TIME Careers & Workplace

10 Small Things You Can Do Every Day to Get Smarter

Brain
Science Photo Library/Corbis

Intelligence is a work in progress. Maximize yours with these simple habits


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.

By Jessica Stillman

You might be under the impression that intelligence is a fixed quantity set when you are young and unchanging thereafter. But research shows that you’re wrong. How we approach situations and the things we do to feed our brains can significantly improve our mental horsepower.

That could mean going back to school or fillingng your bookshelves (or e-reader) with thick tomes on deep subjects, but getting smarter doesn’t necessarily mean a huge commitment of time and energy, according to a recent thread on question-and-answer site Quora.

When a questioner keen on self-improvement asked the community, “What would you do to be a little smarter every single day?” lots of readers–including dedicated meditators, techies, and entrepreneurs–weighed in with useful suggestions. Which of these 10 ideas can you fit into your daily routine?

1. Be smarter about your online time.

Every online break doesn’t have to be about checking social networks and fulfilling your daily ration of cute animal pics. The Web is also full of great learning resources, such as online courses, intriguing TED talks, and vocabulary-building tools. Replace a few minutes of skateboarding dogs with something more mentally nourishing, suggest several responders.

2. Write down what you learn.

It doesn’t have to be pretty or long, but taking a few minutes each day to reflect in writingabout what you learned is sure to boost your brainpower. “Write 400 words a day on things that you learned,” suggests yoga teacher Claudia Azula Altucher. Mike Xie, a research associate at Bayside Biosciences, agrees: “Write about what you’ve learned.”

3. Make a ‘did’ list.

A big part of intelligence is confidence and happiness, so boost both by pausing to list not the things you have yet to do, but rather all the things you’ve already accomplished. The idea of a “done list” is recommended by famed VC Marc Andreessen as well as Azula Altucher. “Make an I DID list to show all the things you, in fact, accomplished,” she suggests.

4. Get out the Scrabble board.

Board games and puzzles aren’t just fun but also a great way to work out your brain. “Play games (Scrabble, bridge, chess, Go, Battleship, Connect 4, doesn’t matter),” suggests Xie (for a ninja-level brain boost, exercise your working memory by trying to play without looking at the board). “Play Scrabble with no help from hints or books,” concurs Azula Altucher.

5. Have smart friends.

It can be rough on your self-esteem, but hanging out with folks who are more clever than you is one of the fastest ways to learn. “Keep a smart company. Remember your IQ is the average of five closest people you hang out with,” Saurabh Shah, an account manager at Symphony Teleca, writes.

“Surround yourself with smarter people,” agrees developer Manas J. Saloi. “I try to spend as much time as I can with my tech leads. I have never had a problem accepting that I am an average coder at best and there are many things I am yet to learn…Always be humble and be willing to learn.”

6. Read a lot.

OK, this is not a shocker, but it was the most common response: Reading definitely seems essential. Opinions vary on what’s the best brain-boosting reading material, with suggestions ranging from developing a daily newspaper habit to picking up a variety offiction and nonfiction, but everyone seems to agree that quantity is important. Read a lot.

7. Explain it to others.

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough,” Albert Einstein said. The Quora posters agree. Make sure you’ve really learned what you think you have learned and that the information is truly stuck in your memory by trying to teach it to others. “Make sure you can explain it to someone else,” Xie says simply.

Student Jon Packles elaborates on this idea: “For everything you learn–big or small–stick with it for at least as long as it takes you to be able to explain it to a friend. It’s fairly easy to learn new information. Being able to retain that information and teach others is far more valuable.”

8. Do random new things.

Shane Parrish, keeper of the consistently fascinating Farnam Street blog, tells the story of Steve Jobs’ youthful calligraphy class in his response on Quora. After dropping out of school, the future Apple founder had a lot of time on his hands and wandered into a calligraphy course. It seemed irrelevant at the time, but the design skills he learned were later baked into the first Macs. The takeaway: You never know what will be useful ahead of time. You just need to try new things and wait to see how they connect with the rest of your experiences later on.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future,” Parrish quotes Jobs as saying. In order to have dots to connect, you need to be willing to try new things–even if they don’t seem immediately useful or productive.

9. Learn a new language.

No, you don’t need to become quickly fluent or trot off to a foreign country to master the language of your choosing. You can work away steadily from the comfort of your desk and still reap the mental rewards. “Learn a new language. There are a lot of free sites for that. UseLivemocha or Busuu,” says Saloi (personally, I’m a big fan of Memrise once you have the basic mechanics of a new language down).

10. Take some downtime.

It’s no surprise that dedicated meditator Azula Altucher recommends giving yourself space for your brain to process what it’s learned–”sit in silence daily,” she writes–but she’s not the only responder who stresses the need to take some downtime from mental stimulation. Spend some time just thinking, suggests retired cop Rick Bruno. He pauses the interior chatter while exercising. “I think about things while I run (almost every day),” he reports.

Do you have any suggestions to add to the list?

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The Top 5 Reasons Small Businesses Fail

5 Often Quoted Tips for Powerful Presentations

7 Things Well-Liked People Always Do

TIME career

10 of the Most Under-Appreciated Professions

David Zweig's book Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion

Everything from perfumers to ghost writers to UN interpreters

Your job may not be as thankless as you think it is—at least maybe not when you compare it to this list. All of these professions have one thing in common: no one usually notices them until something goes wrong.

According to a new book by David Zweig, Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion, the most successful people with these careers share three common traits: “ambivalence toward recognition,” “meticulousness,” and “savoring of responsibility.” In other words, people who do these jobs well don’t care that you don’t know their names because they take pride in their work being done well. What a concept.

Thanks to their shared ambivalence, here are 10 under-appreciated professions that you might never have heard of:

Wayfinders

Have you ever taken note of the impressive signage at an airport? Probably not because when “wayfinders” do their job well, you’re able to arrive at the baggage claim or arrivals terminal seamlessly thanks to their system of signs, which are each designed with a specific color, font, or shape in mind to help you arrive at your destination.

Cinematographers

The Academy Awards gives out an Oscar for outstanding cinematography, but you probably used that part of the show as your snack break. Also known as the “Director of Photography” or “DP,” cinematographers are in charge of lighting the sets of movies and television series. The precision needed to do it well requires a meticulous and intelligent mind—as long as it belongs to a person who doesn’t mind staying out of the director’s spotlight.

Perfumers

People don’t usually pick up their Chanel No. 5 and wonder who calibrated the exact combination of ingredients needed to create that scent. However, that is the work of perfumers, or “noses” as they’re known in their industry. They work tirelessly to ensure that the fragrance matches the brand, and the more invisible they are, the more credit (and money) the brand receives.

Structural Engineers

Most people have never heard of Dennis Poon, but by 2020, he will have designed the structure for ten of the twenty tallest buildings in the world. Poon is a structural engineer, which means that his meticulous work allows a building to stand. While most of the credit for a building’s structure (if any is doled out) goes to the architect, Poon is more than happy to stay in the shadows.

Guitar technicians

Pete Clements, known as Plank, makes possible the sound magic of the world-famous band Radiohead as their chief guitar technician. Fans do not often consider the man behind the English rock band’s many effects pedals for their three guitars, but they certainly would if even one step was missed, which could throw off the entire sound system. Luckily, Plank takes much pride in his invisible work and does it well.

UN Interpreters

Possibly the most famous (infamous, actually) interpreter to date was Thamsanqa Jantjie, who attracted global negative attention after he fake-signed Nelson Mandela’s memorial service. That’s because when simultaneous interpreters, such as the UN’s Giulia Wilkins Ary, do their job well, they slip entirely below the radar. However, without Wikins Ary and her colleagues’ work, which research has shown to be one of the most grueling tasks a mind can take on, very little could get done at the international headquarters.

Graphic designers

The importance of this profession made national headlines in 2000, when the poor design of Florida’s presidential ballot confused voters and likely cost Al Gore the election. Theresa LePore, who created the misleading ballot, received hate mail and death threats, but she also brought attention to the silent art and brilliance of many successful graphic designers.

Anesthesiologists

While more people have heard of anesthesiologists, Dr. Joseph Meltzer of UCLA points out in Invisibles that they often aren’t the ones receiving the “fruit baskets” when a surgery goes particularly well. “It’s funny how on TV the surgeon is the leader of the OR, but in reality, during an emergency they’re often the ones freaking out, looking to me for assurance,” said Dr. Albert Scarmato of New Jersey. To excel in this field, one must epitomize the first of the three traits: ambivalence toward recognition.

Understudies

The role of the understudy got somewhat of a bad rap from the 1950 movie All About Eve, in which Eve Harrington schemes her way from understudy to lead actress. Zweig shows how understudies can take pride in being a part of a production, regardless of whether they ever step in front of the audience. But acting and the understudy’s lack of recognition seem directly at odds, which is why award-winning actor and director Ray Vitta said, “It’s not for the faint of heart.”

Ghost Writers

Did you think that celebrities like Serena Williams or Ed Koch wrote their own books? Although they are often largely assisted by talented ghost writers, it is often just the star’s name that appears on the cover. “To me it doesn’t matter,” said ghost writer Daniel Paisner. “It’s the joy of the work and the accomplishment that rewards me.” And I’m sure Serena and Ed are grateful for that, too.

You can read more from Zweig here.

MONEY Careers

How to Convert a Summer Internship Into a Full-Time Job

Employee walking through office building security gate
Igor Emmerich—Getty Images

Start laying the groundwork now for your first step into the working world, says career coach Caroline Ceniza-Levine.

Now that we’re past the mid-point of summer, it’s time to start planning how to turn that summer placement into a full-time stay. (Parents of summer interns, talk to your kids about this now!)

Even those who are interning just to experiment with the field should still act as if they want a full-time job. This way, if you do decide you like it there, you will have done your best to land an offer; if it turns out you don’t want to continue, you’ll be poised for a great reference elsewhere.

Here are five steps to take to position yourself for an offer at the end of your internship. These tips also apply to temporary staff looking to become permanent, as well.

1. Focus on the job you have. When I ran internship programs and temp/ freelance placement, I would always see a handful of hires who were so focused on converting to a permanent job that they spent more time lobbying for their next placement than focusing on the one they had. This is a big mistake. If you can’t do what’s already given to you, you won’t get more (and for the worst offenders, you might find yourself with an earlier end date). You must willingly, excitedly, and accurately do what is asked of you. You always volunteer for more and become known for being a generous, collaborative team player. You double-check your work and earn a reputation of being someone who minds the details. You get the job done, and people see that you always complete your work on time—or even early. You do your job well, so that another one (perhaps that permanent offer) is waiting in the wings for you at the end of your current placement.

2. Confirm the process. While your current job is priority numero uno, you still want to pay attention to next steps—that is, how does conversion to a full-time offer actually work at this firm. Many companies use their internship program and their temporary hiring as an entry point to full-time employment. Employers take it as a positive sign of interest when you inquire about the steps you need to take to be considered for full-time employment. Some companies have a formalized process, including a mid-internship and/or end-of-internship evaluation. Ask for this evaluation form— you want to know the criteria you will be judged on. If the process is more informal, ask your manager or the HR person who hired you what they would recommend you do—perhaps they’ll say to check in a few weeks before your end date or simply to submit for posted jobs on the company site.

3. Get regular feedback. Even if your company offers a structured evaluation process, you need to ask for regular feedback. Don’t wait for the middle of your internship or temp assignment either; ask for a weekly review of how you’re doing, especially in the first few weeks of your stay. You don’t know the company or your manager well enough to accurately gauge performance expectations. Asking for direct and candid feedback will ensure you can nip any problems in the bud. Even if you’re doing a great job, feedback is essential so you can do more of whatever it is that your manager thinks highly of. You also line up evidence of good performance for when you ask for that full-time job later on.

4. Attend company-wide events (or make your own). Make an effort to meet people outside your immediate department. You might love your group and they might want to hire you, but what if there is no full-time position there? Many companies organize internship programming, which may include networking events to mingle with people from around the company or panel discussions that feature senior management or even new hires. If you’re temping, pay attention to any company-wide town halls or mixers you can attend. If none of these events are offered, ask your manager if you can be introduced to different parts of the company so that you can learn more. If you’re doing a great job, your manager will appreciate your interest.

5. Ask for the job. As you near the end of your short-term stay, tell your manager and/or HR contact that you’re interested in a full-time position (remember to confirm the process so that you know exactly whom to ask and when). People are busy, and if there is no formal process, they may dilly dally on what needs to be done to extend your time there. For students who won’t be taking full-time jobs till after the next academic semester or year, the company may overlook putting you in the system or confirming an offer for after you graduate. Sure, you can negotiate a full-time offer and process the details after you leave, but it’s so much easier and more seamless while you’re already in the company. You’re front of mind. You’re already in the payroll system. Don’t just leave before trying to finalize the conversion to full-time.

__________

Caroline Ceniza-Levine is co-founder of SixFigureStart®career coaching. She has worked with professionals from American Express, Condé Nast, Gilt, Goldman Sachs, Google, McKinsey, and other leading firms. She’s also a stand-up comic. This column will appear weekly.

Read more from Caroline Ceniza-Levine:

How to Network in Just 5 Minutes a Day

How Making a Friend in HR Can Help Your Career

10 Easy Ways to Make Yourself More Hireable

Your Career is Your Biggest Asset. 5 Ways to Protect It

TIME career

Why It’s Hard for Women to Promote Other Women

Digital Vision—Getty Images

Promoting diversity in the workplace could be detrimental to your career, according to a new study that will be presented at the Academy of Management’s annual meeting in August.

The study wants to figure out why white men currently hold 85% of leadership positions at Fortune 500 companies.

Researchers at the University of Colorado found that women and non-whites who advocate hiring their counterparts are penalized in their performance reviews. Those who promote women and non-whites fall victim to negative stereotypes outlined in the study: Women are perceived as “less warm” while non-white are seen as “less competent.”

The researchers surveyed 362 executives ranging from the banking sector to consumer products and food. Those in the upper 15% for dedication to diversity averaged a performance rating of 3.76 on a scale from one to five, with five as the highest score. However, a decline in promoting diversity led to an increased performance rating.

Diversity promotion had the opposite effect for white men, who receive higher ratings when promoting diversity in the workplace. Despite this, minorities and women were given higher performance ratings when they advocated hiring a white man.

“People are perceived as selfish when they advocate for someone who looks like them, unless they’re a white man,” David Hekman, an author of the study, told the Wall Street Journal.

One reason the “glass ceiling”(as the University of Colorado researchers phrase it) exists for women and non-whites in the corporate world is because any promotion of diversity hinders their own performance ratings. The resulting social construction proves to be one that is difficult to overcome.

TIME career

Here’s a Really Original Way to Quit a Soul-Crushing Job

A young lawyer finally gets up the courage to quit her job and follow her creative passion--cartooning. Here's how she did it.

It’s a familiar story: the graduate who takes the safe route after college – going along an established career path to a comfortable job, and maybe letting some former passions fall by the wayside. One day they wake up and realize that they never play the guitar any more, or they don’t write as much as they used to, and suddenly their job doesn’t seem so fulfilling.

What isn’t so familiar is when people actually do something about their regrets. Catherine, a New York lawyer in her early 30′s, knew she needed to make a change. So she quit her job at a high-powered law firm to pursue art- and documented it all in cartoons.

Laywer Cartoons Departure Memo
“Catherine”—departurememo.com

Catherine’s website departurememo.com is a cartoon strip that depicts her battle—spanning across multiple years and two cities—to keep her passion for painting alive in the world of finance law, and her eventual decision to pursue that passion full-time. (Catherine chose not to reveal her full name to avoid harming her past employer’s reputation.)

“Art is something that I’ve always enjoyed doing,” Catherine tells TIME. “It’s enough of a constant throughout my life that I’ve really gotten to thinking in the past few years that maybe this is something more than what I do when I have free time.”

Her website also documents that her entry into the legal world was less than enthusiastic. “Like many of my friends and classmates and colleagues, I had gone to law school fairly aimlessly in my mid-20s with no real plan other than the well-beaten path: do appreciably (if not well), Biglaw, pay off loans, then see where the cards fell,” departurememo.com reads.

Lawyer Cartoons Departure Memo
“Catherine”—departurememo.com

However, as her illustrated memo shows, the “well-beaten path” didn’t suit Catherine very well, and the time she had to dedicate to her life-long passion for art became minimal. “People here are really talented. Unfortunately, for many people, the talents from our past lives now merely take the form of s**t we hang on our walls. It’s the ‘used to’ syndrome,” she writes on her website.

This problem led to her decision to make a career change, and the comic seemed the most fitting way to explain it. “I had a few exchanges that I’ve memorialized in the memo that seemed to me to be too funny, or I just felt that they would work really well in a kind of comic format,” Catherine says. “I felt that it would be relatable. I wanted to do something funny and memorable that the people would enjoy.”

Lawyer Cartoons Departure Memo
“Catherine”—departurememo.com

She sent it to a couple dozen of her co-workers and hoped word of mouth would spread the cartoon around her office. The results were more successful than she’d anticipated. The website was even featured in Yahoo and the legal blog “Above the Law.” She says, “Apparently it struck a chord with a lot of people. I’m just really impressed, really amazed at the reception it got, how far and wide it’s been passed around.”

Catherine’s memo is not the first creative representation for quitting a job. Last September, 25-year-old Marina Shifrin filmed a dance video to Kanye West’s “Gone” to explain her decision to quit her animation job. “For almost two years I’ve sacrificed my relationships, time and energy for this job,” Shifrin wrote in the video.

“Everyone’s had to cancel plans, been pushed into projects that are a mismatch for their interests, worked terrible hours, and so forth,” Catherine said. “Probably quite a few people have wished they could say what was really on their mind when they left, but few do.”

For those like Shifrin who might find the cartoon all too relatable, Catherine has some advice. “I think that there is so much talent out there, and people should absolutely cultivate their talents…and spend time supporting other artists and creative people,” she says. “Everyone can make something, but if we don’t spend time supporting one another, then it’s kind of a dead end for everyone.”

Catherine will find her own creative support community in a month-long artists’ residency program before returning to San Francisco, where she has settled. “Basically the plan there is to clear my head and paint, really not to have to worry about too much else other than figuring out with paintbrushes and paint what I have to say at this point,” she says. “And I’m really open to whatever may come.”

Lawyer Cartoons Departure Memo
“Catherine”—departurememo.com

 

TIME advice

What Is The Most Productive Thing I Can Do When I Am Bored?

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Hype Photography—Getty Images

Answer by Visakan Veerasamy, an employee of ReferalCandy and writer for Poached Magazine, for Quora.

I’ve noticed that everything that’s been stated involves doing something or trying something or focusing on something.

I propose elimination. See how much you can cut away from your life. Via negativa.

Eliminate needless clutter from your desk.

Eliminate needless noisemakers from your social media. (Eliminate needless social media channels altogether.)

Eliminate needless apps from your phone.

Eliminate needless blogs from your RSS feed.

Eliminate needless books from your shelves.

I think of this as an ‘Odyssean’ activity.

Odysseus guarded himself against temptation by the Sirens by getting his men to tie him to the mast of his ship.

Our willpower is limited.

In moments of clarity (or boredom, when we have enough energy to do simple tasks but not major ones), it helps if we tie ourselves to our masts by eliminating distractions.

Cut away anything that isn’t relevant to what you want to achieve in life. Do it now, while you can, and you’ll thank yourself for it later when you’d have been otherwise distracted.

Of course, you never want to get too extreme with this, because there is always value outside of what you’ve set up for yourself. That random annoying person on Facebook might just be the spouse of your dreams. It’s pretty unlikely, though.

Trust your own judgement and get rid of what you know, with reasonable certainty, to be a waste of your time.

That leaves you with only what matters. Now that’s productive.

This question originally appeared on Quora:What is the most productive thing I can do when I’m bored? More questions:

TIME Careers & Workplace

7 Amazing Pieces of Advice No One Ever Gave You

procrastination
Office worker playing with newtons cradle Image Source/Getty Images

The best advice for those looking to achieve great things is often the least repeated


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.

Career advice is in no short supply. In fact, you could probably spend the duration of your working life simply reading through the tips and advice already online. But as in all areas of life, the more common something is, generally speaking, the lower its value.

Many oft repeated truisms are more about wish fulfillment than reality (sorry peddlers of endless, uncritical “follow your passion!” posts). Plus, tips that everyone and their mother (and their college career counselor) knows are unlikely to give you an edge over the competition. So what are the true hidden gems of career advice, the truths that few people are willing to say out loud that can actually transform a mediocre career into a rockstar one?

That’s what a someone on question-and-answer site Quora wanted to know recently, asking: “What are a few unique pieces of career advice that nobody ever mentions?” The community responded with plenty of uncommon, thought-provoking advice.

1. Doing your job well is not enough.

Being excellent at your job is a surefire way to get ahead, right? Nope, say several responders, including Victor Wong, CEO of PaperG. “Most people assume just doing their current assigned job well is enough–so many associates at law firms think doing all the paperwork and litigation properly is the road to partnership, and many PR account executives think that getting a few articles written about their clients will earn them a promotion,” he writes, but “becoming a principal, partner, or senior executive with P&L-level responsibility requires a completely separate set of skills from entry and mid-level jobs.”

How do you make that leap? “To make the big jump to the next level, they’re really being benchmarked on their ability to deliver future value to the firm in ways that are not taught or explained to them: chiefly how much business are they are able to bring in,” he asserts. “People who can think of what to do and deliver are the ones who ultimately are more likely to get promoted to the top levels.”

Another anonymous poster agrees: “You don’t become a star doing your job. You become a star making things happen.”

2. Who you work for is hugely important.

We all wish we lived in a world where who you know matters less than what you can do, but that’s often not reality, and not always for unhealthy reasons. Knowing the best in the business often means you’ve worked with the best, and people rightly admire that.

“You don’t have to be passionate about the product you are selling. You don’t have to be in the most glamorous industry. You don’t have to work for the company with the best ‘brand’ identity or reputation in your chosen field,” insists Jeremy Boudinet, director of marketing for startup Ambition. What does matter is who you’ve worked with.

“Few things are as valuable as going and working for somebody that is going to want to teach you anything and everything they know. You’ll experience tremendous personal and professional growth if you have the best person mentoring you,” he says, so “figure out where the absolute best person to work for would be, and go work for them.”

3. … So is where you work.

Just like who you work for can deeply affect the fate of your career, where you work also has a massive impact. Just saying, ‘I want to work in software or sales,’ isn’t enough. Nor, as Boudinet point out, is it enough just to fill your resume with impressive company names. Your destiny is influenced greatly by the destiny of the particular organization that employs you. Don’t take a job with just any old company because it’s in the right sector or impresses your friends.

“Your career is a boat and it is at the mercy of tides. No matter how talented you are it’s a lot harder to break out in a sluggish situation/hierarchy/economy than a go-go environment. Even if you’re a superstar at Sluggish Co., your upside trajectory (more often than not) is fractional to what an average/below average employee achieves at Rocket Ship Co,” says an anonymous poster with the most up-voted answer.

4. Being seen as super busy isn’t always a good thing.

Think high achievers work endless hours and are continuously busy? Think again, writes Mira Zaslove, director of international sales and trading at FabExchange. “Ironically the busier you appear, often the less you will move up. I’ve seen smart and dedicated employees fail to get promoted, because they have taken on too much, are working too hard, and appeared too frazzled,” she reports. “If you appear stressed, people will think you aren’t prepared to take on more, and you’ll miss opportunities for new and innovative projects.”

5. Take a tour.

When plotting your first (or next) big career move, many of us think very abstractly, musing in solitude or in front of Google about the joys of our supposed dream jobs. But the truth is you can’t decide on a career without seeing the day-to-day reality of where and how you work–the concrete truth rather than the imagined reality. Don’t make decisions without actually going and seeing for yourself.

Alek Mirkovich, founder of campayn.com, once thought becoming an air traffic controller was a great idea, but then he took a tour of where he would actually be working. “Every single guy was BALD! Playing around with a simulator is fun, but apparently the real thing is stressful. Within 30 seconds I knew I wasn’t going to be signing up for this!” he remembers.

6. Don’t hide your failures.

Failures are seen less as a signal of incompetence and more as a sign that you’re willing to take a risk and innovate, according to Zaslove. “Your team will respect you and your career will accelerate if people understand what you are doing and that you are taking risks. Most people do not view someone as credible if they are giving advice and recommendations, but not walking the walk,” she claims. “If you show that you are willing to take risks, and publicly falter, your team will feel confident taking risks too. Lead by example.”

7. Execution matters more than plans or advice.

Many people are looking for the magic recipe of how to make their career take off, but many of the responders agree that there are some serious limits to what other people can tell you. “Advice (like ideas) is not in short supply, there is plenty of it going around,” writes coach Darren Beattie, for instance. “It’s not really the advice in the long run that matters, it’s the execution of the advice by the person being advised. The greatest advice ever in the history of the human race is absolutely useless if you act/execute on none of it.”

Or to put it another way, there’s no real roadmap that you can blindly follow. The trick is figuring out what to apply and what to ignore for your own personal situation. That same popular anonymous responder sums this idea up well: “Career tracks and meritocracies don’t exist: Your career is not a linear, clearly defined trajectory.”

What less well known bit of career wisdom would you add to this list?

Read more from Inc.com:

The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship

14 Tactics for Reading People’s Body Language

The One Trait That Guarantees a Good Hire

7 Things You Can Do on Friday to Make Monday Awesome

Sheryl Sandberg and the Hypocrisy of Lean In

TIME Dating

Sorry, Google: Amazon’s Employees Are Hotter Than Yours

An employee seals a box at the Amazon.com Inc. fulfillment center in Phoenix, Arizona on Dec. 2, 2013.
An employee seals a box at the Amazon.com Inc. fulfillment center in Phoenix, Arizona on Dec. 2, 2013. Bloomberg—Getty Images

At least according to dating app Hinge

Amazon isn’t just a company with an attractive portfolio—CEO Jeff Bezos is worth a staggering $30 billion—it also possesses the most attractive employees, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Hinge, a dating app that matches young professionals in similar networks, found that users are 14.2% more likely to “swipe right” for Amazon employees than their counterparts at tech companies like Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Apple. Microsoft comes in second with approval levels hitting 8.2% above average, while Apple ranks as the least attractive tech firm with a paltry percentage of 0.2.

Since 2013, Hinge has examined the most attractive firms in New York City, Washington D.C., Boston and San Francisco.Different industries are represented in the lists. Two media firms top New York’s list—Women at MediaVest USA and men at Facebook boast high scores.

But are Amazon employees really more attractive than their Googlers? Amazon reported having 117,300 employees as of January, including part-time workers, while Microsoft has 99,000, Apple 80,300, Google 47,756 and Facebook with 6,337. Hinge works to connect people within their career networks, meaning that more Amazon employees may be more likely to be on the dating app, just because of sheer size. Hinge also reported Amazon as the least “picky” of the tech companies—meaning they were more likely to say “swipe right” on a profile—which could also account for the high numbers.

Amazon employees could be ridiculously good looking, or maybe they just like to lovingly look at their colleagues’ profiles in hopes for a date.

 

 

TIME career

It Will Take 75 Years for Women to Achieve Equal Pay, Says Oxfam

Poverty, discrimination and unpaid labor are among the barriers facing women

Women still have a ways to go until they’re paid the same as men. According to a new report released today by Oxfam, the gender pay gap will likely close in 75 years, as long as it continues to melt away at its current rate.

The agency is encouraging G20 countries to asses their agendas on gender inequality when they summit in Australia later this year. Oxfam asks member countries to extend their commitment to tackling barriers to women’s social and economic participation set in the 2012 Los Cabos Declaration.

Long-standing gender discrimination and poverty prevent women from realizing their full economic potential, which can suppress a country’s economic growth. The report works to address the systematic issues present in member countries by incorporating gender equality measures in fiscal economic policy and social infrastructure and governance—one measure suggests redistributing taxes to compensate for wage gaps.

With the worlds largest economies, G20 members have a lot to gain from a gender-equitable economy. Oxfam’s Executive Director Winnie Byanyima explained the shortcomings. “Meanwhile, if women’s paid employment rates were the same as men’s, the USA’s GDP would increase by nine per cent, the Eurozone’s by 13 per cent and Japan’s by 16 per cent,” said Byanyima.

The 2014 Australian G20 Summit will be held in Brisbane this coming November.

TIME career

Study: Most Millennials Would Dump a Friend to Get Ahead at Work

LinkedIn Website
LinkedIn Corp. logos are arranged for a photograph. Bloomberg—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Watch out for any "Me Generation" coworkers

On top of accusations that millennials are narcissistic and lazy, the generation now has a new criticism to address: They’re more likely to ditch work friends for the sake of a promotion, according to a recent LinkedIn survey.

The world’s largest online networking platform surveyed 11,500 full-time professionals from 14 countries about their work relationships. The results revealed a significant generational gap. While half of millennials (defined as professionals between the ages of 18 and 24) report that their work relationships make them feel motivated, 45% of professionals between 55 and 65 (or “baby boomers”) responded that such friendships had no effect on workplace performance.

But those warm and fuzzy feelings don’t necessarily translate into coworker loyalty. When asked whether they would sacrifice a work friendship for a promotion, 68% of millennials said they would while 62% of boomers said they would never even consider it.

“It’s a positive difference as far as I’m concerned,” Nicole Williams, a LinkedIn Career Expert, told TIME. “Ultimately, [millennials] feel that these friendships will either survive or there will be new friendships…I think there is a sense of competitiveness and that you need to be competitive in order to survive.”

Williams also said that the results could be affected by millennials’ expectation that they will work for several companies across their careers. “If you thought you’d be sticking around for 20 years, I think you’d be more conscious in terms of your relationships,” she says.

Boomers are also more likely to have started families of their own, while Williams suggests that millennials—fresh out of college and in a new environment—search for that closeness in their office relationships. “You’ve got boomers who have kids, who have husbands, parents they’re taking care of. They’re not as interested in the more social aspects of work,” Williams says. “For millennials, their professional relationships are kind of an extension of their family in a lot of ways.”

The idea of a “work spouse” comes to mind, a coworker possibly of the opposite sex with whom you share a platonic but extensive friendship because of a shared understanding in the work you do. Williams credits this very concept to the millennial generation. “Even the word ‘work spouse’ didn’t exist ten years ago, and I’m certain that the boomer generation wouldn’t conceive of their professional relationships being comparable to their partner, marriage relationships,” she said. “But you hear it all the time within this millennial generation.”

Still, knowing that many millennials would gladly ditch their work hubby for a shot at the corner office may leave a bad taste in some people’s mouths. Williams’ explanation for this trend is concise: “[Millennials] are using these friendships to advance themselves professionally,” she says.

Those after-work happy hours are looking less chummy.

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