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Apple is secretly hiring talent, potentially for the greatest tech coup ever

(TECH NEWS) Apple is secretly hiring robotics experts and engineering PhDs and forming secret development teams.

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Self-driving cars is all the news lately. They will soon revolutionize our society, we know as much. Google, Tesla and Nvidia are already competing. We know that too.

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Leaked evidence is now mounting to reveal what experts have long suspected: Apple is joining the action.

Oops

The clearest evidence of it came rather comically in a clerical oversight at the California DMV department, making it full of irony.

It reveals that Apple has quietly developed a secret team of robotics experts and engineering PhDs to gain momentum in its quest to develop its own self-driving car.

Why is all of this kind of a big deal?

Because a tech giant like Apple, which has been ridiculously secretive about its involvement in this space, despite consistent rumors to the contrary, changes the whole playing field.

The clues

The first indication that Apple was up to something came from a letter written last year by Apple’s Director of Product Integrity Steve Kenner to the National Highway Traffic Safety Adminsirtation (NHTSA).

“The company is investing heavily in the study of machine learning and automation, and is excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation,” Mr. Kenner wrote.

Then about a week ago, things got interesting.

First, Business Insider noted that the California DMV updated its website to add an unexpected name amongst the 29 other companies that already has permits to test self-driving vehicles in the state: Apple.

Unexpected, precisely because all through 2016, Apple spent a lot of time denying any rumors related to self-driving technology. “It’s going to be Christmas Eve for a while,” said Apple’s Tim Cook when asked about the project last year, referring to Apple’s policy in not disclosing their intentions yet.

Then, late last year, it was reported that Apple had hit unexpected glitches.

That was code for the project “has drastically scaled back its automotive ambitions, leading to hundreds of job cuts and a new direction that, for now, no longer includes building its own car,” according to people familiar with the project.

So why is Apple suddenly applying for permits for a program it is not pursuing, analysts asked? Their claims and actions did not match up.

This is where the latest unintended oversight by the California DMV comes in.

And it reveals something even more crucial—Apple’s secret autonomous driving team, or at least part of it.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the permit granted to Google contained names of six Apple employees, designated as “drivers/operators” of driverless cars.

And get this: those six names were meant to be redacted before release! Oops!

The revelation went viral immediately. Who are these six people? Surely, their identity will tell us a lot about Apple’s intentions, despite their tight-lip policy. Correct! Apple is luring talents with high-level experience from NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, ex-Tesla employees, robotics experts, electrical engineers, and augment reality PhDs.

More intriguingly, several of these people do not have Apple listed on their resume! No one knew they were working for Apple.

Why not tell the world you work for Apple? Precisely because Apple intended it that way.

Well, not anymore!

Padding the roster

Bloomberg also reported that Apple has hired NASA’s Jeff Norris, an expert in Augmented Reality glasses.

It is now clear that Apple would pose a major challenge to the existing automakers, as well as rival tech companies like Google’s autonomous vehicle program company, Waymo. Apple also hopes to bring AR-related hardware to the market as soon as next year.

Competitors, on their part, seem ready for the challenge.

The latest revelations may not raise their eyebrow. CEO Elon Musk, back in 2015, already called Apple a “Tesla graveyard,” referring to Apple’s practice of employing underperforming former Tesla employees.

What’s Apple’s aim?

It must also be noted that it is unclear if Apple is developing both the hardware and software for driverless cars, or just focusing on the operating system technology that it would sell to the highest bidders. Given Apple’s appetite for success and domination, one is tempted to think it would go all in.

But Apple may be working to compete against the LIDAR technology, which is crucial for both Uber and Waymo.Click To Tweet

For now, one thing is certain: Apple is very bad at lying.

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Barnil is a Staff Writer at The American Genius. With a Master's Degree in International Relations, Barnil is a Research Assistant at UT, Austin. When he hikes, he falls. When he swims, he sinks. When he drives, others honk. But when he writes, people read.

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Business News

Leadership versus management: What’s the difference?

(Business News) The two terms, leadership and management, are often used interchangeably, but there are substantial differences; let’s explore them.

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Some people use the terms “leader” and “manager” interchangeably, and while there is nothing inherently wrong with this, there is still a debate regarding their similarities or differences.

Is it merely a matter of preference, or are there cut and dry differences that define each term?

Ronald E. Riggio, professor of leadership and organizational psychology at Claremont McKenna College, described what he felt to be the difference between the terms, noting the commonality in the distinction of “leadership” versus “management” was that leaders tend to engage in the “higher” functions of running an organization, while managers handle the more mundane tasks.

However, Riggio believes it is only a matter of semantics because successful and effective leaders and managers must do the same things. They must set the standard for followers and the organization, be willing to motivate and encourage, develop good working relationships with followers, be a positive role model, and motivate their team to achieve goals.

He states that there is a history explaining the difference between the two terms: business schools and “management” departments adopted the term “manager” because the prevailing view was that managers were in charge.

They were still seen as “professional workers with critical roles and responsibilities to help the organization succeed, but leadership was mostly not in the everyday vocabulary of management scholars.”

Leadership on the other hand, derived from organizational psychologists and sociologists who were interested in the various roles across all types of groups.

So, “leader” became the term to define someone who played a key role in “group decision making and setting direction and tone for the group. For psychologists, manager was a profession, not a key role in a group.”

When their research began to merge with business school settings, they brought the term “leadership” with them, but the terms continued to be used to mean different things.

The short answer, according to Riggio is no, not really; simply because leaders and managers need the same skills to be productive and respected.

This editorial was first published here in June of 2014.

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Business News

Does Raising Cane’s have the secret to combatting restaurant labor shortages?

(NEWS) Fried Chicken Franchise, Raising Cane’s, has turned to an unusual source of front-line employees during the labor shortage- Their executives!

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I wouldn’t call myself a fried chicken aficionado or anything, but since chains are designed to blow up everywhere, I have experienced Raising Cane’s.

I’m pretty sure the Cane’s sauce is just barbecue mixed with ranch, but hey, when you’ve got a good idea, keep with it.

In the further pursuit of good ideas, the company has resorted to an intriguing method of boosting staff in a world where the lowest paid among us are still steadily dying of Covid, and/or choosing to peace out of jobs that they don’t find worth the infection risk.

Via Nation Restaurant News: “This is obviously a very tough time, so it was a joint idea of everybody volunteering together to go out there and be recruiters, fry cooks and cashiers —whatever it takes,” said AJ Kumaran, co-CEO and chief operating officer for the Baton Rouge, La.-based quick-service company, from a restaurant in Las Vegas, where he had deployed himself.”

The goal of this volunteer mission, which involves 250 of the 500 executives deployed working directly in service roles, is to bolster locations until 10,000 new hires can be made in both existing locations and locations planned to open.

It’s obvious that this is a bandaid move – execs exist for good reason, and in terms of sheer numbers (not to mention location and salary changes), this is hardly tenable long-term. But I can say this as someone who’s gone from retail to office, and back (and then forth…and then back again) several times – if this doesn’t keep everyone at the corporate level humble, and much more mindful of employees’ needs, nothing will.

The fast-food world is notorious for wonky schedules only going up a day before the week begins, broken promises on hours (both over and under), horrendous pay, and little to no defense of employee dignity in the face of customers with rank dispositions. With the wave of strikes (Nabisco, John Deere, IATSE) making the news, and lack of hazard pay/brutal physical attacks over mask mandates still very fresh in workers’ minds, smart companies are hipping themselves to the fact that “low level” employee acquisition and retention needs to be much more than the ‘work here or starve’ tactics that have served since the beginning of decades of wage stagnation. The best way for that fact to stay front-of-mind is to go out and live the truths behind it.

In Raising Cane’s case, the company also announced that they’re upping wages at all locations — to the tune of an actually not totally insulting $2 per hour, resulting in a starting wage of $15 and a managerial wage of $18.

Ideally, paying people more to cook, clean, and customer service all in one job will actually attract people back to fast food work. Seriously consider the fact that the people cleaning fast-food toilets are the same people making the food that goes into your mouth. The additional fact is that it’s better for everyone’s health when they’re paid enough to care about what they’re doing and stay healthy themselves.

Of course, one does also need to consider how much inflation has affected the price of goods and housing since the ‘fight for $15’ began almost a decade ago in 2012. Now, raising wages closer to the end point of multiple goods still might not be enough!

AJ Kumaran continued, “The chicken prices are through the roof. Logistics are very hard. Shipping is difficult. Simple things cups and paper napkins — everything is in shortage right now. Some are overseas suppliers and others domestic suppliers. Just in poultry alone, we have taken significant inflation.”

That’s global disruption for ya.

It remains to be seen whether this plucky move can save Raising Cane’s dark meat, but I’m very pro regardless. Send more top-earning employees into the trenches! No more executives with 0 knowledge of how the sausage sandwich gets made.

No more leading from behind.

Why not? What are ya? Chicken?

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Business News

Unify your remote team with these important conversations

(BUSINESS NEWS) More than a happy hour, consider having these poignant conversations to bring your remote team together like never before.

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Cultivating a team dynamic is difficult enough without everyone’s Zoom feed freezing halfway through “happy” hour. You may not be able to bond over margaritas these days, but there are a few conversations you can have to make your team feel more supported—and more comfortable with communicating.

According to Forbes, the first conversation to have pertains to individual productivity. Ask your employees, quite simply, what their productivity indicators are. Since you can’t rely on popping into the office to see who is working on a project and who is beating their Snake score, knowing how your employees quantify productivity is the next-best thing. This may lead to a conversation about what you want to see in return, which is always helpful for your employees to know.

Another thing to discuss with your employees regards communication. Determining which avenues of communication are appropriate, which ones should be reserved for emergencies, and which ones are completely off the table is key. For example, you might find that most employees are comfortable texting each other while you prefer Slack or email updates. Setting that boundary ahead of time and making it “office” policy will help prevent strain down the road.

Finally, checking in with your employees about their expectations is also important. If you can discuss the sticky issue of who deals with what, whose job responsibilities overlap, and what each person is predominantly responsible for, you’ll negate a lot of stress later. Knowing exactly which of your employees specialize in specific areas is good for you, and it’s good for the team as a whole.

With these 3 discussions out of the way, you can turn your focus to more nebulous concepts, the first of which pertains to hiring. Loop your employees in and ask them how they would hire new talent during this time; what aspects would they look for, and how would they discern between candidates without being able to meet in-person? It may seem like a trivial conversation, but having it will serve to unify further your team—so it’s worth your time.

The last crucial conversation, per Forbes, is simple: Ask your employees what they would prioritize if they became CEOs tomorrow. There’s a lot of latitude for goofy responses here, but you’ll hear some really valuable—and potentially gut-wrenching—feedback you wouldn’t usually receive. It never hurts to know what your staff prioritize as idealists.

Unifying your staff can be difficult, but if you start with these conversations, you’ll be well on your way to a strong team during these trying times.

This story was first published in November 2020.

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