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Ensuring Your Happiness at Work

Posted by Jonathan Tannenbaum on July 21, 2008

Most people don’t realize that choosing a job is more about you than the job. When contemplating a future line of work, I think the number one thing to focus on is yourself. It’s essential to know the details of a job, and it can be helpful to find out if most people in a given field report satisfaction at work, but these things are of secondary importance to self-assessment. Only by having a realistic evaluation of your own personality, emotions, desires, tendencies, strengths, weaknesses, etc. can you find your calling in life. 

Often, when pondering the question of a profession, we conjure up a romantic idea, instead of examining if it would actually suit us well. Whether it’s being a doctor or a musician, we tend to focus on the potential rewards and block out the difficulties and possible failures. You may like the idea of treating people with heart disease, but do you have what it takes to get through medical school, or handle the responsibility of performing a life-saving operation? It sounds like fun becoming a rock star but when you’re on the road, living hand-to-mouth you might wish you had become an I-banker instead. I’m not telling anyone to scrap their dreams. I’m just saying you’ve got to be honest with yourself.

Besides struggle and possible disappointment, it’s important to really consider how much money means to you. Becoming rich may not be worth it if it means working 80 hours a week. At the same time, it’s foolish to pretend money means almost nothing when, in fact, you would enjoy a wealthy lifestyle. A lucrative job that demands incredible hours or one offering too little income may not be worth it. (That said, I understand the difficulty of finding a job that offers both reasonable hours and a nice salary.) 

Of course, selecting a job will definitely require some significant compromise. Even the position we’re best suited for will pose some drawbacks. But the goal should be to identify the one that gives you the least negatives and do whatever you can to make it a reality.

Green Companies Need to Promote Satisfaction, Not Endless Desire

Posted by Jonathan Tannenbaum on July 11, 2008

'You can't eat just one.' As a kid, I would think of this slogan whenever eating potato chips. I found it to be happy-go-lucky in its attitude towards our natural cravings. It seemed to exclaim, 'This is who we are; let's love ourselves!'

However, I now view it differently. Today, it reminds me of the way our culture always leaves us discontent, setting off a level of consumption destructive to the environment. Green companies should take this fact to heart by marketing goods and services that leave us wanting less. In doing so, they would improve our well-being, and also that of the planet.

If companies want to practice social responsibility, they should help people alleviate their desires. I’m not saying we should give up all enjoyment. Rather, I think we should eschew a value system that encourages people to relentlessly indulge their impulses. In terms of business, it’s fine for companies to make money allowing people to give in to certain kinds of immediate gratification, but they shouldn’t help people go overboard.  It’s one thing to sell cookies; it’s another to encourage customers to eat the entire sleeve in one sitting. We all love Oreos, but too many can give you a stomachache.

Not only does supporting consumer restraint and satisfaction improve people’s lives directly, it also helps the environment. It’s a simple fact that by consuming as much as we do now we go through the earth’s resources at a rate that will be impossible to sustain. It’s easy to rationale our habits with the justification that what we’re doing now will have no impact on us, and that future generations can adopt different lifestyles in order preserve the earth.

However, this overlooks the fact that sustainability will take an enormous undertaking over a long period of time, and if people don’t act now it might be too late for future generations, or put them in a predicament where they’ll have to forfeit almost any quality of life.

Vegas, Anybody?

Posted by Avi Nimmer on July 09, 2008

“Can I have everybody’s attention, please? In order to show our appreciation for all the hard work you guys have been doing, we’re taking the whole office to Las Vegas for the weekend. Fully paid.”

Sound crazy? Maybe, but according to a recent article from Incentive Magazine’s Web site, Las Vegas is becoming quite the popular destination for incentive programs. When I first read that, I went through a wide range of emotions: first shock (Las Vegas?), followed by jealousy (why am I not in the city of sin?) which obviously lead to a good 15 minutes of day dreaming (Seventeen? Hit me…Twenty-One! Whoo!...Yes darling, I’d love another cocktail).

Once I was able to bring myself to stop salivating over my keyboard, I realized what a great idea Las Vegas is for an incentive program. Think about it: Las Vegas has something for everyone at every time of the day: fantastic food, luxurious hotels, gambling, drinking, broadway-caliber shows, spas, golf courses…the list never ends!

Of course, in order to be a worthwhile trip (the goal is not only to reward your employees, but also build camaraderie and good office chemistry), you can’t just rent out hotel rooms, give your staffers a wad of singles and tell them to knock themselves out. There needs to be structure, a set program that gives employees the opportunity to enjoy themselves and their fellow co-workers in a rare non-work environment.

Organize a fancy private dinner for everyone in the company to demonstrate your appreciation; arrange rounds of golf or spa treatments for the employees to enjoy together; buy the whole office tickets to a Cirque du Soleil show (or, better yet, have the cirque perform a private show for your office).

The key to a good weekend is fun activities and office bonding. Vegas provides the perfect venue for an enjoyable time; the rest is up to you.

It’s Personal!

Posted by Avi Nimmer on July 08, 2008

Have you ever casually been perusing a Web site when, after pressing a link, you are prompted to become a member and provide your personal information? Do you ever wonder why these companies want to know where you live, what your phone number is, and what your social security number is? Maybe they just want to be able to send a card and gift certificate to your house on your birthday, but I am a bit more suspicious.

Out of a combination of sheer boredom and remote curiosity, I took an online IQ test the other day. I completed the entire test, often devoting minutes to single questions and scribbling down numbers and words on my scratch paper. Upon completion, the Web site asked me for typical personal information, which, as typical, I lied about. Well, let me tell you: I was quite angry when the pop-up informed me that my test results had been sent to my cell phone—phone number (310) 123-4567—in the form of a text message.

A recent article from NYTimes.com analyzed just this phenomenon, concluding that people were less likely to divulge personal information to official-looking Web sites when terms of confidentiality were raised. While that may sound slightly counterintuitive, the article provided the example of a group of students who were less likely to admit copying others homework to an official school Web site than they were to a Web site entitled, “How BAD are U??” Makes sense.

From a business perspective, I don’t think making your site look like a teenage girl’s personal Web page is the key to acquiring clients’ coveted personal information. On the contrary, businesses need have professional sites and assure confidentiality if they are to expect to receive anybody’s private info.

There is another crucial factor, though—a factor that the IQ testing website, along with many other companies, fail to recognize and obey.

Let’s provide an analogy: the IQ test was like a blind-date to me, and asking for my personal information—home address, phone number, e-mail address—was the equivalent of being brought over to meet my date’s parents on the first date. Completely unacceptable! Is there any better way to scare someone off? I was thinking, “I’ve known you for about 5 minutes, and you want me to tell you what?!?

I understand that companies want all of the information they can get out of us—any little piece of information that gives them the slightest edge is significant. What companies need to understand, though, is that there is a time, a place and a way of going about that.

Give me time to get familiar with your site, to get to know and trust you a little bit better (sticking with the analogy, wine-and-dine me a bit before trying to get into my…uh…wallet).

Also, it is imperative that companies don’t ask for personal information before the customer feels that it is relevant. If I was ordering a product to be delivered, I would understand needing to provide my address. But when an IQ company wants my home address, you better believe I’m not going back for a second date.

Where Are We?

Posted by Training Magazine on July 01, 2008

Aerial_of_celebration_large_copy Do you recognize this destination?

E-mail jennifer.juergens@nielsen.com with your answer, and be entered into a drawing for a $100 Marriott® TravelCard®.

Last month’s contest pictured Pfalz Castle on the Rhine River in Kaub, Germany. Congratulations to winner Julie Shrewsbury of JCA Incentives!