help and continued support.”

What is the message to the employees at Yahoo who might be planning family leave when the CEO opts out?

Writers Claire Cain Miller and David Streitfeld explored the issue in their NYT article, ‘Big Leaps for Parental Leave, if Workers Actually Take It’.

“Such contradictory signaling from Yahoo, which lengthened its parental leave in 2013, is typical and ambiguous, said Joan Williams, director of the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings. “The underlying work culture sends the message that if you’re really committed, you’re here all the time,” she said.”

On the other side of the spectrum, meet a Colorado couple, parents of three. One is a firefighter and the other a writer and consultant in the non-profit sector.

“We’re tag-team parents. It’s a term coined by the Center for Economic and Policy Research for parents who work alternating schedules, taking turns at both paid employment and child care, and it’s a work-parenting setup that’s on the rise. More than one-fourth of two-income couples include an adult working a nonstandard schedule (other than nine to five with evening or weekend hours).

Shift work is nothing new, but traditionally, many men who worked overnight, including firefighters, had wives who were stay-at-home moms. Now, more of these couples trade off work and kid duties. On my husband’s crew (all married fathers), the wives are all in the workforce, most of us fitting that work in around our husbands’ 48-hour shift blocks and our children’s school schedules. As a nonprofit consultant and writer, my job often gets done from a computer in our basement late at night, and I fit in the rest on the days when my husband is home with the kids. It’s yet another way that families today don’t look like the breadwinner father and stay-at-home mother ones of the past.”

While the media focuses on the birth announcements of business rockstars, it ignores the larger issue facing middle class families today. The average parent cannot bring their child and nanny to work. The cost of child care for two or more children exceeds the additional revenue of most second incomes. In the majority of families there is only one solution, alternating schedules with frequent handoffs of toddlers in parking lots when the best plans fail and shifts overlap.

This is our new American dream.

“Single parents, deployed parents, grandparents who are raising the children of their children — there are all kinds of complexities with which to wrestle. We figure it out as we go and we keep going.”

For the majority, including Oz Spies and her family this is the new normal.

“For us, tag-team parenting is the best way to see the kids we adore, do work we love, and still pay the bills. We’ll never have a standing Friday date night or every weekend together, but all this tag-team parenting has made us appreciate that we’re a team.”

Maybe Marissa Mayer’s strategy for blending family and work is a version of ‘tag team parenting’. It’s just hard to visualize a pre-dawn Silicon Valley McDonalds parking lot where a CEO and venture capitalist husband exchange toddlers, diaper bags and car seats.

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.

The week@work – The odds of being poor@some point, how walking in nature changes the brain, young women envision pauses in their career and advice to working mothers

One story stood out from the rest this week@work. Washington Post journalists Emily Badger and Christopher Ingraham reported on the findings of sociologist Mark Rand at Washington University. The title alone was attention grabbing: ‘The remarkably high odds you’ll be poor at some point in your life’.

“The poor in America are not a permanent class of people. Who’s poor in any given year is different from who’s poor a few years later.

By the time they’re 60 years old, Rank has found, nearly four in five people experience some kind of economic hardship: They’ve gone through a spell of unemployment, or spent time relying on a government program for the poor like food stamps, or lived at least one year in poverty or very close to it.

By age 60, nearly 80 percent of us will have gone through a rough stretch.

“Rather than an uncommon event,” Rank says, “poverty was much more common than many people had assumed once you looked over a long period of time.”

The age of job stability is over, if anyone was still hanging on to an ideal of job security. Financial planning is a critical component of long term career planning. The reality of the research is that there will be periods of economic challenge alternating with periods of affluence. The ‘poor’ are not some abstract population. They are your neighbors, family and friends.

A story in The New York Times offered an example of how attitudes toward work and career might alter a family’s income. Journalist Claire Cain Miller writing for the Upshot found that the most recent entrants to the workplace envision planned pauses in their careers.

“The youngest generation of women in the work force — the millennials, age 18 to early 30s — is defining career success differently and less linearly than previous generations of women. A variety of survey data shows that educated, working young women are more likely than those before them to expect their career and family priorities to shift over time.

The surveys highlighted that two generations after women entered the business world in large numbers, it can still be hard for women to work. Even those with the highest career ambitions are more likely than their predecessors to plan to scale back at work at certain times or to seek out flexible jobs.

You might call them the planning generation: Their approach is less all or nothing — climb the career ladder or stay home with children — and more give and take.”

Recalling the career of journalist Marlene Sanders who died last week, Katherine Rosman shared the story of a member of the generation who achieved professional distinction while being among the first to ‘work outside the home’.

“In 2000, Cynthia McFadden, the senior legal and investigative correspondent for NBC News, attended a party given by her friend Jeffrey Toobin, a staff writer for The New Yorker and legal analyst for CNN. There, Ms. McFadden was catching up with Mr. Toobin’s mother, Marlene Sanders, the pioneering television reporter. She asked for her advice on managing motherhood and a career.

Ms. Sanders put both hands on Ms. McFadden’s shoulders and peered into her eyes. “Never apologize for working,” the older woman said. “You love what you do, and loving what you do is a great gift to give your child.”

Over the years, Ms. McFadden said, Mr. Toobin told her he loved having a mother who worked outside the home, even in an era when it was not that common. It was a sentiment he reiterated in an interview on Wednesday. “I found her career exciting,” he said. “I loved to watch her on TV. Guilt was never part of the equation. And given her temperament, if she had been home all the time, it would have been a close contest to determine whether she or I went insane first.”

The last story of the week shares research that should encourage you to take a walk in the park. Reporting on a study at Stanford University, Gretchen Reynolds found:

A walk in the park may soothe the mind and, in the process, change the workings of our brains in ways that improve our mental health, according to an interesting new study of the physical effects on the brain of visiting nature.

But just how a visit to a park or other green space might alter mood has been unclear. Does experiencing nature actually change our brains in some way that affects our emotional health?

That possibility intrigued Gregory Bratman, a graduate student at the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford University, who has been studying the psychological effects of urban living. In an earlier study published last month, he and his colleagues found that volunteers who walked briefly through a lush, green portion of the Stanford campus were more attentive and happier afterward than volunteers who strolled for the same amount of time near heavy traffic.”

In summary this week@work – take a walk in the park and consider your career path. Lose the guilt if you are a working mother, and plan for both the expected as well as the unexpected shifts in work/life balance.

The week@work March 23 – March 29

In this week@work we considered the decision to leave work before work goes away. Why? We change as our workplace changes and although we may love our job, we need to trust our gut and control our future. We highlighted the importance of paying attention to our surroundings as a hint to our future. And finally, in a national book award nominated novel we listened to a conversation about work and the danger of sleepwalking through your career.

Three stories about work captured headlines this week covering themes of aspiration, commitment, bullying and gender discrimination.

On Friday, Astronaut Scott J. Kelly began his adventure on the Space Station where he will live for the next year, the longest duration for any NASA pilot. Think about that. A business trip away from friends and family for twelve months. Imagine not being able to step out into the fresh air to clear your head after a heated conversation with a colleague. Part of the NASA experiment involves comparing his health in space with that of his twin brother, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, who gets to leave work at the end of each day.

It seems a very long time ago that Americans first walked on the moon. A commercial currently running during the NCAA basketball tournament imagines a Mars landing, with people glued to their tablets watching the first steps by man onto the planet. Where is the reality that will capture our imagination for discovery and allow us to aspire beyond our global limits?

In London,’Top Gear’ presenter Jeremy Clarkson was fired by the BBC for assaulting a producer a couple of weeks ago over a missing steak. The internet lit up in the ensuing time before the BBC formalized his termination. Amazingly, people thought it was ok to punch a college in the workplace and keep your job. And now the head of the BBC, Tony Hall and his wife are under guard due to death threats over the decision.

Much has been written about the value of emotional intelligence in leadership. However, the workplace still has a significant population of bullies that believe leadership is an entitlement and not a trust. The BBC acted and by doing so demonstrated a no tolerance policy for violence at work. We are all entitled to be safe, to be productive where we work.

In San Francisco, Ellen Pao, a former partner at Silicon Valley venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, lost her gender discrimination suit against her former employer. The case highlighted the continuing issues women face in technology and venture capital firms.

Writing on The New York Times site, ‘The Upshot’, Claire Cain Miller reported “…venture capitalists have said that the trial has already put the tech industry on notice: It can no longer operate as a band of outsiders, often oblivious to rules that govern the modern workplace — even if that has been a key to its success.”