Nonsense At Work

#81: March 2014 MindShift

Nonsense just is,
but sense must be uncovered, grasped and held tight.The NonsenseAtWork Monthly MindShift


March 2014

Trick Interview Cheats Your Capital

The trick to smooth sailing

sailingIn my youth I sailed dinghies. The thing about solo sailing is that you don’t want the dinghy to sail away if you fall overboard. Trust me; falling overboard is quite easy to do when the wind is strong, the waves big and the boat small.

How did we prevent the dinghy sailing away when the sails were set? By angling the mast in a manner that made the dinghy want to turn into the wind at all times. Letting go of the rudder meant that the sails would spill and the dinghy would stop.

So the first purpose of the rudder is to keep the dinghy turned away from the wind so that the sails can fill. Only then is it used to steer somewhere specific.

Obviously, being rudderless in life will also bring you to a stop. The trick to smooth sailing is to know how much rudder to use and when.



Communicate before interview

communicate-interview2Maybe if more people knew how to use their rudder, I would not be asking this question: Why do some people never make it to the first interview, even though they might be ideal for the advertised position?

I have given talks to groups of unemployed people and met individually with others. I liked and admired many of them, so why, I wondered, did they struggle to even land an interview?

Well, I recently recruited for and filled a fairly senior and rather specialized position. In the process I think I formed an idea of why some people struggle more than others. They just don’t have a clue about what matters during the first vital phase.

Consider this three-sentence cover letter I received: “Please contact me about this role. I have extensive experience from many different environments. Full resume on request.” What! You already expect me to do your work?

So, who got the first interview? The person who came recommended.


Cheat to boost creativity

cheat-boost-creativityHere’s something I cannot recommend: more creativity. Demands for more creativity at work have me very worried for the future of our society.

I am against the silly notion called “think outside the box” because unless there are boundaries and constraints on your thinking, your creativity will unlikely be practical enough to be useful. And now it seems that the lack of boundaries and constraints can even be dangerous.

Did you know that cheating boosts creativity? Yes, according to experiments conducted by Dr. Gino of Harvard University and Dr. Wiltermuth of the University of Southern California.

It gets worse. Apparently the link between creativity and dishonesty is a flexible attitude to rules. This implies that creative people tend to ignore rules; or that to be creative, you should ignore rules.

So, demand creativity at work if you must, but be ready for disobedience, insurrection and revolution.


The moment you like your work

step-away-from-workAs we are touching on disobedience, insurrection and revolution, here’s an exercise that you might like. Step away from your work and keep your hands where you can see them!

So, did you like stepping away from your work? You did? Is that because you don’t really like the work that you do? Well, the next part of the exercise might change your mind for the better about your work.

Are your hands still where you can see them? Now, what will these hands do today? How will they make your life a little better? More importantly, what will these hands do today to make someone else’s life better?

There you have it, the key to liking your work a little more: your ability to see how your work helps other people.

Even if you believe that your work doesn’t really matter in the greater scheme of things, it has the potential to matter much in the moment . . . the moment when you choose to use it to help someone.


Capital measure of success

fed-housed-clothed2Economists go on and on about GDP and consumer consumption and other cold economic measures. I can criticize economists because I am one of them, at least by formal qualification.

Business executives go on and on about profits and shareholder wealth and other passionless performance measures. I can criticize them too, because I am one of them, at least by formal title.

As both economist and executive, I find these traditional measures of success socially unhelpful and personally not motivating.

And yet, here’s what impresses me (about the economy and capitalism) – how one person’s dream can result in betterment for so many. We tend to think of business success in terms of profits or market share or shareholder wealth. I see it in how consistently the business feeds and clothes and houses the families who depend on it.

Now that is real success. And, amazingly, we all benefit from it.



I could benefit from a decent cup of coffee.



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