Sunday, November 30, 2014

Be Quick But Don’t Hurry

ESPN named John Wooden the sports coach of the century. He is known for telling his teams to be quick but not hurry.

That advice is useful for many people outside of sports. I discuss how in my

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Holidays and Your Career

Many people defer career thoughts and actions until after the New Year. That’s unfortunate because, whether you’re employed, self-employed, or unemployed, December may be most potent.

Many articles have been written on the topics. In my article today, I try to cram all the best advice I can think of into one short article.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Alternatives to Black Friday

"Black Friday” is the latest marketing ploy to get you to buy more than you need or even, unnudged, want.

Yet, like lemmings, millions of Americans will trot out, or should I say crawl out given the likely traffic and parking problems, to the mall to get the “bargains.” Of course, only a tiny percentage of most stores’ items are much less costly than after Black Friday. And the odds are even tinier that one of those items is what you really want. So if you’re lucky and they haven’t run out of those “bait” items in your size and color, it’s misleading to say you “saved” anything. You’ll probably spend good money on something other than what you really wanted or maybe didn’t want at all---Do you really need yet another pair of shoes, even if it is half off the likely inflated regular price?

So, might it be time to create a new post-Thanksgiving tradition, a more colorful and rewarding alternative to Black Friday? In my article today, I propose 17.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Dieter’s Moment of Truth

If you’d like to lose weight, you’re about to face the year’s biggest challenge: a gauntlet of pigging-out opportunities: Thanksgiving, the day-after-Thanksgiving leftovers, office holiday parties, personal holiday parties, Christmas dinner, day-after-Christmas leftovers, capped off by New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. 

As someone who, despite having written on how to lose weight, can’t seem to lose my 15 extra pounds, perhaps I have no right to offer any more dieting advice but I sense that being aware of the dieter's moment of truth may have some value both to you and to me. That's my article today. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Do Your Hobby at Work

More often than you might think, you can incorporate your hobby into your job. I offer lots of examples in my article today.

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Practical Path to Prominence

Just three years ago, if I had told Barbara Nemko that she would have won four national awards in technology, she would have had me committed. While she was a successful education administrator in Napa, California, she had little expertise in education technology.

Yet in the last two years, she was named one of the nation’s Top 40 Education Technology Leaders by the Center for Digital Education, the Legislative Advocacy Award from Computer Using Educators, the Digital Innovation in Learning Award from Digital Promise, and the Public Policy Award from the International Society for Technology in Education. 

For My article today, I interviewed her to unearth lessons for anyone trying to gain professional prominence.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

What Careers Match Your Core Skill

In a previous article, I reviewed the hundreds of skills listed in Gallup’s Strengths Finder, Eureka’s Microskills, the Knowdell Motivated Skills Card Sort, Elevations, and Skills Profiler, and then adapted or wrote 26 skills that I believe are most likely to help people find and succeed in white-collar or professional employment.

In my article today, for each of those skills, I list one or more careers that require that skill and is liked by many people. For each career, I include a link to a site with information on it.

This article may be of use to you even if you’re staying put in your current career or job. Scan the list of skills to find one or more that you’re good at and would enjoy using more in your job. Might there be ways to tweak what you do so you spend more time using your favorite skills?

Using Thanksgiving to Boost Your Career

Sure, you could say, “Thanksgiving is no time to talk career—it’s downright unseemly. Thanksgiving should be about family, football, and gratitude."

But especially if you could use career help, it’s a terrific opportunity. My article today offers tips on how to make the most of it, whether you're looking for a job, could use some advice on a problem you're facing at work, or want to give a struggler some career tips.

Friday, November 21, 2014

A New Tool for Helping You Decide Whether to Change Jobs, Career, or Neither

In my article today, I offer a novel tool for helping you decide whether to change jobs/careers.

Age Gracefully or Rage Against the Dying of the Light?

If you’re in your 60s or 70s, you may well be in your final decade on life’s conveyer belt. That’s especially likely if you’re a man--We live 5.2 years shorter.

We face a macro choice: Do we “age gracefully,” or, as Dylan Thomas urged, “Rage.” Of course, there is a middle ground but few among us trod dead-center on the fence.

Wherever we fall on the continuum, most of us do it unconsciously. In an attempt to make the decision more consciously and help us gain more clarity on where on the continuum we want to be, my article today offers an internal debate that might occur between an “Age Gracefully” advocate and a “Rage Against It” devotee.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

When Should You Say Something Controversial?

We all think things we don’t say. And usually that’s wise, but here’s a safe place to consider what might happen if you did.

In my article today, I list 12 things that many people think but don’t say and invite the reader to do a thought thought experiment: Ask yourself whether and under what circumstances you might want to let ‘er rip?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Anxious about the holidays? Ways to cut the holiday blues.

Graeme Cowan led a mental health support group for ten years and noticed that each year, his group's stress level started to rise in mid November as they contemplated all the implications of the holidays. Graeme brainstormed solutions with the groups and kept track of what worked best. 

In my article today, I quote his highlighting of eight factors that bring us down during the holidays and his advice on how to deal with each.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My Most Inspiring Career Counseling Client

Woodminster Amphitheatre, where Jeffrie Givens has performed in nine shows.
I tell the story of my most inspiring career counseling client, Jeffrie Givens, in my article today.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Are Men Treated Fairly Relative to Their Merit?

Are men treated fairly relative to their merit? My article in today makes the case that they are not.

How to Make Best Use of a Career Counselor, Coach or Adviser

Career counselors, coaches, and advisers are, in my view, of greatest value, not to people who are choosing a career or trying to land a job, but on the job: coaching on management, communication, time and stress management. I make that case in my article today.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Are You Nice But Not Good?

Ideally, we’re congruent: We’re nice to people and, even when it’s undetectable, we do the ethical thing.

Alas, we’ve all met people who are nice but bad. That is, they’re polite, friendly, smilers, yet when expedient, will screw you.

My article today offers a  self-assessment inventory to help you assess the extent to which you’re nice and good.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Counsel for the Creative: Practical advice for those wanting an artistic career.

Many of my clients would like an artistic career. My article today offers thoughts on how to maximize your chances of making one work.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Planned Happenstance

It’s often said that we make our own luck. But how? 

One way is to use what Stanford professor John Krumboltz calls planned happenstance: putting yourself where good things are likely to happen and there, taking the right actions. In my article today, I describe how to do that both in finding a better job and in meeting that special someone.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Smarter Approach to Hiring

My article today offers an approach to hiring that makes it much more likely you'll hire an excellent employee.

Thinking Thanksgiving: Thoughts on planning

Although we’re supposed to be happy at the Holidays, many people’s aren’t. My article today offers ideas that may help.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

In Praise of Negativity:

America has a bias toward positivity--optimism, chipperness, gratitude. Criticizers get a bad rap. In my article today, I argue that critics, naysayers, and curmudgeons often deserve more praise than they get.

Networking for Introverts

Alas, in today’s society, it's often schmooze or lose. But if you’re an introvert, the idea of pressing the flesh at gatherings is anathema. If you decide you should go,  you take two days to prepare and two days to recover.

In my article today, I offer ways introverts can find it easier to network.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Why We Vote the Way We Do: The genetics of politics

Genopolitics refer to the study of how genetics affect who we vote for. I briefly explore that in my article today.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Overcoming Bitterness

Many people feel life has given them a bum deal. In my article today, I offer advice on overcoming bitterness.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Choosing People Wisely

When we err in choosing a friend, romantic partner, or whom to hire, the person often is one of six types. I describe them in my article today.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Friday, November 7, 2014

My Article: Legalize Pot? You Must Be High

Tobacco and alcohol wreak such pain on society. Legalizing marijuana will only add to the misery. Yet the nation is hurtling toward legalization. 

In my article today, Legalize Pot? You Must Be High, I make the case that all three should be made illegal. 

Here is an enhanced version of that article. The major improvements from the piece are that it proposes a cost-effective, jail-free approach to enforcement, and presents the results of a U.S. government literature review of jurisdictions that have tried legalizing drugs.

Legalize Pot?  You must be high.

The case for a New Prohibition: making marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco illegal.

America just marched three steps closer to nationally legal marijuana: Oregon, Alaska, and D.C. Should we be lighting up a celebratory doobie? I don’t think so.

The nation is wringing its hands about its student achievement. In the latest international comparison, the U.S. finished below average among the 34 OECD nations, despite being No. 1 in the world in per-student spending. Yet we’re legalizing pot, which may cause far greater damage than once thought:

  • A 2014 Harvard/Northwestern study found, “Young adults who used marijuana only recreationally showed significant abnormalities in two key brain regions that are important in emotion and motivation.”
  • A 2013 study from the University of Maryland School of Medicine published in the Nature journal Neuropsychopharmacology found that “Regular marijuana use during adolescence but not adulthood may permanently impair cognition and increase the risk for psychiatric diseases, such as schizophrenia.” The follow-up 2014 study found that using marijuana as a teen reduces gray matter in the parts of the brain associated with motivational, emotional and affective processing. And in November, a study reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences confirms that.
  • A 2014 National Institute on Drug Abuse report summarized a large, long-term Duke University study: “People who began smoking marijuana heavily in their teens lost an average of 8 points in IQ between age 13 and age 38. Importantly, the lost cognitive abilities were not fully restored in those who quit smoking marijuana as adults.” 
And the risks are as great to physical health:

  • A 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that marijuana causes heart attacks and diseases in the arteries, even among the young.
  • A 2014 study found that marijuana use during pregnancy can impede development of the baby’s brain.
  • A 2013 review of scientific literature by Canada’s public health agency reported that “a number of in vitro studies have provided strong evidence that smoke from burning cannabis is carcinogenic.”
  • All that is on top of a mountain of scary data reported not by some conservative group but by the Obama Administration.
Pot advocates try to dismiss all that by pointing out that legalization applies only to adults. But as with alcohol, wider availability filters down to kids. And with pot legal for adults, the black market will likely redirect its efforts to teens, where, as cited, the damage of marijuana use is greater and more irreversible.

There’s already evidence of that. Dr. Christian Thurstone, Colorado Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Society president and youth addiction researcher at the University of Colorado-Denver, reported that his clinic has been “inundated with young people reporting for marijuana-addiction treatment. Every day, we see the acute effects of the policy of legalization. And our kids are paying a great price.”

Pot advocates argue that legalization wouldn’t increase use. On the contrary, a federal government review of other countries’ experience with legalization (See p. 46-47)  concluded that “Legalization of drugs will lead to increased use and increased levels of addiction.”

At Work
Then there’s our workforce. Despite the moderate unemployment rate, people are having an ever harder time finding a decent job, as The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the labor participation rate, the percentage of adults 16 to 64 that are employed or actively looking for work, is 62.4%, the lowest since early 1978. And those who are working are, on average, making less. An analysis of government data on income and poverty released in September found that “After adjusting for inflation, U.S. median household income is still 8 percent lower than it was before the recession, 9 percent lower than at its peak in 1999.” 

Legalize pot and you have a workforce that is worth not more, but less—more likely to suffer from the poor memory, reduced motivation and emotional problems cited above. Kevin Sabet, former Obama White House drug policy adviser, wrote on about a long list of problems that have occurred since legalization in Colorado, including “Employers…reporting more workplace incidents involving marijuana use.” Pot advocates claim that legalization will create jobs. It will cost jobs.

Those are statistics. Their impact is made more real with human stories. For example, I was at a party at which one attendee had worked on the assembly line in the Ford plant in Dearborn, Michigan. He said that workers would routinely be high on marijuana and pull such pranks as deliberately dropping a bolt into a car’s axle so that, when driven, the car would rattle. Why would they do that? Because the high workers thought it would be amusing to see if they could frustrate the quality assurance team, which would hear a rattle in the car and take them hours to figure out what caused it. Pot did.

The human costs
Apart from the toll on businesses and consumers, pot imposes enormous human costs beyond measurable disease. 

As a career counselor in the San Francisco Bay Area—epicenter of “medical” marijuana use–I’ve had many clients who need to find a job but are unmotivated and have poor memory. When I ask if they smoke or have smoked a lot of pot, many say yes.

Not only are such people likely to be un- or underemployed, their families must live with the consequences of poor motivation, memory and psychological functioning, which also often translates to being more difficult to live with: unreasonable, unwilling to keep their home clean, poor parenting, inveterate procrastinating, etc.

Legal pot doesn’t yield tax dollars. It costs tax dollars.
When unable to counter the above arguments against legalization, pot activists often shift to arguing that legalization will increase tax revenues. But the aforementioned Obama Administration report states that the additional revenue would be far outweighed by the increased health care costs. For example, that report summarizes a Centers for Disease Control-funded study: “The cost to society of alcohol alone is estimated to be more than 15 times the revenue gained by their taxation.”

What sorts of costs? Apart from the increase in the cost of treating physical and mental illness cited above, there’s the increase in vehicle accidents. A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 18 percent of drivers in fatal accidents tested positive for a non-alcoholic mind-altering drug, mainly marijuana. And this study found almost twice as many drivers in fatal car accidents tested positive versus a control group. And since legalization in Washington, data adapted from the Washington State Patrol and Washington State Toxicologist summarized by Project SAM, “a nonpartisan alliance of lawmakers, scientists and other concerned citizens,” found that in 2013, the percentage of vehicle accidents in which the driver tested positive for marijuana rose 40%. Contrast that with the two years before legalization: From 2011-2012, there was only a 0.7% increase, and from 2010-2011 also a 0.7% increase.

But what about medicinal use?
To the extent that marijuana is a medicinal drug of choice, it can be treated like any other prescription medicine. If a physician wants to prescribe it, the prescription can be filled at a pharmacy. No need to make it available at a pot dispensary or over-the-counter for recreational use. After all, just because morphine has medical uses doesn’t mean it should be bought like any other retail item.

Make pot, alcohol and tobacco illegal
Freedom is not an absolute good. It is a good that should, on a case-by-case basis, be weighed against the liabilities. For example, nearly everyone accepts the following restrictions of freedom because of the benefits: We force people to pay more for cars by requiring that vehicles have anti-pollution devices, seat belts and airbags. We force the public to pay more for meat by requiring safety standards. We require that people not take a newly developed medication until it has undergone extensive testing for safety and efficacy.

When weighing the benefits and liabilities of marijuana, alcohol and tobacco, it seems clear that an out-and-out ban on all three, while politically infeasible, is what government would enact if it truly cared about its residents. I tried pot a few times in college and enjoy a glass of wine. But I would gladly give them up for the societal benefit: less disease and fewer car accidents, more fully functioning people, a more employable work force and, in turn, better products and services, plus the richer lives people would lead. 


Taken together, the data cited in this article suggests tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths and hundreds of thousands of people suffering unnecessary morbidity every year as the result of marijuana use. And think of the toll all that takes on family and friends. 

Compare that with murder. 16,000 people were murdered in 2010, the most recent year for which official statistics are available. Only 65 percent of murders are solved. Yet few would argue that police should not enforce laws against murder.

The question is how to enforce marijuana laws cost-effectively and without filling our jails with recreational pot users. If marijuana were legalized, Big Tobacco and other large corporations would dramatically increase supply but not if it remained illegal. So those corporations would not require expensive law enforcement. 

Other pot farmers that defied the law perhaps would not be jailed but pay a stiff restitution fine—compensating for the physical and mental health problems their marijuana caused. The fines would largely or completely cover the cost of identifying and prosecuting the marijuana farms. 

Enforcement against recreational users would occur only when law enforcement discovered it while investigating another possible crime or if a complaint were made to police. In such a case, if the person is found with a personal-use quantity of pot, as in the new New York City policy, s/he’d receive a ticket, like a traffic ticket, a source of revenue that, like traffic tickets, would cover at least the cost of enforcement. 

That approach should indeed provide cost-effective enforcement, without filling jails with anyone, let alone with recreational pot users. 

But what about the black market?
Even with legalization, the black market will remain because legal pot will be heavily taxed and so can be bought much less expensively on the black market. This isn't theory. PBS did a report in Colorado, where pot is legal, that verifies that the black market is alive and well. Worse, with pot legal only for people 21 and older, as mentioned earlier, the black market will redirect efforts to teenagers, those most vulnerable to pot's permanent effects.

The New Prohibition

The benefits of a New Prohibition would be enormous. When alcohol was made illegal during Prohibition, alcohol use dropped by 30 to 40 percent. (Here is the original study.) Decreasing marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco use 30 to 40 percent would yield greater benefit than almost any policy we could enact.

Yet we’re hurtling in the opposite direction. It’s clear that, especially with the media generally trying to promote legalization, you’ll soon be able to get high legally anywhere in the U.S. Excuse me, I need a drink.

Making the Most of Second Chances

We've all been given second chances and we promise to do better...and then we don't. 

My article today reminds you of the second chances you've gotten and offers suggestions for how to keep your resolve.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Are You a Free Thinker? A self-assessment inventory

Most people think of themselves as relatively free thinkers, certainly not sheep who merely follow the herd.  But in fact, many people follow the herd more often than they realize. 

My piece today is a self-inventory that will give you a sense about yourself. 


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Education Reinvented: Could this actually make education live up to its promise?

 My article today takes on the bold task of offering a blueprint for truly reinventing education. As always, your comments are welcome.

Tweets on How to Do Life (Part III:) 23 one-line pieces of advice on work and on relationships.

In Part III of my list of my favorites from among my 2300 tweets, here are 23 more on work and on relationships. 

Tweets on How to Do Life (Part III)
23 one-line pieces of advice on work and on relationships.

Tweets on How to Do Life (Part IV:) 25 one-line pieces of advice on emotional health, thinking, education, policy, and The Big Questions.

For, I've selected my favorite 100 of my 2,315 tweets and divided them into four posts. Previously, I posted these HERE is Part I. HERE. is Part II. HERE is Part III.  And HERE is the final group of tweets.

Monday, November 3, 2014

What Works in Curing Procrastination

My article today distills what I've learned, over 29 years, of helping my clients manage their procrastination.

Tweets on How to Do Life (Part II) 34 pieces of one-line advice on The Big Questions, thinking, motivation education, and policy.

In yesterday's article, I offered 27 of my favorite tweets on communication, work, and emotional health. Today, here are 33 on The Big Questions, thinking, motivation, education, and policy.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Tweets on How to Do Life (Part I): communication, work, emotional health

Every time I get what I believe is a fresh idea on how to live the life well-led, I archive it as a Twitter tweet. I now have posted 2,320. Today’s and tomorrow’s article in present a few dozen of my favorites. Today's are on communication, work, and emotional health.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Co-Mentoring: An efficient, free way to get and give help.

Co-mentoring is an efficient, free way to get and give help. My article today explains co-mentoring and how to make it work.