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Archives: June 2013

Want to Boost Creativity? Researchers Recommend Dimming the Lights

If you’re in a creative rut right now, according to a recent study you may be able to get out of it by simply flipping the switch. That is, on the lightbulb.

According to a recent study published by the Journal of Environmental Psychology (via Inc.), dark rooms may boost creativity. Apparently they promote a more global perspective which can bolster creative juices.

Two researchers in Germany conducted six experiences to observe aspects of creativity. In the first three studies, they asked participants to describe a dark or bright environment and do a word search related to one of the two illuminations. Next, researchers measured their creativity by an imagination task, speed accuracy test or an alternate-use game. Researchers concluded that darker conditions led to exploratory behavior and surges in creativity.

Moving right along, participants were also placed in a room that was either dimly lit, bright or at the level recommended for offices. Subjects sat for 15 minutes before they began a creative logic test. Then they completed a self-evaluation regarding how comfortable they felt.

Researchers noticed the dimmer rooms were connected to more problem solving and higher levels of reported comfort by the subjects. That said, dim light wasn’t always beneficial. It didn’t bolster creativity when participants felt inhibited.

As for how we can apply this study to our own work environment, hit the dimmer switch and ask your colleagues if they feel comfortable.

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Thanks to Social Media, New Survey Reveals Employers Discover Reasons Not to Extend Job Offers

By now we all know the importance of cleaning up our social media profiles since it’s not uncommon for recruiters and hiring managers to search but a new survey seconds that notion. In fact, CareerBuilder’s new study shows that a questionable profile can cost job seekers the potential job.

Reflecting an increase from last year’s survey, more than two out of five hiring managers who actively research candidates online indicated they discovered information that caused them not to move forward.

As for the content itself, hiring managers and recruiters found a variety of questionable content such as proof of inappropriate behavior as well as information which contradicted the job seekers’ qualifications for the job. Furthermore, some candidates bad mouthed previous employers and others demonstrated poor communication skills. Read more

Former ‘Cosmo’ EIC Dishes About Curing ‘Low Career Libido’

Ever feel like you’re stuck in a job rut? Maybe you once enjoyed your job and that flame has slowly but surely simmered. This is what Kate White, former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, calls “low career libido.”

In a The Daily Muse piece she writes, “Your first instinct may be to tell yourself that you need to get your butt in gear and find a new job, maybe even a new career. But that may not be necessary. As long as the job provides plenty of opportunities, and you’re not lagging behind where you should be professionally, why not first try to lure the lust back? There are a couple of ways to do it.”

1. Create a novelty and fresh experience.  She explains, “Find a tantalizing new challenge at work you can run with. But be careful about doing something that’s simply going to make you more promotable. Those projects are important, but right now what you really need is stimulation. Pick something that excites you on a visceral level, satisfies a yearning, or scratches a curious itch.”

2. Take on new projects for a sense of rejuvenation. And this doesn’t only apply to your career. When you have a low career libido, you may need to spice up other areas of your life.

Recalling saying yes to an invite to attend a lecture about Turkey at The Explorers Club in Manhattan, White mentioned it riveted her. ” That lecture inspired me to start traveling as a family, on mostly offbeat eco trips, and all those experiences helped me like my job again.”

Her advice? Examine your non-work life. Have you done anything thrilling lately? Out of the box? Out of your comfort zone? Even something as small as taking a different route to the office in the morning can shake things up a bit.

3. Set boundaries between your work and play. Put down that smart phone when you’re at a ball game or at the beach. Get out of the habit and learn to be present.

Four Things to Stop Doing Immediately at Work

Want to boost your productivity and have peace of mind? As per this piece on, there are a few things we should all stop doing immediately.

Jeff Haden writes in the piece, “If you get decent value from making to-do lists, you’ll get huge returns–in productivity, in improved relationships, and in your personal well-being–from adding these items to your not to-do list.”

1. Check your phone while you’re talking to someone. Not only is it rude (and yes, we can tell when you’re peeking), it’s distracting and a really transparent way to let the other person know you don’t care about what they’re saying.

He points out, “Stop checking your phone. It doesn’t notice when you aren’t paying attention. Other people? They notice. And they care.”

2. Multitask during a meeting. Again, it boils down to paying attention. Plus, you can actually learn a lot and retain information if you’re not zipping through your mobile phone. You can hone those soft skills and find opportunities to make connections and small talk.

3. Use multiple notifications. Here’s a hint: Turn it off. We shouldn’t have the immediate need to know when we receive a text message, tweet or e-mail. “If something is important enough for you to do, it’s important enough for you to do without interruptions. Focus totally on what you’re doing. Then, on a schedule you set–instead of a schedule you let everyone else set–play prairie dog and pop your head up to see what’s happening.”

4. Talk behind someone’s back. Just say no. And if you end up getting sucked into office gossip, rest assured your cronies may end up talking behind your back as well. Delete this from your repertoire and focus your time on productive conversations instead.

Five Ways to Get Better at Evaluating People

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, right?

Let’s face it: When we meet someone for the first time we’re compiling our overall impressions and assessing the situation. According to a Harvard Business Review blog, there are a few key factors to sizing it all up. Anthony Tjan points out a few key things to evaluate in particular during a job interview.

The author of Heart, Smarts, Guts and Luck and managing partner and founder of venture capital firm Cue Ball, writes:

“In business and in life, the most critical choices we make relate to people. Yet being a good judge of people is difficult. How do we get better at sizing up first impressions, at avoiding hiring mistakes, at correctly picking (and not missing) rising stars? ….Judging on extrinsic and skill-based factors is a relatively objective and straightforward exercise. Gauging softer traits such as will or attitude is much, much harder, and takes one-on-one contact, attentive listening, and careful observation. That’s why it’s important to approach a job interview more as an attitudinal audition than a question-and-answer period around skills.” Read more

New Report Compares Countries With Mandated Paid Vacation Time; Spain & Portugal are Most Generous

Got vacation days? As the summer kicks into high gear with July 4th right around the corner, let’s just say we hope paid time off is on the calendar even though your employer isn’t required by law to provide it.  

According to a report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the U.S. was one of the 21 countries included in the report. Every country except ours had laws which required to pay employees ranging from 10 to 30 vacation days each year.

As for the good news? The French seem to have it going on. As per the report, their employers must provide 30 paid vacation days each year and one paid holiday. Read more

Media Beat: Jeremy Scahill Talks About The Event Behind His Film ‘Dirty Wars’

Jeremy Scahill is the National Security Correspondent for The Nation and a New York Times bestselling author.

His second book, “Dirty Wars” was recently the basis of a film by the same name. Scahill told 10,000 words contributor Mona Zhang the story behind his first book about Blackwater and how an investigation in to a night raid by US Joint Special Operations Command became the driving force behind the film “Dirty Wars.”

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And Now for Some Light Humor: Communal Birthday Cards, Corporate-Style

When we saw this posted on Reddit, we couldn’t not share it. Instead of dishing career wisdom this afternoon, we’ll just have a collective chuckle at the coldness of this corporate card.

Enjoy! And oh, happy birthday in case your name is Aly or Joe or …

Is Paula Deen’s Career Doomed? Crisis Publicist Weighs In

Howard Bragman, longtime crisis publicist, weighed in. Having worked with Monica Lewinsky, Naomi Campbell and Jet Blue flight attendant Steven Slater, he’s assessed various situations in the spotlight, advised clients and tried to salvage bad situations.

He wrote a post on LinkedIn and mentioned when he first heard about Paula Deen’s deposition, he predicted her empire would come crashing down. He indicated, “Few things are more abhorrent to us than racism, or even perceived racism. Hers was not one word used in a heated moment; it was a shockingly insensitive acknowledgment of her innermost thinking and beliefs.”

So, what can we learn from this situation? As per the piece, Bragman pointed out her brand isn’t dead and she’ll salvage some relationships and mobilize steadfast fans, he guessed the brand will transition from Paula Deen to the Deen Family.

He added, “But to be clear, she will never come back whole. She will never make as much money as she did. And this moment will be with her until the day she dies.” Read more

Media Beat: Jeremy Scahill, ‘No One’s an Objective Journalist’

Jeremy Scahill, National Security Correspondent for The Nation and New York Times bestselling author, recently sat down with 10,000 words contributor Mona Zhang to talk about his new film “Dirty Wars,” which is based on the book of the same name.

Scahill tells mediabistroTV about what he sees as a war on journalists in the US and whether he thinks anyone can be an objective journalist.

  • Part II, Wednesday: The gruesome discovery that sparked the “Dirty Wars” movie.

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