Post mortem

I’ve been out of work for 3 days, and it seems that I’m going through a period of mourning. I expected to be completely happy, but I’m not yet. Should I be surprised? It’s a farewell to six years of my life and to the many people that I’ve seen for at least eight hours a day, five days a week, 50 weeks a year. I get attached to people. But there is something else that bothers me, something that has to do with living for years in an environment that required me to change my behaviors and attitudes to fit in; and thus, necessarily, to doubt myself.

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The power of numbers that measure (social) performance

In number games and social software, dana boyd observes how we sometimes get obsessed with numbers that represent our performance—think game scores or, in her example, increasing miles per gallon while driving an hybrid car. The effect on our behavior can be even more powerful when these measures are socially determined as for the popularity score on Consumating and—why not?—blog ranking on Technorati.

danah boyd

And then i was thinking about the people on Yahoo! Answers who spend hours every day answering questions to get high ranks … There’s no real gain from getting points but still, it’s like a mouse in a cage determined to do well just cuz they can.

The internet is giving us a sort of social nerd paradise. We can actually measure our popularity with a number that everybody can see, rather than having to rely on fuzzy and contradictory social feedback.

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Does your blog need a jolt? eMomsatHome.com Wendy Piersall can help

Wendy Piersall founded eMomsatHome.com in early 2006. On her site, Wendy shares tips and insights on how to start and run a home-based business and writes on the challenges and rewards of working from home.

Wendy has just launched BlogJolt, a project aimed at increasing traffic and visibility of blogs by women.

eMomsatHome.com Wendy Piersall

I’ve asked Wendy to tell me more about her business and BlogJolt.

Antonella: Wendy, tell me about eMomsatHome. Why an online business?

Wendy: Turn on the internet and you are immediately connected to the world. When my internet is down, I can be in my big house and feel totally claustrophobic.

This is my third home based business (it would be impossible for me to just be a stay at home mom – it would bore me silly). But moms, all moms, have to spend a lot of time with their families. So they have precious little time to connect with other adults – which I can also say from experience keeps us sane…

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How to make your employees happy and get the best out of them

A couple of weeks ago, I got a copy of Now, discover your strengths by Gallup’s Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton. I received it at work, as a mandatory reading for managers. My initial impression was not good: the book read as a self-help book with an aggressive attitude and, above all, a money-making vehicle for Gallup.

Based on a study of “two million people” aimed at discovering the secret of professional success and taking on a “positive psychology” approach (develop your talents, don’t focus just on patching up your weak spots), the book provided a unique code to measure one’s five highest strengths, and suggestions on how to move from an organization from “managing weaknesses” to developing their employees’ strengths. (The program also offers expensive coaching sessions to develop one’s strengths and become more successful at work.)

Surprisingly, the book turned out better than I first assumed. And even more surprisingly, in the last few pages it took on the revolutionary tone of a Corporate America Reform Manifesto. Most traditional corporations got it half wrong, Buckingham and Clifton write: they understood that prestige and rewards are important for productivity, but have implemented a simplistic and flawed version of a reward system that does more harm than good.

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The eating habits of women’s souls in the workplace

People with eating disorders (especially girls) have a biased perception of their body. They feel fat and unfit and no feedback (from a mirror, from parents, or from friends) seems able to shake the perception that there is something wrong with their body. Their body needs to be controlled, shaped and disciplined.

At the same time, they are extremely sensitive to feedback (from peer, media, advertising) that reinforces their biased and negative body image (Debbie Notkin and Laurie Toby Edison, who I met at Blogher, blog about this on Body Impolitic). The loving and caring act of nourishing their body becomes a harsh act of self-discipline and self-mortification.

I started to wonder if a similar mechanism operates on women’s self-image at work. Do women have a biased self-image when it comes to their skills and talents? Do they have a hypersensitive negative feedback loop and a high-threshold positive loop?

I don’t want to generalize to all women (we had many examples of strong, assertive, successful women at Blogher). I am talking about women who are clearly talented and highly skilled and yet substantially underestimate their value and their abilities. I am talking about the women who attribute their failures to themselves and their successes to chance and circumstances.

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Go to work each day as it were your last day (aka Steve Job’s conspiracy)

This post is about getting happier at work, the surprising effects of physical exercise, and the spirit of Steve Jobs channeled through my iPod.

For a couple of days I’ve had this idea buzzing in my head with the obnoxious persistence of a silly tune. The thought was to write a post about going to work each day as it were your last day.

No, I don’t mean going to your boss and telling him what a @#%@ he is, or arriving to work at noon, half naked, and intoxicated (after all, chances are that even if it’s your last day at your current job, you may still want to work in the future). What I mean is learning how to focus on the important things and let go of the minor actions that clutter your work day because you “gotta do them” or are good for your career.

With this idea still stuck in my head, yesterday I went to the gym, I put my headphones on, and cranked my iPod up. After Madonna’s Ray of light, guess what the next shuffled mp3 in my queue was? Yup, Steve Job’s commencement speech at Stanford.

Steve Jobs talks at Stanford on June 12, 2005

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