A New Day, A New Job

80% of your college degree gets you 20% of your interviews

16 October 2016

YoungProf

More so today than in any previous era, young professionals are shattering workplace cultural norms, disavowing corporate regimens, and challenging long-held ideas about what it means to be professionally successful.  And, given the evidence that millennials are choosing to search for a “true calling,” vice settling for a well-paying and stable job, one obstacle in particular remains difficult to overcome, and that is making a significant career change later in life.

Attaining the ideal career path within a given industry can be a challenge, let alone doing so in another field.  However, so the saying goes: no risk, no reward.  As someone who recently made the jump from one industry – government – to the entirely different world of financial services, I can attest to the obstacles that one faces.  As challenging as it may be to even successfully obtain that new and exciting role, you may face even stranger circumstances when you start your first day.  For example, even if you have previous experience as a manager, you may be taking direction from a 25 year-old recent graduate. You could be asked to handle tedious, administrative, or mindless work that you haven’t been responsible for since your days as a college intern.  But you must remember, you are starting out anew, and so you must prove yourself to those around you.

No matter how intelligent, well-dressed, type A, or competent you may be, nothing can fill the gap of hands-on experience and a strong reputation.  Truth is, if you want to succeed, then you have to leave your ego at home and forget your past.  One may ask, why should you forget your past experience?  The transferrable skills you obtained during your previous assignments are now part of you, and you can rely on them, even unaware you are putting those past lessons into practice.  But just because you were the office manager at Company A, it does not entitle you to any responsibility at Company B.  You want to bring new and innovative ideas to the table, but you want to be careful not to overwhelm (or, dare I say, annoy) your new colleagues who are deciding whether or not to play nicely with you.  I can’t tell you the number of times I have questioned actions of my new colleagues, to the point of becoming concerned at their discretion; but more often than not I realized their penultimate ‘why’ at a later time.  If you yearn for days of yore when you had more authority, try and examine a time when you made a decision and those around you expressed disagreement – now transpose that thought process to today.  If this is an upsetting journey you are not willing to make, then perhaps making an industry career change was in poor choice.

Without a doubt, converting from a public servant to a private sector professional was one of the most time-consuming and difficult tasks I have ever endured.  By the time I landed a job, I was exhausted and nearing depression.  All of this went away once I signed my new employment contract, but now with several months on the new job, I realized that was only step one, and I have some time ahead before I can wield the same level of respect and autonomy that I previously held.  It is a stressful experience when you feel you are an educated and qualified young professional – but that really only gets your foot in the door.  None of the difficulty relates to aptitude, intelligence, education, or competence.  All of the difficulty relates to perception, character, adaptability, and patience.  Nothing can replace direct, hands-on experiences.

So here’s my advice: ask intelligent questions, fervently learn, and show respect.  These are three principles which will lead to success.  While they may seem obvious, take a deeper look and consider what they fundamentally mean.  Intelligent questions demonstrate your interest and are an acknowledgment that your peers are also educators and mentors; fervently learning shows you are capable and committed to understanding the skills nuanced to your new sector; respect, perhaps the most important, lets everyone know that you are a mature professional, do not need to prove your worth, and limit preconceived notions which may lead to unnecessary conflict, arrogance, or inability to assimilate.  Remember, you’ve never done this before…

I bet you think these ideals come naturally, but when you take a step back it forces you to consider how your actions are interpreted and how they forge your direction forward in a new position and industry.  Balancing a new corporate culture with a landslide of information while making positive first impressions is no easy task.  If you had the mental stamina and willingness to take such a risk in the first place, chances are you can get through this as well.  Though, it shouldn’t come easy and requires attention just like anything else.  You were hired for a particular reason, but don’t let that reason cloud your judgment and reputation.


Don't Call Your Ex: A Case Study

20 % of ex's cause 80% of single-life depression

June 2016

Pickup

So you've recently gotten dumped.

I'm sorry – it sucks and I truly feel for you. Plus, there is nothing as sad or depressing as a heartbroken man or woman.  C’mon, we have all been there.  You, as the depressed person, turn nearly every conversation into one about how shitty your ex was to you or how you want that awful person back.  The only worse thing you can tell your friends is that you need help moving.

The pain of being rejected is magnified by the cold realization that you're likely to go through this break up alone.  That's right.  You spent the past six months ignoring your friends and now you are shocked to find they're off doing their own thing.  Not to mention, they are tired of listening to you whine about your past relationship.  Some kind of friends they are!

You've also likely lost a step when it comes to picking up a guy or gal.  The prospect of Internet dating is overwhelming to even consider at this point, and going to the bar often results in a large bar tab, a hangover, and a lot of Facebook-stalking your ex.  Seemed like you had so many options when you had a significant other, where did all of those prospects go?

All of this, coupled with the fact you never delete emails, photos, texts, screen shots of texts, may send you down memory lane.  And then memory lane sends you so far back, that you might start considering how good life was before your ex.  What happens now is ugly: Once you actually remember his or her last name, you want to reach out and ‘reconnect.’  Hey, would you look at that! You still have their number.  Let's see what they're up to with a witty text…

Stop!

Stop right here before you go any further.

Texting or calling an ex is never the right answer.  It's a recipe for disaster.  To educate you on the sure-fire shit-storm you're considering, please find the three types of exes you're likely to reach out to and how they each, in their own very special way, ultimately suck.

The one who never got over you

You may not have had a chance to see the gaping hole you left in this person’s chest where they're heart used to be — because you already had your jacket on and we're fiddling with the doorknob on your way out — but those wounds take a long time to heal, sometimes forever.

For you, calling this person may seem like an easy and reliable option, but to them, you're fulfilling a reoccurring dream they've had for the past three years where you finally understand the errors of your ways and come crawling back to make things right.  Are you prepared for this kind of emotional Pandora's box?  Really?  Think about it, the minute you're in post-coital cuddling you'll realize that you never really liked the way their room smelled, or their sense of humor has become dull, or even worse, they ask you what you're up to this weekend.  Just avoid this all together.

The one who did get over you

As much of a seminal lover as you may consider yourself, some of your exes (believe it or not), have moved on.  They've found new jobs, found themselves, found other partners, found happiness.  It's pretty great for them.  But let’s face it; you're not interested in what's great for them.  Not really, anyway.

Calling this person has ended before it even begun. You will recognize how sad you actually are, because out of the goodness of their heart they will surmise your situation, and in a gesture of friendship and/or pity may agree to “drinks or something” to catch up.  Coffee if they already know how awkward things will get.  As soon as they see through your paper-thin or desperate premise, they are up and out.  You're left feeling even more dejected than you did before.  Let bygones be bygones and let this person enjoy their new (and happier) life without you.

The one who ‘got away’

You blame timing, career objectives, family obligations, etc. as reasons why the relationship didn’t work.  You think this person was ‘the one.’  They look perfect on paper, calls their mom, or checks in on their dad’s golf game, but the reality is they got away for a reason… one or both of you were not ready to commit.  Subconsciously or consciously there was a logical reason to have split up or not give it a run.  Maybe it was a lingering sensibility overriding the infatuation and emotion, but stop thinking that the ‘one who got away’ needs to come back into your life.

 

The jury came back with the same verdict on all three accounts – do not call your ex!  It’s okay to have a little breathing room after an emotional breakup, and if you’re lucky to catch a rebound on Tinder or through a friend.  But it’s way too soon to unsettle past emotions when you’re already in a vulnerable state.  The next time you want to send an awkward text, give a weird Facebook poke, or dare I say call a long lost love, you should think twice.  


Three Ways to Ruin Your Relationship in 2016

20% increase in effort will resolve 80% of your romantic hardships

April 2016

Paramount Pictures / Via jasonnywithnochance.tumblr.com / How to Lose a guy in 10 days

Paramount Pictures / Via jasonnywithnochance.tumblr.com / How to Lose a guy in 10 days

So your epic, self-help 2016 New Year's resolutions have fallen to the wayside, maybe your remaining energy can be redirected to your romantic relationship with that special someone.  Come on, this Valentine’s Day was a little disappointing compared to last year’s, right?  The overrated dating game is a never-ending cycle, and we already know you won’t listen to our advice – just like you won’t heed the advice of your friends, family, and eavesdropping boss at work.  To be clear, this guidance is directed toward those of you who have a significant other.  But, if you do want our advice on modern [electronic] dating, check out this article: Swipe Right, Swipe Left: How Dating Apps Revolutionized Dating.

Now, unhappy relationship people: Bookmark this article, because just like How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and He’s Just Not that into You, these next words you read will be your new bible to avoid ruining (or intentionally destroy) your relationship

First off, ruining your relationship is easy when you become distracted or falsely interested in the ‘novelty’ of someone new.  Clear and concise management of your priorities and distractions are essential to staying in control of every situation.  To avoid the downfall of your relationship, please heed the following counsel: 

Mistake #1: Lack of Appreciation

There are many forms of appreciation in a relationship: Appreciate each other, appreciate yourself, and appreciate the moment.  You’ve heard of FOMO - the “Fear Of Missing Out” that is ruining Millennials from ever having fun?  Well, turns out that FOMO is slowly killing your relationship, too.  Not so much from the fear of missing an exciting event, but the idea that you are somehow missing out on another potential, better relationship.  The grass is NOT always greener, and you will always want what you can’t have.  Secretly harboring this kind of toxic distraction is bad, and you need to overcome it if you want to truly experience love with another person.  So, appreciate your partner for who they are and make them a priority.  Understand that, yes, there may be one or two people out of the seven or so billion on earth that you are more compatible with, but it is ok to stop looking.  Sometimes in Blackjack when you have 12, you gotta stand.

Mistake #2: Not Recognizing Gender Roles

A general trend over the past century is the painful, slow dismantling of constructed gender roles in America.  It is impossible to stop.  And if you insist on enforcing them in your relationship, it is likely doomed to fail.  For two people to survive as a couple in the long run, both individuals need to establish a partnership, equal investment and commitment to make it work.  Without getting into the seismic changes in labor force participation rate between men and women in the past thirty years, it’s true going forward that likely the majority of households in the future will be led by breadwinning women.  So, get on board.  When your woman is struggling with work and having late hours, don’t hold it against her. When your man is trying to get back up on his feet after a failed endeavor, stand by him.  With that said, men do not need to become more feminine and women do not need to become more masculine – simply understand that finances, career goals, and family planning matters are drastically different than 50 years ago.

Mistake #3: Inadequate Communication

Shocker that communication is on the list – Not!  We are all running from one meeting to another, glued to our phones, double booking ourselves, and hardly ever talk to Grandma or the other important family members.  Lies, skirting the truth, saying what your partner wants to hear, shall we continue?  The problem is – with all this hustle and bustle your romantic relationship starts to feel like a job.  And at a job there is one style of communication, in a relationship the communication needs to be dramatically different.  Go ahead, be a little obstinate and short-tempered at work – try that with your Bae and sayonara!  Clear and DIRECT communication will be your best friend, and only way to a path forward.  Remind your partner that he or she looks great in that color, say you will be 15 minutes late in stead of letting them wait, and most of all, when you are down or upset tell your partner but also provide your partner with their action plan. Maybe during an upsetting time you need your space, cool, so SAY that – don’t leave your best friend for life guessing.

If any of the above applies, then consider the following advice as ways to mend your seemingly futile relationship:

Remedy #1: Transparency

This is somewhat of an extension to Inadequate Communication, but transparency is a fundamental element of any remediation.  Transparency shows that you are serious about making amends, and prepared to give those difficult and honest answers.  Lacking transparency may work for a short while, but as we have all learned the hard way, the truth always comes out – more often than not at the worst possible time.  No one said this would be easy, and you will either walk away with a newfound trust or exit the already-damaged relationship with a strong moral grounding.  You want to see your significant other for all they are worth – the good and the bad – and you would expect the same in return.

Remedy #2: Effort

Albeit a broad category, sincere effort is the summation of every positive action you can take to reverse a rapidly declining relationship.  Effort is the intangible proof the marginalized companion needs to see, so they don’t wake up one morning and disappear forever.   It sounds corny, but saying an above-average level of compliments or going the extra mile to make sure your beau or belle is constantly smiling will go a long way.  If you feel the desire to put in the extra effort, and it also make you happy, then you are golden.  If doing this seems more like a chore or struggle, then do what is best for you both and cut it off.  I can assure you, that burdensome feeling will only exacerbate if you don’t grow up and make those hard decisions early on.  Effort may not solely fix past wrongdoings, but it is a foundation that will allow you to get to the point where you can take those corrective measures.

 

So ladies and gentlemen, these tips should get you through most of your relationship debacles for at least the next few months.  And if none of this applies, you are probably out of luck (just kidding, but you may need a more professional assessment).  As society becomes more progressive, transparency and communication will be your closest friends.  Remember to stay focused and avoid distractions, and sometimes letting go is not the worst idea.  You are always young enough to meet other fish in the sea.


Open Letter to Millennial Men

Suitor

We, the single ladies of our 20s and 30s, represent a tired, aggravated, and jaded constituency.  Despite our backgrounds, professions, appearances, or personalities, we are united in our opposition to guys who fashion themselves as “the good ones,” but are actually the lazy, selfish, and pretentious subset of the male grouping.

We are obligated to state our record of dating in the past few years.  The purpose of clearly defining what we determine as “right” and “wrong” in dating is to pave a way forward where dating is fun, exciting, and actually leads to a meaningful relationship.

To the men, who think they are good, but who are actually not:

Your vision of dating is distorted.  This is the time to be the giver.  What does that mean?  Make time for us, treat us to dinner, meet us halfway.  And, in the future, we will move mountains for you.

You are not entitled to more than you deserve.  Do not ask for pictures of us before you meet us, and do not invite us to your home before we welcome you into ours.

Your flirting needs some serious improvement.  Impress us, make us feel wanted, pick up the phone and catch us off guard, buy a small gift.  This is the time to embrace your masculinity.  Most of us have never had a man buy us flowers, or remind us that we are beautiful for no reason at all.

Your communication skills are broken.  Be honest.  If you are not into us, do not “slow fade,” or ‘unmatch’ us.  Tell us clearly.  Believe us, we can handle it.  Provide us with the dignity to move on so we are not left questioning every text, every Instagram like, every extra punctuation mark. Whether aware or not, you also love to send mixed signals.  This is the time to be definitive with your emotions and own it. Even if we quote Sheryl Sandberg or the Feminist Mystique, here is a little secret: we also want to feel protected.  The modern woman is at once strong and defiant but also craves the feeling of having a super-hero significant other.  Just because we want to lean in does not mean we want you to lean out. 

We are not writing with some ulterior motive.  We are trying to provide guidance and impart wisdom.  If you want to land your dream girl, start by acting like a man.  If you see a pretty girl, go up and talk to her; you get her number, call her; you get the chance to go out for a drink or meal, listen and respond to her, and yes, pay for the date; you think she is pretty, tell her she is beautiful. The rest takes care of itself. Let’s agree to make dating an exciting and healthy distraction to the daily grind, rather than the arduous chore or the world’s worst part-time job.  You, men, have a chance to make it great.  So go ahead, puff your chest a little and ask that cute girl out.

Sincerely,

Single Millennial Females


What Think 80 20 is Thankful for This Thanksgiving

80% of Thanksgiving is 20% About Giving Thanks

26 November 2015

Turkey

10.  Donald Trump running for President.  This is a tough one to quantify, because we are obviously thankful he is a possible contender for the next Commander in Chief, but his unending entertainment is also a significant factor.  It is obvious the GOP candidacy is that much more exciting with The Donald running, and his policies would only put us back 50-100 years.  Let’s go Trump!  If not, you’re fired!!

9.  Justin Bieber releasing the new album ‘Promise.’  Everyone keeps laughing at Bieber’s antics, some have even protested he be deported back to Canada, but look who is laughing now!  Bieber Fever is a real thing, and he is no child anymore.  According to Fortune magazine, Bieber just broke a 51-year-old Beatles record, and hits from the album are reaching top lists worldwide.   In fact, 17 of the 18 tracks have made it to the Top 100 Billboard Hits.  Keep it up Bieber!  Excited to see what your next album holds.  Thank you YouTube and Usher.

8.  Tony Romo returning to football on Thanksgiving Day.  The Cowboys lost all seven games while he was injured (nice work, Weeden), and won all three games when he was active.  I think all football fans can safely say they are excited to see Romo back in the game, to add some holiday spirit while America’s team take on the undefeated Panthers.  I guess we will see if Romo is all he is cracked up to be.  Thank you Tony Romo for healing, thank you Cam Newton for being awesome, and thank you America for football.

7.  Turkey thinking they are a world power (country not dish).  Is Turkey really in NATO?  Yes, sadly they are.  Why would you walk the line between Europe and the Middle East?  I think it is obvious – Europe wins.  That being said, no Turkey you may not shoot down Russian aircraft!  Back to the minors, Erdogan.  I think we can all rest assured, Turkey is going to slowly and painfully learn that they have not made the leap to world power.  Thank you Vladimir Putin for delivering this message.

6.  Release of Star Wars ‘The Force Awakens.’  Come one, come all.  This is a movie everyone and their grandparents want to see.  Since the debacle of the Star Wars prequels, this is finally the sequel we have all been waiting for.  Talk about breaking records, this Episode will certainly shatter records around the world and hopefully bring the Star Wars dynasty into the 21st century.  Best movie of all time?  Star Wars: Thank you, but don’t mess this one up!

5.  The European Union.   I know this is a bit broad.  Where do we begin, immigration policies, open (or closed?) borders, terrorism, Greek monetary policies, United Kingdom interest in withdrawal.  What a cluster!  The European Union is in discord, and probably one of the most significant organizations preventing hostility in Europe.  Bad for the Euro, great for the Dollar!  Thank you Europe for still not being able to pull your crap together.

4.  Gulf Countries.  Speaking of immigration and the EU, you guys are real pieces of work.  Your lack of direction, misaligned priorities, and unavailability to accept refugees have really helped make the world a better place (sarcasm).  Three cheers for solidarity, am I right?!  But there’s a silver lining – a big thank you to Saudi Arabia and your Gulfie Goons to lowering oil prices.  We know your OPEC derisions are to apply economic pressure on mutual enemies, but more importantly this helps American household finances.  I don’t know about you, but I am quite pleased to see fuel at under two dollars a gallon.  So again, thank you to the Gulf kingdoms for saving me a large chunk of change this holiday season!  That’s a few extra gifts for Christmas!

3.  China hacking the US (Russia and North Korea also).  Cyber issues are what the future holds, and the US was ill-prepared.  Sadly, it takes something really big and really bad for our nation to respond.  So even though China stole all of our Social Security Numbers, Russia has access to the Department of Defense, and North Korea knows what movie Sony will produce next, at least we are making things better for the future!  So with a quivering appreciation, we thank our Communist friends in Asia for forcing us to finally better our cyber defenses.  (I know, Russia is not really Communist)

2.  Amazon Prime.  The biggest shopping day of the year is the day after Thanksgiving – otherwise known as Black Friday.  Millions of Americans head out the night before to wait in line, or visit stores that open at midnight.  Lunacy I tell you!  Amazon is changing the way we shop, and for the better.  Black Friday shopping has led to fights, injuries, and even death.  I am lazy to begin with, but better safe then sorry, I will be on my couch.  And while sitting on my couch, I will order all of my items on Amazon (with two day shipping, I might add) while watching Prime TV at home.  Twofer!  Thanks, Amazon.

1.  Family.  Jokes aside, this is a holiday of giving thanks, and giving back.  Whether your immediate family, close friends, or community, we are thankful for the people around us and in our lives.  This is what gives us the ability to enjoy life, and write snooty articles such as this.  Happy Thanksgiving from the Think 80 20 Team!


“So, When Are You Getting Engaged?” 

20% of relationships are 80% none of your business

October 2015

Someecards.com ©

Someecards.com ©

Thanks for asking my favorite question!  I’m not sure when I started getting the “When are you getting engaged question” almost daily from friendly acquaintances, distant relatives… my regular Starbucks barista, random Uber drivers… my dry-cleaning lady.  Apparently, somewhere around 25 a homing beacon went off that alerted everyone (but me) that it is time for my boyfriend and I to get engaged.  It’s official, the clock has chimed midnight and I’ve turned into a pumpkin.

For example, my boyfriend and I have been living together for around six months now, and when we first moved in together his mom graciously asked if I would like to go furniture shopping.  Duh, I am 26 and broke and would love to go furniture shopping.  At check out the woman behind the counter commented, “What a lovely mother daughter activity,” to which I replied, “Oh no, this is my boyfriend’s mom.” 

The check out lady immediately lit up, “Girl!  You’ve got it all figured out with the boyfriend's mom buying you expensive things!”  Excited, I answered, “I know, I know! I’ve got it all together.”

But then she asked, “Where’s the ring?”  YIKES!!!!  My boyfriend’s mother turned fuchsia… we have never discussed engagement.  I mean, it’s pretty obvious I am strapped in on this relationship ride since we are moving in together.  It also seems like she’s supportive considering the furniture I am buying is not cheap, and she is fronting the bill.  But, rings, weddings, babies, marriage, seriousness — these topics had not been broached. 

Pulling myself together, I responded, “We aren’t there yet.”  That did not quell the checkout lady, and she rounded on my boyfriend’s mom, “What are you doing not putting a ring on this girl’s finger!  She’s a beautiful good girl!!!”  In my head goes off a silent hurray—she thinks I’m pretty—but also horror.  My boyfriend’s mom is a BOSS and this was NOT supposed to be how the day went.  Side note, his Aunt was there having the best time as mom and I squirmed. 

This sort of interaction is far from unusual.  I had a recently married girlfriend ask me out to lunch, sit me down, and preach to me the joys of marriage.  Our conversation went something like this:

Concerned Married Friend: “So when are you and the boyfriend getting married?”
Me: “Not soon.  We are trying to figure out our lives first.”
Concerned Married Friend: “But, wouldn’t it be more amazing if you were married and could figure out these things together?”
Me:  “Isn’t that what I am doing already since we live together, and I know where his bank accounts are and help him file his tax returns?”
Concerned Married Friend: “Oh, well marriage is such a JOY that you should experience.”

Marriage to me right now would not be a joy because the wedding would be an extreme source of anxiety.  First, to be clear, I am not squeamish about getting married and the commitment it takes, but I don’t feel like I have the “adult” thing down well enough to make such a move.  Second, having a wedding to keep up with the Joneses would be stressful since I’m 26, and I don’t have the money right now.  The Facebook pressure is enormous, and I am almost fresh out of law school.  Some friends were able to get their careers going faster, but I made the choice as a woman in my early 20’s to earn a professional degree that prevented me from earning income right after college.

Perhaps my parents could pay for it, but, as a maturing adult, I really don’t want to completely rely on them because this is a commitment I want to make with my partner.  Considering this is 2015, a post-Suffrage environment, and I plan on being a high earner; I don’t think the wedding responsibility should fall entirely on my parents.  The parent issue raises a question for many of my friends as some have the privilege of their parents solving this problem for them, but some do not. 

It’s a shame that we continue to prejudge someone’s relationship because they are not sharing in the so-called joys of marriage and Instagram hashtags.  The engagement question is extremely personal and specific to each couple.  I may not want to share my reasons for getting or not getting engaged.  Or, perhaps, my boyfriend and I will just head down to city hall one day, sign our marriage license in secret and continue to let the blissfully married stand on their pedestal while I watch them preach.


Why is Caitlyn Jenner Captivating?

20% of the population on track to understanding transgender issues and 80% may never understand

September 2015

Jenner

Bruce Jenner had two main audiences: his crowd cheering him on at the Olympics and his crowd who knew him as Kim Kardashian’s stepfather.

Today, Caitlyn Jenner’s audience is an odd blend of the two.  While her show I am Cait airs on the E! channel, this show could easily be on TLC or another life-learning channel.  Cis men and women are mesmerized by Caitlyn’s transformation and the challenges along the way.  This show, which might be the best-scripted reality program to-date, is legitimately starting a dialogue on a topic that was taboo, and with all honesty, hard to understand.  This show exposes, for the good and the bad, the brutality, legality, and humanity of being a transgender person.

Gender Identity

Transgender is a hard concept for those that have never had to deal with their gender identity.  Until Caitlyn Jenner, the genuine and troubling struggle of a non-conforming gender individual was not realized.  In general, a more feminine man or a more masculine women could dress with a little more color, or not wear make-up, respectively.  Gender, for most of us, is taken for granted.  If anything, many cis men and women might say, why are we obsessing so much about male and female!  The only explanation is that those that are transgender think that cis individuals take their gender for granted, because gender is blended so well into the fabric of our being that distinguishing gender from the personality is impossible.

Cis Views

Most straight cis men and women are “cool” with Bruce becoming Caitlyn for the mere reason that she is living how she wants to live.  However, many cis, straight individuals remark how much easier it is for them to understand the homosexual lifestyle, but a transgender lifestyle is too confusing.  Cis, straight women are rightly perplexed by Caitlyn’s giddy attitude in wearing a bra and makeup, and more importantly in leaving a “man’s” world. If Caitlyn, rather than Bruce, had won the decathlon at the Olympics would she have become an instant household name?  No. Caitlyn impressed many cis men and women on the cover of Vanity Fair – wow a 65- year-old woman can look hot.  On the other hand, women in all fields struggle to NOT look like the demure Caitlyn.  Women attempt to balance being feminine and powerful – a challenging duo.  However, there are examples: Angelina Jolie is a coveted actress and serious humanitarian; Condoleeza Rice loves Ferragamo shoes and is a national security expert; Aung Sun Suu Kyi honors the female role in society and leads her nation towards greater democracy; Oprah – no commentary needed; and Emma Watson a model, actress, and outspoken activist.  These are the role models for women, along with Caitlyn Jenner.  Women, not just trans-women, need to be lifted and reminded of what it means to be a woman today.

Caitlyn is living the American dream.  Only in America can a former Olympian become a women, declare herself a Republican, and have ten kids.  Caitlyn is educating old and young people alike about what the transgender community is like, and she is doing a phenomenal job.

The hardest part will be what can Caitlyn do for women and for men, not just trans-women or trans-men.  The more people are labeled, the harder understanding becomes.  The E! show might be a reality show, but in one way or another, it opened the discussion to thinking through these issues and accepting people to become their best versions of themselves. 


Welcome to the Future:  No Hoverboards, but Your Phone Knows When you are Depressed

80% of your life is measured by 20% of predicted mobile device activity

August 2015

Future

In fifty or so years, when historians, anthropologists, and the comedians at VH1's I Love The series look back on the ten years between 2010 and 2020, it is very likely they'll think of right now as the dawn of human-computer integration.  I get it… this sounds like we need to wear tinfoil hats, but it's true.  Just as we wonder how our grandparents survived with only a radio, a not-too-distant future generation will wonder how we managed driving our own cars or lugging around laptops. 

This past week researchers at the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine published a study which found that scientists could, with nearly 90% accuracy, diagnose whether an individual had depression, just based on monitoring their use of a cell phone.

I suppose upon reading that, one thinks, "of course, that makes sense."  But it's truly remarkable that researchers can now tell what is happening in the very personal and very intimate parts of your brain simply by monitoring how much you move around during the day and how often you're face down in a glowing screen.  And when you consider this in the larger context of humans and their data-analyzed lives, it begins to seem as if there is no limit to the statistics you can measure using an phone and an app.

There are apps that you can use to measure your sleep patterns, that wake you up at the moment you're most ready to be awake.  There are websites that track your spending, and alert you when you've had enough Starbucks for the week.  There are devices that measure your movement and remind you to walk around every once in a while.  Between FitBit, GoPro, iPhone, and Apple Watch, humans can now measure and document every moment of their life here on planet earth.

In the past five or so years, the biggest consumer technological advancements have not been in the creation of spectacular hardware—still no flying cars or hoverboards after all—but in sophisticated software designed to measure humans in every way you can imagine.  This is all made possible due to the ubiquity of smartphones and ability to cheaply store seemingly infinite amounts of data.  Actually, finding an exact figure on how much data is out there is not as easy at is sounds.  Although one figure we found was rather jarring:  humans apparently create—in every single minute of every single day—more than 204 million email messages, two million Google searches, 48 hours of YouTube videos, and 100,000 tweets.  That is insane!

The study on depression found that the duration of average daily phone use among participants—whose average age was 28 years old—was 41 minutes, with frequency use averaging 14.2 times per day. The average daily phone usage for depressed individuals was about 68 minutes, whereas it was about 17 minutes for non-depressed persons.

It is not just scientists that can measure you based on your activity.  Your friends get a sense of your life as well, the life you intend to portray and perhaps some of what you're trying to hide.  When we first read the study on mobile phones and depression, we immediately thought an observer could gain insight into a relationship between two people by similarly monitoring their phone and social media use... and here we all were thinking it was NSA invading our privacy!  Maybe readers can back us up on this one, but everyone knows the two who meet each other, begin dating, and seemingly disappear from the face of the earth.  They typically resurface after a break up, posting self-aggrandizing selfies on the beach or bragging about promotions.  But imagine you can measure this data and use it productively, by tracking your partner’s social media posts and setting it against a typical week, then study abnormalities.  You could get an email when your partner's phone usage suggests they're not where they said they were going to be.  The possibilities are endless… and creepy.

So here is the future, folks:  You are in the backseat of your driverless car and you feel a ping in your pocket.  You check your device’s notifications, and right there, a little red square from the app that lets you know when your relationship is on the rocks.  You open it up, and it shows a graph that says your man has been spending more time on his phone, a warning sign something isn't right.  You get home and he says, "Honey, we need to talk.


Too Little Too Late: 80/20 Hindsights

20% of sensation triggering 80% of societal behavior

July 2015

Hindsight

Most major policy and societal shifts are reactive.  Historically, there will be an event of horrific proportions that serves to finally motivate disparate populations to work together to find a suitable, yet clearly retroactive, solution. Latent reactions often lead to public outcry over a lack of preparedness and foresight by our elected officials and operational entities. This public outcry, and in some cases overreaction, often become cloudy, and almost appear to hold a greater weight than the more rational path.  The psychological implications of sensationalism are all too clear in hindsight, but perhaps it is simply the way we progress and cause change.

Sensationalism is a driving factor for most significant shifts in mindset – a trigger of media and society forcing one to focus on certain topics.  Theoretically speaking, small communities can discuss important topics with little concern by the general public.  However once those important topics fester into a crisis event, the general public ramps into a hyper-reactive mode.  While not ideal, these groundbreaking events have the ability to bring together disparate populations and establish a suitable (yet retroactive) solution.  The solution is often appropriate but the question begs - does a solution come too late and does it actually resolve the long-term situations at hand?

Collective History of the Confederacy

In response to the heinous and criminal shooting at the South Carolina church, state governments across the south are removing (or debating the removal of) Confederate flags from public buildings, and major companies are recalling sales of the flags – to include Amazon, WalMart, eBay, and Sears.  This controversial debate was began after something catastrophic, which seems to follow a lasting trend throughout history. The Confederate flag is an important part of American history, and illustrates a turning point for our country.  An ongoing controversial debate over the Confederate flag is necessary, but why is this debate inspired only after the atrocious acts committed by a single individual?  Moreover, why are companies that have sold the confederate flag for decades now deemed more ethical because they recalled sales of this item?  Realistically, do these companies even need to halt such sales?  The nationwide debate over the Confederate flag is overdue; unfortunately, it took one lone wolf for politicians, commentators, and public citizens to decide where the proper place is for this historic artifact.

Police Brutality

Alleged police brutality has been extensively covered by the media and negotiated since the episodes occurring in Ferguson, Missouri and New York This article does not aim to pick a side in either of those scenarios; however, the idea and perception of police brutality is not a newfound concern.  It is especially a concern rarely to be managed at the federal level, through the Department of Justice.  Now the media ensures each police incident with even an inkling of excess force is covered exhaustively.  Supposedly, awareness is the first step.  But the question to ponder is this: what have the various State authorities and courts been doing to not have appropriately responded to these issues as they previously arose?  The media attention and response has certainly made citizens more aware of the issue, but only the future will determine whether it caused more issues or forced a positive change.

Internet Security

One other example is the expansion of the Internet. The Internet’s designers, mainly academics and researchers, probably did not foresee the need to embed security to the extent it is required today.  The Internet is a cornerstone of our daily lives and of business operations. While it has led to efficiencies and communication globally, the rapid, commercial expansion also revealed weak security.  For close to two decades, the foundational concerns of identity fraud and hacking were on top security researchers’, military, and business leaders minds.  The attention on this, until recently, has been reserved to the “security geeks”. Now, with the rise of breaches targeting the retail, financial, and healthcare industry more professionals are starting to pay attention. The most recent and notable event, the hack and cyber breach of OPM records led to the disclosure of approximately 21.5 million persons’ sensitive information.  And to think we are concerned over NSA’s invasion of privacy, we may as well give the information away!  Did the US Government, and more specifically OPM, really need for such a significant event to happen before institute the necessary cyber security to improve their overall system’s protection?  Only several months earlier, a former NSA chief stated the US is unprepared for a cyber attack against energy infrastructure – which would have devastating results.  This devastating attack to government morale, current and future security operations – at the classified and unclassified level – may finally be the catalyst for the disparate groups in cyber security to work together to find a common solution with appropriate auditing controls.

A confederate flag may be removed, but have we tackled the issue of America’s collective history and prejudices?  Police brutality has gained recent media attention, but will it allow for overhauls leading to greater trust between law enforcement and respective communities?  Threatening cyber breaches and vulnerabilities have finally gained attention, but will the response be in the form of bureaucratic regulation after a dutiful blame game, or will our critical information infrastructure actually become more protected?  At the end of the day, history dictates society is rarely a proactive institution.  For better or worse, it normally will take a devastating situation for society to respond and repair prevalent issues.  What will be interesting is to look into the future and see whether advances in technology and education can alter this mentality.


Flirting with Disaster

80% of successful dates come from the 20% who took the time to flirt before

June 2015

Maps

The millennial generation has completely and utterly lost the art of flirting. Today, arranging a date requires a check-in with your work calendar, your personal calendar, your gym schedule, your Blue Apron delivery, and your general mood for that week.  Trying to fit flirting into this schedule is nearly impossible. 

Our schedules are a byproduct of living in busy metropolitan areas.  In most cases, we chose to live in metropolitan areas because of the career opportunities. America’s cities offer more jobs, higher education, and networking in a single area.  Surely, there are millennials who choose a city or region because of the topology, location to family, or weather; but we aren’t talking about those people. 

Which brings us back to the question: how do busy millennials in cities flirt rather than reveal their true, inner Type-A personality? 

This question assumes that dating requires flirting.  YES, dating does require flirting. Flirting gives each of us butterflies, it makes a girl add mascara for the day, and it gives a guy the reason to change his sheets.  So, if flirting provides that thrill in our mundane days, why are we not investing in the time to flirt? 

Well, we’ve lost the ability to flirt.  If you allow me to demonstrate… Below is a paraphrased text conversation between two individuals who were trying to schedule a date. The proposed day of the date was a Thursday, but the time and location were never confirmed. For the record, it should be noted that this gentleman asked the girl out, never complimented her, only asked about her job and how her weekend was, and did not conclusively pick a time or location for the date. 

A young man proposes a time and location of a date via text around lunchtime for the date the same evening.  The lady informs the young sir that her work schedule is insane and that she might not be the best company tonight.  The young man bites back at the woman by saying he doubts that she is sincere. (Note: I saw this woman during the week of the scenario, and make-up wasn’t going to cover up the bags under her eyes. Secondly, the woman never formally said she was canceling on the guy.)  The woman apologizes for canceling; the young man questions her genuineness along with the entire city’s dating behavior.  The back and forth continues one more round, with the woman apologizing and the man critiquing her.  In the end, she wishes him luck. A few hours pass, and the young sir apologizes to the lady for being critical of her actions and decisions.  He adds that multiple women canceled on him this month already, and concludes by wishing her luck in her current occupation. 

Ladies and gentlemen, I rest my case.  This is what today's dating looks like.  We need to change this drab dialogue to a robust one with flirting and excitement!  As is said with any other language: if you don’t use it you lose it.  So, for all my single guys and gals… take the time to learn the language of love and flirt!  You will feel a rush of confidence and excite your date, too.  The likelihood of a date canceling, because of a legitimate or perceived workload will decrease if you have built-up the date by flirting beforehand. 


Does Trickle-down Economics Tickle Your Fancy?

June 2015

Towers

What matters the most in a potential partner these days? Historically, one would answer with religion or, maybe, money if a dowry was required. Today, we have more options. As our nation trends to a more secular culture, religion is less of a concern amongst the young in metropolitan cities.

Today, politics is the new religion. Until we adopt a parliamentary or three-party system, we are all defined as Red and Blue states. And unfortunately, our economic theoretical preference is now tied to  social norms. Can a fiscally conservative, socially liberal, registered Republic marry a fiscally liberal, socially liberal, registered Democrat? The high profile couples of Mary Matalin and James Carville, a Bush Republican (woman, nonetheless) married to a Clinton Democrat or Arnold Schwarzenegger former Republican Governor and Maria Shriver of the Kennedy Dynasty are rarities. These are perplexing partnerships, because we have intertwined and used proxies for social and economic values: political affiliation. However, let’s look at Marc Mezvinsky and Chelsea Clinton or Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner – these interfaith marriages do not seem as perplexing, because we all assume that they share the same political and economic alignments, which therefore means social values. The list of prominent interfaith marriages can go on, but the list of inter-political couples is short.

Which leads to the question: which values mean more today in a potential partner, religious or political? Yes, there are plenty of people that vote based on their religious convictions, but we aren’t discussing those* people. We are talking about the individuals who evaluate their political positions agnostic of their religious beliefs (no pun intended).

Based on conversations and observations amongst newly married millennials, and those still in the dating world, the political and financial status of a potential partner means more today than religious beliefs. We cannot absolve ourselves (again, no pun intended) of our donkey Republican shirts – they now brand us. They carry significant weight in conversations. For instance, an early 30 year old, single Jewish woman who is determined to marry soon mentions she is willing to give up finding a Jewish guy if it meant getting married. However, it is highly doubtful she would be willing to marry a Republican man. Who knew trickle-down economics would be such a turn-on or turn-off?

Will we see more Mary Matalin and James Carville couples? Or, can we accept the fact that politics is the new religion?

There is no apparent 80/20 rule in this situation. But we could conjure to say: 20% of relationships value religious beliefs while the other 80% are focused on political positions.

*Far-right Christians that value social issues more than any other in an election. Also, disregard the Jews and political position on Israel (that is whole ‘nother discussion).