The week@work: “The Education of Silicon Valley”, Gen Z@work, mid-career sabbatical, & a new era of human spaceflight

This week@work a NY Times Op-Ed contributor wonders if Mark Zuckerberg should have taken more humanities courses, Gen Z begins to enter the workplace, while millennials take sabbaticals, and NASA introduces the next crew for commercial human spaceflight.

In her first Op-Ed for The New York Times, tech journalist Kara Swisher applied her expertise to explore ‘The Education of Silicon Valley’.

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“All these companies began with a gauzy credo to change the world. But they have done that in ways they did not imagine — by weaponizing pretty much everything that could be weaponized. They have mutated human communication, so that connecting people has too often become about pitting them against one another, and turbocharged that discord to an unprecedented and damaging volume.

They have weaponized social media. They have weaponized the First Amendment. They have weaponized civic discourse. And they have weaponized, most of all, politics.”

What’s it like to be a member of the Facebook corporate family today? You signed up to follow the Pied Piper of Menlo Park into the new world of global connectivity and you find yourself in the midst of global propaganda wars.

“At a recent employee Q. and A. I did at YouTube, for example, one staffer told me that their jobs used to be about wrangling cat videos and now they had degenerated into a daily hell of ethics debates about the fate of humanity.”

All companies evolve over time. Founders adapt or abdicate. Mr. Zuckerberg has done neither.

“Mr. Zuckerberg stuck with this mix of extreme earnestness and willful naïveté for far too long.

Because what he never managed to grok then was that the company he created was destined to become a template for all of humanity, the digital reflection of masses of people across the globe. Including — and especially — the bad ones.

Was it because he was a computer major who left college early and did not attend enough humanities courses that might have alerted him to the uglier aspects of human nature? Maybe. Or was it because he has since been steeped in the relentless positivity of Silicon Valley, where it is verboten to imagine a bad outcome? Likely. Could it be that while the goal was to “connect people,” he never anticipated that the platform also had to be responsible for those people when they misbehaved? Oh, yes. And, finally, was it that the all-numbers-go-up-and-to-the-right mentality of Facebook blinded him to the shortcuts that get taken in the service of growth? Most definitely.”

Corporate impact on society is not benign. Leadership is about understanding impact and nimbly responding to lights blinking red. There’s a Harvard Business School case here with implications far beyond the impact on share owner revenue. And for those who work@Facebook, it may be time to evaluate the ‘values fit’.

On the subject of ‘values fit’, journalist Ryan Jenkins identified the ‘Top 25 Employers Preferred by Generation Z’.

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“More than 60 percent of Generation Z’s top employers are global entities which is consistent with the 74 percent of Generation Z stating international experience (e.g., travel and working with global clients/colleagues) is an important aspect of potential employers. 

The presence of technology companies on the list isn’t a surprise especially since three-quarters of recent college graduates report having majored in a STEM-related field. Generation Z is the first generation to shift the tide toward STEM-related fields of study and seem poised to close the STEM gap.”

The top five in the survey: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Google, Local Hospital, Amazon and Walt Disney Company.

While Generation Z plans their workplace entry, millennials are contemplating mid-career sabbaticals. Ben Steverman shares ‘Why It’s Time to Quit Your Job, Travel the World’.

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“Millions of Americans obsess over their careers and fret about saving, terrified they won’t have enough to ever retire. The advice not being offered by some experts may surprise these worried souls: Take months or years off from work, travel the world, and enjoy yourself.

There’s prudent logic behind a relaxing mid career break. With longer lives come longer careers and longer retirements – the first so that you can afford the second. But a 40-year career, ending at age 60 or 65, is a very different prospect from a 50-year career ending at 70 or 75.

Taking a break to travel isn’t a crazy move, especially for millennials, because it can help give workers the stamina for longer, more sustainable careers, says Jamie Hopkins, a professor and director of the retirement income program at the American College of Financial Services. The prospect of a future trip also give young workers an extra reason to save, live within their means, and pay down debt – an incentive that’s far stronger than the dream of retiring in several decades’ time.”

Where to travel on your mid-career sabbatical? Perhaps the galaxy and beyond…

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This past week NASA introduced the next generation of astronauts, ‘NASA Assigns Crews to First Test Flights, Missions on Commercial Spacecraft’. (Which has got to be good news for those who go to work in space, where the commute today begins and ends in Kazakhstan.)

“Today, our country’s dreams of greater achievements in space are within our grasp,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “This accomplished group of American astronauts, flying on new spacecraft developed by our commercial partners Boeing and SpaceX, will launch a new era of human spaceflight. Today’s announcement advances our great American vision and strengthens the nation’s leadership in space.”

The agency assigned nine astronauts to crew the first test flight and mission of both Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon. NASA has worked closely with the companies throughout design, development and testing to ensure the systems meet NASA’s safety and performance requirements. 

“The men and women we assign to these first flights are at the forefront of this exciting new time for human spaceflight,” said Mark Geyer, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “It will be thrilling to see our astronauts lift off from American soil, and we can’t wait to see them aboard the International Space Station.” 

With this ‘week@work’, the workthoughts blog returns after a two month hiatus. Stay tuned for new categories and join the conversation on work & workplace.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credits: NASA Commercial Flight Crew courtesy NASA, St. Jude Marathon Weekend courtesy of Biomedical Communications

The week@work – @AMarch4OurLives, Evolve Entertainment Fund, ‘Wonder Boys’, Facebook & “always a little further”

It happened again this week@work: violence@work – another school shooting, this time in Florida. In Los Angeles a new entertainment industry diversity initiative was announced by Ava DuVernay and Mayor Eric Garcetti. And three ‘long reads’ on creative partnerships, Facebook’s identity, and a polar journey.

Violence@work
The students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school are grieving for their colleagues and teachers who were murdered in another incident of workplace violence on Valentines Day. Since Wednesday, a remarkable group of student representatives have  given voice to the anger at adults who have failed to keep students safe in their schools. This time, high school students organized @AMarch4OurLives for policy & change vs. thoughts & prayers.

“Every kid in this country now goes to school wondering if this day might be their last. We live in fear.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Change is coming. And it starts now, inspired by and led by the kids who are our hope for the future. Their young voices will be heard.
Stand with us on March 24. Refuse to allow one more needless death.”

It may not be a surprise that this group, from this high school, seized the moment and demanded change. Their school namesake, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, was an author, editor, environmentalist and early advocate for women’s right to vote. gettyimages-112963085-e1518738141248.jpgJournalist Mary Schmich interviewed Ms. Douglas. “She was 95 by the time we met, hard of hearing, almost blind and as opinionated as ever.
I’d gone to visit her because finally, after decades of crusading to save the Everglades from being turned into subdivisions and shopping malls, she’d begun to see the fruits of her labors.
She had battled governments, developers, engineers, sugar cane industrialists and the apathy of normal people. She had pushed so hard and for so long that the state had finally committed to preserving one of the world’s great wetlands. We have her to thank for Everglades National Park.
Had she ever been discouraged, I asked?
“What does it matter if I’ve been discouraged or encouraged over the years?” she said, brusquely. “This thing’s got to be done. It’s not a question of how I feel from moment to moment.”

Inclusion@work in Hollywood
Speaking of thing’s got to be done. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, filmmaker Ava DuVernay, and producer Dan Lin announced the creation of the Evolve Entertainment Fund to promote inclusion @work in Hollywood.

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Journalist Dave McNary reported on the new initiative. “The Evolve fund is an alliance between the City of Los Angeles, industry leaders in entertainment and digital media, non-profit organizations, and educational institutions. The EEF has already secured 150 paid summer internships for students participating in the Hire LA’s Youth program — partnering with leading entertainment and digital media organizations that include DreamWorks Animation, Ryan Murphy Television, Film Independent, WME, CAA, Kobe Bryant’s Granity Studios, and Anonymous Content.

That number is expected to grow to 250 by the end of 2018, with a goal of 500 placements by 2020.

“As we radically reimagine Hollywood, it is critically important that young people are included in our vision,” said DuVernay, founder of Array Entertainment and EEF co-chair. “Real change happens when we take tangible action — and that means giving young women and people of color opportunities in the industry early on, so they have the chance to shape its future.”

‘Wonder Boys’
The next three articles fall into the category of ‘long reads’. The first, from reporter Laura Jacobs recounts the creative partnership of Leonard Bernstein and Jerome Robbins. In 2018 we celebrate the centennial of both the composer and choreographer.

IMG_0443.jpg“Both these men were about energy—positive, negative, generative—and while they racked up stunning achievements separately, they were elevated when joined. Put them together in collaboration—in masterpieces such as the joyous ballet Fancy Free, the breakaway musical On the Town, and the electrifying experiment West Side Story—and you had an ongoing theatrical Manhattan Project, work kinetically detonated, irreducibly true, and oh so American.

They met in October of 1943, the beginning of what Bernstein would call “the year of miracles.” Bernstein was living in New York City, marking time as the assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic, and Robbins was in the classical company Ballet Theatre. Both were hungry for the Big Break, but it was hard to see anything on the horizon. Bernstein’s would come a month later, when on November 14 he took the podium at Carnegie Hall—without rehearsal!—and conducted for the ailing Bruno Walter. This kiss of fate allowed him, in one afternoon, to loosen forever Europe’s grip on the conductor’s baton. His debut made the front page of The New York Times, and the skinny kid, soon dubbed the Sinatra of the concert hall, soared to stardom. Two months later his Symphony No. 1, Jeremiah, was premiered.

Robbins had to make his own luck. Though a dazzling mimic and scene-stealer in character roles, he was tired of dancing courtiers and exotics in the corps. He wanted to choreograph ballets that were immediately American. After inundating company management with over-ambitious ideas for ballets, Robbins finally offered up a timely, simple scenario—three wartime sailors on shore leave in Manhattan. Management bit. All he needed was a score, which took him to Bernstein’s studio in Carnegie Hall.”

When Vision and Reality Collide @Facebook
Next, Nicholas Thompson and Fred Vogelstein take the reader ‘Inside The Two Years That Shook Facebook – And The World’

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“The stories varied, but most people told the same basic tale: of a company, and a CEO, whose techno-optimism has been crushed as they’ve learned the myriad ways their platform can be used for ill. Of an election that shocked Facebook, even as its fallout put the company under siege. Of a series of external threats, defensive internal calculations, and false starts that delayed Facebook’s reckoning with its impact on global affairs and its users’ minds. And—in the tale’s final chapters—of the company’s earnest attempt to redeem itself.”

“Always a little further…”
On Sunday, January 24, 2016 British polar explorer, Henry Worsley died in hospital in Punta Arenas, Chile. He had been attempting to cross Antarctica on foot, unassisted and unsupported. He had traveled 913 miles since November 13, 2015 and was 30 miles short of his destination.

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On Friday, January 22, Henry Worsley called Antarctic Logistics and Explorations to request a rescue.

“When my hero, Ernest Shackleton, stood 97 miles from the South Pole on the morning of Jan. 9, 1909, he said he’d shot his bolt,” the British adventurer Henry Worsley said in the message. “Well, today, I have to inform you with some sadness that I, too, have shot my bolt.”

“My journey is at an end,” Mr. Worsley said. “I have run out of time, physical endurance and a simple sheer inability to slide one ski in front of the other to travel the distance required to reach my goal.”

Writing for The New Yorker, staff writer David Grann takes us on the journey behind the headlines into ‘The White Darkness’.

“Worsley was a retired British Army officer who had served in the Special Air Service, a renowned commando unit. He was also a sculptor, a fierce boxer, a photographer who meticulously documented his travels, a horticulturalist, a collector of rare books and maps and fossils, and an amateur historian who had become a leading authority on Shackleton. On the ice, though, he resembled a beast, hauling and sleeping, hauling and sleeping, as if he were keeping time to some primal rhythm.

Worsley’s journey captivated people around the world, including legions of schoolchildren who were following his progress. Each day, after trekking for several hours and burrowing into his tent, he relayed a short audio broadcast about his experiences. (He performed this bit of modern magic by calling, on his satellite phone, a friend in England, who recorded the dispatch and then posted it on Worsley’s Web site.) His voice, cool and unwavering, enthralled listeners.

By the middle of January, 2016, he had travelled more than eight hundred miles, and virtually every part of him was in agony…”

“Always a little further”—a line from James Elroy Flecker’s 1913 poem “The Golden Journey to Samarkand.” The motto was painted on the front of Worsley’s sled, and he murmured it to himself like a mantra: “Always a little further . . . a little further.”

 

 

The week@work: innovative companies, Mark Zuckerberg’s global community, famous writers attend a security conference, and a design idea for a friendlier office

This week@work Fast Company announced the ‘World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies’ and Mark Zuckerberg shared a template for the future of Facebook – ‘Building Global Community’. In a first, the Munich Security Conference included literary panels on their agenda. And, we found a simple ‘office design hack’ to encourage communication.

Amazon was named #1 on the 2017 Fast Company ranking of the world’s most innovative companies “for offering even more, even faster and smarter”. Noah Robischon reported on Jeff Bezos’ ever-accelerating world of ‘continuous evolution’.

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“Unlike Apple, Google, and Microsoft, Amazon is not fixated on a tightly designed ecosystem of interlocking apps and services. Bezos instead emphasizes platforms that each serves its own customers in the best and fastest possible way. “Our customers are loyal to us right up until the second somebody offers them a better service,” he says. “And I love that. It’s super-motivating for us.” That impulse has spawned an awesome stream of creative firsts…

Bezos’s strategy of continuous evolution has allowed the company to experiment in adjacent areas—and then build them into franchises. The website that once sold only books now lets anyone set up a storefront and sell just about anything. The warehouse and logistics capabilities that Amazon built to sort, pack, and ship those books are available, for a price, to any seller. Amazon Web Services, which grew out of the company’s own e-commerce infrastructure needs, has become a $13 billion business that not only powers the likes of Airbnb and Netflix, but stores your Kindle e-book library and makes it possible for Alexa to tell you whether or not you’ll need an umbrella today.”

On Thursday Facebook CEO and Co-founder Mark Zuckerberg set out his vision for his company in a 5,000 word post on Facebook.

“On our journey to connect the world, we often discuss products we’re building and updates on our business. Today I want to focus on the most important question of all: are we building the world we all want?”

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Josh Constine reported on the ‘evolution’ of Facebook’s strategy.

“Mark Zuckerberg never saw Facebook as just a business, and so never accepted his role as just a businessman. 

Five years ago, in Zuckerberg’s pre-IPO letter to Facebook investors, he wrote, “There is a huge need and a huge opportunity to get everyone in the world connected, to give everyone a voice and to help transform society for the future.”

Now with Facebook reaching 1.86 billion users and building technology to expand internet access everywhere, his constituency exceeds that of any nation. He’s made monumental strides toward steps 1 and 2.

Today, Zuckerberg offers a vision and rallying call for working toward step 3 — to “develop the social infrastructure to give people the power to build a global community that works for all of us.”

Not everyone is sipping the magic elixir. From ‘across the pond’, Carole Cadwalladr shared her opinion for The Guardian.

“But here’s another response: where does that power end? Who holds it to account? What are the limits on it? Because the answer is there are none. Facebook’s power and dominance, its knowledge of every aspect of its users’ intimate lives, its ability to manipulate their – our – world view, its limitless ability to generate cash, is already beyond the reach of any government.

Because what Zuckerberg’s letter to the world shows is that he’s making a considered, personal attempt to answer… the wrong question. He is wrestling with the question of how Facebook can change the world. Whereas the question is: do we actually want Facebook to change the world? Do we want any corporation to have so much unchecked power?”

The annual Munich Security Conference included a literature panel, ‘The Cassandra Syndrome’. Madhvi Ramani considered the significance, asking the question, “Why are famous writers attending the world’s most important security conference?”

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“With the rise of illiberalism, post-truth politics, and transatlantic uncertainty, the very pillars of the West are being shaken. In times of turmoil, people often look to literature for illumination.

Like Cassandra, who warned of disaster during the Trojan War, writers often take a longer view of issues. They are uniquely placed to examine and critique society from a removed perspective—as Don DeLillo once said, “The writer is the person who stands outside society, independent of affiliation and independent of influence.” All three writers involved in the MSC talks are known for their incisive, often critical, engagement with the politics, history, and cultures of their milieus.

Literature can help untangle the complexities of people’s lives and emotions and, as studies have shown, foster empathy: books are a key ingredient in an open, pluralistic, democratic society.”

Cari Romm shared the results of recent research from designer Daniel Krivens ‘The Design Hack That Makes for Friendlier Offices’ – eliminate “elevation segregation” by resetting the seating to ‘bar level’.

“…so many workplaces are designed to be a divided plane between those sitting, standing, and walking. When someone is sitting down, they are roughly 12 inches below the eye height of someone walking by—and this elevation segregation means everything to workplace productivity and conviviality.

What it means, essentially, is the difference between intentionally seeking someone out for a chat and just happening to fall into conversation.”

Finally this week@work, @YosemiteNPS, the annual phenomenon of ‘firefall’ as sunset reflects on the national park’s Horsetail Falls.

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Photo Credits: Amazon drone photo/Amazon, MSC photo of author David Grossman  MSC/Koch, Yosemite firefall/ NPS Yosemite

The week@work:’post-truth’, Facebook’s ‘news feed’, Gwen Ifill, a new leader @Lincoln Center, & Udacity’s tech job tryouts

This past week@work Oxford Dictionaries declared ‘post-truth’ the 2016 word of the year, and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg realized his job description included a responsibility to combat fake news. In contrast, the week marked the death of an authentic journalist, PBS NewsHour co-anchor Gwen Ifill. Lincoln Center chose a new leader from academia and MOOC provider, Udacity announced tech job tryouts.

On Wednesday, the BBC reported “Oxford Dictionaries has declared “post-truth” as its 2016 international word of the year, reflecting what it called a “highly-charged” political 12 months.

It is defined as an adjective relating to circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than emotional appeals.

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Oxford Dictionaries says post-truth is thought to have been first used in 1992. However, it says the frequency of its usage increased by 2,000% in 2016 compared with last year.”

The Economist explored ‘post-truth’ in ‘The Art of the Lie’.

“The term picks out the heart of what is new: that truth is not falsified, or contested, but of secondary importance…

Post-truth politics has many parents. Some are noble. The questioning of institutions and received wisdom is a democratic virtue. A sceptical lack of deference towards leaders is the first step to reform. The collapse of communism was hastened because brave people were prepared to challenge the official propaganda.

Post-truth has also been abetted by the evolution of the media… The fragmentation of news sources has created an atomised world in which lies, rumour and gossip spread with alarming speed. Lies that are widely shared online within a network, whose members trust each other more than they trust any mainstream-media source, can quickly take on the appearance of truth. Presented with evidence that contradicts a belief that is dearly held, people have a tendency to ditch the facts first. Well-intentioned journalistic practices bear blame too. The pursuit of “fairness” in reporting often creates phoney balance at the expense of truth.”

The New Yorker contributor, Nathan Heller examined one example of the phenomena in ‘The Failure of Facebook Democracy’.

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“The unexpected election of Donald Trump is said to owe debts to both niche extremism and rampant misinformation. Facebook, the most pervasive of the social networks, has received much scrutiny and blame. During the final weeks of the campaigns, it grew apparent that the site’s “news” algorithm—a mechanism that trawls posts from one’s online friends and rank-displays those deemed of interest—was not distinguishing between real news and false information: the sort of tall tales, groundless conspiracy theories, and oppositional propaganda that, in the Cenozoic era, circulated mainly via forwarded e-mails.

Facebook is not the only network to have trafficked phony news, but its numbers have been striking. A much-cited Pew survey, released in May, suggested that forty-four per cent of the general population used Facebook as a news source, a figure unrivalled by other social networks. An analysis this week by Craig Silverman, of BuzzFeed, found that the twenty top-performing fake news stories on the network outperformed the twenty top real-news stories during the final three months before the election—and that seventeen of those fakes favored the Trump campaign.

If a majority of Americans are getting their news from Facebook, then Facebook surely has a civic obligation to insure the information it disseminates is sound.”

Which brings us to the initial response from Facebook founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

“Identifying the ‘truth’ is complicated.”

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On Friday, he posted details of the projects in place to address the issue.

“A lot of you have asked what we’re doing about misinformation, so I wanted to give an update.

The bottom line is: we take misinformation seriously. Our goal is to connect people with the stories they find most meaningful, and we know people want accurate information. We’ve been working on this problem for a long time and we take this responsibility seriously. We’ve made significant progress, but there is more work to be done.”

Buried in paragraph four was this nugget that seemed to transfer ownership from the corporation to the community, ignoring a leader’s civic obligation.

“We do not want to be arbiters of truth ourselves, but instead rely on our community and trusted third parties.”

Contrast this approach to the definition of the role of a journalist, courtesy of the American Press Institute.

“The journalist places the public good above all else and uses certain methods – the foundation of which is a discipline of verification – to gather and assess what he or she finds.”

So let’s return to the days of ‘truth’ and remember the contribution of journalist Gwen Ifill through the eyes of two colleagues.

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‘What Gwen Ifill Knew About Race in America’  by Jeffrey Goldberg “An insufficient number of people have recognized what is obvious. Gwen’s death is a punishing blow to her family, and to her wide circle of friends, to her colleagues and to her viewers. But it is also a cruel blow to her profession, which hasn’t recently covered itself in glory. And it’s an especially cruel blow to her lovely nation, which is right now in need of her bravery, her farsightedness, and her willingness to tell the truth. Hers is an incalculable loss.”

‘The Life and Example of Gwen Ifill’ by David Brooks “Gwen worked in a tough business, and being an African-American woman in that business brought its own hardships and scars, but Gwen’s smile did not hold back. Her whole personality was the opposite of reticent, and timidity was a stranger to her. When the Ifill incandescence came at you, you were getting human connection full-bore.

I suppose every profession has a few people like this, people who love the whole profession, who pay compliments when its standards are met and who are tough when they are not.

Gwen’s death merits a bit of the reaction that greeted the death of the writer Samuel Johnson centuries ago: She has left a chasm, which nobody else can fill up and which nobody has a tendency to fill.

Now that Gwen is dead, who is the next best thing? There’s nobody. There are many great people who will follow her example. But nobody quite reminds you of Gwen.”

In other news this week@work:

‘Debora L. Spar, Barnard President, to Lead Lincoln Center’Michael Cooper for The New York Times  “In appointing Ms. Spar, who is also an author and a former Harvard Business School professor, Lincoln Center’s board looked beyond arts administration circles and decided to tap someone with experience running a large nonprofit and with a track record of raising money for capital projects — skills that could prove useful as the renovation proceeds.”

Mr. Cooper reported in a related story that you may want to share with the aspiring musicians in your life, ‘It’s Official: Many Orchestras Are Now Charities’.

‘Udacity, an Online Learning Start-Up, Offers Tech Job Trials’Steve Lohr for The New York Times “The program, called Blitz, provides what is essentially a brief contract assignment, much like an internship. Employers tell Udacity the skills they need, and Udacity suggests a single candidate or a few. For the contract assignment, which usually lasts about three months, Udacity takes a fee worth 10 to 20 percent of the worker’s salary. If the person is then hired, Udacity does not collect any other fees, such as a finder’s fee.

The Blitz initiative and Udacity’s evolution point to the role that nontraditional education organizations might play in addressing the needs of workers and employers in the fast-changing labor market for technology skills.”

In closing this week of work, I am still trying to clear the fog in my brain and understand ‘post truth’. I reside in the real word, but apparently it’s changing. What does work look like when words hold no meaning?

I’ll end with classicist Mary Beard‘s reflection on the U.S. election.

“Trump and Trump’s policies are truly ghastly, but you have to face the fact that a very large number of people actually voted for him. What is more, resentment at “the elite” has morphed into a proud contempt for truth, expertise and knowledge – not unlike Michael Gove’s jibe at “experts” before the Brexit vote. And in the broader context of political rhetoric, the idea that he won’t be as bad as he claimed is more, rather than less, worrying. I thought that the conciliatory speech was the worst thing I had heard all evening. The idea that he could be thanking Clinton for her service to the country (“I mean that very sincerely”) and be speaking of “binding the wounds of division” – when only the day before he’d promised to impeach her and poured salt into the very wounds he was now promising to heal – beggars belief. It has nothing to do with being “gracious” (as the television pundits had it), and everything to do with words not meaning anything. It was precisely what ancient rhetorical and political theorists feared almost more than anything else: that speech might not be true, and the corrosive effect of that on popular power.”

 

Photo credits: Facebook Menlo Park HQ courtesy of Facebook Newsroom Media Gallery, Mark Zuckerberg from his Facebook page, Gwen Iffil/Morry Gash AP

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Fear of Happiness’ a poem by A.E. Stallings

Facebook Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg posed a question to the Barnard Class of 2011. “What would you do if your weren’t afraid?” It seems like a good query to revisit this week as high school seniors consider college choice, college seniors compare job offers, and the rest of us plan our next career move.

“She described a poster on the wall at Facebook: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” She said that it echoed something the writer Anna Quindlen once said, which was that “she majored in unafraid” at Barnard. Sandberg went on, “Don’t let your fears overwhelm your desire. Let the barriers you face—and there will be barriers—be external, not internal. Fortune does favor the bold. I promise that you will never know what you’re capable of unless you try. You’re going to walk off this stage today and you’re going to start your adult life. Start out by aiming high. . . . Go home tonight and ask yourselves, What would I do if I weren’t afraid? And then go do it! Congratulations.”

As you consider your answer, enjoy this week’s Friday Poem from A.E. Stallings.

Fear of Happiness

Looking back, it’s something I’ve always had:
As a kid, it was a glass-floored elevator
I crouched at the bottom of, my eyes squinched tight,
Or staircase whose gaps I was afraid I’d slip through,
Though someone always said I’d be all right—
Just don’t look down or See, it’s not so bad
(The nothing rising underfoot). Then later
The high-dive at the pool, the tree-house perch,
Ferris wheels, balconies, cliffs, a penthouse view,
The merest thought of airplanes. You can call
It a fear of heights, a horror of the deep;
But it isn’t the unfathomable fall
That makes me giddy, makes my stomach lurch,
It’s that the ledge itself invents the leap.

A.E. Stallings   Poetry, 2010

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The week@work – innovative organizations, AT&T’s new culture, Shonda Rhimes @TED, the online platform economy and pausing to enjoy the view

The week@work was dominated by the story of Apple’s opposition to the court order to unlock the San Bernardino gunman’s IPhone. Simultaneously, news was being made as Fast Company released its annual list of the ‘Most Innovative Companies’, AT&T’s leadership challenged workers to reinvent themselves,  Shonda Rhimes shared her ‘year of yes’ @TED, and the JP Morgan Chase Institute released a study examining the online platform economy, and its impact on one million of its customers.

And for balance, in this centennial year of the National Park Service, enjoy the view of Horsetail Fall in Yosemite National Park as sunset transforms the waterfall into an apparent stream of hot lava. Sangeeta Day captured the photo above for National Geographic.

On Monday, Fast Company released their list of The Most Innovative Companies of 2016. The top five are BuzzFeed, Facebook, CVS Health, Uber and Netflix.

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BuzzFeed CEO, Jonah Peretti’s vision drew on his fascination with Paramount Pictures, CNN and JayZ. “BuzzFeed has built its success, like Paramount a century ago, by owning all the elements of a modern media business: a global news team, its own video pro­duction studio, a sophisticated data operation, and an in-house creative ad agency.” 

“The “bored-at-work network,” as Peretti himself once called it, was merely a single U.S. website. In late 2014, he foresaw that people wouldn’t want to leave their social apps, so Peretti drastically shifted his company’s strategy: Instead of trying to lure eyeballs to its own website, the way most publishers do, BuzzFeed would publish original text, images, and video directly to where its audience already spent its time, some 30 different global platforms, from Facebook to the Russian social networks VK and Telegram. Rather than write one definitive article and publish it on every platform (the de facto standard in the media business), BuzzFeed would tailor content specifically for the network and audience where it’s being viewed.

How’d that turn out? Across all the platforms where it now publishes content, the company generates 5 billion monthly views—half from video, a business that effectively did not exist two years ago. Traffic to the website has remained steady—80 million people in the U.S. every month, putting it ahead of The New York Times—even though as much as 75% of BuzzFeed’s content is now published somewhere else.”

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One company that has lost its standing in the top 50 innovators is legacy telecom AT&T. As the competitors have changed with the shift from traditional phone and cellular carriers to Internet and cloud computing, the company’s leadership team is making new demands on its workforce, resetting the culture, again.

“AT&T’s competitors are not just Verizon and Sprint, but also tech giants like Amazon and Google. For the company to survive in this environment, Mr. Stephenson needs to retrain its 280,000 employees so they can improve their coding skills, or learn them, and make quick business decisions based on a fire hose of data coming into the company.

In an ambitious corporate education program that started about two years ago, he is offering to pay for classes (at least some of them) to help employees modernize their skills. But there’s a catch: They have to take these classes on their own time and sometimes pay for them with their own money.

To Mr. Stephenson, it should be an easy choice for most workers: Learn new skills or find your career choices are very limited.”

Adapting to change, learning new skills, saying yes, and taking time to play were all part of television producer Shonda Rhimes’ TED Talk in Vancouver.

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“You can do it too, say yes every time your child asks you to play. Are you thinking that maybe I’m an idiot in diamond shoes? You’re right, but you can still do this. You have time. You know why? Because you’re not Rihanna and you’re not a Muppet. Your child does not think you’re that interesting.

I said yes to less work and more play, and somehow I still run my world. My brain is still global. My campfires still burn. The more I play, the happier I am, and the happier my kids are. The more I play, the more I feel like a good mother. The more I play, the freer my mind becomes. The more I play, the better I work. The more I play, the more I feel the hum, the nation I’m building, the marathon I’m running, the troops, the canvas, the high note, the hum, the hum, the other hum, the real hum, life’s hum. The more I feel that hum, the more this strange, quivering, uncocooned, awkward, brand new, alive non-titan feels like me. The more I feel that hum, the more I know who I am. I’m a writer, I make stuff up, I imagine. That part of the job, that’s living the dream. That’s the dream of the job. Because a dream job should be a little bit dreamy.”

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In other news @TED, the annual $1 million TED Prize was awarded to Sarah H. Parcak, a space archaeologist who uses satellite imagery to discover ancient sites, and map looting.

“I wish for us to discover the millions of unknown archaeological sites across the globe. By building an online citizen science platform and training a 21st century army of global explorers, we’ll find and protect the world’s hidden heritage, which contains clues to humankind’s collective resilience and creativity.”

Unknown.jpegEric Morath reported the findings of a JP Morgan Institute Study of market volatility and the emergence of  “a new marketplace for work by unbundling a job into discrete tasks and directly connecting individual sellers with consumers.” 

Call it ‘gig’ or ‘sharing’, the economy is being supported by folks who are supplementing their income with ‘app jobs’.

“The share of Americans earning income from digital platforms such as Uber and Airbnb is growing rapidly, but those gigs typically supplement incomes rather than replace full-time work.

Nearly 1% of U.S. adults earned income in September 2015 via one of the growing number of firms that are part of the sharing or gig economy, according to a study of bank transactions by the JPMorgan Chase Institute, released Thursday. Participation has exploded since October 2012, when just 0.1% of adults were paid by such platforms.

At 2.5 million, the sharing labor force is roughly equivalent to the number of teachers and others that work for public schools in the U.S., though the study finds that people driving for Lyft or selling crafts on eBay typically have other sources of income.

The average monthly income for someone who provided labor via one of the platforms was $533, representing a third of total income. The share of active participants earning 50% or more of their monthly income has fallen since the summer of 2014, as the total number making some money increased.”

In other stories of interest this week@work:

‘Channing Dungey to Succeed Paul Lee as Chief of ABC Entertainment’ by Brooks Barnes and John Koblin   “Channing Dungey, previously ABC’s drama chief, will take over as the head of ABC entertainment, making her the first black network president.

Ms. Dungey’s elevation is a breakthrough for an industry that has often struggled with diversity, especially among the senior executive ranks.”

‘Fashion Week’s Shift Toward Diversity’ by Ruth La Ferla  “Well before the Oscars stirred a diversity debate, Seventh Avenue had been the target of stinging criticism for the sin of omission, routinely parading mostly white models on its runways.

In this latest round of shows, which ended on Thursday, many designers appeared to have taken a hard look at the highly charged issue of casting, stepping up their efforts to hire racial and ethnic minorities and sounding a chord for inclusiveness.”

And because it’s the beginning of Oscar Week:

b67e67830551ea34f84eb0edf7900236553b83045ca648f52711fe9838b7a681‘Films once were an escape from work. Now, they celebrate it. What gives?’ by Charles McNulty  “There was a time when Americans went to the movies to escape the workplace. These days, in keeping with the way our offices have taken over our lives, filmmakers have turned the big screen into one long career day.

Audiences have been invited to experience first-hand the everyday grind of being a journalist (“Spotlight”), an astronaut (“The Martian”), a screenwriter (“Trumbo”), a fur trapper (“The Revenant”) and even an inventor of kitchen mops (“Joy”).”

Pleasant dreams of gold for all, this week@work.

 

 

 

 

The week@work – Super Bowl@50, Facebook@12 and unemployment@4.9%

This week@work the center of the media universe shifted from Iowa to New Hampshire, and Silicon Valley where, separated by about 12 miles on Highway 101, Levi Stadium in Santa Clara will host the 50th Super Bowl game, and Facebook celebrated it’s twelfth birthday at corporate HQ in Menlo Park. And, in the U.S. the unemployment rate dropped to 4.9%, the lowest since 2008.

In the lead up to the big game there were hundreds of stories about those who choose football as a career, from the high school senior announcing a college choice to the veteran player rewarded with membership in the Football Hall of Fame.

The typical NFL player takes their first step in their career at the annual February ritual, ‘National Signing Day’. It’s the day high school football players sign a ‘Letter of Intent’ to accept an offer of admission and commit to play football at the collegiate level. This year, Tom Brady and Derek Jeter were on hand in Ann Arbor, Michigan to participate in ‘The Signing of the Stars’ “a flamboyant national signing day pep rally streamed live on Wednesday by The Players’ Tribune — the website founded by Jeter, a Michigan native — and intended to build the hype around this year’s class of prospective Wolverines football players.”

Time will tell if the top college recruit, Rashan Gary, from Paramus Catholic High School in New Jersey will advance beyond his playing days at Michigan.

On the other end of the football career spectrum is recognition as an inductee into the NFL Hall of Fame. The class of 2016 includes former Oakland Raiders quarterback, Ken Stabler who let his team to their first Super Bowl victory after the 1976 season.

“While generally a cause for celebration, Saturday’s announcement of the class of 2016 for the Pro Football Hall of Fame carried a somber tone as Ken Stabler, a Super Bowl-winning quarterback for the Oakland Raiders, was elected days after it was publicly revealed that he had had Stage 3 chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., a degenerative brain disease, before his death in July.

Stabler, known as the Snake, who won a Most Valuable Player Award for the 1974 season and led the Raiders to the team’s first Super Bowl victory after the 1976 season, was previously a finalist for election three times, but this year, as a senior candidate, he was elected alongside Dick Stanfel, a star offensive lineman in the 1950s. The modern-era electees were Brett Favre, Marvin Harrison, Kevin Greene, Orlando Pace and Tony Dungy, as well as Edward J. DeBartolo Jr., who owned the San Francisco 49ers for all five of their Super Bowl wins and was elected as a contributor.”

On Wednesday, journalist, John Branch’s profile of Stabler, and his life after football with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (C.T.E.) was published in The New York Times.

“After retiring from football, Stabler worked as a broadcast analyst for the N.F.L. and for the University of Alabama, where he had played quarterback under Coach Bear Bryant. His damaged knees became such a problem in the past 10 years that he rarely ventured out.

“His vision of what a leader is, what a strong person is, is someone who did not show signs of weakness,” said Alexa Stabler, 29, the second of Stabler’s three grown daughters. “Because it would affect the people he relied on and the people he cared about, whether that was his family or his teammates.”

When Stabler was 31, a 1977 Sports Illustrated feature story detailed his penchant for honky-tonks and marinas, usually with a drink in one hand and a pretty woman in the other…He pondered what he might do after football.

“My lifestyle is too rough — too much booze and babes and cigarettes — to be a high school coach,” Stabler said. “I’d hardly be a shining example to the young athletes of the future.”

His family hopes that the most powerful lesson he provides is the one delivered after he was gone.

In between signing day and induction into the Football Hall of Fame, if you’re impossibly lucky, is a chance to compete in the national championship of professional football, the Super Bowl.

The annual spectacle, held this year in the vortex of Silicon Valley has exposed the growing economic divide, “gentrification, sky-high housing prices and the technology industry’s influence on local government, even the nation’s biggest party has become a battleground.”

“The cost of hosting the Super Bowl — estimated at about $5 million for the city — has unleashed a storm of anger among residents already resentful of the influx of expensive restaurants, high-end stores and rich, young tech workers who have snapped up apartments in historically low-income neighborhoods. To tidy up for the tourists, the city’s large homeless population has been swept out of view, which some people here see as evidence that this city, long a seat of leftist activism, has sold itself to corporate interests.

“In San Francisco, we’re supposed to be the bastion of crazy liberals,” Ms. Leitner said. “Instead of raising wages for teachers so they can afford to live here, why are we spending money on a party for people who work for the N.F.L.?”

Fast Company writer, Michael Grothaus marked the birthday celebration on Thursday at Facebook.

“It’s a bit crazy when you think about it, but Facebook is 12 years old today. On February 4, 2004, Mark Zuckerberg launched his fledgling social media site at Harvard. And the rest, as they say, is history. Twelve years on, Facebook has become the largest social media company ever. It influences myriad aspects of our lives and recently passed a billion active users each day.

It’s also kind of doing what candy makers and online retailers have tried to do in the past by deeming February 4th as an unofficial holiday that it hopes catches on: Friend’s Day.”

A look back to the 2004 Harvard Crimson article about ‘thefacebook.com’ may be the best  argument for why venture capitalists should be reading their alma mater’s student newspaper.

“Thousands of students across the country use it. Major corporations are falling over themselves to buy it.

But nearly a semester after creating thefacebook.com, a social networking website launched on Feb. 4, Mark E. Zuckerberg ’06 doesn’t seem to have let things go to his head.

Wearing a yellow t-shirt, blue jeans, and open-toe Adidas sandals, Zuckerberg sits on a ragged couch in the middle of a messy Kirkland House common room, surrounded by strewn clothes and half-closed boxes.

Amidst this squalor, he smiles.

“I’m just like a little kid. I get bored easily and computers excite me. Those are the two driving factors here.”

Thefacebook.com allows university students to create personal profiles listing their interests, contact info, relationship status, classes and more.

It started locally at Harvard. It now has almost 160,000 members from across the country.”

Twelve years later, Thomas Friedman considers the question, ‘Social Media: Destroyer or Creator?’

“Over the last few years we’ve been treated to a number of “Facebook revolutions,” from the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street to the squares of Istanbul, Kiev and Hong Kong, all fueled by social media. But once the smoke cleared, most of these revolutions failed to build any sustainable new political order, in part because as so many voices got amplified, consensus-building became impossible.

Question: Does it turn out that social media is better at breaking things than at making things?

Recently, an important voice answered this question with a big “ yes.” That voice was Wael Ghonim, the Egyptian Google employee whose anonymous Facebook page helped to launch the Tahrir Square revolution in early 2011 that toppled President Hosni Mubarak — but then failed to give birth to a true democratic alternative.

“Five years ago,” concluded Ghonim, “I said, ‘If you want to liberate society, all you need is the Internet.’ Today I believe if we want to liberate society, we first need to liberate the Internet.”

Beyond the Super Bowl and Facebook, the economy continues to improve. The jobless rate is under 5% and wages are rising.

“It’s not that the new data blew the lid off expectations or pointed to some radical acceleration in job growth in the opening weeks of 2016. Quite the contrary. The nation added 151,000 jobs in January, which was below analysts’ expectations and well below the revised 262,000 jobs added in December. That looks an awful lot like “reversion to the mean,” and it wouldn’t be surprising if final revisions show a slower pace of job growth across the two months.

But while economists and financial markets have traditionally placed the greatest weight on that payroll number as the key indicator of whether economic growth is speeding up or slowing down, we’re entering a phase where some other components of the jobs report are more important.”

Two additional articles of interest this week profile the executive who created the culture at Netflix and a BBC photo essay on the career dreams of the children who have fled Syria.

‘The Woman Who Created Netflix’s Enviable Company Culture’  Vivian Giang for Fast Company – “The woman behind “Netflix Culture: Freedom & Responsibility” was the company’s chief talent officer at the time, Patty McCord…Instead of listing the company’s core values like every other company was doing, McCord decide to write down the things the company valued, what mattered to them, what they expected in their people.”

‘When I grow up I want to be…’ (BBC) “Despite their current predicament, children who have fled the conflict in Syria and are now living in neighbouring countries dream of what the future holds for them, and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) sent photographer Meredith Hutchison to find out.”

To end this week@work, let me introduce you to Rama, age 13, and her dream of becoming a doctor, as a reminder to honor your dreams.

_88034777_a80f7902-6be1-4991-913e-aed456838390.jpg“Walking down the street as a young girl in Syria or Jordan, I encountered many people suffering – sick or injured – and I always wanted to have the power and skills to help them.
“Now, as a great physician in my community, I have that ability. Easing someone’s pain in the most rewarding aspect of my job. To be able to give them relief is the most rewarding aspect of my job. To be able to give them relief and make them smile – this is what I love most.”