Illinois has the unique distinction of producing more top STEM talent than almost any other state, and it continues to produce a record number of STEM degrees each year. But when it comes to the diversity of STEM talent, it’s a different story.Read More
It’s an employee’s market, especially in tech.
Unemployment nationally is at 4.1% and even lower in areas like professional and business services, financial activities, healthcare, and of course, technology.
The effect is that retention numbers in tech are at critically low levels, including an average tenure of one to two years at some of the most respected tech companies.
In other words, onboarding has never been more important.
A study from BambooHR found that approximately 17% of employees who are hired leave in their first three months at a new job, while nearly 30% leave in their first six months.Read More
After three and a half years at Hyde Park Angels as Director of Platform, I’m realizing my dream: to become one of the entrepreneurs I’ve worked so hard to support. I’m launching Ethos, a talent strategy firm for tech companies.
Before I share more about Ethos, or my deep-seated gratitude for all the opportunity and challenge HPA has afforded me, or my sincere thanks to the community that led me here, I want to pay homage to my industry.
In venture capital, we focus on growth stories. Today, I’m going to tell you mine.Read More
Before I break down the what and how of the research journal, I want to make a case for the why.
On the everyday level, this journal means that I never run out of ideas. Each one of my research journals holds 249 pages of well-organized thoughts, and the process I use forces me to reflect on lessons from every important experience each day. The articles I publish come straight from the pages of my journal.
And over longer time scales, my research journal evolves me. It opens the possibility for deeper learning no matter the circumstances.
Reflections about what I want in work become a four-page evaluation of my intrinsic purpose, informed by personal notes, reading highlights, and patterns that emerge from many entries in the journal.
Once it’s written down, I can intelligently talk about it, learn from it, and grow.Read More
Kindness gets a bad rap.
Culturally, we consider powerful language, strong positions, and direct feedback to be necessary for leadership.
We also tend to assume these characteristics run counter to kindness. But that’s because we confuse kindness with agreeableness.
We think we’re being kind when we spare feelings and avoid conflict, even though we’re in fact being agreeable, which is counterproductive. Or, we reject kindness entirely and run the risk of being so inconsiderate we provoke others to become defensive, shut down, or unnecessarily fight back.
Both scenarios stall growth, hamper progress, and cause serious people problems.Read More
I overcommit constantly. Doing too many things is in my nature.
My morning routine comprises no less than six major activities, my work days are usually twelve to thirteen hours long, and my close circle of female friends is officially up to sixteen.
Consequently, every so often I will be hit with what my husband refers to as “emotional bad weather.” I will go from having seemingly endless mental energy and physical stamina to finding myself unable to even imagine standing up.
But I know my tendency to overcommit stems from an insatiable interest in so many different areas of life, work, learning, and relationships. Paradoxically, that interest is what gives me energy and makes my life meaningful.
Understanding this tension between my limited resources and everything I want has led me to develop a daily practice that lets me have almost anything without becoming overcommitted. And the inspiration for this practice came from a humorist’s memoir.Read More
Your brain is tired. So is mine.
That’s because our brains are like muscles, and we are overworking them with too many decisions. This phenomenon is called decision fatigue.
According to a study featured in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, we make 70 important decisions a day. With each additional choice presented and every new decision we have to make, we exhaust our brains, leading to worse overall decision-making.
Yet culturally, we deeply value personal choice. To limit or eliminate can feel counterintuitive. After all, isn’t abundance the ideal?
Abundance is only ideal when you have strategies and tools that shape the abundance to suit your needs.
Decision fatigue leads to bad choices or no choices, but it can be avoided and combatted. I use three strategies to do both: theming, rule-making, and scheduling.
The secret to lower turnover, healthier cultures, and more innovative workplaces is a streamlined, systemized hiring processes that privileges top-performing candidates with matching values and motivations.
The problem is that developing a hiring process is often neglected because companies are so pressed for time and resources that they feel a need to get bodies in seats as quickly as possible.
With this short-term view, they throw strategic planning out the window, and start interviewing candidates according to inconsistent processes and with a firm reliance on gut reactions.
Here’s the thing: that approach is a recipe for high turnover. The right people don’t get hired, which creates big problems down the road.
With a systematic, evidence-based approach, however, companies can hire better and faster by focusing on the first-minute, upfront work, and then letting the streamlined process do the work.Read More
What if instead of structuring company cultures around values, we structured them around the Buddhist principles of existence?
Hear me out.
If you look at Buddhism as a set of philosophical principles instead of a spiritual practice, there is considerable precedent for this approach. We already apply Aristotelian logic and the Socratic method to education, work, and life.Read More
Writing is the act of structuring thought.
Once you understand how to create structures to contain and shape your writing, it comes much more quickly and easily.
That’s why I think the secret to better, faster, more efficient writing is developing a repeatable process that combats blocks, interruptions, and uncertainty but still leaves room for creativity.
For me, that process breaks down into seven parts: reading, notetaking, setting intentions, organizing information, revision, turning to designated readers for feedback, and practice.Read More
In the seven years since I have been setting New Year’s Resolutions, I have never broken one. Not once.
But I am the exception, not the rule.
Only 8% of people keep their resolutions. 80% of people who set them drop them by February. Jokes about breaking resolutions may actually be more representative of New Year’s Eve than the ball dropping in Time’s Square or a midnight countdown.
To set better resolutions and then actually stick to them, follow a thoughtful process and evaluate the product objectively afterwards.
Here are all the ways I do both.
As a millennial, I am always being told what I am and what I want when it comes to work. But who takes the time to ask me, or people like me? In my latest blog project, I pulled together research that does.
For the record, I believe employees across generations want to feel autonomous, empowered, recognized, and masterful in their work. They just achieve those feelings differently.
For millennials, the research shows that two things help us achieve those feelings: mentoring and coaching and career path mapping.Read More
To be wrong is to be human. We all make mistakes, hold misconceptions, and fall into misinformation traps.
The problem is not that we’re wrong, but that we convince ourselves we’re right anyway even when presented with the truth. This phenomenon is known as motivated reasoning. Motivated reasoning is the practice of trying to make some ideas win and others lose based on our own preexisting values. This bias also creates major problems in our work.
If the future of work demands we learn faster and more deeply, and if solving our current business challenges necessitates open-mindedness and a willingness to seek questions in favor of answers, we need to check our own biases to succeed.Read More
Culturally, we are obsessed with failure.
A quick search on the term “failure” returns “Why Success Always Starts with Failure,” “Strategies from Learning from Failure,” and “The Gift of Failure.”
But is failure really a gift?
In Tribe of Mentors, Ben Silberman, co-founder and CEO of Pinterest argues:
“Whenever you want to learn how to do something well, you start by studying people who are really good. You don’t study all the failed sprinters to learn how to run fast; you study the person who’s really fast.”Read More
I believe in asking questions. In fact, it’s my most strongly held belief.
All good content, relationships, and solutions start with good questions. I am lucky to have discovered this early.
I have collected questions along the way to help me sharpen my craft. Some of them are mine; many come from great leaders, interviewers, and innovators like Tim Ferriss, Gary Vaynerchuck, Debbie Millman, Seth Godin, and many others.
I am excited to share my collection — as well as advice for using it — with you.Read More
Currently, we are experiencing a genuine shortage of soft skills. Yet, the national conversation is focused on our lack of technical skills.
Technical skills do matter, and in some areas of STEM, we have a shortage of talent (while in others we have genuine surpluses). For example, software development expertise is in short supply, as is expertise related to manufacturing and skilled production.
However, our obsession with specialization and technical skill adoption has created a false divide that privileges one over the other, so much so that soft skills are discounted, dismissed, and disappearing.Read More
Learning is underrated.
At least, that’s the case when it comes to our collective conversations around hiring.
The debate around whether to hire generalists or specialists, however, continues to loom large.
Researchers like Tulane’s Assistant Professor Jennifer Merluzzi and Columbia Business School’s Professor Damon Phillips have studied whether generalist or specialist MBA candidates entering investment banking get hired more or paid more (the answer is generalists). Online think pieces abound on whether tech startups need generalists to wear many hats or specialist coders to architect their products faster than the competition.
The research is interesting and so are the conversations. But they only focus on the way work exists today.
When it comes to people, we need to take a “move slow and build things”approach. This doesn’t imply expecting less of our employees or encouraging them to move at a painstakingly slow pace. It means taking the time to build relationships. It means creating an infrastructure that allows for reasonable hours, designated time off, onboarding and training processes, self-directed employee initiatives, and mentorship.Read More