A new study by Expert Market looked at 74 key commuting hubs internationally and cross-referenced the average commute time, average distance traveled, time spent waiting on a bus or a train, the amount of changes made in a single journey, time spent in traffic and the cost of a monthly travel card relative to salary in order to determine the best and the worst commutes in the world.
In the days of yore, coffee came in but two varieties: caffeinated and decaffeinated. Additive options were few. Today, selections abound. Not only do we have more options in terms of milk, cream, and sugar additions (coconut milk, anyone?), flavor offerings have increased. Our coffee selection can reveal a lot about our personality. Use your next coffee break to try to discern the personalities of co-workers and colleagues. Doing so may go a long way in ensuring that your coffee break is the most productive part of your day.
Negotiations can be tough, especially if the other person plays hardball. In these instances, understandably, you may want to get in and out as quickly as possible to avoid feelings of discomfort or intimidation. But by rushing through the negotiating process to avoid unpleasant feelings, you will also likely be walking away empty handed, asking yourself: “What was that?” and “What could I have done differently?”
Besides, Millennials, and especially Gen Z, don’t operate that way. Why not? Because we raised to then to be open, transparent, collaborative, communicators, equal partners, part of a team, and then, just to be sure they really did all of that, we built the technologies with which to do all of it exquisitely well.
In looking at the shapes above, the task is to take any three of these shapes and put them together to form anything you’d like. Say an invention, a tool, an animal, or a toy. You can imagine them made of any material, and of any size.
If you’re looking at your calendar this week and thinking, “Holy cow, where is this year going?” you’re not alone. It’s hard to believe that 2018 is halfway over; it feels like just yesterday we were ushering in the new year, and now we’re six months away from saying good-bye to it.
Aside from any anxiety you might be feeling, though, there is an upside to the halfway point in the year: It’s a significant period of the year that allows you to reflect on what has already passed and what’s to come. Here are three things that every good leader should be doing halfway through the year:
1. Checking In On Goals
You likely set lots of goals for both yourself and your company at the beginning of the year. Maybe you wanted to expand to a new market, or grow a certain department.
How is that looking so far? Are things going as planned, or have you run into some hiccups along the way?
Once you’ve performed a proper status report, figure out next steps. What extra measures can be taken? Right now, I’m looking to see where I can lean on other people in my company for assistance in reaching our goals. Team work makes the dream work, after all.
Identify the necessary actions, and proceed.
2. Touching Base With Employees
Summer can be a stressful time. Sure, you get flexible Fridays, vacations and the happy hours, but the amount of work remains steady. With all of the activities going on, it’s easy for people to get distracted–or even burnt out.
Now is the perfect time to pencil in some one on one time with your employees. It doesn’t have to be anything formal–a chat over coffee or lunch is more inviting, and let’s them know that this is about them, not their productivity or other work metrics.
If people seem to be feeling stressed or anxious, see if you can help them find ways to reduce those feelings, by having them collaborate with other co-workers. Even though I’m busy, I even like to offer to take things off my employees’ plates if I can. Advocate for them, and they’ll advocate for your business.
Now is also a great time to focus on learning. Share reading lists. Give your team things to do to fill their brains when things seem a bit slower. Launch internal skunk works projects. Do internal hackathons.
Personal development is great when you know that your clients may be less aggressive during the summer lull. Take advantage of the speed change to help enable your team to learn more.
3. Keeping the Momentum Alive
I’ve previously talked about the summer slump, when productivity drops as temperatures rise, but there’s actually something worse; the post-summer slump. It may not seem close to us yet, but pretty soon it’ll be fall, and the excitement of summer will be worn off and everyone will be pooped.
Now is the time to start preparing for that. Congratulate your team(s) on the hard work they’re doing, and emphasize the importance of this halfway point.
My personal favorite way to keep the momentum going is to set new (attainable) goals. Right now, I’m looking into what we’ve already accomplished, and how I can use those achievements to shape our next round of objectives.
At Kiip, we use the OKR (Objectives and Key Results) system, which was popularized by Google. As Q3 rolls around, we are neck-deep in planning mode. The halfway mark helps us really look back to see what we’ve accomplished. We announced our first blockchain product just last week, and have so much more work to do.
Having something like this under your belt is a great marker of progress that has gotten the team really excited for the things to come. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that our company’s birthday is July 13. It’s another excuse to gather the teams and to celebrate what we’ve been working on for eight years now.
Giving your company more to work toward and look forward to will help carry you through those September days when everyone’s still dreaming of the beach. When you reach those goals, you’ll have many reasons to celebrate.
Juggling a demanding career while parenting young children is challenging for anyone. Throw in the fast pace and long hours of a startup, and even the most organized person is likely to feel overwhelmed.
Before founding ThirdLove in 2012, I worked at Google and Aeropostale. Now, having founded and run a startup, I realize there are very clear differences between these two environments. And I think it’s especially important to understand those distinctions as a working parent.
If you came to me and said, “I want the least amount of stress, the best lifestyle, and the most maternity leave,” I would tell you to go work at a more established company.
That’s not to say parents can’t make it work at a startup–many do. At ThirdLove, about 10 percent of our team are parents, myself included. But it’s important to consider some factors that can contribute to a rewarding, or stressful, experience.
Here’s what I tell all my friends who are parents and considering working at a startup:
Understand everything is a moment in time.
Needs are always evolving for both kids and companies.
The amount and type of care your child needs are different now than they were six months ago. In another six months, there will be a new set of challenges and experiences to navigate. So you have to be focused on making things work in each moment. You can’t get too caught up thinking about the long-term because your life is changing so quickly.
Really, that’s also what it’s like working at a startup. You have to live in the short-term. There will be changes in what’s required of you, what the environment looks like, and your role. There isn’t the same sense of continuity and predictability that comes with working in a larger company.
If you can accept that and learn to handle situations moment-by-moment, you’ll have a much better experience. Because things will likely change soon anyway.
Assess the startup before you accept a role.
Not all startups are created equal. Some are a better fit than others for parents. It’s important you take the time to assess whether or not the culture is empathetic and understanding toward working parents.
For example, I think the fact that Dave (my husband and co-founder) and I have young children contributes to a more flexible atmosphere. We understand what it’s like to stay up all night with a sick child and show up to work the next day. We know there are times when people have to leave early to pick up their kids from daycare.
Not all startups have cultures that are conducive for parents. There are definitely ventures where the social activities are centered around happy hours and late nights. And a lot of parents are essentially excluded from activities because they want to be home before their kids go to bed.
It’s a good idea to get a feel for the company before you accept the position. Does anyone have pictures of kids on their desks? Do people talk about their children? Or is the leadership team made up of young singles without parenting experience?
Whatever the case, knowing what you’re walking into will help set your expectations.
Know if you can let go.
Working full-time at a startup and being a parent is hard. And to do so, you have to be okay with not being perfect.
I went back to work soon after having my daughter, Sloane, and I felt like I was constantly running around putting out fires. When so much is happening, you’re going to make mistakes or forget about an event.
I know this from experience. Every year at my daughter’s nursery school, there’s one day when all the kids get to wear pajamas. I forgot about it last year, so Sloane went to school without her pajamas. I legitimately re-lived my mistake for an entire year. “You forgot to put me in my pajamas,” she reminded me. Over and over again.
But this year, she went to school in pajamas on pajama day.
Those kinds of mistakes are bound to happen. And at a startup, there’s no time to sit and analyze every mistake you made during a meeting or go back-and-forth on each marketing campaign option. If you tend to over-analyze everything and have a tough time moving on from mistakes, a startup may not be the place for you. You have to know how to let things go.
Despite the ups and downs, people who choose to work at startups repeatedly do so because they enjoy being in a situation where their day-to-day contributions make a huge impact. I can’t promise it will be easy to join a startup as a parent. But if you assess the company beforehand and learn to take things in stride, the experience can be incredibly rewarding.
In Richard Branson‘s perfect business world, employees would have unlimited leave, the ability to work from home and longer holidays. Particularly in the U.S., “the way people are treated at companies is despicable,” he said.
The mogul and his daughter Holly talked all things employee in an interview with The New York Times published today. Holly’s been at the Virgin empire for 10 years and is promoting a book she helped write, WEconomy. She’s working on improving the workplace culture at Virgin and then the world at large, noting that she helped bring unlimited leave to the U.K.
“As long as you get your work done, it doesn’t matter where you are,” Holly said.
While companies like Netflix and LinkedIn (and Virgin itself) famously offer unlimited time off, the idea hasn’t quite taken off in the U.S: a 2016 Society for Human Resource Management report found that only 1-2% of companies offer the perk. Yet the elder Branson said it could offer big benefits.
“The idea that you could just go off for two months to Bali, and be paid, and have a really special holiday without feeling bad about it — you’re going to love that company that does that,” he said.
The father-daughter duo is also advocating for other types of time off.
“We’re trying to design the maternity and paternity policies the right way so that men feel they can take time off, too. The big thing for us now is making it culturally acceptable for a man to take the time off,” Holly said. “And then it means that the women aren’t always feeling that it’s their careers that are getting sidelined.”
The Bransons think that entrepreneurs have a responsibility not just to their employees, but to the world.
“If we can get every business in the world to adopt a global problem, get slightly smaller businesses to adopt a national problem, get smaller businesses still to adopt local problems, then we can get on top of pretty well every problem in the world,” Richard Branson said.
Research and plan on attending a conference in the fall. If you prefer not to travel during summer months, add a little leisure time to your fall conference planning. Web Summit in Lisbon attracts 30,000 innovators globally. Or, if you travel to Toronto, you can tour their startup district. Speaking of conferences, 2019 conferences are already putting out their “calls for speakers,” so if you’re on the speaking circuit, jump on these opportunities.
The great children’s writer Roald Dahl says this in his book The BFG: “Don’t gobblefunk around with words.”
Words are wonderful. They are much more useful in business than they get credit for. However, words are not much emphasized or particularly valued in current articles and discussions I see about entrepreneurship.
Sales articles are crammed full of an overwhelming amount of information about psychology, motivation, technology, social media, ROI, SEO, etc., yet seemingly never mention that simple cornerstone of human communication–words. Vocabulary. It’s as if words are unimportant or irrelevant to an au courant, cutting-edge businessman. Words are for poets and philosophers, academics and lawyers, journalists and judges. Words are old-fashioned. They are for dead white men. Words are of the past, supplanted by a world of Twitter abbreviation (OMG, NRN, LOL, TMI, L8R, WTF, etc.) and verbal imprecision.
This is utterly wrong. Word usage and proficiency is important in branding a tonality of equal business stature when selling to real strategic corporate decision makers. CEOs and strategic executives are especially well-educated, thoughtful people trained in the best schools in the world. Or, if they don’t have that specific educational pedigree, they are fierce autodidacts. Either way, they are usually people of probing, practical intellect and subtle ability to appreciate and communicate nuance.
(Corporate decision makers like to do business with their peers. They want to deal with thoughtful people of equal business stature. A comfort level with precise and sophisticated word usage is one way of immediately establishing that tonality. So don’t avoid using uncommon words that bring greater depth and meaning to conversation–or to writing, for that matter. We are no longer in high school where you might be laughed at, thought pretentious, or beaten up for using sophisticated language. Don’t underrate or talk down to your fellow business decision-makers. If a less common word is more specific and descriptive, use it.)
I have written about the annoying use of the ubiquitous and meaningless word awesome–a word often displayed by its users to seemingly show how “with it” and modern they are. [“Why You Need to Stop Saying Awesome”] What the users of “awesome” actually show is their verbal limitation, carelessness, and laziness of language. Awesome is a word that instantly identifies you as a member of the lemming-like herd. It absolutely damages your credibility.
Here are six words that instantly kill your trope of business gravitas:
- Awesome (of course)
I’m sure you can easily add to this list from your own experience. These words and others like them smack of the jejune. These are words of regurgitated, hyperventilating cliche that brand their practitioners as lightweight and unserious servants to the tyranny of the given. These words are a medley of breathless hyperbole and empty cacophony, without real import when applied to your or any business.
This does not mean you should pepper your business conversations with obscure parlance, artificially grandiose phrases, fustian excess or arbitrary verbal whimsy. Precise business vocabulary can be used simply. Note that Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address in 1865, one of the most effective speeches in the history of the world, was only 701 words long. 505 of these words were one syllable, and 122 had two syllables. But words of real meaning bring shadings of specificity and descriptive depth, even a sensual enlivening, to the most prosaic of business discussions. They matter.
Louisa May Alcott said simply, “I like good strong words that mean something.” Yeah. Me too, Louisa May. Thanks.