Managing More Than One Project

The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success and two key focuses are Career Discussions and General Education. A very valuable and lesser known skill when you start a business or when you get out into the professional world, is the ability to multi-task or manage multiple projects at once. The following contributed post discusses this and is entitled, Managing More Than One Project.

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As a project manager, you are going to face numerous challenges throughout your career. Often, managing one project can be challenging and stressful enough. However, when you add even more projects to the mix, the stresses and strains only multiply. Managing a number of different projects at the same time can most definitely be a challenge. However, if you follow the advice provided below, you should find it a lot easier.

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Embrace project management training – There is only one place to begin, and this is with project management training. Project management courses today are designed to equip you with all of the knowledge, strategies, and technologies required to deal with any challenge that comes your way, from remote team management to handling numerous projects at once. It does not matter how long you have been in this career, a refresher course could be just the thing you need to be able to manage multiple projects at once.

Keep distractions to a minimum – It is vital to keep distractions to a minimum at all times, but this is even more so the case when you are managing numerous projects at once. You can use tools like this calendar for HR professionals to assist. There are lots of things that can get in the way of your working day. This includes ad hoc tasks, non-strategic meetings, idle conversation, and emails that are not related to the projects you are working on. Ask yourself: is this task something that is contributing to the bigger picture/meeting the project objectives? If not, it is likely that you are simply wasting your time. To cut down on these sorts of activities, you should make sure you only have meetings when essential, use a centralised scheduling process, and schedule breaks throughout the working day.

Improve communication – Communication is critical to the success of any project, and it is even more pivotal when you are working on more than one project at the same time. You must have a robust communication channel and strategy in place for all team members. Efficient communication regarding new developments, changes, and such like, are a necessity, as they are likely to impact the implementation of the project. A group collaboration tool will come in very useful here, but you need to make sure that everyone is using the software appropriately and effectively. It is a good idea to get your team members to provide a status update of every task they are working on per day. This will ensure that everyone is aware of the project status and that all team members are on the same page. It also makes it easy for you to have an overview of each project so you know exactly where each project is.

Hopefully, you now feel more prepared for managing numerous projects at once. While this can seem incredibly daunting, there is no need to stress. Follow the advice that has been given, and you should find it a lot easier to keep on top of everything.

Avoiding Death By PowerPoint: 5 Presentation Mistakes To Avoid

The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success and two key focuses are Career Discussions and General Education. A skill that’s very important today is the ability to give presentations. Many professionals make it out into the workforce without learning how to give quality presentations. The following contributed post is thus entitled, Avoiding Death By PowerPoint: 5 Presentation Mistakes To Avoid.

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Image Source. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Want to avoid boring your audience to death during your next work PowerPoint presentation? Here are a few common mistakes to avoid in order to keep your presentation engaging.

Breaking the 10-20-30 rule

There is a rule that governs the practice of PowerPoint presentations – it was established by Guy Kawasaki and it is known as The 10-20-30 Rule. This rule states that if you want to keep your presentation engaging you should never include more than 10 slides, never go on for longer than 20 minutes and never use a font size less than 30. This helps to keep things short and snappy so that you never overstay your welcome. Unless you’ve been specifically asked to give a longer presentation or to use more slides, try not to break this rule.

Using generic templates and stock images

Many PowerPoint templates are overly familiar to the point that they are distracting. If you want to maintain a unique feel, you’re probably best off not using PowerPoint at all. There are many other presentation platforms that are worth trying out – many of these come with interesting themes to download as found at this list of The 70 Best Free Google Slides Themes Of 2019.

On top of generic presentation templates, avoid using stock images as these too can dull-ify your presentation. Rather than using the same cliched images of employees shaking hands, use images that offer interesting metaphors or images that help to tell a story.

Reading directly off the slides

Any slides you use should be treated as prompts or additional information – they should not be treated as a script. By reading the slides, not only are you not looking at the audience but you’re telling information that they can read themselves (in which case, you’d be better off sending an email). Focus your attention on your audience and try to rehearse what you’re going to say without having to read anything (you can have notes, but you should use these as pointers and similarly not use them as a script). Having to speak to audience can be scary, but it will help you to connect to them and get them interested.

Failing to connect on an emotional level

Some presentations can be a little too heavy handed when it comes to facts and figures. The emotional connection can then get lost and your audience will start to feel that they’re been given a long-winded report. Try to connect on an emotional level by sharing stories and giving relatable information. For example, if you’re giving a seminar on conserving energy in the home, don’t just reel of figures but make people aware of the benefit this will have on their lives and the planet.

Losing track of the presentation’s purpose

Some presentations can end up going off-topic. It’s important to remember the key objective of your presentation and to answer any questions that you raised at the beginning. Your audience will zone out if they feel the presentation has lost its sense of purpose, so don’t get side-tracked.

Unhappy at Work? Here’s What to Do

The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success and a key area is Career Discussions. In some instances individuals can become unhappy in their careers and at work. Is the only option to quit? Not necessarily. The following contributed post is entitled, Unhappy at Work? Here’s What to Do.

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Image Credit: Unsplash

Work takes up a significant amount of your time and if you are unhappy, you must make a change. There is no point in going through life feeling like things could be better and doing nothing about it!

Being unhappy at work can have a massive knock-on effect on the rest of your life. If you are anxious and stressed at work, you will almost certainly be anxious and stressed at home. If you are feeling bored and uninspired at work, you can guarantee that your home life will be boring too.

The good news is that there is a simple formula to find your way to happiness once again. In just 3 steps, you should be able to see a much brighter future ahead.

Isolate the Problem

There are all kinds of reasons that you might be unhappy at work. Perhaps you feel that you don’t have enough of a challenge or maybe you are feeling overworked. It may be that you don’t get on very well with your manager or colleagues or even that you are being overwhelmed by the social commitments expected of you. No matter what it is, you should try to isolate the specific problem before you do anything else.

Often, people who are unhappy at work begin to internalise their worries and feel that they are to blame. Employees who are stressed out and overworked often feel that they are bad at their jobs and don’t realise that they could do an excellent job elsewhere. Similarly, if you aren’t getting on with your colleagues, you may feel socially inept. By isolating the problems you are having at work, you will be able to see that the problem lies with the job and not you. When you come to go for a new job, you will be able to see the warning signs and make a better choice.

Isolating the problem or problems is the best way to start working on a plan to make things better. If you are just focusing on the feeling of being unhappy and not the cause, you aren’t going to make any progress. The best action plan is based on facts not feelings.

Decide on an Action Plan

Stress and anxiety quite often stand in the way of working out an action plan but this is no problem in the long run. You just need to shift your priorities. Instead of focusing on what you need to do to make your job better, you should start by thinking about what will make your mental health better. Happily, the two things often coincide.

Breathe deeply and close your eyes. Let your mind drift for a moment but try to prevent them going into a spiral – follow the thoughts that interest you. Letting your thoughts wander is a great way to give your brain space to come up with more creative ideas and solutions. As problems at work pop up at the forefront of your mind, think about the possible solutions. You might even like to make a list you can look at later.

Some problems are easier to work through than others. For example, if you aren’t getting on with your colleagues, you might be able to talk to them about the problems you are having and clear the air. Similarly, if you want a greater challenge, you could ask to go on courses, move departments and take on more responsibilities as part of your role.

But other issues are more difficult to resolve and you may need to ask for professional help. If you are unhappy because you believe your company is acting illegally and you are planning to become a whistleblower, you will certainly need some help and should ask a lawyer for more information.

When you have a few solutions to try, you should put your plan into action. So, let’s say you are unhappy because you don’t get on with your colleagues and you don’t have enough to do. Start by asking your manager for more responsibility and suggest areas that you are particularly interested in developing. This is a good idea for several reasons but most important are that you can build up your CV and you will have less time to worry about your social issues.

Next, you should go through the process again, what is it specifically that is impeding your relationship with your colleagues? Would it help if you were to speak more clearly? Do you need to tread more carefully when you talk? Perhaps you are misunderstanding each other and there actually isn’t really a problem! Social issues at work take time to resolve but a candid chat is always a good starting point. Whatever you do – don’t gossip!

Make Positive Changes

Making just a few positive changes at work can have a real impact on how you feel. Positive changes can be as small as having a picture on your desk or as big as quitting and starting up your own business. The most important thing is that you are making the decision for the positive rather than simply escaping the negative. One of the most important rules in finding a new job that will make you happy is that you should always run to a job not away from a job.

Getting a new job is often the end goal for most people who are unhappy at work. Though it might feel like climbing a mountain every day, this is the main reason that you shouldn’t completely give up on the job you currently have. Continue to do your best and find ways to develop yourself so that when it comes to the interview, you will have plenty to talk about and impress the new company with.

As difficult as it is, try to keep looking at the positives. You might feel stuck in a rut but writing and sending off your CV will help to show you that you have plenty of skills and experience to work with. You won’t be trapped in this job forever.

Dr. Quinn Capers IV discusses Implicit Bias and the #DropAndGiveMe20 campaign

One of the focuses of my blog is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), and my most central principle is “Creating Ecosystems of Success”. While we tend to think of clinical medicine as strictly a ‘healthcare’ profession, its foundations are actually rooted in the ‘Basic Sciences’. In late 2017, I discovered Dr. Quinn Capers IV on Twitter one day by chance and started following him when he was tweeting about medical education at the Ohio State University. The hashtag he used in most of his tweets, #BlackMenInMedicine, further piqued my curiosity.

Last year I had the honor of interviewing Dr. Capers about his path and #BlackMenInMedicine. To see our 2018 interview go to Dr. Quinn Capers, IV discusses his path, #BlackMenInMedicine, and the present landscape of medical education. Dr. Capers recently granted me the opportunity to interview him a second time. In this follow up interview we discuss the concept of ‘Implicit Bias’, why it’s important, and the hashtag, ‘#DropAndGiveMe20’. The images in this interview were graciously shared by Dr. Capers himself. Click on any of the images to enlarge them.

Anwar Dunbar: Hello, Dr. Capers and happy New Year. I want to thank you for the opportunity to interview you again. As the Dean of Admissions at the Ohio State University’s Medical School, your words are very, very valuable, especially for students aspiring to attend medical school. Before we get into ‘Implicit Bias’, the last time we spoke we spent quite a bit of time on the hashtag #BlackMenInMedicine. I now see you using a second hastag, #DropAndGiveMe20. Where did this hashtag and the whole push-ups piece come from? Did you start that?

Quinn Capers: The #DropAndGiveMe20 campaign is a great story. I’m a big fan of Ohio State University (OSU) Football. For years, while watching the games on television, I’ve had a fun routine of doing 10 push-ups every time they score a touchdown. I picked push-ups because they don’t require equipment or much physical space. They’re a good measure of overall upper body strength and they get your heart rate up. Mostly, I wanted to feel like I was exerting myself while the players were on the field exerting themselves. It’s just fun.

I’ve done it at sports bars and experienced both strange looks and strangers joining in! In November 2017, my wife recorded me doing this after an OSU touchdown and I thought it’d be cool to put it on Twitter to spark excitement among OSU football fans. I got a few responses, but the best one was from an interventional cardiologist at UCLA, Dr. William Suh (he is now a great Twitter friend or a “Tweep”), who said he could top that; and would do 20 for every UCLA Bruin touchdown. So he did 20, then when OSU scored another touchdown, I did 20.

AD: Ohio State Football. Yes, you all beat my Michigan Wolverines yet again (laughing).

QC: Well, we both had Twitter followers who are cardiologists and since heart doctors love promoting exercise, they joined the fun and challenged other cardiologists. I guess you could say that Dr. Suh and I are the “co-founders” if you must, but it has grown so fast and so many are responsible for spreading it that it really is a group effort now. It grew quickly to include other specialties, non-physicians, and even patients. In fact some of the most regular and awesome participants are patients; one a heart transplant survivor. They’re simply incredible.

It grew fast under the hashtag “#DropAndGiveMe20” and it’s now international with participants all over the world posting clips from places like the following: Sydney (Australia), London, and Lagos, Nigeria. We post daily and give each other positive feedback, hold each other accountable, and promote wellness and exercise. One of my main goals is to promote exercise as a way to improve heart health and to show that you don’t have to wait to go to a gym, since it can be hard to work a full day and plan to go to a gym afterwards. I’ll usually post clips of myself doing push-ups during my work day in the cardiac cath lab, in my office between meetings, or even in an auditorium after giving a lecture. Others have posted clips in unusual settings, like at dinner parties.

AD: Nice.

QC: I’ll tell you about two of my favorite clips. There’s a very famous female cardiologist who posted clips of herself doing push-ups at the airport terminal awaiting her flight. A prominent British cardiologist topped that by doing his on a moving walkway at London’s Heathrow Airport (not recommended, by the way)! We have great fun adding humorous wrinkles to it, like adding more and more people in a clip. I suppose I took it to new heights recently when I concluded a live simulcast lecture to a group of medical residents in Cameroon by asking them to do push-ups with me! They complied and we completed what might be the first, simultaneous, international push-up session!

I also take the opportunity to share my love and knowledge of jazz, hip-hop, and R & B/Funk music. My clips are always accompanied by a musical selection from my collection. I always credit and tag the musicians (if they have a Twitter handle), hoping to spark curiosity about certain hidden gems and send my Twitter followers “digging in the crates” to support the music. I was beyond thrilled when two different artists supplying the soundtrack to my push-ups responded to my tweet, the hip hop group “Digable Planets” and saxophone legend Branford Marsalis!

It’s great fun, and a very friendly Twitter community has grown around it. We now arrange to meet up at conventions (cardiology or otherwise) and do a “#DropAndGiveMe20!” Regarding the health benefits, doing push-ups can provide positive reinforcement in a relatively short period of time. Last November I could barely do 25 at one time, now I can max out at 43. Anyone is welcome to join the fun. If you can’t do 20, start with 1 or 2 push-ups! By the way, Dr. Dunbar, you and your readers are welcome to join anytime. Just record yourself, post it on Twitter with the hashtag “#DropAndGiveMe20” and tag your colleagues to get them involved.

AD: Okay, Dr. Capers. I haven’t done push-ups in a while, but now I may have to see if I can crank out 20 (laughing).

I noticed that after starting to follow you, ‘Implicit Bias’ became something you started addressing. How did this come about? What should the general public, and particularly those looking to get into medical school, understand about it?

QC: Implicit bias is a negative or positive attitude towards a person or group that occurs outside of our awareness, intention, or control. Although these biases occur outside of our awareness, they can influence behavior, possibly resulting in well-meaning people treating others differently based on race, gender, age, etc. I came across the concept as a cardiologist interested in racial healthcare disparities. Disparities have many causes, like social determinants of health, housing discrimination, unequal access to the best care, outright racism (explicit bias) of practitioners, structural bias in the healthcare system, etc.

I became intrigued with the notion of implicit or unconscious bias and its potential role in unequal treatment. Several studies have shown that a physician’s unconscious association of negative thoughts or words with a particular race or gender can be associated with therapeutic decisions that are harmful to persons in that group. For instance, one widely quoted paper had physicians take the computer-based implicit association test (IAT) that’s designed to uncover implicit associations or biases (free, available at implicit.harvard.edu) and then review case vignettes of a black or white male suffering from a heart attack.

Doctors were asked if they thought the symptoms of chest discomfort were indicative of a heart problem and if they’d treat the patient with a life-saving drug to terminate the heart attack. Physicians whose IAT showed “implicit white race preference” or an unconscious association of a white person’s face with good words (love, joy, warmth) and a black person’s face with bad words (danger, misery, trouble) were less likely to treat the black patient with the drug despite the black and white patients having identical presentations (1). It is important to note that this is not racism, which is a conscious, explicit bias. But implicit bias can potentially have life-and-death consequences in healthcare. While not all studies of implicit bias show an association with a doctor’s decision-making, enough do to cause alarm.

AD: That’s interesting.

QC: In addition to being a cardiologist I have the great privilege of serving as the Associate Dean for Admissions at the Ohio State University (OSU) College of Medicine, and I’m responsible for overseeing the recruitment, interview, and selection processes for our incoming medical students. When I reviewed a paper that showed that approximately 70% of a large group of physicians taking the IAT have implicit white race preference (2), I immediately pictured our medical school admissions committee and the fact that it is composed largely of physicians, and I had several questions: Do the physicians charged with the awesome responsibility of deciding who will become a doctor have implicit racial biases? If so, to what extent? If so, might it influence their decision-making and put black and Hispanic applicants at a disadvantage?

We set out to answer these questions and had our entire committee take the race IAT in 2012. Aggregate results revealed that a significant portion of the committee (between 50 and 70%) had an implicit white race preference. Next, Dr. Anthony Greenwald, implicit bias expert and one of the inventors of the IAT, led the committee in a discussion of implicit bias and how to reduce it. In the very next cycle we matriculated the most racially diverse class in the history of the college, suggesting that we are able to overcome implicit biases. This was the first paper to document the presence and extent of implicit racial bias in the medical school admissions process (3).

Our results indicated to us that we could have what we thought was a fair, objective process, on the surface, but that unconscious biases could put certain groups of candidates at a disadvantage. Since then we’ve had robust discussions about implicit bias and annual workshops on bias mitigation. I recently completed a training program leading to certification to moderate implicit bias workshops, and I do so twice a month. This goes beyond admissions and is open to the entire medical center. So far we have trained over 1,000 physicians, nurses, staff and students in bias mitigation strategies. It is a real passion and we are trying to make a difference.

AD: Thank you for that in depth explanation. Is there anything new at the Ohio State Medical School?

QC: We’re always tweaking the curriculum to help produce physicians who are ready to advance healthcare. We’re on the cusp of a new expansion with blueprints for a new hospital building and a health professions education building. And finally, we are continuing to leverage the fact that we have one of the most diverse medical student bodies in the country to enhance medical education and community outreach. In other words, we are continuing our forward progress.

Thank you for the opportunity to share some thoughts with you and your readers. Best wishes for a happy, healthy new year!

AD: Thank you, Dr. Capers. I look forward to talking again and trying the push-up challenge.

Thank you for taking the time to read this interview. If you’ve enjoyed this, you might also enjoy:

Dr. Quinn Capers, IV discusses his path, #BlackMenInMedicine, and the present landscape of medical education
The story of how I earned my STEM degree as a minority
How my HBCU led me to my STEM career
Researching your career revisited: Wisdom from a STEM professor at my HBCU
A look at STEM: What is Pharmacology?
A look at STEM: What is Toxicology?

If you’ve found value here and think it would benefit others, please share it and/or leave a comment. I’ve recently started a YouTube channel, so please visit me at Big Discussions76. To receive all the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right-hand column in this post and throughout the site, or add my RSS feed to your feedreader. You can follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, and Twitter at @BWArePowerful. Lastly, you can follow me on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.

Six Ways To Handle Workplace Stress

Two of the key focuses of my blog are Career Discussions and Health and Wellness. Regardless of which career you’re in, the workplace can cause you quite a bit of stress if you’re not careful. It therefore becomes critical to understand how to manage it if and when you get into a position where the workplace is impacting your quality of life. The following contributed post is thus entitled, Six Ways To Handle Workplace Stress.

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We’ve all woken up in the morning and dreaded heading to the office at least once in our lives. Whether it’s because deadlines are looming, the traffic on the commute is getting worse and making you late, or the fact you’ve been passed over the promotion yet again, it’s all tough when it comes to the workplace. Stress is one of the hardest things to cope with, because trying to manage the stress can be difficult when you’re also trying to keep up the momentum with your boss on your back.

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It’s important to try to overcome stress in the workplace, though, because without trying, you’re not going to get anywhere, ending up more stressed than you were already. So, whether you start advance checking for traffic and road closures, or you hold a meeting to ask about that promotion from the higher ups, you need to start thinking of ways to reduce stress. Below, we’ve got six ways to do just that, without you needing to lose it.

Fresh Air. Going for a short walk during the work day can make a real difference. Whether you go on your lunch break or you head out quickly for a coffee, you really need to think about that fresh air. Offices are notoriously stuffy and breathing in recycled air is not the most fun way to spend the day. If you feel your tension rising, get out for fresh air
and get a little exercise with a walk.
Have A Stretch. Whether you get up or not, stretch your body. Sitting down for a long time can cause a lot of pressure on your back, and prolonged sitting can really place a lot of stress on the body as a whole. Every hour at least, get up and stretch. It doesn’t matter if it looks weird, it can allow you to keep concentrating on your work and not feel wound up.
It’s A Mental State. Stress is all in the mind. It may manifest physically for a lot of people, but it starts in your head. You can simply put on a meditation app and relax for a few minutes, concentrating on your breathing and slowing your heart. It’s in the mind, and the mind can be controlled; remember that.
Divert Your Focus. At work, the pressure is on. If you start to feel closed in, start helping someone else for a moment. A problem shared is a problem halved, and then ask them for some guidance on your issue. Even if all you do is open the door for someone else when they’re coming through, it’s helpful and it can take your mind off your stress.
Dance It Out. Head to the roof space, the bathroom, anywhere private. Put your favourite song on your headphones and dance madly. Blast out the energy and the jitters at the same time, and release your stress that way.

No one needs to feel pressured, hurt or put upon by their workplace. With a little help, you can dispel the stress as fast as possible.

Are You Cutting Your Boss’ Decisions Enough Slack?

Two key focuses of my blog are Creating Ecosystems of Success and Career Discussions. Stepping up into management doesn’t just mean an increase in pay, but it also involves a whole new set of responsibilities and decisions to make that most staff level employees aren’t privy to. The following contributed post is thus entitled, Are You Cutting Your Boss’ Decisions Enough Slack?

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As an employee, it feels as if you and the boss are at war. Not literally, but metaphorically. You ask for things and suggest improvements and they go about their business as usual. It’s incredibly frustrating when they don’t listen, especially if the idea could transform the company.

It’s easy to see bosses and managers as incompetent. They are stuck in their ways and make decisions for their gain and nobody else’s. Of course, they got to their position through hard work and competency among other things, so they aren’t inept. If anything, they know things you don’t and haven’t yet considered.

Far too often, workers don’t cut their boss’ decisions enough slack and the relationship suffers as a result. You’re more than welcome to go down this route but it won’t work out well for you in the long-term. The better option is to try and see it from their side. Why doesn’t the person in charge drop everything when you have a light bulb moment?

Trade-Offs

Not everything is as straightforward as it appears to the untrained eye. You might want new desktops and iPads for remote working, yet it isn’t a case of making an order. For a boss, an expense such as this will require a trade-off in another area of the company or further down the line.

An example is the impact the cost will have on the budget as a whole. New software and hardware might raise productivity a little, but it won’t help with employee training. If the boss considers the latter to be more important, they won’t make the tradeoff as it doesn’t make any business sense.

No-brainers do exist yet the majority of the time it requires the person in charge to play politics. Yep, even for the most basic of decisions.

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Humanity

The last thing anybody wants to see is layoffs. Watching colleagues and friends pack their things and leave the building is a heartbreaking sight. It’s also scary because you know you could be next. Redundancies don’t discriminate as one way to limit the number of layoffs is to fire high-earning workers.

You might think there are other options on the table; however, the reality is different. Asking people to go part-time or to take a redundancy package isn’t always viable. Depending on the company’s finances, the budget might need cutting to the bone. Also, don’t forget that they have to think about the future as well as the present. It isn’t enough to lay off people to stay above water – the business needs breathing space.

Bosses have to do whatever necessary to stop the firm from going under. Their allegiance is to the company.

Health And Safety

Why is that there? What do we need this for? How come this makes no sense? It’s not uncommon for employees to judge the internal processes of the workplace. After all, an inefficient format makes your life more difficult and it’s stressful.

What workers often forget is the topics of health and safety. Bosses must ensure everyone is safe within the workplace particularly if you work with heavy machinery. That’s why there are electric chain hoists in warehouses which lift small to medium loads vertically. Machines that do it horizontally often swing the load and it’s a potential danger. Pretty much every piece of equipment or resource in the workplace has a meaning, and it’s usually health and safety related.

The next time you wonder why something is the way it is, remember your wellbeing. The odds are the management has put it there for your benefit.

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Fairness

Sometimes, a decision will improve the business as a whole yet it’s tough to implement. The reason is simple: the perception of fairness. Employees who feel their coworkers are getting preferential treatment will rebel. Once this happens, the morale of the team hits rock bottom and everything starts to go wrong.

Home-based work is worth considering in this context. You know that it would suit your life if you could have some independence a couple of times a week. Although the boss agrees, there is no way they can sanction it if there is going to be a backlash. Everyone will want the same and it’s impossible to allow. After all, some people aren’t made for unstructured hours.

So, if a boss makes a decision and you know it’s wrong, think about the bigger picture. As a rule, the togetherness of the team is always going to come ahead of the individual.

How do you see your boss’ decisions now?

Careers to Pursue If You Want to Help Others

A key focus of my blog is Career Discussions. While some people are motivated by money, others are motivated by sincerely helping others. What are some careers that can will allow you to do this? The following contributed post is entitled, Careers to Pursue If You Want to Help Others.

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All of us are motivated by different things when it comes to work. Some of us want jobs that bring a huge salary home. Some of us want authority positions where we are respected. Some of us want a role that is flexible around our home life and other commitments. However, if you’re a compassionate and empathetic individual, you may find the most fulfilment in a role that allows you to actively help others. Here a few for you to take into consideration.

Medicine

The first jobs that tend to spring to mind when we consider careers that help people are medical positions. Doctors, nurses, and other professionals in the field all work hard every day to save the lives and improve the health of the people who approach them. Any medical position will take a whole lot of education and training before you will be put to work. But this will be an exciting and insightful journey and by the time you are done, you’ll have specialised and will be competent in the area you are focusing on.

Politics

Politics tends to be a point of contention in any context. Many people avoid talking about it in order to avoid offending others with their personal viewpoints. After all, we all have a different opinion in regards to how the country should be run and how people should be treated. However, when it comes down to it, someone has to remove themselves from the fence and make some serious decisions that pave the lives of the majority. People need to be protected and someone has to stand up for their rights! If this sounds like something you’d be interested in taking the reigns of, you could consider a career in politics. This will be intense. You will be actively involved in shaping laws and policies and representing the people. Like Mayor Vauss, you could make decisions that significantly and positively impact the lives of the people in your constituency.

Counseling

Most people tend to go through a lot in their personal lives at some point or another and they may feel that they need to reach out to someone. Whether this is to vent, cry, or gain some advice, they can generally reach out to counselors. They may be based on helplines, in support groups, or you might be able to contact them in other ways. So, why not become a counselor? There are paid positions and voluntary positions within this field, but if you’re considering doing it for money, keep an eye out for paid positions. You will generally receive training before starting the work to ensure you feel completely comfortable in your role and can cope with the pressure!

These are just a few different positions that you might want to consider if you really do want to dedicate your career to helping others in the world. There are plenty more out there, but hopefully this can work as a springboard for you to progress from!

Essential Job Hunting Tips To Help Land That Dream Career

The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success and a key focus is Career Discussions. Finding a career that you love and want to remain in long-term can be difficult. When out looking for potential careers, it’s important to know what to look for and what considerations to keep in mind. The following contributed post is thus entitled, Essential Job Hunting Tips To Help Land That Dream Career.

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From Pexels

Working a career you love means never working a day in your life. This is why it’s important that your quit your unfulfilling job and pursue a career you’re actually passionate about. Unfortunately, when it comes to landing this much-loved position, things can get quite tough. In today’s climate and job market, securing any type of employment can be challenging, so bagging a highly sought after position can often feel impossible. That being said, the tips below can boost your chances.

Put Yourself Out There
Knowing the right people can be of great help when it comes to landing your dream job. For this reason, it’s crucial that you put yourself out there and spend some time networking. Make sure that you attend conferences, conventions, and seminars in your local area and follow relevant individuals on social media. This can feel strange at first, but you’ll soon get the hang of it.

Get The Right Education
No one ever walks into employment knowing exactly what they should be doing. However, most employers do ask that you have certain qualifications or skills. Whether they be a clinical mental health counseling masters or a basic understanding of computer software, you need to be able to show that you have what it takes. If you don’t already, then it may be time to go back to school.

Build Your Online Presence
These days, almost every manager or recruiter you come across will check your social media before offering you a position at their company. Because of this, you need to ensure that your profiles remain positive and professional at all times. All posts will be an indication of the type of person you are, so keep them clean and avoid anything that might put off a future employer.

Don’t Forget The Letter
Writing an informative and creative resume is an essential step in the hiring process, but it’s not as important as most people assume. Because of the number of resumes hiring managers have to read, they tend to only glance over them. If you want to stand out, then you need to do things differently by also writing a cover letter. This gives you a chance to show off your personality.

Apply For Many Positions
Applying for just one position at a time may make things less complicated for you, but it will slow don’t the entire job hunting process. For this reason, you should instead apply for many positions at once. This will boost your chances of securing at least one spot and will do so much quicker too. Just make sure that you only apply for positions that you’re actually interested in.

Sharpen Your Interview Game
You may not like them, but interviews aren’t going away any time soon. With that in mind, you must take the time to sharpen your interview skills and prepare for that all important meeting. Make sure to research your interviewer and the company so that you have plenty of questions to ask. You should also aim to arrive early, wearing an outfit that fits the company dress code.

Landing your dream career will never be easy, but, by following the advice above, you can give yourself a much greater chance.

Forget Issues And Start Focusing On Solutions

Two of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money and Business/Entrepreneurship. Success in business as with most things in life is often impacted by how your personal approach. Is it more beneficial to focus on the issues or the solutions? The following contributed post is entitled, Forget Issues And Start Focusing On Solutions.

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Many successful business owners and entrepreneurs will tell you that one of the best things you can do for any business is stop focusing on issues and start focusing on solutions if you want your business to thrive and grow.

As humans, it’s natural for us to focus on the problem when suddenly faced with adversity. However, you should never lose sight of the fact that these problems can be used to make us better people, better business owners, and teach us lessons that we would have otherwise ignored.

Know that focusing on problems is absolutely normal – which is why you need to train yourself to do the abnormal thing, and focus on solutions to those problems instead. Failure, or an issue, is never the end of something unless you make it that way. There’s always going to be a solution.

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Take The Time To Analyze
If you’re struggling, it can be a good idea to spend some time alone, fully analyzing the problem. You need to make sure you’re objective about the issue. Don’t dramatize it. Don’t blow it all out of proportion. Remain grounded. You want to then direct all of your energy towards solutions to the problem, keeping a positive, open mind. The fact is, when we’re stressed out it can be difficult to see solutions, even if they are right in front of us. The more we focus on the things that have gone wrong, the more we see more things going wrong, further issues, and it can feel like it’s never ending. By making sure you don’t let yourself fall down the rabbit hole, you’ll come up with a solution easily and far more quickly.

It’s important to note that where your solution comes from matters, too. If it comes from a place of optimism and trust, it’s likely a good solution. However, if you come up with this solution with an air of desperation and hopelessness, it’s unlikely to be the best solution for the problem.

Put Your Solutions On Paper
Grab a piece of paper and a pen. Putting your solutions on paper, whatever they may be, helps to get your head into the right space to come up with more solutions. Make sure you have some quiet time, and that nothing is distracting you. You might realize that the solution all along was to purchase PFA tubing and replace obsolete tubing. Or perhaps you know you need to incorporate software to automate a task that just isn’t being done well by your employees. Brainstorming has a domino effect, and you’ll quickly come up with more and more ideas as you sit there and write things down.

Your next step is to decide which solution is best for your situation, and which one you are going to trust to help you overcome the problem. This type of optimism and thinking can have a profound effect on your business. You can overcome anything if you believe you can – just look at the greats, like Henry Ford!

Researching your career revisited: Wisdom from a STEM professor at my HBCU

I originally published this piece on the Examiner back in January of 2013. It discussed some simple, but valuable career advice a professor from my undergraduate institution gave me and my classmates. If followed, this advice would likely save the student, their family and their schools money, time, and heartache.

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Though the importance is questioned by some today, there are advantages to attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Two big advantages are small class sizes and the personal relationships that can be developed with the faculty. These two factors were integral to my success at Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU).

It isn’t just the close relationships with the faculty that are advantageous, but also the “tell it like is” mentality with which they taught us. The instructors felt as though they had to be hard on us students in order to make us competitive, to help us reach our potential, and ultimately, to achieve our dreams. Some students rejected this approach, while others embraced the guidance and the coaching.

Many students who major in the biological sciences do so with hopes of going to medical school and becoming a physician. Not only is being a medical doctor a well-respected profession, but it is also believed to lead to a life of wealth and prosperity; something many doctors and the author of The Millionaire Next Door, Dr. Thomas Stanley, would debate.

During my first year at JCSU, a very simple but important piece of advice was passed along to the students in our Concepts of Modern Biology class. That advice was simply that we students should take some time to research our careers of interest. Again it was simple but very powerful advice.

“You all keep saying that you want to go to medical school, but you don’t have the slightest idea as to what it takes to get into medical school, or what’s going to happen once you get there,” our professor, a Ph.D. of Cell Biology, passionately said to us. She was small in stature but was a very tough-minded professor.

“What you all need to do is to go to the library, pull out a book on the healthcare professions and read up on what it will take to become a medical doctor,” she further advised us. She’d often say, “the slots are limited,” meaning that it was very competitive to get into medical school and they would only take the best of the best. A couple of driven, motivated and talented students from JCSU in that era did in fact go on to medical school to pursue their dreams.

It was debated quite a bit at the time whether or not students from a small HBCU like JCSU could get into medical school. The students who made it in proved that it could be done, but again they were some of the best and brightest that our Natural Sciences Department had to offer.

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I took my professor’s advice and investigated the path towards becoming a medical doctor. In between semesters, I visited Buffalo’s downtown public library and pulled out a book on the healthcare professions. Some of what I discovered in my research, I’d heard before; applicants needing a competitive score on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), a competitive grade point average (GPA) particularly in the sciences, letters of recommendation, and scientific research or volunteer experience in a clinic or hospital.

What I read next though were the real eye openers. Financially, many medical students offset their tuition with loans and graduated with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. Medical school graduates are required to complete something called a “Residency” which usually involved them getting little sleep over long periods of time, depending on their specialization. They further had to be willing to move to often remote and undesirable locations in some instances initially. Finally, most don’t start making significant money until long after they’ve graduated or completed their training.

After doing the research, I decided that I didn’t want to go to medical school to be a physician. I stayed in science but decided to go into research which itself had its own notable challenges and struggles, though ultimately quite a few rewards. See my post on that.

The point of this story is not to discourage anyone from going to medical school, especially if treating and caring for patients is a student’s underlying motivation, dream and passion. A career is a personal choice and must be decided by the individual. That being said, it’s important to do the research, study the process and figure out all that will be involved when pursuing a particular career path.

At one point, being a medical doctor may have been a very lucrative profession to pursue, but as with most areas of life, things seldom stay the same. Significant factors that medical doctors have to contend with today that they didn’t worry about as much in years past, is the impact of Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) on the degree of care patients can receive, and the threat of malpractice lawsuits.

“You want to do something that you’re going to enjoy doing every day. If you’re doing something just for the money, it’s not a good thing,” a mentor advised me. In general, careers should be pursued not simply for the money, but based upon what a student is passionate about and has a natural talent for.

Furthermore, the cost of seeking a professional education such as attending medical, dental or law school, for example, should be strongly considered before pursuing a given career. Specifically, the amount of debt that will have to be repaid should be one of the major considerations as it will impact an individual’s lifestyle for a potentially significant amount of time.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy:

The story of how I earned my STEM degree
A look at STEM: What are the Basic Sciences and Basic Research?
A look at STEM: What is Regulatory Science?
The transferrable skills from a doctoral degree in the basic sciences
A look at STEM: What is Pharmacology?
A look at STEM: What is Toxicology?

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