The Best Ways To Stay Sane In An Open Office

We recently came across this great article we wanted to share with you via [Drake Baer](http://www.fastcompany.com/3008536/leadership-now/best-ways-stay-sane-open-office ) (April 19, 2013 at 06:02AM).
Hope you enjoy it:

Even in the most deranged open of offices, you can find a little calm using these techniques.

Buddhists keep telling us that suffering comes from ignorance. So what about collaborative suffering, like that which springs from an open office?

Knowing where the layout came from might help (spoiler alert: it’s Burolandschaft). But that doesn’t change that you’re still listening to your neighbor battle his sinus infection or that you keep seeing your boss floss her teeth.

The coping is up to you.

Thankfully, you’re not the only one in the cope-boat: Venessa Wong, who writes wittily for Businessweek, talked to the alliterative and elucidating Heidi Hanna, who wrote The Sharp Solution: A Brain-Based Approach for Optimal Performance, which is a very impressive title for a book.

So let’s get to the solving.

You feel like you never have any privacy

That’s because you don’t! It’s an open office, after all, sort of like the perpetually surveilled prison–a panopticon!–that English philosopher Jeremy Bentham theorized in the late 18th century. Did Bentham work for a startup? The historical record is inconclusive, but let’s go with yes.

If you have personal stuff going on–Wong mentions calls concerning toenail fungus, though there are surely other applications–you can take a few steps to avoid putting your foot in your mouth. You can “Chunk” personal projects like long-form phone calls into a bunch, reserve a conference room, and destroy them in a momentum-fueled productivity fugue state.

You feel like you never get a break

Humans need a rhythm of stimulation and non-stimulation to feel human: To get a deeper sense, go read Quiet. But you need no KitKat to give yourself a break; Wong encourages putting on your headphones and listening to some calming music. (She says ocean sounds, I say Chopin.) Also, we can guess that boning up on your mindfulness could help. It works for popes!

You’re tired all the time

“Everyone’s noise, phone calls, and screens actually exhaust your brain,” Wong says. Fascinating, right? Psychologists talk about ego depletion, which is a fancy way of saying that you get exhausted from making decisions or processing the things around you–which is why walking through a park is so restorative.

To prevent exhaustion, Wong says, cut away the noise: Turn off your email, turn off your phone, “lock your co-workers in a closet.”

The brain can’t help but attend to novel things; so if you’re going to listen to music to drown out all that work babble, make sure they are tunes you already know. Like John Cusack says in High Fidelity, just put on something you can ignore.

Five Ways to De-Stress in an Open Office

[Image: Flickr user Greg M]

    
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Review of the Ivy Exec LinkedIn Company Page

One of the most active places for Ivy Exec on social media is the Ivy Exec Company LinkedIn page. As of this writing there are over 1,850 followers of the page. LinkedIn allows companies to interact with the broader LinkedIn community and share a little about themselves with the world by having a company LinkedIn page.

Ivy Exec LinkedIn Company PageLinkedIn does a nice job with changing the layout and feel of the company page depending on whether you’re signed into LinkedIn or not. If you’re not signed in, you will be able to see the updates but will not see all the information on the right hand side of the page (for example, people you might know at the company in your LinkedIn network, or what other pages people checked out in addition to Ivy Exec which can be a good indication of who is Ivy Exec’s competitor). Instead you will see a box with general contact information but you won’t be able to post comments to the updates. However, once you sign in with your LinkedIn profile, the whole layout and color scheme change and on the top right hand side of the page you can see how you’re connected, the products Ivy Exec offers, and other features. You will also be able to leave comments to the updates that are published.

The content makes the company page

Speaking of the updates, the Ivy Exec company page has a constant stream of posts with relevant content to job seekers and anyone interested in improving his or her career. The updates range from blog posts, which include ones posted on the Ivy Exec blog and other reputable publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur, and WSJ. There are also multimedia updates which include links to recordings of live webinars Ivy Exec hosts multiple times a month, as well as links to the exclusive jobs that are posted on Ivy Exec. Each of these posts gets plenty of interaction from people engaging with the content. You can easily comment beneath any update if you have an account on LinkedIn.

The features of the company page

If you look on the right hand side of the company page profile, you will see that there is a section for Featured Groups that showcases the 7,500 member strong Ivy Exec LinkedIn Group. That is another place on LinkedIn where Ivy Exec exhibits a strong presence and interacts with the LinkedIn community. On the right hand side of the page, you will also see a section called “Products and Services” which will bring you to “The Elite Resume Package” which you can reach also from the top of the page right underneath the logo of Ivy Exec under the tab “Products & Services“. There you will see the three products that Ivy Exec has listed including “The Elite Resume Package”, “Career Coaching”, “The Executive Service”. On that page there are short descriptions but if you click on the blue name of the package you will be brought to a deeper overview of the service

The Ivy Exec LinkedIn Company page is very active and a resource for anyone looking for career advice as they pursue their job search. It’s certainly an interesting social media page and the consistency of the updates are nice in comparison with other LinkedIn company pages out there which are only updated once in a blue moon.

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On Our Radar: Get Noticed at Work

We recently came across this great article we wanted to share with you via [Melissa Korn](http://blogs.wsj.com/atwork/2013/04/19/on-our-radar-get-noticed-at-work/?mod=WSJBlog ) (April 19, 2013 at 11:03AM).
Hope you enjoy it:

Motivation and pay; Get noticed at work; Taking risks; more.

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3 Secrets Of Writing Attention-Grabbing Cover Letters

We recently came across this great article we wanted to share with you via [Drake Baer](http://www.fastcompany.com/3008544/leadership-now/3-secrets-writing-attention-grabbing-cover-letters ) (April 19, 2013 at 06:02AM).
Hope you enjoy it:

Robots consume resumes; humans read cover letters–although if yours sucks, they’ll chuck it after a few seconds. Here’s how to write one they’ll remember, and that might get you a job.

Whether resumes are gobbled up by robots or scanned by recruiters (for all of six seconds), a cover letter should demand more than a passing glance–if you know how to write it well.

Here’s how.

Don’t annoy the reader

Just as there are plenty of reasons your resume gets chucked, cover letters are typically equally trash-able. As David Silverman once noted for HBR, bad cover letters come in three varieties:

  • Recap: A resume, now with paragraphs!
  • Formula: A form letter or template you send to everybody.
  • Confessional: An attempt to explain why your resume is so weird.

The first two are toxic and lazy; the third is understandable. Especially if, for instance, you spent three years abroad instead of scrambling for pennies during a recession, as this writer did. (Full disclosure: I tell potential employers that my travels helped me to see multiple perspectives or something like that; they seem to like it. Fingers crossed.)

Know when to send a cover letter

Silverman says that you should only use a cover letter if you know the name of the person doing the hiring–it’s not Sir or Madame–or if you know the job requirements well. He says they’re also good if you’ve been personally referred. Since companies are mostly hiring through internal referrals, that’s probably the case–though it’s not good for the economy or innovation.

Don’t be boring

How do you ensure your reader’s eyes don’t glaze over? Like Cara Aley at Brazen Careerist writes, you can use the cover letter to show your employer-crush why your experience is just right for the job description. Do not, do not, do not let it look like a template. Would you hire someone who sent you a template? No. So don’t send one.

Also, Aley advises to be confident in your writing. This doesn’t mean that you spill over with humblebrags; it does mean that you sign off with a “I look forward to hearing from you” rather than “I hope to hear from you.” You’re qualified, so act like it.

Fitting in is part of being qualified. You need to show you’re party to their cohort–even if it means taking a chainsaw to an owl. When companies say “finding cultural alignment,” they’re really talking about whether or not you have the same personality type. Consciously or not, firms replicate themselves. Getting angry at this fact is like getting angry at the weather.

And more than anything else, write something they would want to read. Don’t overwrite. And study your Elements of Style.

Think you know what makes for a good cover letter? Is there one you’ll always remember receiving? Tell us about it in the comments.

Your Guide to Writing an Eye-Catching Cover Letter

[Image: Flickr user Thomas Leth-Olsen]

    

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Sheryl Sandberg: Why we have too few women leaders

http://www.ted.com Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg looks at why a smaller percentage of women than men reach the top of their professions — and offers 3 powerful pieces of advice to women aiming for the C-suite.

TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, and TEDTalks cover these topics as well as science, business, development and the arts. Closed captions and translated subtitles in a variety of languages are now available on TED.com, at http://www.ted.com/translate. Watch a highlight reel of the Top 10 TEDTalks at http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/top10

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Take A Peek Inside Starbucks’s $35 Million Leadership Lab [Video]

We recently came across this great article we wanted to share with you via [Sarah Kessler](http://www.fastcompany.com/3006587/innovation-agents/take-peek-inside-starbuckss-35-million-leadership-lab-video ) (March 06, 2013 at 07:30AM).
Hope you enjoy it:

How the coffee giant mobilizes employees to become brand evangelists.

This fall, Starbucks hauled 1,000 lighting instruments, 445 chain motors, 120 speakers, 21 projection screens, and 5,000 live coffee plants to the conference center in Houston and spent three weeks installing a “Leadership Lab.” What Starbucks doesn’t spend on commercials, it makes up for with this three-day spectacle (I was embedded in the Lab for a day; here’s what it was like). The goal is to mobilize its employees to become brand evangelists.

During Starbucks’s $35 million employee conference, about 9,600 managers cycled through the temporary interactive experience–raking coffee beans, watching roasting demonstrations, learning company history, and most importantly, soaking in the Starbucks brand as they went. For this week’s Innovation Agents video, Fast Company spoke with two of the lab’s creators, SVP of Global Coffee Craig Russell and VP of Global Communications Valerie O’Neil, about how the 400,000-square-foot trade show brews inspiration in Starbucks employees.

SVP of Global Coffee Craig Russell and VP of Global Communications Valerie O’Neil

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Review of Content on the Ivy Exec YouTube Channel

Ivy Exec YouTube Channel PhotoIf you’re looking for a job or want to advance your career there is a YouTube channel you should definitely check out. The Ivy Exec YouTube Channel is a great resource for anybody who wants to get complimentary access to career advice from executive coaches who tend to charge thousands of dollars for their services. There are over 40 videos that are around an hour each on the Ivy Exec YouTube channel from which you can pick up on valuable advice. Sure, the videos are much longer than your typical cat video or the latest music video; however, the advice you get can make and save you thousands of dollars very easily. The videos there range from talking about interviews, networking, salary negotiation, LinkedIn strategies, to crafting great resumes. That breadth of knowledge is very valuable to anyone looking for a job.

What type of information is on the Ivy Exec YouTube Channel?

The videos that are posted on this job search and career channel focus on giving advice to people who are already under way in their careers. The primary focus is on individuals who have been working for over 15 years. However, an argument could be made that most of the videos apply to people at all stages of their career. You can actually tell from the polls that are in some of the videos, that some of the attendees are either current students at MBA programs or are recent graduates. So do not be discouraged if you don’t have the 15 years benchmark in the workforce. The videos themselves cover various topics that we mentioned above, but they also focus on industry content as well. There are definitely videos on there about getting jobs in consulting, or financial services. However, most of the videos are not industry-specific which makes them so effective to a broad audience. Definitely the length of the videos is longer than the typical YouTube video; however, you can easily skip around in the videos to the parts that are interesting to you.

The presenters on the Ivy Exec YouTube Channel

From watching many of the videos you see that’s the webinar presenters are usually industry experts or career coaches who have been working and advising jobseekers for many years. Most of the presenters have their own companies and consultancies. In my opinion, that is a good way for Ivy Exec to partner with specialized career coaches who have had decades of building up their reputations. Also there are some webinars given by professors at top business schools and those are more recent. Overall all the webinars are given by competent presenters with plenty of experience.

 Should you check out Ivy Exec YouTube Channel?

Yes! The advice on the channel is very helpful no matter what stage you’re currently in your career. Also much of the content is evergreen, for example, videos related to resumes, networking, or negotiating a higher salary. The fact that the videos are accessible to everyone is a huge advantage because most of the webinars that Ivy Exec hosts you have to pay to attend. So in a way you are getting a lot of value just by visiting the Ivy Exec YouTube Channel.

Ivy Exec in a nutshell

Ivy Exec, the company, is a premier destination for job seekers with top experience and education. They have recruiters who prescreen everyone who applies to be part of the website. Currently they have well over 200,000 active members on the website. The company was founded in 2006 and you can check out more about them on their Ivy Exec BusinessWeek profile.

We hope that this overview of the Ivy Exec YouTube channel has been helpful in letting you decide whether you should check it out. We ourselves have watched many of the videos and came away with valuable advice that we now implement. In a nutshell, the Ivy Exec YouTube channel is a great way to get a lot of free advice without having to pay consulting fees to career coaches. The value they are providing is just so great for such a low cost that it’s really a no-brainer for you to check it out. It doesn’t cost you anything and you can get a lot. If you have any questions or comments please let us know below.

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Jawbone, Fitbit, Adidas: How Nike Responds To Competitive Threats

We recently came across this great article we wanted to share with you via [Austin Carr](http://www.fastcompany.com/3006644/most-innovative-companies-2013/jawbone-fitbit-adidas-how-nike-responds-competitive-threats ) (March 05, 2013 at 03:47PM).
Hope you enjoy it:

With big-name competitors like Adidas and upstarts like Jawbone and Fitbit forever threatening disruption, Nike can’t afford to ignore its competition.

Nike had been working on the FuelBand, its sleek electronic activity tracker, for close to two years when design startup Jawbone launched its Up competitor. Sure, the company had known about Up since Jawbone CEO Hosain Rahman announced the device at TED, but hitting the market before Nike was a potentially worrisome prospect. “There was a moment like, ‘Wow, they shipped it.’ We knew the space was ripe for more players,” says one source intimately involved with the FuelBand’s development. “When it was available, we all got one and tried it out.”

Then something remarkable happened. Customers complained of product inconsistencies and poor battery life, and Jawbone quickly issued a recall. “It flopped,” the source says. “At that point, we felt like, ‘All right, the door is still open for us.’ On the other hand, I’m not going to laugh at them because the same thing could happen to us.”

The insight, learned during my extensive reporting for our recent profile of Nike, which Fast Company just named as the world’s Most Innovative Company, sheds light on how much attention Nike pays to its competitors. The company can’t afford to act any other way. Big-name competitors like Adidas and upstarts like Jawbone and Fitbit are forever threatening disruption, especially in the quantified-self space. This week, for example, it was reported that Fitbit is looking to raise $30 million of fresh capital at a $300 million valuation. Just months ago, Jawbone relaunched Up, and Under Armour unveiled its Armour39 fitness band in late January. Despite the increasingly crowded market, Nike has managed to stay above the fray while still keeping a close eye on its competitors.

“I would say that the distance between Nike and our competition is a lot less than the distance between Nike and our potential,” says Nike CEO Mark Parker, summarizing the company’s strategy. “It’s easy to feel good when you’re comparing yourself to somebody that frankly is not a great standard. I’m not dissing the competition or anything, but, well, I’ll just say that our potential is just so much greater.”

At various points throughout my reporting, I heard a similar refrain. As Stefan Olander, VP of Nike’s Digital Sport group, which oversaw the FuelBand’s development, told me, “We don’t really look to [our] competition for ideas–and I don’t mean that in an arrogant way.”

But the truth is, like any company trying to survive a competitive landscape, keeping track of rivals is part of the game. Even Olander later acknowledged this was an unavoidable part of the creative process. “Every single person in Digital Sport would go out during the week, and buy whatever new fitness app or gadget had come out–be it headphones or a running watch–and then try it,” he explained. “We’d go out for a run or workout for an hour; come back; then have a session where we all set up [the devices] together. So if I brought in a new running watch, I’d go, ‘All right, here’s the screen; let’s download the software; unpack it; and so forth.’ We would see the pain points in the experience and see some things that were done pretty good.”

Olander says the team would meet every Wednesday morning to review pain points together. “We’d do the same thing with our own products,” he says.

Multiple sources revealed to me that, at one point, Nike had even very briefly considered doing a Fitbit-like device, though it’s unclear how serious this consideration ever was. According to these sources, one early FuelBand concept surrounded the idea that the device could be designed for positions other than the wrist. “You could connect it to your sweater or shoelace,” says one insider. Adds another, “It was never mandated that it had to be on the wrist.”

In the end, it was almost serendipitous Nike’s finalized concept for the FuelBand didn’t have much overlap with its rivals’ devices, especially considering Jawbone released Up just 11 weeks before the FuelBand launched. “The initial [FuelBand] timeline was actually on the same timeline [as Jawbone], trying to hit that holiday window. But that just wasn’t possible. It didn’t happen for a lot of good reasons–the hardware just wasn’t ready,” says the source intimately involved with the FuelBand’s development. “Fitbit had already been out, so we knew what that was about, but we also knew [Jawbone] was coming out with a different solution.”

Sterne Agee analyst Sam Poser believes it’s this growing threat–or the perception of a growing threat–that drives Nike. “Brands like Adidas and Under Armour are all doing new things,” Poser says. “When Nike’s competition is doing a lot, Nike tends to respond even better. When nothing is going on, Nike leads the pack, but it’s not as innovative–the urgency isn’t there in general. Have you ever gone into a really good restaurant when the place is dead and the service is terrible? And then go back to the same restaurant when it’s busy and the service is great? When you’re being challenged, you get busy, you hustle, and you do everything better.”

Adds Poser, “They’re like sharks. If they stop swimming, they die.”

Parker echoes this sentiment. “Despite the fact that we’re successful, we like to challenge ourselves. You can’t wait for there to be a fire drill,” he tells me. “In the end, I think that will wind up being your death.”

[Image: Flickr user kibuyu]

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The Art of Purposeful Storytelling

Peter Guber, chairman and CEO of the Mandalay Entertainment Group, explains how to establish an emotional connection with any audience.

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