Expert has an interesting perspective
Doug Rushkoff has been referred to as a kind of Media Theorist. He spends much of his time studying the human condition as it applies to our digital lives and dreams of how we can use cyberspace to maintain and create a spirit of empowerment.
Podcast host Jodi Avrigan recently spoke to Doug Rushkoff and they riffed on a number of topics including why companies should concentrate on doing what they do best and stop succumbing to boardroom and investor pressure to keep growing.
Stop growing and start living
An early advocate of the internet, Doug Rushkoff could confidently say he’s seen it all or close to it. What he sees as the current [and destructive trend] of companies that are told to expand rather than do what it is they do best.
Says Rushkoff, “We need to optimize the digital economy. Not for its extraction value or its conversion into capital but for the circulation of money [in the right directions].” In other words, in a perfect world Rushkoff envisions companies making their millions or billions and putting that money back into the company or at the very least putting those profits back into the hands of the people that are doing the work. At least some of it.
Growth, growth, growth
In terms of growth Rushkoff cites Walmart as an excellent example of abuse: they rushed to open so many stores that ultimately there are no longer enough people to sell to. And now Walmart is closing stores.
The website Edhltd.com postulates this even further when author Edward D. Hess (Distinguished Executive in Residence and Adjunct Professor of Management at Emory University) states, “Most companies can tolerate incremental growth or growth to replace unprofitable customers fairly easily over time. But successive years of high growth challenge the competencies and risk tolerances of most companies.”
So the issue of growth is really two issues: The first is to ask at what pace or rate should you grow and secondly what is your capacity and risk tolerance for growth?
Another way of thinking is that if you make a good living painting and selling 5 paintings a year why stretch and paint eight a year and risk the quality suffer at the expense of making a profit?”
Platforms that extract more from their platform than they facilitate was another topic-in-real-time and Rushkoff cited Uber as a good example. Rushkoff feels the Uber driver/operator is just a resource with no plan in place to protect them or incentive for long-term career growth.
Rushkoff refers to it as looking for ways to optimize one’s business (especially if it’s smaller). Part of it has to do with what he calls “boundary-investment.” Which is simply investing in way that the money comes back to you.
Real vs. virtual communities
New technology will create a lot of growth. Internet economy in particular has the ability to make money in many different ways. What has happened though is that Wall Street noticed how much was to be made with the internet and suddenly THAT is the priority.
Twitter is an example say Rushkoff. Twitter can no longer just be a platform that is able to send 140 characters from one phone to another. After making billions of dollars Twitter must concentrate on making [even more] money. All at the expense of a great app. Why? Because extraction is now the focal point.
Says Rushkoff in the interview, “The original internet was not created to make a whole lot of money just so the founders have nothing to do. It was created with the intention to make money doing what you love and turning it back into the community.”
Another twist on this concept again comes from Edward Hess, who points out, “By growing at high rates for several years – yes, you will capture market share but also you rise on the business food chain and come into the sights of very big, well-capitalized, highly-efficient and well-managed competitors.”
The key point: As you grow, your competition changes. As you grow, you become both a threat and a target.
All in all a great interview. Check it out. Ol’ Gar’ gives it 5 stars. And the read the book by Doug Rushkoff as well (Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus).
Not just for kids: 3 Rs to help your team cope with stress
(ENTREPRENEUR) The three Rs of child psychology, Reassurance, Routine, and Regulation, may also help your team and you cope with the added stress 2020 has wrought.
Yes, we all know 2020 was a massive dumpster fire. We are all still working to cope with processing the losses and fear this putrid year has brought with it. The three Rs can help you and your team better cope with stress, and our reactions to the hitherto unfathomable woes of 2020.
If you are a parent or work with kids, you may have heard of the new three Rs: Reassurance, Routine, and Regulation. If you don’t have or work with kids, why would you care? These three Rs can also help adults cope with the stress, grief, anger, and anxiety most of us are facing in 2020.
It makes sense that something that can work to alleviate children’s negative feelings during the pandemic may also work for adults. We may experience and process problems differently than children, as we run everything through the filter of life experience and what we know of the world and the way it works.
However, much of what we are seeing with the global pandemic is new to us, and we are stuck in the same boat as our children, restless, afraid, and wondering how we’ll pull through. Here are three Rs to help all of us cope with stress. If we take what Laura Santhanam of PBS NewsHour and Jessica Bartlett of Child Trends advised for children, and apply them to our own overwhelming concerns, we may begin to feel better. I’m all for anything that helps us feel better.
Here’s a rundown of the three Rs and how they can help you and your team cope:
- Reassurance: We need to reassure ourselves—of our own safety, of all that we are doing to stay safe, and that others are out there diligently working to ensure and improve our safety. Reassure your team of what the company is doing to help keep workers safe, whatever those preventive measures may be.Reassure yourself and your team that you’re doing what you need to in order to stay safe. Reassure yourself that epidemiologists and infectious disease experts are working day and night to learn more about this virus and how to control it. Reassure yourself that two promising vaccines are already FDA approved and being administered around the world, and that this will help us, slowly but surely, return to a life we are familiar and comfortable with.Reassure and remind yourself and your team that people are still out there in the world being kind, helpful, and awesome. Maybe share something from the Good News Network or other chronicle.
- Routine: If you are like me, routine went out the window in March, replaced by endless chores and cooking during the day and staying up late worrying about the state of the world. Routine matters. Just as it can help ease troubled young minds, it can also guide us to a better way to cope.Routines give us a needed sense of stability. It’s one area of our lives that we can take control of, even amidst the flaming chaos of 2020. I’m not suggesting you drink your morning coffee at the kitchen table surrounded by flames and proclaim “This is fine,” like KC Green’s famous memefied cartoon dog. We all have to draw the line in the sand as to what and how much we will accept and what we need to work to change. However, there is something to be said for regularity, a place for quotidian activities, a routine.Try to set up or return to a regular bedtime and meal times. Set boundaries for work life and home life—always a challenge when you work from home. Ask your team members how they are setting boundaries or share tips on how you are. Help your team incorporate or return to a routine at work. Perhaps in 2020, work calendars went haywire along with everything else, as nearly every company has had to change the way they do business this year.
Find a way to bring back some routine where you can fit it in. It could help your team stay on track while dealing with the rest of what 2020 throws at them. Build pleasurable activities into your own routine. Make time to read, play, or otherwise unwind. Lean into the routine. Here’s hoping you and your team can find comfort in being able to control at least this much!
- Regulate: This refers to self-regulating, coping mechanisms we can incorporate to check ourselves when we start to panic or spiral. Parents, teachers, and others in child care can teach children these techniques to help them manage “big feelings.” We grownups can also use these tools to deal with our big feelings.Regulating tools for adults include breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, talking to a therapist, NAMI hotline, or friend about your emotions. Other means of self-regulating include making a plan to socialize with friends (virtually works), exercising to clear a busy mind, and getting enough sleep. Try to use some or all of these tools the next time you feel overcome with negative emotions.
Of course, feelings aren’t something we discuss much at work, as a rule. However, sending out information on resources available within your company can help your team regulate what they are going through. If your company pays for therapy as part of a benefits package, let them know. If you have set up a hotline or other helpful resource, let them know. Put together a list of helpful websites or organizations that can help with them access these regulating tools, or ask your Human Resources department to do so. You could even share this article, if you found it helpful. You may reach a team member at precisely the perfect time to help them through some heavy stuff.
While adults often consider themselves experts at dealing with our own feelings, again, way too many catastrophic events have gone down in 2020. As they say on the interwebs, this wasn’t on my 2020 Bingo card. We likely can all benefit from the three Rs. Give it a shot, because we all need to cope with our stress somehow.
Worried about your reputation during your job search?
(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) You feel like your past may be haunting you as you are searching for a new job. Wondering how to manage your reputation? Let’s talk about it.
We hear all the time about what a small world it really is and that many industries or career paths are close-knit where “everyone knows everyone.” Some may have also been called incestuous. Many recruiters know a lot of people (that’s their job!) and also require references so that they can speak with some of your former colleagues if seriously considering making you an offer. Have you had experiences where you worry if a future employer finds out about it, it may ruin your reputation? You fear that no future hiring manager will want you on their team if they hear about some of your mistakes (aka learning experiences)?
Here’s a fairly extreme example from this Reddit post:
“My reputation is ruined. What do I do?
I have struggled with crippling opiate addiction for the past ten years, resulting in being fired from a number of positions that could have led to successful careers. My reputation is absolutely destroyed, and I’m feeling quite hopeless about ever finding another good job. I have since decided to get clean, and have over a month. But I’m still unemployed, with a terrible reputation, and I don’t know what to do. I have a few good references from previous bosses who saw my true potential, but plenty of bad ones as well. What should I do to rebuild my reputation? In my future job search, should I mention my history of addiction or be vague about it? Should I try to go back to school? Should I volunteer? Or should I just give up and accept a miserable dead end job, or just off myself? Is there any hope? :’(
Edit: Thank you all for your advice. I never expected to receive so much support. I will continue to work on staying sober. You have all helped me stay positive and I really appreciate that.”
First off, let’s give credit to this person for getting sober (and hoping they continue to have the support to stay on that path – and especially support if they relapse). We are all human and it definitely doesn’t hurt to constantly be reminded of that. There’s lots of well-earned attention on Brené Brown right now who spotlights the need for vulnerability and being your authentic self. Her work is based in research and it’s inspiring and uplifting.
Like most things in life, there has to be a balance in your vulnerability as it relates to job searching. People that are looking to hire us do want to get to know us, but there are some things that they may not need to know right away as they evaluate us for a position. Or things they may never need to know about. There is a balance in sharing things that are too personal as it relates to your professional pursuits.
You may expect that this article suggests that this person be totally honest. Well, it’s not that kind of article. There’s a time and a place for divulging your deepest secrets, and the interview room may not be one of them.
It is important to be your authentic self, but you have to identify what is your professional authentic self. When we are job searching and interviewing, we put on our best and have to be buttoned up and polished.
As we grow and learn in our careers, there may be a variety of challenges that we feel can possibly tarnish our reputation (not just limited to addiction mentioned above):
- Bad relationship with a manager
- Toxic work environment where stress got the best of us
- Harassment that was not addressed by HR
- Financial blunders as it relates to personal or professional budgets
- It just wasn’t the right fit – whatever that means
Here are some thoughts if you worry like our Reddit contributor that your reputation may be tarnished beyond repair:
- Is it time to explore a new industry – where the connections are fresh and they won’t know about why you left so many previous positions? If so, you may have to do some Career Exploration on your transferrable skills and how those can take you in a new direction. Or even new city. The good news is, doors are opening with remote work in our current situation so maybe you can find a new pool of contacts or companies hiring.
- Would this be the right time to take what you have learned and help others? Is there a certification or volunteer project that would help you help others that have dealt with your issue? This may help you feel redeemed for why you had to go through that experience.
- Utilize LinkedIn to build your network with your advocates or make a simple journal entry of who you worked with in the past that was able to see your potential. These would be great choices for references.
- Seek a chat with a friend or even licensed therapist to discuss your situation and forgive yourself. Ultimately if you are holding on to guilt and shame, you won’t allow yourself to move past it and admit that it was full of life lessons. Explore Brené Brown’s work if you need some help in learning more about guilt and shame. They can be very heavy emotions that are also an innate part of being human. We don’t need to eradicate these emotions, we need to acknowledge, accept and MANAGE them.
Often times we are the ones holding ourselves back. It can help to speak with professionals (therapists, recruiters, mentors) to see if the issue is bigger in our head than it really is. And if you need a reminder that we are all human, here it is. Be kind and graceful with yourself.
How to effectively share negative thoughts with your business partner
(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) You and your business partner(s) are in a close relationship, and just like a marriage, negative emotions may play a role in the relationship.
You and your business partner are in a relationship. Your business was born when you shared a common vision of the future and became giddy from the prospect of all you could do together that you couldn’t do alone. Now, you spend much of the day doing things together in collaboration. The stakes are high; there are obstacles to overcome, decisions to make together, deadlines to meet, and all the stresses of running a business.
It’s no wonder a business partnership can often be just as complicated and emotional as a romantic relationship. If you are struggling with your business partner, you might find helpful advice in resources originally targeted towards troubled couples.
Relationship expert Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein has explored how to share “toxic thoughts” with your partner. In a linked article, Bernstein describes toxic thoughts as distortions of the truth that cause us to overemphasize the negative attributes of our partner.
Some examples of toxic thoughts include blaming your partner for larger problems that aren’t really their fault, inaccurately assuming your partners intentions, or resenting your partner for not intuiting your needs, even if you haven’t expressed them. The defining characteristic of these toxic thoughts is that, although they may be based in the truth, they are generally exaggerations of reality, reflecting our own stresses and insecurities.
Just as much as in a love relationship, these toxic thoughts could easily strain a business partnership. If you find yourself having toxic thoughts about your business partner, you will need to decide whether to hold your tongue, or have a potentially difficult conversation. Even when we remain quiet about our frustrations, they are easily felt in the awkward atmosphere of interpersonal tension and passive aggressive slights that results.
Dr. Bernstein points out that being honest about your toxic thoughts with your partner can help increase understanding and intimacy. It also gives your partner a chance to share their toxic thoughts with you, so you’d better be ready to take what you dish out. It might be hard to talk about our frustrations with each other so candidly, but it might also be the most straightforward way to resolve them.
Then again, Bernstein points out, some people prefer to work through their toxic thoughts alone. By his own definition, toxic thoughts are unfair exaggerations of and assumptions about our partner’s behavior. If you find yourself jumping to conclusions, assuming the worst, or blaming your partner for imagined catastrophes, perhaps you’d better take a few minutes to calm down and consider whether or not it’s worth picking a fight about. Then again, if you’re self-aware enough to realize that you are exaggerating the truth, you can probably also tease out the real roots of any tension you’ve been experiencing with your business partner.
If you are going to get personal, shoulder your own emotional baggage and try to approach your partner with equal parts honesty and diplomacy. Avoid insults, stay optimistic, and focus on solutions. State your own feelings and ask questions, rather than airing your assumptions about their intentions or behaviors. Keep your toxic thoughts to yourself, and work towards adjusting the behaviors that are making you feel negatively towards each other. Your business might depend on it.
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