Jobs and Degrees

I saw the headline and had to click: LinkedIn CEO thinks U.S. cares about college degrees too much. The text of the article supported the headline.

Which led me to go look at all the jobs descriptions of open positions at LinkedIn. Every single one lists a BS degree in a technical field as a basic qualification.

I'm tired of all these Silicon Valley CEO pronouncements. You think something should change? Start with your own god damned company.


Learn to Change

To do more than survive you have to learn. But the question is how do you learn when you're surviving? Learning also requires that you be vulnerable - open to what others might be able to teach you.

Survival doesn't allow for vulnerability. In our country vulnerability is seen as weakness. The options are fight, flight, or freeze. There's no "learn" in there. No get quiet and listen. No get curious.


People Can Change

Research by David S. Yeager, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin shows that a simple message can help high school students cope with social pressures and stress. 

"At the beginning of the school year, students participated in a reading and writing exercise intended to instill a basic, almost banal message to help them manage tension: People can change."

In an approach that looks a lot like that of Stanford's Greg Walton, the study had students read an article on how personality can change. then students were asked to read stories from high school seniors who described conflicts and how they were eventually able to manage them. Then students were asked to give advice to younger students.  

Archaic Torso of Apollo

We cannot know his legendary head with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso is still suffused with brilliance from inside, like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could a smile run through the placid hips and thighs to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself, burst like a star: for here there is no place that does not see you. You must change your life.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke, 1875 - 1926


Have you stuck to your New Year's resolution(s)? I haven't. But that's because I don't make them. I prefer to take a look at my habits and work on creating new ones. Here are a list of resources on habits that you might find helpful: 1. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

2. Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don't, and How to Make Any Change Stick

3. Small Move, Big Change: Using Microresolutions to Transform Your Life Permanently

4. Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

5. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

Palm Reading

I know I am headed for a big change. I just don’t know when. A friend's mother noticed my right palm one night when my friend and I were cleaning up after a batch of home-made cookies in high school.

She peered down into my open palm and declared, "That’s a head change."

I looked down at the lines in my palm not seeing what she saw.

"That’s your head line – your thinking line and here’s your life line," she said and traced the lines that diverged.

"And here," she tapped my retracting hand, "is the break."

She was right. Smack dab in the center of my head line was an empty space. An open area at the center of my palm – untraversed by lines – head, heart or life.

I brushed her off by withdrawing my hand. "That tickles," I said.

She watched after me with a serious look in her eye.

Throughout the years, showering or washing my hands, I've looked down into the empty space at the center of my palm and wondered, when?

Rewriting Your Brain

I've got some bad memories. Who doesn't? But now research shows we may be able to change them - their "emotional impact" - without forgetting them. Here's how it works: "if mitigating information about a traumatic or unhappy event is introduced within a narrow window of opportunity after its recall—during the few hours it takes for the brain to rebuild the memory in the biological brick and mortar of molecules—the emotional experience of the memory can essentially be rewritten."

“When you affect emotional memory, you don’t affect the content,” Schiller explains. “You still remember perfectly. You just don’t have the emotional memory.”

“The only way to freeze a memory,” she says, “is to put it in a story.”

Boo Hiss

Ms. Winfrey said she would like to attract to OWN women “in their 30s or perhaps their 20s, to be able to reach people when they are looking to fulfill their destiny.” She added, “By the time you’re 40, 42, you should have kind of figured it out already.” The irony of this statement is amazing. Does Oprah lack self-awareness? Does she not see that crossroads come at multiple points in life? If she/OWN focused more on the big life questions that underpin transitions it's likely she'd get the younger folks.

Note the women in their 20s quoted in the article referenced Martha Beck - pretty much the only person in Oprah's posse that addresses the questions that arise at crossroads.

The Feedback Loop

In honor of Leap Year I thought I'd highlight feedback loops. Life is always giving us feedback. The difficult part is hearing it and understanding it. Because failing to acknowledge it keeps us in loops. "A feedback loop involves four distinct stages. First comes the data: A behavior must be measured, captured, and stored. This is the evidence stage. Second, the information must be relayed to the individual, not in the raw-data form in which it was captured but in a context that makes it emotionally resonant. This is the relevance stage. But even compelling information is useless if we don’t know what to make of it, so we need a third stage: consequence. The information must illuminate one or more paths ahead. And finally, the fourth stage: action. There must be a clear moment when the individual can recalibrate a behavior, make a choice, and act. Then that action is measured, and the feedback loop can run once more, every action stimulating new behaviors that inch us closer to our goals."


Where will you be in four years? Here's to hoping we all take a leap!

Why Can't I Change?

It's difficult to change. So why do people persist? Some researchers have dubbed the phenomenon of continual attempts at self-change in the face of failure as "false hope syndrome." They define it as "unrealistic expectations about the likely speed, amount, ease, and consequences of self-change attempts."

That's the crux of the issue - if you believe change is easy, you may be setting yourself up for failure. Read more here.