Tagged: authenticity

Doctors Guided by the F-Word

We expect to get a dose of the facts when we visit the doctor: details of our health, maybe a diagnosis, then a prognosis for the near future, with a swift good-bye. Yet what if these facts were heavily influenced by something less objective?

This happens every time we interact with a medical professional, or with anyone. Because whether we realize it or not, each one of us is guided by that dreaded f-word, our feelings.

In fact, Danielle Ofri, associate professor at NYU School of Medicine, recently shed light on how doctors’ natural feelings continue to influence their work.

We flipped when we first read it! Check out what Dr. Ofri says:

By now, even the most hard-core, old-school doctors recognize that emotions are present in medicine at every level, but the consideration of them rarely makes it into medical school curriculums, let alone professional charters. Typically, feelings are lumped into the catch-all of stress or fatigue, with the unspoken assumption that with enough gumption these irritants can be corralled.

Boo, hiss! Looking at emotions as “irritants [that] can be corralled” is very 2011. So out with the old wisdom; Ofri goes on with the new:

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The Police: Revealed on Stage

When we go to a concert, we often imagine ourselves on stage and contemplate what it must feel like to perform in front of a cheering audience. During The Police’s reunion tour a few years back, drummer Stewart Copeland let the world know exactly what it’s like.

In candid prose he detailed his experience on the first night of the tour, a real disaster:

I stride manfully to my drums. Andy has started the opening guitar riff to MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE and the crowd is going nuts. Problem is, I missed hearing him start. Is he on the first time around or the second? I look over at Sting and he’s not much help, his cue is me – and I’m lost. Never mind. “Crack!” on the snare and I’m in, so Sting starts singing. Problem is, he heard my crack as two in the bar, but it was actually four – so we are half a bar out of sync with each other.

Sounds rough! Yet Copeland confidently continues with his criticism of that night’s performance, saying “there is just something wrong. We just can’t get on the good foot. We shamble through the song.” Ultimately he ends with what happened backstage after the main set:

We fall into each other’s arms laughing hysterically. Above our heads, the crowd is making so much noise that we can’t talk. We just shake our heads ruefully and head back up the stairs to the stage. Funny thing is, we are enjoying ourselves anyway. Screw it, it’s only music. What are you gonna do?

His laissez-faire attitude seems refreshing, yet it belies a big truth: he cares so much about his craft, he knows that opening up about the group’s foibles will attract attention, and paying customers. In fact, the Police Reunion Tour of 2007-2008 is currently listed at #6 among the highest-grossing tours ever, having raked in a total of $358 million.

So Stewart Copeland is right. Bring your whole self to work — faults and all — then watch your productivity, and your income, rise.

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Who Are You Outside the Workplace?

We were riding the morning train recently, when we witnessed the following exchange:

(Older White man walks into subway car and stands near a seated younger White woman, who soon recognizes him.)

Woman: Hello, Mr. Baxter. Er, good morning.

Man: You can call me John when we’re not in the office.

(Pause)

Where are you headed?

Woman: I’m going to Queens today.

(They remain silent for the next 10 minutes.)

Man: (Exiting the train) Good-bye.

For what we’re about to say, it’s true we could benefit from having more context, like where these two work and their formal roles there. Still, we have enough data to form an impression that feels plausible.

The two commuters were clearly American in dress, accent, and non-verbal behavior, such as making direct eye-contact when communicating. So why didn’t their conversation correspond with the American cultural value of informality when greeting someone by name? Continue reading

Complicated Past? LinkedIn Can Help. [video]

Let’s say you’re a private equity information specialist. And a dancer. An unlikely pair of professions for one person, yet this is exactly the scenario we addressed recently while giving a talk to dancers about how to develop a wholly representative profile on LinkedIn.

While writing the “headline” on her LinkedIn profile, meaning the space directly under her name, a participant asked if it’s OK to write “Private Equity Information Specialist and Dancer.”

You see, she’s a client of Career Transitions for Dancers, an organization that helps dancers take their first steps toward second careers, because the physical tolls of dancing make it practically impossible to be a lifetime professional dancer.

So how did we respond? We offered that her inquiry really felt like the question “Is it OK to be who I am?” The answer to which would be “Yes, it is. Always.”

A fantastic thing about LinkedIn is the expectation that you’ll have only one profile, because you’re only one person. Also, you’ll synthesize your complicated background into a single headline, and then outline it within the various sections of Summary, Experience, and Education. Creating a profile on the “professional” social network becomes an exercise in identifying the breadth of your achievements and interests, organizing your story, and then revealing yourself in a coherent framework.

Watch how things unfolded, starting at 6:00, below:

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Quit Work, Stay True to Your Self

Staying true to your self includes knowing how you feel about your place of employment and working consciously with those feelings. Your emotions might bring you to spring out of bed some workday mornings, to stay late agreeably, or, in Greg Smith’s case, to quit.

And then write about it in the New York Times.

The former executive director and head of Goldman Sach’s United States equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa was mad as hell, and not gonna take it anymore.

Among his criticisms:

The firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for.

I am sad to say that I look around today and see virtually no trace of the culture that made me love working for this firm for many years. I no longer have the pride, or the belief.

I knew it was time to leave when I realized I could no longer look students in the eye and tell them what a great place this was to work.

These days, the most common question I get from junior analysts about derivatives is, “How much money did we make off the client?” It bothers me every time I hear it, because it is a clear reflection of what they are observing from their leaders about the way they should behave.

Goldman Sachs today has become too much about shortcuts and not enough about achievement. It just doesn’t feel right to me anymore. Continue reading

Yes, Gender Impacts Journalism

Jill Abramson, executive editor of the New York Times, recently said “The idea that women journalists bring a different taste in stories or sensibility isn’t true.”

Really?

These are surprising remarks from the first woman to be placed at the top of the Times masthead. Still, we sympathize with her fantasy that gender doesn’t matter in journalism, and Ken Auletta’s story last year in the New Yorker offers a hint why Abramson would maintain this narrow-minded view. He reports:

When Eileen Shanahan, who went on to become a well-respected economics reporter, arrived for an interview with Clifton Daniel, the assistant managing editor, in 1962, she hid her desire to become an editor. “All I ever want is to be a reporter on the best newspaper in the world,” she told him.

“That’s good,” Daniel responded, as Shanahan told the story, “because I can assure you no woman will ever be an editor at the New York Times.”

You see, @JillAbramson is in a tough spot. She aligns her worldview with that of past senior editors, perhaps to show that as the Times‘ most powerful woman executive ever, she won’t subvert the patriarchy. If she were more frank about the gravity of being the Gray Lady’s first female executive editor, she’d likely pay a tall price. She’d:

  • be attacked by her colleagues
  • need to defend herself
  • feel seduced away from her formal task of leading the newsroom, and ultimately
  • waste her energy and be de-authorized in her role.

An experience none of her predecessors faced on account of their gender.

And in being so politic, she misses the truth. What truth?

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Come Out at Work: As Inexperienced

Try to find someone on LinkedIn who acknowledges his inexperience. OK, you can find a few, yet out of 150 million+ users, rare is the individual who openly claims his lack of practical knowledge.

Until now.

Thanks to Sir Richard Branson, we see that a dearth of experience is less of a problem, and more a path to advancement.

In a recent Q & A at Entrepreneur, the chair of the Virgin Group debunks the stigma of inexperience. He writes:

A lack of experience does not have to be a liability — it can be an asset. It is something you should play up when you discuss your ideas with prospective investors, partners and employees.

He drives his point home with a personal story:

I have always used my own and my team’s lack of experience to our advantage. In fact, at our first venture, Student magazine, we used our newcomer status to secure great interviews and generate publicity — people were excited about our new project and wanted to get involved. Our inexperience fed our restless enthusiasm for trying new things, which became part of our core mission.

Don’t you love the way he turns something potentially mortifying into an opportunity, and seizes it outright? Perhaps it’s time for you to come out at work with your inexperience.

As Branson points out, you have nothing to hide, and a lot of business to gain.

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