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Stress Can Be a Good Thing If You Know How to Use It

With all the media and medical attention on stress and its negative health impacts, it is easy to reach the conclusion that stress is irredeemably bad—something to be avoided as much as possible. We have a different perspective. We believe that pursuing a “stress-free” life often causes more stress down the line—problems compound, and by failing to face our most intense challenges we never overcome them. Think about a time when you experienced substantial personal or professional growth, or a time when you performed at your highest level, such as finishing a race, building a business, or raising a child. What was it that motivated and fueled you to grow, learn, and improve during these times?  We are willing to bet that those times invariably involved some stress or struggle. Stress has many wonderful attribu....
5 Strategy Questions Every Leader Should Make Time For

Have you ever noticed that when you ask someone in your company, “How are you?” they are more likely to answer “Busy!” than “Very well, thank you”? That is because the norm in most companies is that you are supposed to be very busy – or otherwise at least pretend to be – because otherwise you can’t be all that important. The answers “I am not up to much” and “I have some time on my hands, actually” are not going to do much for your internal status and career. However, that you are very busy all the time is actually a bit of problem when you are in charge of your company or unit’s strategy, and responsible for organizing it. Because it means that you don’t have much time to think and reflect. And thinking is in fact quite an important activity w....
The U.S. Government Needs to Hire More Geeks

Randy Watson is choking back tears. He is a proud and grizzled Vietnam veteran, standing in front of an audience of hundreds. With the help of his daughter, Randy has just driven 1,100 miles from his home in Joplin, Missouri to Washington, DC to tell the story of how he almost died. But as he stands on stage overcome with emotion, Randy is very much alive. And he wants to thank the people responsible: policy wonks and data geeks. Three years ago, the White House welcomed the Presidential Innovation Fellows program to the world. The mission was simple: save lives, save taxpayer dollars, and fuel job growth in the private sector. By applying proven methods from Silicon Valley — such as lean startup, agile development and design thinking — inside government itself, the executive branch has since been able to do things long tho....
A New Way to Rate Retailers on Providing Good Jobs

Executives have a choice in how they run their operations. They can run them in a way that uses people as interchangeable parts. Or they can run them in a way that leverages a skilled, capable, motivated workforce. Both ways can be profitable. But the employee-centered way is a better way — even in low-cost retail. In my research, I’ve found that retailers using an employee-centered operations strategy, which I call the good jobs strategy, have two strategic advantages. First, they differentiate themselves by offering low prices and good service at the same time. Second, they are better at adapting to changes in customer demand, technology, and regulation. The good jobs strategy is a strategy in which everyone — customers, employees, and investors — wins. Since my book on this to....
Make Yourself Immune to Secondhand Stress

HBR STAFF Over the past decade, we have learned how our brains are hardwired for emotional contagion. Emotions spread via a wireless network of mirror neurons, which are tiny parts of the brain that allow us to empathize with others and understand what they’re feeling. When you see someone yawn, mirror neurons can activate, making you yawn, in turn. Your brain picks up the fatigue response of someone sitting on the other side of the room. But it’s not just smiles and yawns that spread. We can pick up negativity, stress, and uncertainty like secondhand smoke. Researchers Howard Friedman and Ronald Riggio from the University of California, Riverside found that if someone in your visual field is anxious and highly expressive — either verbally or non-verbally — there’s a high likelihood you’ll ....
To Become a Leader, Think Beyond Your Role

The world is full of people with opinions. Television, radio, and other media are brimming over with commentators making suggestions and offering seemingly authoritative advice to government officials and corporate executives about what they ought to do. At dinners and cocktail parties — and around the water cooler at work — we talk about what others should do or should have done, or the flaws of our bosses. In our jobs, we may give our opinion on an issue from a functional or departmental point of view — in other words, a limited perspective. Or we may give an opinion without fully thinking about the issues and weighing the interests of various constituencies that our boss has to consider in order to make an important decision. We may do this because we don’t have access to additional information or, alternativel....
How to Work Confidently with Numbers People

HBR STAFF In the era of Big Data, analytics are becoming a competitive necessity for many managers. And even if it’s not an explicit part of your job description, chances are you need to understand at least something about data and analytics to be successful. So, where should you start? What’s the best way to get a handle on the basics? How should you get to know the quants in your company? And how can you be sure you’re asking them the right questions? What the Experts Say Whether you’re in financial services, consumer goods, advertising, hi-tech, or public health, the nature of your day-to-day job is likely changing to include data. For some managers, this is intimidating. “A lot of people want to hide because they weren’t particularly quantitative in school or school was a long time ago, but given....
Leading a Digital Transformation? Learn to Code

Leaders ascend to their positions by mastering today’s (or even yesterday’s) business. Almost by definition, they don’t have first-hand experience with a disruptive shift in their market when they encounter it. A lack of intuition around the new and different can at best slow progress and at worst lead to serious strategic missteps. What should a leader do? Dave Gledhill decided to learn to code. Gledhill is Group Executive and Head of Group Technology & Operations at DBS Bank, a leading Asian bank with more than $300 billion of assets and a market capitalization of about $35 billion. Over the past few years, its CEO, Piyush Gupta, has been pushing an aggressive transformation agenda, with a specific focus on embracing digital technologies. The smartphone is obviously an important emerging area for any bank going di....
Dealing with the Emotional Fallout of Selling Your Business

Steven Moore for HBR “Congrats on selling your business,” a longtime mentor said the day after I signed the paperwork. “Now get ready for a depression.” That was seven years ago. At the time, I was confused by this remark. I had just made what felt like a pile of money, achieved a long-term goal of building and selling my business, and was about to spend the coming months traveling abroad, one tropical country at a time. Depressed? Hell no! This memory came to mind as I read a series of melancholy tweets from Markus Persson this past weekend. Markus, a 36 year-old Swede who goes by “Notch,” was the creator of Mojang AB, the company that created the popular game Minecraft. He sold it to Microsoft for $2.5 billion in 2014. He tweet series began: “The problem with getting everything is you ru....
How Making Time for Books Made Me Feel Less Busy

Six months ago, I found myself drowning in a flood of easy information. The internet—and all the lovely things on it, things like Wikipedia, Twitter, podcasts, the New Yorker, email, TED Talks, Facebook, Youtube, Buzzfeed occasionally, and yes, even the Harvard Business Review—provide unlimited sources of delight at the touch of a finger. The delight, indeed, abounds. But it’s not always delightful. It comes with some suffering too. I was distracted when at work, distracted when with family and friends, constantly tired, irritable, and always swimming against a wash of ambient stress induced by my constant itch for digital information. My stress had an electronic feel to it, as if it was made up of the very bits and bytes on my screens. And I was exhausted. This all came into a sharp focus when I realized, to my ho....
Case Study: Should This Startup Take VC Money or Try to Turn a Profit?

Unable to solve their impossible problem, VV and Reza went out for a ride. Miles down the California coast, they parked their bikes under the eucalyptus outside a winery conference center. It wasn’t a random stop. They knew that FundersPlatform, a rival to their start-up, AndFound, was holding a networking event there, and they were curious about what sort of crowd it had drawn. They soon found out. “VV! Reza! What are you guys doing here?” It was their old friend Cynthia Finlay, a well-known angel investor in Silicon Valley. “What are you doing here?” asked VV. He’d assumed that FundersPlatform wouldn’t be able to attract high rollers like Cynthia. Reza seemed taken aback, too. He looked down and busied himself with his bike. “Just because I love you and your site doesn’t mean I ig....
As Hopelessness Sets In, Grexit May Be Inevitable

When the European Union has finally approved Greece’s €86 billion bailout package, and Greece has used some of the money to repay the European Central Bank, why does uncertainty still dog the country’s future? Why did Alexis Tsipras, who led Greece’s fight against the EU until recently, resign as prime minister, forcing general elections for the third time in 2015? You have to live in Greece or spend time there to understand why. Last month, two nights before Greece voted on the terms that the EU had set for the country remaining in the euro zone, I was standing in the checkout line at a mini-mart in Athens. I saw at least one shopper forced to return some lemons at the counter so she would have enough money to pay for her other groceries. Another shopper asked how many euros she ha....
Why the Future of Social Science Is with Private Companies

Nullius in Verba—take nobody’s word for it—is the Royal Society’s great motto. Proof, not prestige, should be the true persuader. So when a group of academic research psychologists decided to take it seriously, the entire discipline was shaken by the results. The Reproducibility Project found it could substantively replicate the results of fewer than 40% of 100 high-profile experiments published in peer-reviewed journals. One study that failed replication claimed that encouraging people to believe there was no such thing as free will made them cheat more. Another study that failed the test reported on the effect of physical distance on emotional closeness. Volunteers asked to plot two points that were far apart on graph paper later reported weaker emotional attachment to family members, compared with subjects wh....
What the CEO of the “New” Google Needs to Do Next

HBR STAFF The Google/Alphabet metamorphosis has catapulted Sundar Pichai into one of the highest profile leadership jobs in Silicon Valley. As the new CEO of Google, he has been handed the keys to one of the world’s most valuable brands, the top website to open to get to other websites, the most popular operating system for smartphones, and the most desirable employer for engineering or business graduates. A quick scan of recent company financials reveals that 90% of the revenues of the entire enterprise, all of which used to be known as Google, came selling advertising — the core business that Pichai will now run. Pichai now leads an all “bits” business even though he was trained, solidly, in the world of “atoms,” as a metallurgical engineer. Born in Chennai, India, he came to the U.S. for graduate ....
How Managers Should Judge Psychology Experiments

Nicholas Blechman for HBR The flow of astonishing research findings with business implications has never been greater. Just about every day, we hear about some counterintuitive study from behavioral economics or social psychology. Consider an experiment showing that simply raising a person’s height (a metaphor for virtue) on an escalator increases his or her contributions to charity. Or the finding that after viewers see a media story portraying death, such as a report about a car accident, they tend to prefer domestic rather than foreign brands. Such research not only provides compelling narratives, it also helps generate news stories that go viral and rack up eyeballs. Even more important, many managers may use such research to think creatively and make bold business decisions. After reading that elevation encour....
Is Overwork Killing You?

Kenneth Andersson for HBR Every time the conversation turns to overwork, which is often these days, I think of Arthur (a pseudonym). When I met him, long ago, he was picking himself up after a tough year. A seasoned CFO with a sharp mind and an abrasive style, Arthur had lost his job over a disagreement with his company’s new CEO. He had not seen it coming and it struck hard. “I hadn’t realized how much I cared, how much work mattered to me, until then,” he explained, sharing a feeling I have heard many a manager describe. The unexpected pang of loss he felt when his work email was deactivated. He had cleared his desk defiantly, but now, his once-overflowing inbox dry, he was overwhelmed with grief. Arthur did not see himself as a workaholic. He had hobbies, spent plenty of time with family and friends, and kept....
Relax, Turn Off Your Phone, and Go to Sleep

As a child, I was a terrible sleeper. My parents would often find me awake at 3 AM with a flashlight under the covers reading a Hardy Boy, Nancy Drew, or Tom Swift book. When I was 9-years-old, my pediatrician prescribed an awful tasting medicine to be taken at night, mixed with pineapple juice to mask the flavor. Years later, I found out that the medicine was actually a heavy duty narcotic, sometimes called a “Mickey Finn.” Needless to say, I was just never a good sleeper. In my adult years, I often explained away my sleeping habits by swearing that 4-5 hours of sleep a night was all I needed. My colleagues and I at California State University, Dominguez Hills, conducted sleep research that stems from my lab’s work on the “psychology of technology,” where we have discovered two important variables that enco....
Why Your Employees’ Suggestions Aren’t Going Anywhere

A lot of companies use an ever-more-sophisticated array of online social tools in an attempt to connect their people, get a flow of ideas going, and spur innovation. But after an initial flurry of activity, the initiatives often fizzle and the new tools get tucked away somewhere. What goes wrong? Why is the goal of a more collaborative and innovative organization so elusive? Consider a real example: Not long after a company created an online suggestion box on its new intranet, with all the bells and whistles of the latest social-media technologies, an executive lamented: “All we get are a bunch of complaints and impossibly wild ideas that we couldn’t follow up on in a million years.” And there lies the problem. The span of ideas and suggestions on internal social platforms is often so extensive that follow-up is impos....
6 Ways to Reduce the Stress of Presenting

In the past 30 years, I’ve given more than 3,000 speeches to audiences across the world. Presentations have been such a central part of my work that many who know me best have been surprised to learn how much anxiety they used to cause me. After my fourth root canal, my dentist pointed out that I appeared to be grinding my teeth at night. He suggested a mouth guard. Over the next few years, I ground through three of them. Fortunately, materials science advanced faster than my grinding and I eventually received a more durable one. Still, I had almost resigned myself to the fact that fitful sleep, restless legs, and a variety of aches throughout my body were the price of the career I had chosen. I knew I had turned a corner 10 years ago when I was invited to speak to a prestigious business audience at Radio City Music Hall. I slept p....
Female CEOs Find Stock-Based Pay Harder to Get, Easier to Lose

Stephani Finks/HBR Staff It’s long been a complaint in populist corners that chief executives receive huge stock-based payouts — even sometimes when their companies don’t perform that well. Well, researchers have now discovered an exception to both rules: women. We already know that a) only a tiny minority of chief executives at large companies are female, and b) they earn less overall than their male counterparts. Now, new research by Stefania Albanesi, Claudia Olivetti, and María José Prados also looks at what happens when company performance changes, and examines stock-based pay in particular — often the biggest, but least-public, component of an executive’s compensation package. What they found is that female senior leaders were rewarded more w....
Why Won’t My Employees Admit They’re Going on Vacation?

Andrew Nguyen/HBR STAFF As another summer comes to a close, I find myself noticing once again that my co-workers and employees have been very reluctant to both commit to a vacation and to communicate that time off to everyone else. As CEO, I find this frustrating — it’s a waste of time to set up a client visit or an internal meeting only to hear from one of the essential participants that he or she will be on vacation. We have asked, even pleaded, that people mark the days when they will be away, even if they are still tentative. To be fair, some of my colleagues, with a degree of self-confidence and consideration, do indicate their days off well in advance — but the practice of the stealth vacation still persists. And yet I realize that my company is hardly an exception. Studies consistently show that Americ....
The Company Cultures That Help (or Hinder) Digital Transformation

Many companies struggle with digital transformation. It goes against the grain of established ways of working and is a threat to management practices that have existed for decades. Digital tools free people throughout the organization to share information easily. Communication managers no longer have total control over message, target, and timing of news and announcements. Horizontal and bottom-up information flows become stronger at the expense of the traditional top-down. Digital lets expertise emerge naturally as people ask and answer questions peer-to-peer. People build up reputations across the organization as the “go to” person for topics even if they are not the official experts. This bypasses HR’s system and procedures for validating experts. IT management risks losing control over enterprise technologies becaus....
You Don’t Need to Adopt Holacracy to Get Some of Its Benefits

When Alfred Sloan conceived the modern corporation at General Motors, he based it on hierarchical military organizations. Companies were split into divisions, each with their own leadership. Authority flowed downwards and your rank determined your responsibility. Today, a few organizations – like Medium, David Allen Consultants, and Zappos – are adopting a radically different, approach to management: holacracy. Even as someone who has studied alternative management movements, I’ve been skeptical about holacracy, which eschews the standard “org chart” for a system of interlocking “circles.” To understand it better, I recently sat down with Brian Robertson, author of the new book Holacracy, to figure out how he’s gotten hundreds of firms to sign on. For all of the sturm und drang surroundin....
What You Should (and Shouldn’t) Focus on Before a Job Interview

Years ago, when I was interviewing for the job of deputy editor at Harvard Business Review, I thought I had carefully prepared for my full day of interviews. I had my favorite suit dry cleaned and ready to go. I took my older daughter (a notoriously bad sleeper) to my parents’ house so I could count on getting a full night’s sleep. I even did a dry run of the unfamiliar drive to the office on the Sunday before my interview. I was ready for anything. Or so I thought. The night before the interview, my younger daughter, normally a sound sleeper, started teething and cried continuously. Far from well-rested in the morning, I somehow managed to slice a hole in the suit when I tried to cut off the plastic dry cleaner wrap. With my second favorite suit on, I headed out the door with my driving directions in hand (this was pre-GPS....
A Simple Yet Powerful Way to Handle a Stress Episode

I’m sitting behind a long table, flanked by a marketing manager on my right and an entrepreneur on my left. We are an admission jury at an elite French business school. The candidate seated before us has spent the last two years toiling in a high-pressure preparatory school to get ready for this interview and the entrance exams that preceded it. Right now, he’s falling apart. He can’t collect his thoughts. His answers to our questions are brief and incoherent. He is most likely unaware that he is continuously adjusting his glasses with visibly shaking hands. It’s painful to watch, and I want to give him a chance to reset. “Take a minute and breathe,” I tell him. “You have plenty of time left.” He pants in distress. “What’s happening right now?” I ask him. It’s a cl....

TECHNALINK HIGHLIGHTS
  

In celebration of women role models in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), STEMconnectortm unveils in hard copy and online its inaugural 100 Women Leaders in STEM publicatin. The heroines included in 100 Women Leaders in STEM share stories about their commitment to serving as mentors and sponsors of those who are next in the stem jobs pipline.
           
Mclean, VA - Technalink, Inc. is excited to announce that Alka Dhillon, Founder & Chief Executive Officer has been selected as a winner for the 2012 BRAVA! Women Business Achievement Award Presented by SmartCEO.
    
Alka Dhillon, Founder and CEO, Technalink (McLean,VA) Recognized as one of the leading female CEOs in the Washington, DC, area, Ms. Dhillon is known for her irrepressible entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for giving back to the community.

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