TIME

The Proven Way to Get What You Need from Your Boss

The Boss mug on a desk
Getty Images

Sometimes, getting ahead is all about feedback

Most of us would probably like if we got regular, useful feedback from our supervisors. Unfortunately, the only thing most of us get that even comes close is the dreaded annual performance review (which studies show up to 90% of us absolutely hate). What if there was a better way to get the feedback you need to do your job better?

That’s where Spencer Harrison, an assistant professor of management at Boston College, comes in. Harrison spent a lot of time observing how people in creative fields — where it’s not as easy to measure performance by, say, sales numbers — get feedback at work and came up with some observations that can benefit the rest of us.

It should be a two-way street. For feedback to be effective, it has to be interactive, which is the exact opposite of how most performance reviews are conducted. “Most organizations don’t structure performance reviews to be interactive,” Harrison says. In other words, this is why you feel like your boss is talking at you rather than with you.

But it usually isn’t. The feedback most people get at work is presented as objective fact rather than a point of view on which you and the boss can build together. “If the information is objective, then you can’t really have an interaction to determine what it means or where it could take you,” Harrison says. “We can only convey so much information if we are engaged in a one-sided conversation.”

You might need to ask for it. “If you can show that you were willing to experiment a bit first and do some hard thinking and then seek feedback, then you are showing that you don’t need hand-holding, you just want help with direction,” Harrison says. After you get that feedback, be thoughtful about incorporating it into your work, he adds. “Honor the feedback giver’s time by really listening and looking for opportunities to use the feedback.”

Bringing the topic up yourself gives you the advantage of being able to shape the questions and steer the direction of the feedback. “That helps them control the conversation a bit more,” Harrison says.

It can’t be personal. Harrison’s research found that feedback works when everybody involved is able to make a clear distinction between the work and the person doing it. “If feedback focuses on the person during that process then they are missing the real target,” he says. Even though it can be hard, try not to internalize criticism of your work and get defensive.

Intention makes a big difference. “Part of the problem is that organizations mix feedback that is meant to mentor and improve with feedback that is meant to evaluate,” Harrison says. This can be confusing and give mixed messages to workers. “The former allows for learning and change and the latter usually does not,” he says.

Both people need to be on the same page. “Part of getting feedback right is understanding the type of work that is being evaluated and making sure the person doing the work and the person evaluating the work have the same assumptions,” Harrison says. Ideally, this should be something that’s ironed out well in advance of a formal review, but since many companies (and bosses) aren’t equipped to offer ongoing feedback, an employee could feel like they’re being blindsided or, worse yet, set up to fail.

It should be ongoing. The problem with the annual performance review lies right in its name: It only happens once a year, and Harrison says effective feedback needs to be a continual process rather than a one-time event.

TIME Gadgets

This Magic Button Delivers Pizza to You and That’s It

Click N' Pizza
La Comanda Click N' Pizza

Dial "P" for pizza

Ever wish you could order a pizza in a click of a button? Your ship has finally come in, thanks to an enterprising Italian startup gambling on an explosion of buttons for popular takeaway items.

The Click’N’Pizza button, which is made by the Milan-based La Comanda, clasps to any refrigerator door and requires a little programming up front. Users can select up to four favorite topping orders on a circular screen. A tap of the button will wirelessly transmit the number one ranked order to a local pizza joint. Users with a bit more patience can use a scroll wheel to select lower ranked orders.

In either case, the button excitedly confirms orders with the message, “Pizza is coming!”

La Comanda founder Carlo Brianza says the company already has a distribution partnership to sell the button at Pizza Hut locations in North America, Yahoo News reports.

“We are starting out in the Pizza delivery market,”says Carlo Brianza, CEO of La Comanda, “but the Click’N’ . . . family can provide a new e-commerce experience for customers in a variety of services, such as coffee pods (Click’N’Coffee), meal options (Click’N’Food), and beverages (Click’N’Drink),”

But they better move fast, because even in this niche market, they already have a competitor: the Pie Pal, a single click button that communicates with Domino’s ordering system.

TIME Careers & Workplace

8 Outstanding Google Tools You Should Know About

The Google Inc. Mobile Wallet application is displayed on a smartphone screen at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Feb. 29, 2012.
Bloomberg via Getty Images The Google Inc. Mobile Wallet application is displayed on a smartphone screen at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Feb. 29, 2012.

Which of these tools and resources can give you the competitive advantage?

Inc. logo

This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

Lately, I’ve been hearing about this little company called Google. Personally, I think there’s a chance that they’ll actually make something of themselves. Call me crazy.

While approximately 101 percent of this article’s readers routinely use Google to find everything from business plan templates to the best places to buy chinchilla food, Google’s moved well past the search niche. In fact, chances are Google offers up a few services you’ve never heard of that might be beneficial to your business. Here are just a few:

1. Google Trends

What it is: A site to discover how popular certain searches have been on Google historically, as well as what’s popular right now.

Why it’s useful: Want to be ahead of the social media zeitgeist? This is a great place to start. It’s a feature-packed site; you can survey trending YouTube videos as well.

Pro tip: Use the optional forecast checkbox to anticipate whether interest in a particular topic is expected to rise over time.

2. Google Cloud Platform

What it is: A platform that allows you to build applications, host websites, analyze data, and much more, via Google’s scalable infrastructure.

Why it’s useful: Similar to Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform is an easy way for entrepreneurs to focus on building their concept, as opposed to worrying about the backend layer. Customers include little-known startups such as Best Buy, Snapchat, Coca-Cola, and Sony Music.

Pro tip: You can get $300 in credit towards a 60-day free trial. Even better: The trial is entirely free; you won’t be billed unless you decide to keep your account after the trial.

3. Google Wallet

What it is: Google Wallet makes it easy to pay–not just online, but in stores too–and it works with any debit or credit card.

Why it’s useful: Paying is made not only seamless: it’s so mobile-friendly that you can make payments while you’re waiting in line.

Pro tip: Owe a colleague money for dinner last night? In Gmail, there’s a new-ish “attach money” icon that will let you send money quickly and easily using Google Wallet.

4. YouTube Trends Dashboard

What it is: A handy tool to figure out what’s trending on YouTube.

Why it’s useful: What are women aged 65 watching? What are men ages 25 to 34 in Cincinnati sharing most often? With the Trends Dashboard, you can tap into the zeitgeist quickly and easily.

Pro tip: Compare the “Most Shared” (across Facebook and Twitter) with “Most Viewed” to get a sense of what content gets viewed often but shared infrequently.

5. Google Bookmarks

What it is: Using the easy browser bookmarklet, save shortcuts to your favorite webpages and navigate to them in seconds, from anywhere.

Why it’s useful: We don’t rely on bookmarks as we used to a decade ago, but they’re still a great way of keeping track of critical links you might need later.

Pro tip: Export your bookmarks with just one click to an HTML page, which you can embed into an external-facing website, style with CSS, or simply share as an email attachment.

6. Google Career Search

What it is: As you might expect, you can use this tool to land a job at Google.

Why it’s useful: Tired of the entrepreneurial life? If you’re looking for something more stable, you can’t do much better than Google.

Pro tip: You can use your Google profile information to help you find jobs relevant to your background.

7. Google Keep

What it is: Google Keep lets you easily jot down whatever’s on your mind via a beautiful, simple interface.

Why it’s useful: Share any one individual note with a collaborator, create to-do lists, drop an image into notes as needed, and organize notes using eight color options.

Pro tip: Don’t want to forget to do something? No problem: You can easily turn any note into a date or location-activated reminder.

8. Display Benchmarks Tool

What it is: Find out how your display advertising campaigns are doing compared with industry averages.

Why it’s useful: Looking to get an understanding of how different ad sizes and formats typically do in head to head competition? This tool lets you get updated industry benchmarks on what’s working and what isn’t.

Pro tip: Running an international campaign? Different rich media formats will work in different countries. This tool will help you figure out, say, which countries have high ad interaction rates (Germany, 5.12) and which are towards the bottom of the pack (New Zealand, 0.82).

TIME deals

Visa Replaces American Express as Costco’s Credit Card

A Visa Inc. credit card sits on top of credit and debit cards arranged for a photograph in Washington on Jan. 29, 2014.
Bloomberg/Getty Images A Visa Inc. credit card sits on top of credit and debit cards arranged for a photograph in Washington on Jan. 29, 2014.

Costco announced that the retailer’s credit card network will be handled by Visa next year, an announcement that comes weeks after it sideswiped Visa rival American Express in a move that ended a 16-year relationship with the retailer.

The retailer, 19th on the Fortune 500, said Citigroup would be the exclusive issuer of Costco’s co-branded credit cards while Visa will be replacing American Express as the credit card network for Costco in the U.S. and Puerto Rico beginning April 1, 2016. Costco, known for issuing sparsely worded press releases, provided few details about the deal with Visa.

The Costco business is a big coup for Visa, as Costco is one of the nation’s largest retailers. Shares of American Express dropped last month after the credit card company announced that its exclusivity deal with the wholesale club retailer was set to expire at the end of March in 2016. As WSJ reported previously, the agreement had driven a big chunk of business for American Express. But when the arrangement ends, millions of customers will be forced to use a different credit card when shopping at Costco.

Losing Costco’s business will dent results at American Express, as that business generated about 8% of the company’s worldwide billed business in 2014. Over 70% of the spending on those accounts occurred outside a Costco warehouse, so business was widely spread. American Express said it did try to win the business, but ultimately it was “unable to agree to terms that would have provided attractive returns for our company and our shareholders.” American Express warned it could book a restructuring charge and potentially cut costs if it isn’t able to generate enough business from other products to offset the lost business associated with the Costco co-branded portfolio.

TIME real estate

These Are America’s Happiest (and Most Miserable) States

alaska-sled-dogs
Getty Images

The ranking illustrates how states perform in the five essential elements of well-being: purpose, social, financial, community, and physical

Alaska led the nation with the highest level of well-being of all states, supplanting North Dakota, which plummeted to 23rd place. West Virginia remains the state with the lowest well-being for the sixth consecutive year.

The 2014 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index measures the well-being of Americans in each state based on interviews conducted between January and December, 2014. This year’s index incorporated a range of metrics categorized into five essential elements of well-being: purpose, social, financial, community, and physical. Based on the well-being index, 24/7 Wall St. examined the states with the highest and lowest scores.

Click here to see the happiest states in America

Click here to see the most miserable states in America

While Gallup’s index is based in part on subjective survey measures, the respondents’ perceptions are often closely tied to outcomes. According to Dan Witters, research director of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, well-being is closely linked to economic indicators and societal outcomes, such as median household income and teen pregnancy rates.

Witters explained that the five essential elements of well-being are interwoven, and a high score in one category can lead to a high score in another. However, this was not guaranteed by any means. All of the 10 happiest states rated better than most in the purpose category, which measures how much residents like their day-to-day lives and how motivated they are to meet their goals. However, in other categories, such as the financial element of well-being, two of the top states overall fared worse than most states.

Physical health, which together with healthy behaviors, was part of the physical element of well-being this year, is an especially important factor contributing to happiness, according to Witters. In fact, examination of healthy behaviors and outcomes measured by government data suggest this is the case.
In states with high well-being scores, residents were less likely to smoke and more likely to exercise regularly. Residents in nine of the happiest states were more likely than most Americans to have an exercise routine of some kind. All but one of the states with the lowest well-being, on the other hand, had more physically inactive residents compared to the national average.

The states with the highest well-being also enjoyed the positive outcomes of healthy behaviors, including lower obesity rates and smaller incidences of other common health problems, while in general the opposite was true for the states with the lowest well-being. High cholesterol, high blood pressure, as well as heart disease-related deaths were all far more common in the states with the lowest well-being.

While money certainly does not buy happiness, financial well-being plays a significant role in happiness. All of the most miserable states had median household incomes far below the national median income of $52,250 in 2013. However, the median household income in only half of the happiest states exceeded the national median income.

The states with the happiest residents also had relatively low unemployment rates, and people reported relatively few days of poor mental health. The unemployment rates in all of the 10 happiest states was less than the national rate of 7.4% in 2013. And nine of these states reported fewer monthly poor mental health days than the national average.

A regional pattern is also evident. According to Witters, while the top and bottom states change regularly from one year to the next, they tend to be in similar parts of the country. Witters said states in New England, the Northern Plains and Mountain West regions, as well as Alaska and Hawaii, generally and regularly report very good well-being. Low well-being, on the other hand, is found “around the Bible Belt…the South and heading north up through the industrial midwest.” Witters described this as “a very consistent pattern.”

“The thing about those southern states,” he said, “that really hurts them is that they do a lousy job taking care of themselves.”

24/7 Wall St. reviewed all 50 U.S. states based on their scores in the Gallup-Healthways 2014 Well-Being Index. Gallup-Healthways calculated a national well-being score as well as one for each state based on interviews conducted between January 2 and December 30, 2014, with a random sample of 176,702 adults. As part of the rank, Gallup combined five separate essential elements of well-being. In addition to the index, 24/7 Wall St. considered data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey, including median household income, poverty rates, and adult educational attainment rates. From the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we reviewed annual state unemployment rates and median hours worked among, both from 2013. We also reviewed 2013 obesity and teen pregnancy rates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Incidence of heart disease in 2013 is from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The share of the population with low incomes and low access to healthy food comes from the Department of Agriculture’s Food Environment Atlas. Low access is defined as living more than one mile from a supermarket in an urban area or more than 10 miles from a supermarket in a rural area. We also considered state violent crime rates in 2013 from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report Program. Lastly, we used 2012 regional price parity from the Bureau of Economic Analysis as a proxy for cost of living. All other data come from the United Health Foundation’s 2014 report “America’s Health Rankings”.

These are the happiest (and most miserable) states in America.

The Happiest States in America

10. Texas
> Poverty rate: 17.5% (13th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.3% (17th lowest)
> Obesity rate: 30.9% (15th highest)
> Poor mental health days (last 30 days): 3.2 (9th lowest)

Based on the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, Texas residents had the 10th highest well-being in the nation. Texas residents were among the most likely to be content with their jobs and be motivated to achieve their goals, with the state ranking second in the purpose category, one of five elements of well-being in Gallup’s Index. Texans worked 36.3 hours per week in 2013, the most nationwide. This may reflect in part Texans’ motivation and workplace satisfaction. Texans were not especially healthy, however, with an obesity rate of nearly 31% in 2013 and relatively few residents reporting routine exercise. More than 22% of residents did not have health insurance in 2013, the worst rate nationwide, which may have made it more difficult for Texans than most Americans to get the medical care they need. Despite these poor physical health indicators, nearly 71% of adolescents in the state were vaccinated in 2013, one of the higher rates, and less than 16% of adults were smokers, one of the lower smoking rates reviewed.

ALSO READ: The Worst Paying Jobs for Women

9. New Mexico
> Poverty rate: 21.9% (2nd highest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.9% (24th highest)
> Obesity rate: 26.4% (13th lowest)
> Poor mental health days (last 30 days): 3.7 (24th lowest)

Unlike most states with the happiest residents, a typical household in New Mexico had relatively low income in 2013, earning a median of less than $44,000. The median national household income was $52,250 that year. New Mexico also had an exceptionally high poverty rate, at nearly 22% in 2013, the second highest nationwide. While many New Mexico residents struggled with financial burdens, they tended to be in relatively good physical health. For example, the obesity rate of 26.4% was among the lower rates in the nation. Residents reported relatively few cases of high blood pressure and high cholesterol as well, which likely contributed to a lower incidence of heart disease. There were 147 heart disease-related deaths per 100,000 people in 2013, the 10th lowest such rate in the country. On Gallup’s survey, New Mexicans rated their physical health and habits fifth best in the country.

8. Utah
> Poverty rate: 12.7% (14th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 4.4% (4th lowest)
> Obesity rate: 24.1% (4th lowest)
> Poor mental health days (last 30 days): 3.5 (18th lowest)

Utah is one of only a few states where less than one-quarter of adults were obese in 2013. Residents were also the least likely in the nation to report high blood pressure and high cholesterol that year. Utah residents generally reported healthy behaviors, which likely helped contribute to the good health outcomes and the state’s high well-being. Utah adults were the least likely to be smokers, with only 10.3% reporting the habit in 2013. Traditionally low smoking rates may have helped Utah residents stay healthy and out of the hospital. Between 2010 and 2012, there were less than 146 cancer-related deaths per 100,000 people, the lowest rate nationwide. In addition to strong physical health, Utah residents also liked where they lived, felt safe, and reported having pride in their community — the state ranked seventh in the nation in Gallup’s community element of well-being. Like most states scoring well in this category, Utah’s violent crime rate of 209 incidents per 100,000 people in 2013 was among the lowest in the country.

7. Nebraska
> Poverty rate: 13.2% (17th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 3.9% (3rd lowest)
> Obesity rate: 29.6% (24th highest)
> Poor mental health days (last 30 days): 3.0 (6th lowest)

With an unemployment rate of 3.9% in 2013, the third lowest nationwide, Nebraska residents had the benefit of a relatively strong job market. Nebraskans were also more likely than most Americans to feel content with their jobs, rating their day-to-day contentment and motivation to meet goals — part of the purpose element of well-being — the seventh best nationwide. Workers also reported having just three poor mental health days per month in 2013, the sixth-lowest figure nationwide. While the median household income in Nebraska was slightly lower than the national figure, the cost of living was considerably more affordable than most states. As in most of the happiest states, Nebraska is also a relatively safe state. There were approximately 252 violent crimes per 100,000 people in 2013, one of the lower rates in the country.

6. Colorado
> Poverty rate: 13.0% (16th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.8% (25th highest)
> Obesity rate: 21.3% (the lowest)
> Poor mental health days (last 30 days): 3.3 (11th lowest)

Colorado retained its 2013 standing on the list of happiest states, with a particularly high ranking in the physical element of well-being this year. The state had the lowest diabetes rate of all states, ranked second lowest in the percentage of the population with high blood pressure, and ranked third lowest in the percentage of residents with high cholesterol. The state also had the lowest obesity rate in the country, at 21.3% of the adult population. Residents were also relatively well-off financially. The state’s 2013 median household income of $58,823 was the 12th highest in the country. In addition, only 8.6% of Colorado households received food stamp benefits in 2013. Colorado households also had better access to services such the Internet, as 79.4% of residents reported having a broadband Internet subscription, the fourth highest percentage in the country.

ALSO READ: States Smoking the Most Smuggled Cigarettes

5. Montana
> Poverty rate: 16.5% (19th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 5.6% (14th lowest)
> Obesity rate: 24.6% (6th lowest)
> Poor mental health days (last 30 days): 3.3 (11th lowest)

As in most states with the happiest residents, Montanans were well educated. Nearly 93% had completed at least high school as of 2013, the third highest rate and considerably higher than the national rate of 86.6%. Montana residents were in exceptionally good physical health, which likely significantly contributed to happiness. Less than one-quarter were obese in 2013, for example, the sixth-lowest rate nationwide. Residents also had relatively low rates of diabetes and high blood pressure. Residents were not especially wealthy, however, earning a median household income of $46,972 in 2013, lower than the national figure of $52,250.

For the rest of the list, please go to 24/7WallStreet.com.

TIME technology

Ikea Furniture Will Soon Charge Your Phone

Ikea
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images A sign is posted on the exterior of an IKEA store on June 26, 2014 in Emeryville, Calif.

No need to waste time looking for your phone charger: some new Ikea furniture will be able to charge your phone wirelessly beginning in April, the company announced Sunday.

The wireless charging stations, designed by the Wireless Power Consortium, will be integrated into pieces like desks, tables and lamps using a technology standard called Qi Wireless. The company will also sell an add-on kit that allows people to add wireless charging to existing furniture. Buying a wireless-charging-integrated product will cost €30 ($33) extra, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“Through research and home visits, we know that people hate cable mess,” said Jeanette Skjelmose, a corporate manager at Ikea. “They worry about not finding the charger and running out of power. Our new innovative solutions, which integrate wireless charging into home furnishings, will make life at home simpler.”

But will it work with your phone? Yes, if you have a Samsung Galaxy, Google Nexus 6 or one a few other phones. But Apple fans beware: it doesn’t work with the iPhone.

Read next: The Galaxy S6 Is Samsung’s Best-Looking Smartphone Yet

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME leadership

3 Books Every Leader Should Read to Be Successful

Frank Gehry has selected personal favorites for his 'Curated Bookshelf' at Louis Vuitton's London flagship. The shelf is located in the first-floor librarie.
Jessica Klingelfuss

Teachings from the best in the business world

As an employee, you function mostly as a solitary unit. You do your part, produce your “output,” and the work is done. But as a manager (or more precisely, a leader—managers manage tasks, leaders lead people), everything changes. Your success is no longer about your own output, it’s about other people’s — the most important work you do is often what enables other people to do their jobs. But finding your way can be difficult. So in honor of National Book Month, here are three books that every leader should read to succeed.

High Output Management by Andy Grove

Key points: Grove’s book, reflecting on his time as Intel CEO in the 1970s, remains relevant today because of the basic principles it outlines: As a leader, you are an enabler of others. Your team’s performance, not your own output, is what you are judged on. Grove also shares five key things that should inform and govern your time: decision making, information gathering, information sharing, nudging and role modeling. If you are spending significant time doing things outside of those five key areas, it might be worth rethinking your schedule.

Best quote: “The art of management lies in the capacity to select from the many activities of seemingly comparable significance the one or two or three that provide leverage well beyond the others and concentrate on them.”

Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? Inside IBM’s Historic Turnaround by Lou Gerstner

Key points: Compared to High Output Management, which can read a little like a textbook, Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? is practically a thriller. Gerstner’s well-known memoir about the turnaround of IBM is a vibrant book on leadership during a challenging time. It’s about transformation. Gerstner touches on the importance of speed and a clearly communicated set of principles—especially across a company as large as IBM was at the time. Gerstner also talks about the issues big companies run into with mid-level talent: “People do what you inspect, not what you expect.”

Best quote: “I came to see, in my time at IBM, that culture isn’t just one aspect of the game, it is the game. In the end, an organization is nothing more than the collective capacity of its people to create value.”

The Amazon Way: 14 Leadership Principles Behind the World’s Most Disruptive Company by John Rossman

Key points: This is by far the easiest read of the three in this post, but it’s also the most effective at providing prescriptive and actionable leadership advice. Rossman, a former Amazon executive, decodes a lot of the behind the scenes at Amazon and points to what is most important at a company that complex: decision making and ownership. The owner of a project or product doesn’t have to be the most senior person at the organization. In fact, it can be a very junior person. But this person is the sole person responsible for the project’s outcome.

Best quote: “Amazon.com employees quickly learn that the phrase ‘That’s not my job’ is an express ticket to an exit interview.”

Have your own favorite leadership books? I’d love to hear them—tweet at me @cschweitz.

Read next: 4 Biggest Myths About Being a Great Leader

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

MONEY Careers

The Suddenly Hot Job Market for Workers Over 50

Barclay's bank
Dominic Lipinski—PA Wire/Press Association Images

More companies are recognizing the value of mature workers—and they're starting to hire them.

Things are finally looking up for older workers.

The latest data show the unemployment rate for those over age 55 stands at just 4.1%, compared with 5.7% for the total population and a steep 18.8% for teens. The ranks of the long-term unemployed, which ballooned during the recession as mature workers lost their jobs, are coming down. Age-discrimination charges have fallen for six consecutive years. And now, as the job market lurches back to life, more companies are wooing the silver set with formal retraining programs.

This is not to say that older workers have it easy. Overall, the long-term unemployment rate remains stubbornly high—31.5%. And even though age-discrimination charges have declined they remain at peak pre-recession levels. Meanwhile, critics note that some corporate re-entry programs are not a great deal, paying little or no salary and distracting workers from seeking full-time gainful employment.

Still, the big picture is one of improving opportunity for workers past age 50. That’s welcome news for many reasons, not least is that those who lose their job past age 58 are at greater health risk and, on average, lose three years of life expectancy. Meanwhile, older workers are a bigger piece of the labor force. Two decades ago, less than a third of people age 55 and over were employed or looking for work. Today, the share is 40%, according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve.

AARP and others have long argued that older workers are reliable, flexible, experienced and possess valuable institutional knowledge. Increasingly, employers seem to want these traits.

This spring, the global bank Barclays will expand its apprenticeship program and begin looking at candidates past age 50. The bank will consider mature workers from unrelated fields, saying the only experience they need is practical experience. The bank says this is no PR stunt; it values older workers who have life experience and can better relate to customers seeking a mortgage or auto loan. With training, the bank believes they would make good, full-time, fairly compensated loan officers.

Already, Barclays has a team of tech-savvy older workers in place to help mature customers with online banking. The new apprenticeship program builds on this effort to capitalize on the life skills of experienced employees.

Others have tiptoed into this space. Goldman Sachs started a “returnship” in the throes of the recession. But the program is only a 10-week retraining exercise, with competitive pay, and highly selective. About 2% of applicants get accepted. It is not designed as a gateway to full-time employment at Goldman, though some older interns end up with job offers at the bank.

The nonprofit Encore.org offers mature workers a one-year fellowship, typically in a professional capacity at another nonprofit, to help mature workers re-enter the job market. Again, this is a temporary arrangement and pays just $25,000.

But a growing number of organizations—the National Institutes of Health, Stanley Consultants, and Michelin North America, among many others—embrace a seasoned workforce and have programs designed to attract and keep workers past 50. Companies with internship programs for older workers include PwC, Regeneron, Harvard Business School, MetLife and McKinsey. Find a longer list at irelaunch.com. And get back in the game.

Read next: These Workers Landed Cool and Unusual Retirement Jobs—Here’s How

TIME Careers & Workplace

3 Morning Routines That Will Improve Your Day

coffee
Getty Images

Try one once a week for the next month and see how your days could be different

The Muse logo

This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

Many of you probably have morning routines similar to my standard one: Hear the alarm ring, wake up in a fog and hit snooze a couple times, finally get out of bed, rush through some combination of getting-ready activities, maybe grab some food, and then head out the door

Not the most exciting. And, no matter what yours is, well, it’s a routine. And, while doing the same things morning after morning is often necessary, it’s also not the most inspiring way to get your day going.

So, last Friday I decided to try something different. I woke up an hour earlier than I usually do to go to DAYBREAKER, an event held in cities around the world that is dedicated to “starting your day off unlike anything else” by holding a sober dance party at 7 AM.

It was an adventure. And while the event itself was nice, what was really great was the notion of swapping out my standard morning drudgery for something a little different and, dare I say, fun. While I was definitely tired the rest of the day (see: waking up an hour earlier), I also came into the office feeling more refreshed, sharper, and like I had a little creative spark that I didn’t have after my standard subway commute.

Even if you don’t have DAYBREAKER in your city (or aren’t really the dance party type), there are plenty of ways you can shake up your morning for a more inspired workday. Try one once a week for the next month and see how your days could be different.

1. Have That Coffee Meeting First Thing

I tried this once recently as well, and it totally transformed my morning. There was someone I had been looking to meet up with for a little networking coffee and, instead of trying to squeeze it in during work hours or meeting up when I’m tired at the end of the day, we decided to meet first thing in the morning. Instead of starting my day sorting through my inbox, I had a lovely conversation and made a new connection—and I was still in the office before 10. Not only did I come into the workday with ideas swimming through my head, I was in a much better mood than if my only morning social interaction had been with my grumpy neighbor on the subway.

Nobody you’re trying to network with? Try just getting up early to go out to breakfast with a friend, SO, or even co-worker. You’ll strengthen relationships andstart your day off a little differently.

2. Listen to a Podcast While You Wake Up

I don’t listen to a ton of podcasts, but I want to get more into them. I also have a really hard time pulling my brain out of the sleep fog and my body out of the cozy bed in the morning—but I don’t just want to let myself fall back asleep and into the snooze cycle.

So, one night, I queued up an interesting-sounding podcast, and as soon as my alarm went off the next morning, I rolled over and groggily pushed play. This week I’m listening to the “Bored and Brilliant Challenge” and by the time the five-minute podcast episode was over, my brain was fully on and feeling inspired, and I was ready to get my day going. For longer podcasts, I’ll often get up five or 10 minutes in and finish the episode while I get ready or during my commute in.

The right podcast will be able to teach you something new, inform a challenge you’re working on, or just get you thinking—so why not do this right from the start?

3. Create Something

Instead of reaching for your phone to read the news first thing, reach for a pencil and paper. Or a little piece of clay. Or even ingredients to make yourself a tasty breakfast.

Then write. Draw. Shape or make something. Play a little music. It doesn’t have to take long, and it doesn’t have to be big—or even good, for that matter—but you’ll be starting your day by engaging a part of your brain that many of us don’t get to work with often. And I have a hunch it will help you see the rest of your day in a different light.

It’s ideal to use your hands (and not your screens) to wake yourself up gently, but if you’re not really an artsy person, try waking up early to dedicate time to a side project before work. Do some coding. Write a post for your blog. Whatever it is, it will probably make you even more inspired to wake up—and start your day with something you’re excited about.

This is just the start—there are plenty of ways to shake up your morning and jumpstart your day. Tweet us @dailymuse if you have a morning non-routine that you love!

More from The Muse:

TIME Companies

Warren Buffett Says He’s Found a Successor — But Won’t Say Who

Warren Buffett
Nati Harnik—AP Billionaire investor Warren Buffett speaks in Omaha, Neb., Nov. 14, 2011. Buffett's annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders is always one of the best-read business documents of the year. The 2015 letter marks the 50th year of Buffett's leadership.

“Both the board and I believe we now have the right person to succeed me as CEO"

Warren Buffett’s successor is in the house. But that’s all the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway is saying.

Once again, in this year annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, Buffett has not unmasked who the next CEO will be. But he does say as definitively as ever that the person has been picked and he has revealed a little bit more about who he is. (Buffett has already confirmed in the past that the next CEO of Berkshire will be a man.)

That’s more than Buffett has said in the past. But the fact that, once again, the next CEO of Berkshire has not been named may come as a disappointment to some.

This year’s letter is the 50th Buffett has written as the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. And, as promised, a section of the letter is titled, “The Next 50 Years at Berkshire.” Some had speculated that meant Buffett would take the opportunity to name his successor. Some have said the fact that he hasn’t has been a drag on the company’s stock in the past, though it’s hard to see evidence of that. Berkshire’s shares were up 27% in 2014, about double the market in general.

In his clearest statement on the subject so far, Buffett writes in this year’s letter, “Both the board and I believe we now have the right person to succeed me as CEO – a successor ready to assume the job the day after I die or step down.”

In previous annual letters, Buffett has said that Berkshire’s board knows who he would pick for CEO should that person be needed immediately. But he has left the door open to changing his mind later on. Buffett now appears appears to have closed that door.

Buffett also says for the first time that the next CEO of Berkshire will be someone who already works at the company. He says that was a requirement of Berkshire directors. In the past, Buffett has said only that his pick for the next CEO of Berkshire is someone the company could put into that position in a flash, not that his chosen successor was already an employee of the company.

Buffett also puts a very loose age range on the next CEO. He writes in this year’s letter that Berkshire’s directors believe the next CEO should be someone relatively young, who can be expected to run the company for at least 10 years. But Buffett says he doesn’t expect the board to pick someone who is likely to retire at 65, giving some wiggle room to how “relatively young” this person may be.

Buffett also says that his successor will be “vigilant and determined” at warding off the “ABCs of business decay, which are arrogance, bureaucracy and complacency.” Buffett says those are the three sins that have brought down companies that once sat “atop huge industries” but through bad behavior fell to depths their CEOs didn’t think possible. It’s noteworthy that Buffett includes General Motors GM -0.67% and IBM IBM 0.67% in that group, two stocks that are currently in Berkshire’s portfolio.

So, there you have it. Berkshire’s next CEO will be a 55-ish man who currently works at Berkshire and is not prone to mucking up what Buffett has built over the past 50 years. If you fit that description, congrats!

In the past, Berkshire watchers have kept a careful watch on which top lieutenants gets the most mentions in Buffett’s annual letter. This year, the clear winner is Ajit Jain, who runs Berkshire Hathaway’s largest insurance division. “[Jain’s] mind, moreover, is an idea factory,” Buffett writes in the letter. But at 63, Jain may be a little too old for the job, if Buffett sticks to his prescribed age range.

Todd Combs and Ted Weschler, Buffett’s back up investment managers, get a mention in the letter and praise for their investing abilities. And Buffett says he has handed over a bit more control to them. Buffett says both managers have been given one of Berkshire’s smaller companies to look after and both are taking on the title of chairman of those firms. But, unlike in previous years, Buffett says nothing about the performance of Combs and Weschler’s investments in 2014. Fortune calculated that both lagged the market for the first time since joining Berkshire.

Buffett makes no mention in this year’s letter of Matt Rose, the chairman of BNSF, who Buffett has praised in previous letters and some have speculated is a front runner for the CEO job. Perhaps that’s ecause BNSF had a disappointing 2014, or perhaps Rose, 55, is out of the running. Only Buffett, and Berkshire’s board, knows.

This article was originally published on Fortune.com

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser