A Maine court ruling in a case about overtime pay and dairy delivery didn’t come down to trucks, milk, or money. Instead, it hinged on one missing comma. (…) On March 13, a US court of appeals determined that certain clauses of Maine’s overtime laws are grammatically ambiguous. Because of that lack of clarity, the five drivers have won their lawsuit against Oakhurst, and are eligible for unpaid overtime.
And, as every company knows, overtime is costly.
The comma in question isn’t a true commoner, not with an Oxford University Press pedigree; it is a serial comma and one might even consider it a titled comma.
It was the relationship between the comma and lists that housed the seeds of lawsuit destruction. To clarify,
According to state law, the following types of activities are among those that don’t qualify for overtime pay:
The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of:
(1) Agricultural produce;
(2) Meat and fish products; and
(3) Perishable foods.
(…) all the other exempted activities were listed as gerunds, words ending with “-ing”: Canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing. The word “distribution,” they argued, was therefore not intended to be one of the items in the list.
Unlike me, my ESL clients often err on the side of overuse, whereas for years I deleted commas after ‘and’ and ‘or’, but no longer.
Now I consider the actual content and context and, like the court, determine the meaning before using the delete key.
Happiness may be the root of everything we seek out in life.
We want to be happy in our family, our job and any other aspect of our lives. In fact the US Declaration of Independence states that, “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” are unalienable rights when declaring independence from Great Britain.
Happiness probably means a lot of things to a lot of people — to me it means satisfaction.
However rates of depression, divorce and suicide are all on the rise. I am sure we can all think of someone in our own life that takes antidepressants to help them cope with their days.
This is all happening in the backdrop of some of the highest rates of wealth, longer life spans and access to greater technology than any generation before. Why is this?
Amy Blankson seeks to answer this question and others in her new book.
A little backdrop on Amy; she is passionate, kind and curious. If you google her you will find that she has a well regarded Ted talk, is an alum of both Harvard and Yale, and runs a company with her brother studying the topics raised in this book.
I had the opportunity to interview her for this post and it was a real pleasure speaking with her. Our conversation ranged from what her influences are to parenting tips in the modern age. We share some things in common; she has three daughters as I will soon, she resides in Texas near my family, and she continues to ask ‘why’ everyday.
The book begins with three burning questions in the digital era, where are we heading? Would we be better without tech? What will happiness look like?
Now, before you think this book is something that advocates that you forsake all worldly goods and begin churning butter in the countryside, it’s not that at all.
Amy recognizes that for many of us we are the first generation to transcend two eras. The analog, with house phones and encyclopedias, to the digital age, where we have a phone in our pocket that can access every book ever written in the history of the world.
We are all different ages but we can all look at the moment when technology enabled us to have every answer at our fingertips, but also the ability to never truly break away.
Amy addresses the fact that work days seem to never end, with email always a buzz away. High school friends who you probably have nothing in common with are still keeping you up to date with the latest post.
But at the same time the person you share your bed with may be further away as you are both absorbed in your own screens.
These are scenarios that we all have to deal with on a daily basis and need to learn how to manage them.
This book is not another lifestyle book that promises to change your life in 30 days or your money back.
What Amy has accomplished is doing all the homework for you. She utilized hundreds of apps, used numerous wearables and tried all sorts of methods to figure out the best way to manage all the tech that we are surrounded with.
She provides very practical steps on how to declutter our lives in simple ways. For example, do you have a pile of old laptops and cords lying around somewhere in your house? Mine are about three feet away from me, the laptops will never be used but I have old pics that I want. My solution is to just store them and have them take up space. Amy’s solution is to take those laptops in, retrieve the data and purge the hardware. This is a simple process and it clears your life.
Do you ever feel overwhelmed with the technology that is surrounding you? In the spirit of transparency, I am in my early 30’s, I work for a technology company and I feel overwhelmed. I feel that I must read every day to keep up with what is new. This is not age specific, it affects all of us. Amy addresses this and clarifies how we can manage our time.
This book is more than a simple help, it’s like you are listening to your friend that you trust. Amy is kind, thoughtful and funny both in her writing and in person. On a personal note I learned a lot from my brief conversation with Amy. She is a mother of three daughters and it was great to glean some wisdom from her experiences raising them.
I walked into this book with no previous knowledge of Amy and was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. She does a great job of showcasing practical steps, analyzes the topics from the standpoint of a social scientist and maintains the curiosity of the eternally inquisitive. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has thought that there must be a better way to live this life.
I asked Amy what her one takeaway would be from someone who reads her book.
She said it would be that our life is our own and we can make our choices. We are in control and we should not let technology dictate or overwhelm us.
This book is for the young professional, the parent or the student who would like to set a firm foundation moving forward.
Amy’s book will go on sale April 11th, you can pre-order or find it at your local retailer.
Unbelievable. It’s already April and first quarter is over/done/gone/kaput.
That means it’s time to reconsider your 2017 to-do list in the light of reality and eliminate the ‘trys’ and hope to-s’ in favor of an honest evaluation of what you can really accomplish today, this week, this month, which, taken together, will add up to an excellent year.
And, to help you accomplish some of the work-focused things, here is this month’s carnival.
David Grossman of The Grossman Group shared How Much Time Do You Spend Communicating?. David writes, “Leaders are always communicating—even when they don’t realize they are. It’s fair to say that 80% to 90% of the average leader’s week is spent communicating. Yet, how much time is spent on planning communications for effectiveness? Discover tips on how to effectively plan your communications and how to distinguish communication from information.” Discover David on Twitter at @thoughtpartner
Jim Taggart of Changing Winds provided The Six Inner Leadership Selves. Jim shares, “Being a leader is not a one dimensional affair. There are many ways that each of us can practice leadership: at work, in our community, at home, or in an unexpected crisis situation. One thing’s clear: you don’t have to be in a management position to show leadership.” Find Jim on Twitter at @72keys.
John Hunter of the Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog shared The Degree of Interdependence. John summarizes, “Business is more interdependent than an orchestra, yet we often ignore the interdependence and seek to optimize components individually. That idea is a useful reminder that if we are not thinking about the end result of the system taken as a whole we risk optimizing component to the detriment of the whole.” Find John on Twitter at @curiouscat_com.
Jon Mertz of Thin Difference contributed Leadership Fails and Who Cares?. Jon summarizes, “What is it that isn’t working with our current leadership development strategies and why aren’t more people trying to figure out what is broken in our colleges, leadership programs, and culture? Here are a few things we can stop doing in hopes of developing better leaders.” Follow Jon on Twitter at @thindifference.
Julie Winkle-Giulioni of Julie Winkle-Giulioni provided Who Knows What Employees Really Want?. Julie recaps, “Depending upon the study, article or thought leader one consults, there are countless different possible motivators and priorities that people bring to the workplace. How can a leader figure out which resonate for his/her employees? It’s easy. ASK.” Find Julie on Twitter at @julie_wg.
Marcella Bremer of Leadership and Change Magazine provided What Goes Wrong in Your Organizational Culture?. Marcella recaps, “Learning to ‘see’ culture; group dynamics, beliefs, and behaviors is helpful. When you become aware you can contribute to developing a positive culture. There are four culture archetypes but each can turn into its shadow side. Your culture can be a permanent happy hour, a competitive sweatshop, a bureaucratic mould or creative chaos.” Find Marcella on Twitter at @marcellabremer.
Michael Lee Stallard of Connection Culture provided Beware the Brutally Honest Workplace. Michael recaps, “Honesty is an important element of healthy workplace cultures, but it must always be balanced with respect. This article explores the hidden dangers of ‘brutally honest’ workplaces and the type of communication that leaders should foster instead.” Find Michael on Twitter at @michaelstallard.
Miki Saxon of MAPping Company Success contributed Misogyny — Follow The Money. Miki writes, “There is a great deal of talk about the rampant misogyny in tech culture. Actually, it’s worse than in other fields, but it currently has a higher profile due to media coverage of complaints at Uber, Tesla, and several other high profile companies. 30 years ago tech was far more welcoming to women; what happened?” Discover Miki on Twitter at @optionsanity.
Neal Burgis of Burgis Successful Solutions submitted Leading with Courage and Confidence. Neal recaps, “Today leaders need to have the courage and confidence to take action on ideas that will move business forward to the next level of success. Having courage and confidence primarily means that as a leader you take responsibility for the decisions you make.” Find Neal on Twitter at @exec_solutions.
Randy Conley of Leading With Trust shared 4 Steps to Avoid a Leadership Meltdown Like Uber’s Travis Kalanik. Randy writes, “The recent missteps of Uber’s CEO, Travis Kalanik, is just the latest example of a highly visible leader experiencing a very public meltdown. We are all susceptible to having a leadership meltdown, and the way to prevent it is to develop our leadership from the inside-out. In this straight-forward article, Randy Conley outlines 4 steps leaders can take to develop their leadership philosophy and approach from the inside-out.” Find Randy on Twitter at @randyconley.
Susan Mazza of Random Acts of Leadership provided What Is Your Leadership Style?. Susan explains, “As a leader, are you more of a Connector, Orchestrator, Trailblazer, Stategist, Team Champion – or a combination of several? My new quiz can help you discover your leadership strengths, and the report at the end provides a good overview of the five most common leadership styles.” Follow Susan on Twitter at @susanmazza.
Only this time it’s Tesla and she still works there; not only works, but loves her company.
“Until somebody stands up, nothing is going to change,” she said in a recent interview, her first comments about a discrimination lawsuit she filed last year. “I’m an advocate of Tesla. I really do believe they are doing great things. That said, I can’t turn a blind eye if there’s something fundamentally wrong going on.”
Tesla’s response was hilarious, in as much as it parroted almost word-for-word the Valley mantra.
“As with any company with more than 30,000 employees, it is inevitable that there will be a small number of individuals who make claims against the company, but that does not mean those claims have merit”
Whoo hoo. Doesn’t that just give you a warm, fuzzy, confident feeling of trust?
Things were better for women 30-40 years ago. What happened?
When Silicon Valley was emerging, after World War II, software programming was considered rote and unglamorous, somewhat secretarial—and therefore suitable for women. The glittering future, it was thought, lay in hardware. But once software revealed its potential—and profitability—the guys flooded in and coding became a male realm.
Now look a bit further and think about the industries notorious for their bad treatment of women.
Wall Street/financial services. Law. Doctors. University-level teaching. Architecture. Chefs. Construction and journeyman crafts. I can keep going.
What do they have in common?
Follow the money.
White and blue collar = high pay.
Pink collar = low pay.
Money means freedom. Freedom to choose. Freedom to walk — from a job or from a relationship.
Put another way, money means control.
The more money you have the more control you have over your world — whether for good or for evil.
So maybe control is the real root cause.
Men (some, not all) need to control women, AKA, mom…
Poor, insecure, little guys.
Trying to change their past by taking revenge on the present and, in doing so, damaging the future.
A year ago we wrote “Sex & Startups.” The premise was this: The current technology and venture capital structure is broken. It rewards quantity over quality, consumption over creation, quick exits over sustainable growth, and shareholder profit over shared prosperity. It chases after “unicorn” companies bent on “disruption” rather than supporting businesses that repair, cultivate, and connect. After publishing the essay, we heard from hundreds of founders, investors, and advocates who agreed: “We cannot win at this game.”
“Having a background in private equity, we don’t just want to grow this business for growth’s sake, lose passion for what we do, or the reasons why we’re here. I think that’s what some folks can end up doing when they raise this kind of capital.”
As a tech person, who has been seduced into believing that valuation is everything, why should you listen to an outlier or non-tech founder, let alone a couple of women?
Perhaps you’ll be more inclined to listening to the guy whose tech generates raves and may even be the source code of your company.
There is no higher God in Silicon Valley than growth. No sacrifice too big for its craving altar. As long as you keep your curve exponential, all your sins will be forgotten at the exit. (…) The solution isn’t simple, but we’re in dire need of a strong counter culture, some mass infusion of the 1960s spirit. To offer realistic, ethical alternatives to the exponential growth logic. Ones that’ll benefit not just a gilded few, but all of us. The future literally depends on it.
I am in sales and as a result I have a ton of metrics that I must account for. How many calls did I do? What is my conversion rate? Are you having a prospecting or velocity issue with closing deals? Is your sales funnel robust enough?
I think you get the idea. These and many other metrics are all important as they can lead to a greater success as you iterate.
By most accounts sales is easy to measure the successes and failures. It’s like sports, who has the most points at the end of the game?
Culture though can be a bit tougher to measure. It’s not a tangible good and as I consider the subject I wonder how can we best measure it?
It’s pretty easy to see the extremes of company cultures and see if they are positive or negative.
Uber had been in the news a lot lately, even their president stepped down after saying they did not align with his values.
On the other hand Google landed the top spot again by glassdoor.com with their annual best places to work.
With a little thought you can see one culture is more negative and the other is pretty positive.
Those are fairly easy examples, but what about all the thousands of other companies in small towns and cities? How do we know if they are indeed a positive place to be and what metrics should we use to measure?
I worked for one company that ranked as a top workplace in the local metro area. This was touted by its recruiters and quite frankly was a selling point for me when I came on board. I had had a terrible experience in a previous company and I was ready for a change!
However, after some time of working at my new place we were given the opportunity to participate in the annual survey that would measure top workplaces.
This poll was, in reality, mandatory and we had to provide so much demographic data that it was very easy to determine who had filled out what survey.
The result was we all wrote very positive reviews and then we were voted top workplace again. I believe the total is four years in a row at this point.
I bring this up as an example of how one metric, annual best workplace surveys, could be wildly skewed and may not be the best metric to utilize.
Where else should we turn to measure? Pay could be a factor of course. Tenure and turnover are factors too.
I had a teacher in college tell me to always ask my interviewer what the turnover for employees under two years was. He felt this was a good measure of the health of the company and the role I was pursuing.
I still ask that question and have found that when turnover is high, culture is low.
At this point I don’t have a silver bullet and will do more research to see if there is a magic quadrant we should be seeking.
I’ll update you next week on whether someone a whole lot smarter than me already did the tough work, or if I stumbled onto a way to start a company measuring culture that is the new hot thing in town.
Rachel Weinstein, a psychotherapist, and Katie Brunelle, a former elementary school teacher and coach, responded by creating the Adulting School, a place for people to gain the skills they need to feel like an adult, from goal-setting and sheet-fitting to how to manage money or hang a picture.
Simon Senek, a British author and motivational speaker, also blames parents for the false expectations of so many Millennials, who never were given the chance to learn/live the process of achievement.
“Everything you want you can have instantaneously, except for job satisfaction and strength of relationships,” Senek argues. “There’s no app for that; they are slow, meandering, uncomfortable processes.”
Whatever you think about a school that teaches adults how to be adults the real question is: in what direction will the next generation go?