Frances 0. Thomas

National Certified Counselor

Archive for the category “growth”

Pareto strikes again

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All those records of people’s lives are finally proving useful.

Researchers have tapped into New Zealand’s extensive digital databases to examine the lives of 1000 subjects from birth to age 38. They found that the Pareto Principle, or more commonly the 80/20 rule, holds true for illegal and other non-desirable behaviors.

The scientists from Duke University, King’s College London, and the University of Otago in New Zealand say 20% of those studied accounted for a whopping 81% of incarcerations, 77 % of fatherless child rearing, 75 % of drug prescriptions, and 66% of welfare benefits plus more than half of nights in the hospital and cigarettes smoked. They were more likely to be obese and to file personal injury claims too.

In the study, they gave participants tests at age three to measure what they called “brain health.” This consisted of intelligence, language and motor skills, frustration tolerance, restlessness, and impulsiveness. Low scores in brain health even at such an early age predicted high healthcare and social costs as adults.

The results point to the continuing need for early interventions with disadvantaged children. The components of brain health can be taught or improved upon. Such education would benefit not only the individual children but ultimately society as a whole.

Lead researcher Avshalom Caspi says the return on investments to undertake this sort of intervention would be remarkable. Indeed.

Educators, what kinds of interventions have you seen in your community?

Blaming the victim?

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A recent study about bullying caught my eye. Chad Rose, an assistant professor of special education from the University of Missouri College of Education, and Nicholas Gage, an assistant professor from the University of Florida, say that children with disabilities are bullied significantly more often than those without disabilities. This inequality in bullying continues over time. It peaks in third grade, subsides in middle school, and increases again in high school.

They conclude that the disabled students aren’t developing the social skills to defend themselves as they mature. They recommend that schools teach “appropriate response skills.”

Apparently, the conduct doesn’t end in school. When a relative of mine with a disability was bullied in the workplace, I did some research and blogged about it.

Of course, it is important for the disabled students to learn better communication and coping skills. But isn’t it even more important that the bullies are taught better behavior?

To be fair, Rose and Gage are in the field of special education and focusing on improving conditions for at risk children, not on the general school population. They do assert that social skills are no longer taught to anyone. Still, it seems to me another instance of blaming the victim.

What say you?

 

Give it a Rest

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I venture a guess that no woman in America will be surprised by the results of research done by Cornell University, the University of Minnesota, and Minnesota Population Center. They studied time diaries from 12,000 parents and concluded dads are happier when parenting than moms are. It seems moms do more of the work tasks while dads do more fun tasks. Ya think?

Moms were often alone with their kids, but dads often spent time with their kids in social situations with other adults around to give support. Moms were also more likely to be on call 24/7, so dads got more uninterrupted sleep.

For a fictional look at how this can play out, I recommend Leave Me, a novel by Gayle Forman. The mom in this book suffers a heart attack and subsequent bypass surgery only to return home to whining, demanding children and a husband who thinks she can make a full recovery in a week so as not to inconvenience him.

Having facts from a study like this one to back up fiction and anecdotal evidence is good, but when will this situation change? I don’t have children, but I do find myself jumping in to do things that others could and should do for themselves and then feeling resentful. I need to learn to back off, set better boundaries, and ask for help instead of playing martyr. Do you?

Without a net

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Are you one of those people who always have a Plan B? Turns out that might not be such a good idea.

Two management professors, Jihae Shin of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Katherine L. Milkman of the Wharton School of Business at Penn, undertook a study to see if having a backup affected how hard people work toward a goal and their chances for success. Turns out if it is a goal that requires hard work, it does. People don’t put as much effort into achieving their goal and consequently don’t achieve less.

A goal that is dependent on having high innate skill isn’t affected by this dynamic.

The professors acknowledge that making an alternate plan helps reduce uncertainty and stress. They suggest, however, waiting until later in the process to think about Plan B. Do the work first and see what happens.

What is your best strategy for achieving goals?

Help the new prof

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For the first time, I will be teaching a class at out local community college for the fall term. It is called Cornerstone here, and is the basic freshman success class that is now mandatory in many schools.

I’m looking for suggestions from experienced teachers on activities and resources I can use besides lectures. I want to keep the students engaged.

Some of the topics I’ll be covering are time management, diversity, critical thinking, financial literacy, and careers.

What about it, fellow educators? Any ideas you’d like to share?

Grow where you’re planted

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I confess it was never my intention to live in Florida. Yet nearly two decades later, I am still here. Moreover, I live on a relatively rural island a good drive away from the nearest city. I grew up and lived my whole life in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. If there was ever a fish out of water, I’m it.

When I spotted Melody Warnick’s book This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live, i grabbed it off the shelf. Maybe I could find some helpful advice within.

Warnick’s issue was a little different from my own. She had moved multiple times, never feeling at home in any of her locations. When her professor husband got a job in Blacksburg at Virginia Tech, she resolved to find out what leads people to feel attached to their town or city.

Her extensive research led to some practical suggestions. The first is to walk whenever possible to get a sense of place. That one is only marginally doable for me. I can’t really walk to any destinations, just within my immediate neighborhood. Doing that, however, would accomplish another tactic, getting to know my neighbors. In the time we’ve lived here, people have moved away or died, and we’ve never made the acquaintance of their replacements.

Warnick’s other advice includes volunteering and doing something creative. I do those things  but in the nearby city, not on the island. Doing activities most other residents find pleasurable won’t work for me. I’ve never fished and never will.

My one gold star is that I do try to patronize local businesses.

Is there hope for me? Like Warnick, should I push myself a bit more? Do you feel at home where you live? Why?

 

 

 

 

 

Another kind of segregation

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I have recently made my first foray into the world of fiction. My contemporary romantic novella The Lady Is a Mayor is set in a highly fictionalized version of the place where I actually live. The story involves a disagreement between townspeople who are in favor of economic growth and those who are determined to protect the environment. My book is a comedy, so it ends with the standard happily ever after. In real life, this isn’t often the case.

William Chopik, a psychology prof at Michigan State University, has published a study that indicates living among those whose viewpoint you don’t share can affect your personality. If you are on the Trump train and all your neighbors are Hillary supporters, you may distrust them so much that you withdraw from relationships.

Chopik says his findings could explain why many Americans seem to be consolidating into heavily red or blue geographic areas. This may also explain political gridlock. If you never communicate with anyone different, you don’t learn how to compromise.

Racial segregation is technically a thing of the past, but its implications are far from gone. Maybe we also need to take a look at political segregation.

 

 

Still searching for meaning

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I love the results of a recent study done by researchers at the University of Sussex and the University of Greenwich It confirms that bosses have virtually nothing to do with how meaningful employees feel their jobs are. Viktor Frankl had the right of it. Meaning only comes from within.

The researchers interviewed 135 people in ten jobs ranging from priest to garbage collector. They found that people feel they have meaning as a fellow human being; it’s personal.

This can happen when others find what they do matters.  They label this self-transcendent.

The feeling can occur in a situation that is uncomfortable or even painful, what they term poignant

Purpose is not a constant. It is episodic and comes and goes according to circumstances. It also takes a while before we realize that something meaningful has happened upon reflection.

Bosses get in the way when they interfere with employees’ values, judgment, or supporting relationships.

Dr. Adrian Madden of Greenwich’s business school says organizations that master this concept will have greater success in attracting and retaining their best employees.

That only makes sense, right? Who wants to go to work every day thinking “What’s the point?” Why is it so hard for companies to get this?

What Makes You Fascinating?

Sally Hogshead has just released a completely revised edition of her book Fascinate: How to Make Your Brand Impossible to Resist. With an extensive background in advertising, she brings a specific viewpoint to differentiating yourself from others. According to the system she has devised, your brand can be Innovation (using the language of creativity), Passion (the language of relationship), Power (the language of confidence), Prestige (the language of excellence), Trust (the language of stability), Mystique (the language of listening),or Alert (the language of details.) She’ll help you determine which one you or your company are and how to use your innate qualities to your best advantage.

I found her original book, well, fascinating. This new and improved version promises even more help for those who want to stand out from the crowd.

Excerpt:

Democratic Design

Ikea’s business model is as quirky as its furniture. The company believes that good design shouldn’t be reserved for the elite; instead, it markets good design for the masses. Each piece of furniture is a collaboration between the company and the consumer. In exchange for assembling the furniture yourself, you get better design at a lower price. Ikea calls this “democratic design.” A replicable process for ideas makes it possible to have “democratic branding.” Anyone can develop good ideas. I want to bring branding out of the ivory tower and into the trenches. Most businesses have limited time or money, but that doesn’t mean they can’t create effective and engaging messages. Just as you no longer need a travel agent to book your cruise, or a trip to the doctor to learn the symptoms of a common cold, you no longer need a marketer to do marketing.

Marketing for Non- Marketers

If it was easy to create a brand message, then anyone could do it. And if anyone could build a brand, then branding experts would be out of business.Here’s why: If a process is confusing and terribly difficult, only a few exquisitely talented minds do it. That’s why many agencies cultivate an intimidating image, hotbeds of new and exciting trends. Brand development usually requires months of research, development, and testing. The process is not for the faint of heart or the low of budget. Someone coached me that when presenting ideas to a client, it should be just one idea, so that it would be one of a kind. Like precious jewel sitting atop a black velvet cushion. By doing so, it would feel more rare and unreplicable. I believe that’s backward. Brands live inside communities, not corporations. Your brand lives inside conversations and aspirations. A brand lives in workplaces and schools. Inside homes and dinner table conversations. Brands aren’t static; they are living, breathing things that organically change and evolve as new people join the conversation. Your brand won’t shatter like your grandmother’s brittle china doll. Don’t keep your brand high on the shelf, out of reach. Hold your brand, push it, stretch it, and see how far it can go. A brand shouldn’t live under lock and key, hidden away at night. Quite the opposite. It should unite people, giving them a shared sense of ownership. Don’t just give consumers a better option to purchase . . . give them a better perspective on themselves and their world.

How the World Sees You (and Your Brand)

If you’re a brand, it doesn’t matter how you see your consumers; it matters how your consumers see you. Corporations don’t create brands. People do. The people inside your company are also the keepers of your brand. An outside party won’t know the culture and spirit and nuances like your team. You might not have a dedicated marketing department, and that’s okay. But what if the branding process could be open source, accessible to anyone?

It can be. It should be. You can do this. You can build your brand. You should build your brand. In fact, if you want to compete in a crowded and competitive marketplace, you must. Nobody knows your brand like you. You just need a template to follow. Or a hack.

Branding Hacks

You’ve probably heard of “life hacks”— clever shortcuts that allow you to save time, money, or hassle. Life hacks might reveal how to sneak more green vegetables into your kids’ meals, or how to relax more quickly to fall asleep. A productivity hack might show you how to speed- read. And the author Tim Ferriss once described a “sport hack,” in which he supposedly hacked the national Chinese kickboxing championship by winning with only a few weeks of training. Josh Linker, venture capitalist and entrepreneur, describes hacking this way: “Putting motives aside, the act of hacking requires tremendous creativity. A hack is an innovative and unorthodox way to crack big problems.” So what about marketing? Can we “hack” that process? What if branding could be open source, accessible to anyone? It can be. It should be. You can do this. You can build your brand. You should build your brand. In fact, if you want to compete in a crowded and competitive marketplace, you must. And you don’t need an ad agency.

 

The Productivity Book virtual tour

 

The Productivity Book

by Michael Brecht

GENRE: Non-fiction/time management

About the book:

Ever wondered what the secret is to productivity? Here’s a hint: there isn’t just one. Introducing the Doodle Productivity Book! Containing in-depth interviews with 30 of the world’s top productivity & time management experts, this book lifts the lid on the industry’s best kept tips and tricks. The result? An engaging and practical guide that will help you find your natural pace, so you can work smarter—not harder.

 

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE

 Michael Brecht will be awarding 5 Doodle Premium Accounts for Free to randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.

 

Excerpt:

CONCLUSION

Since the questions we asked opened a window into a day in the life of a productivity expert, we wanted our final conclusion to reflect this. So, here’s our summary of what a productive day should look like.

The perfect day starts the night before. Outline your goals. Whether this is a simple to-do list or time blocking, make sure tomorrow’s objectives are clear. Then sleep on it.

Everyone needs a different amount of sleep. Know what works for you and structure your schedule around that. Nearly all of our experts cited adequate rest as essential to maintaining productivity.

Wake up bright and early. Leave enough time to spend at least an hour and a half preparing for the day. Whether it’s reading, yoga, Pilates, running or simply thinking. Follow this with a healthy breakfast and you’re good to go.

Get to work. Now that you’ve prepared mentally, it’s time to take on the day. This period is when you’re at your most productive, so use it wisely. Let the calls go to voicemail, put your cellphone on silent and don’t answer emails. Emails are rarely worth your most energized and motivated moments. Unless it’s a creative meeting, don’t take it.

If you need time constraints, use a timer! Or the Pomodoro Technique.

Once you’re into the afternoon, time block to focus on admin and less important tasks like responding to emails and taking meetings. This will stop you from getting distracted and help you to focus on one thing at a time.

Because your brain is slower, this is the best part of the day to incorporate technology. So, start up your favorite tried and tested apps and use them to help you take notes, see your reminders, book appointments and whatever else is important. And remember, saying “no” can be more productive than “yes”.

By this point, you should have had a highly productive day. So, use the evening to relax with friends or family. But remember: A little planning the night before can go a long way toward having a successful, fulfilling tomorrow.

 

 

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

I am a serial entrepreneur, have more than twenty years of experience in IT and Digital Media and have held several international leadership positions in Europe and AustralAsia.

Since the beginning of 2014 I am CEO of Doodle – the world’s favourite online scheduling tool. Together with my fantastic team we have integrated Doodle into the Digital Portfolio of Tamedia AG, Switzerland’s largest media company. Our focus is to grow the business into a global application while strengthening its product offerings and continuing its successful monetisation. Doodle AG is a highly profitable business with offices in Zurich and Berlin.

My experience ranges from founding a start-up to various exits to multi-national corporates and subsequent integration. I enjoy topics of digital transformation and the leadership of highly innovative teams with a particular focus on growing a business internationally.

Now that digitalisation is increasingly becoming a topic for all businesses from start-up to large corporate, I have decided to start my own blog. Here you’ll find information on productivity topics, quotes about personal and professional efficiency, my reviews of awesome apps I use myself and I am trying to present a few stories that aren’t meant to be too serious too.

In my private life I am married and our home comprises of four children and our dog (an Australian Labradoodle). We are currently living in five different countries and I myself carry a German and an Australian passport. I enjoy sports, in particular football, swimming, tennis and all kinds of outdoor activities and I am passionate about the discovery of great wines.

 

Links:

http://productivity-book.com/

https://twitter.com/michaelbrecht?lang=de

http://michaelbrecht.com/

 

Buy links:

https://itunes.apple.com/book/the-productivity-book/id1050616645?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-productivity-book-michael-brecht/1122830470

https://store.kobobooks.com/ebook/the-productivity-book

http://www.amazon.com/Productivity-Book-Professionals-About-Management-ebook/dp/B016UQV92K/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1452530967&sr=8-2&keywords=productivity+book

 

Book links:

http://www.businesszone.co.uk/decide/productivity/the-four-productivity-hacks-every-entrepreneur-needs#.VnRXHbQzHNM.twitter

http://realbusiness.co.uk/article/32236-seven-time-saving-apps-your-fellow-entrepreneurs-use-to-boost-productivity

https://sliwinski.com/productivity-book/

 

 

 

 

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