TIME Workplace & Careers

10 CEOs Who Prove Your Liberal Arts Degree Isn’t Worthless

HBO, Starbucks, and Disney's CEOs were once disgruntled liberal arts majors, too

Hearing a son or daughter say they’re majoring in the liberal arts has never made more parents’ hearts sink into their stomachs. STEM degrees appear atop nearly every ‘best majors’ list, President Barack Obama has made jabs at the usefulness of a humanities degree, and college dropouts have colonized the Fortune 500. So when unemployed English majors joke that no degree would be better than one in liberal arts—they might actually not be kidding.

But there is life after liberal arts — just ask these 10 CEOs. From a self-proclaimed “completely unemployable” history major, to a B-average communications student at a No. 91-ranked state school, to a hippie philosophy dropout who wanted to fix capitalism, here’s how these formerly disgruntled liberal arts majors beat everyone else to the helms of some top companies.

  • Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO

    Howard Schultz Starbucks CEO
    Stephen Brashear—Getty Images Howard Schultz speaks during an annual shareholders meeting March 18, 2015, in Seattle, Wash.

    Degree: B.S. in Communications, Northern Michigan University, 1975

    On worrying about his post-college job prospects: A first-generation college student, Schultz grew up in a working-class family in the Projects of Canarsie in Brooklyn, and later attended NMU on a football scholarship. “During senior year, I also picked up a few business classes, because I was starting to worry about what I would do after graduation. I maintained a B average, applying myself only when I had to take a test or make a presentation,” Schultz wrote in his 1999 business memoir, Pour Your Heart Into It. To my parents, I had attained the big prize: a diploma. But I had no direction. No one ever helped me see the value in the knowledge I was gaining.”

    On getting his start in business: After graduating from college in 1975, like a lot of kids, I didn’t know what to do next… I took some time to think, but still no inspiration came,” Schultz wrote in his memoir. “After a year, I went back to New York and got a job with Xerox, in the sales training program. I learned more there than in college about the worlds of work and business.” After three years, Schultz joined a Swedish drip coffee maker manufacturer before moving to Starbucks as director of marketing in 1982. He has served as CEO since 2008.

    On success: It took years before I found my passion in life,” the coffee exec wrote. “But getting out of Brooklyn and earning a college degree gave me the courage to keep on dreaming.” Schultz added: “I can’t give you any secret recipe for success. But my own experience suggests that it is possible to start from nothing and achieve even beyond your dreams.”

  • Andrea Jung, Former Avon CEO

    Andrea Jung, CEO of Avon Products Inc., accepts the Leadership in the Corporate Sector award during the Clinton Global Citizen Award ceremony marking the culmination of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York
    Lucas Jackson— Reuters Andrea Jung accepts the Leadership in the Corporate Sector award at the Clinton Global Citizen in New York on Sept. 23, 2010.

    Degree: B.A. in English Literature, Princeton University, 1979

    On whether she had ever imagined being a Fortune 500 CEO: A trailblazer for female CEOs, Jung finds it hard to believe how a Princeton bookworm came to lead the world’s largest direct cosmetics seller, where she was chief from 1999 to 2012. “What I find myself doing [now] was pretty unimaginable for me in 1979, after I finished my much-loved thesis on Katherine Mansfeld and my junior papers on Virginia Woolf,” Jung told students in a 2012 speech at her alma mater.To be standing here, and saying, ‘I now run a $10 billion global company’—I would’ve said, ‘Couldn’t be possible, that is not an imagined career path, not an imagined journey.’ Things have certainly taken a wonderful, but different, path.”

    On being an English major: “Because I was an English major, I loved journalism, I thought perhaps I’d go back to journalism school or law school,” Jung said during her speech. But her friends told her about a training program at Bloomingdale’s to gain experience in marketing and merchandising before hitting the books once more. “I fell in love with the business and the consumer,” Jung recalled. So she ditched her grad school plans, and dove into the women’s apparel, accessories and cosmetics industry. “The rest is history.”


  • Michael Eisner, Former Walt Disney Company CEO

    Disney CEO Michael Eisner
    Hector Mata—AFP/Getty Images Disney CEO Michael Eisner (R) and his hand-picked successor Robert Iger pose for a photograph in Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., on July 17, 2005.

    Degree: B.A. in English Literature and Theater, Denison University, 1964

    On the importance of liberal arts: “Literature is unbelievably helpful, because no matter what business you are in, you are dealing with interpersonal relationships. It gives you an appreciation of what makes people tick,” argued Eisner, who served as Disney CEO from 1984 to 2005, in a 2001 interview with USA Today.

    On failed dreams and unemployment after college: “After graduating from Denison, I set off on the ocean liner Mauritania for Paris, figuring that I’d find some café to write in, live the bohemian life for several years, and turn out plays that would eventually find their way to Broadway,” Eisner recalled in his 1999 autobiography, Work in Progress. Realizing quickly that he didn’t have the talent to become the “next great American playwright,” Eisner moved to New York to find a steady job. “The only problem,” he recalled, “was that I couldn’t get a job… My inability to land a job left me feeling lonely, dislocated and slightly frantic.”

    On starting off at a $65/week job: A few months later, in late 1964, Eisner received his first job offer, an NBC clerk where he logged the times each commercial appeared on air, and whether they were black-and-white—for just $65 per week. “It was far better than being unemployed,” he wrote in his autobiography. Later, he quickly scaled the corporate ladder at ABC and Paramount Pictures, before serving as Disney’s chief from 1984 to 2005. As the New York Times said of Eisner’s skill set in a 1998 article: “Eisner is unusual among entertainment moguls because he has had both creative and corporate experience. He knows how you put a show together and avoid going broke doing it.”



  • Richard Plepler, HBO CEO

    Richard Plepler HBO CEO
    Frederick M. Brown—Getty Images Richard Plepler speaks during the 2011 Summer TCA Tour on July 28, 2011, in Beverly Hills, Calif.

    Degree: B.A. in Government, Franklin & Marshall College, 1981

    On drawing inspiration from his liberal arts studies: HBO’s chief since 2013, Plepler recalled in a commencement speech this year at his alma mater that, when trying to land his first job, he turned to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s writings. “I believed, with Emerson, that if a man planted himself on his convictions and hopes that, ‘the huge world will come ’round to him.’ I always felt that, and all these years later, still do,” he said. “I decided to do everything in my power to secure a job, however lowly, in the nation’s capital. I got in my little Honda, and I drove to Washington, used all my energy and power of persuasion to try to talk my way onto the staff of a young U.S. Senator from my home state of Connecticut, Christopher Dodd.”

    On the chance encounter that led to his HBO career: After four years in D.C., Plepler moved to New York City in 1987 and started a one-man consultancy. One night, at a Chinese restaurant, he looked up and saw Benjamin Netanyahu, then the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations. That year had marked the first Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation, a topic familiar to Plepler, who then decided—on the spot—to pitch to him a documentary film about the conflict. “He barely looked up from his dumpling,” Plepler admitted. “He finally asked me to sit down, he listened, nodded and after a variety of happy accidents in the coming weeks and months, I produced a film… The film captured the imagination of the then Chairman of HBO, who invited me to join the company.”

    On what young grads can learn from reading Game of Thrones: As Plepler said during his speech: “While the road ahead, to quote from Game of Thrones, is ‘dark and full of terrors,’ it is hardly insurmountable.”

  • Carly Fiorina, Former Hewlett-Packard CEO

    Carly Fiorina HP CEO
    John G. Mabanglo—AFP/Getty Images Carly Fiorina responds to media questions after an HP shareholders meeting in Cupertino, Calif., on March 19, 2002.

    Degree: B.A. in Medieval History and Philosophy, Stanford University, 1976

    On becoming CEO of a leading computer company: Armed with a Stanford history degree yet still “completely unemployable,” Fiorina worked short stints as a receptionist, English teacher and secretary. At 25, she landed a sales rep job at AT&T, and quickly rose up in the IT and tech industry, eventually becoming HP’s chief from 1999 to 2005. When asked in a 2001 USA Today interview whether her degree was of any use, Fiorina said how studying the transformation from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance helped her approach the ongoing technological revolution: “We have, in fact, seen nothing yet.”

    On being proud of her liberal arts background: “While I joke that my medieval history and philosophy degree prepared me not for the job market, I must tell you it did prepare me for life,” the 2016 Republican presidential candidate said in March, speaking of education policy. “I learned how to condense a whole lot of information down to the essence. That thought process has served me my whole life… I’m one of these people who believes we should be teaching people music, philosophy, history, art.”

    (Fiorina also earned an MBA from the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park, in 1980; and an MS from the MIT Sloan School of Management in 1989.)


  • John Mackey, Whole Foods Co-CEO

    John Mackey Whole Foods CEO
    Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg via Getty Images John Mackey speaks at the World Health Care Congress in Washington, D.C., on April 6, 2011.

    Degree (dropped out): B.A. in Philosophy and Religion, The University of Texas at Austin, 1977

    On the benefits of being a literary hippie and college dropout: “I accumulated about 120 hours of electives, primarily in philosophy, religion, history, world literature, and other humanities. I only took classes I was interested in, and if a class bored me, I quickly dropped it,” Mackey wrote in his 2013 book, Conscious Capitalism. Mackey, a shaggy-haired yogi, meditator and vegetarian living in a commune, ended up not taking a single business class: “I actually think that has worked to my advantage in business over the years. As an entrepreneur, I had nothing to unlearn and new possibilities for innovation.”

    On philosophy and founding Whole Foods: During his college years, Mackey drifted into a progressive political philosophy that taught him “both business and capitalism were fundamentally based on greed, selfishness, and exploitation,” the self-described “classical liberal” wrote in his book. That, he said, was the motivation for his girlfriend and him to open a natural foods store, Safer Way, in 1978. In two years, they renamed it Whole Foods Market.

  • Susan Wojcicki, YouTube CEO

    Susan Wojcicki YouTube CEO
    Kimberly White—Getty Images for Vanity Fair Susan Wojcicki speaks at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit on Oct. 9, 2014 in San Francisco, Calif.

    Degree: B.A. in History and Literature, Harvard University, 1990

    On majoring in the humanities: Wojcicki, an early Google employee who became YouTube’s CEO in 2014, credits her parents — both of whom were teachers — with encouraging her broad interests: “Their goal wasn’t to become famous or make money… They found something interesting, and they cared about it. I mean, it could be ants, or it could be math, or it could be earthquakes or classical Latin literature,” the California native told Fast Company in 2014. “No one in my family had ever worked in business beforehand. So there was the expectation that I would just go into academics.”

    On becoming one of the most powerful women in tech: Wojcicki had originally planned on getting a PhD after graduation, but her career path changed when she discovered the power of technology her senior year at Harvard, when she took the school’s popular intro computer science class. “CS50 changed my life,” she recalled in a video encouraging students to take the class. “When I graduated from Harvard in 1990, I went to Silicon Valley, and I got a job, and I’ve been working in tech ever since.”

    (Wojcicki also earned an MS in Economics from University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1993; and an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management in 1998.)

  • Steve Ells, Chipotle Co-CEO

    Steve ells chipotle CEO
    Victor J. Blue—Bloomberg via Getty Images Steve Ells on a Bloomberg Television interview in New York on June 27, 2014.

    Degree: B.A. in Art History, University of Colorado Boulder, 1988

    On his liberal arts education: “In college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I studied art history and had a great time, but I didn’t have any sort of career aspirations,” recalled Ells in a 2004 interview with Westword. “I never took business classes in school. I never really thought about the economics of a restaurant — only the food and the experience,” Ells added in a 2011 video interview about Chipotle’s beginnings.

    On founding the now-$20 billion burrito chain: After college, Ells, who had always been passionate about cooking, attended the Culinary Institute of America, graduating in 1990. When he launched Chipotle three years later, he had to play catch-up with his business smarts. “Raising money for Chipotle was really my MBA,” Ells said in a 2009 Wall Street Journal interview.People asked a lot of questions about the business that forced me to take a critical look at how it ran.”

  • Alexa Hirschfeld, Paperless Post Co-Founder

    Alexa Hirschfeld Paperless Post Ceo
    Ramin Talaie—Bloomberg/Getty Images Alexa Hirschfeld speaks at the Empowered Entrepreneur Conference in New York on Oct. 18, 2011.

    Degree: B.A. in Classics, Harvard University, 2006

    On quitting her first job to co-found Paperless Post with her brother: The e-vite service was conceived in 2007 by her younger brother, James, while the Harvard undergrad was planning his 21st birthday party. He then called his sister, who had planned to leave her first job as an editorial assistant at CBS, where she was often stuck opening mail. “I wanted to be in something that was not figured out yet,” Alexa said in a 2011 interview with Cosmopolitan. “I imagined that if I were, there would be more room for creativity.”

    On developing Paperless Post: “[James and I were] really focused on not having lives that were really awful and conventional,” Alexa told the Harvard Crimson in a 2011 interview. But starting out wasn’t exactly easy, she said: “The gestation period was really painful. It felt like, ‘Is this ever going to be real?’ We sat in my parents’ living room and we didn’t celebrate any holidays for two years — we both lost a lot of weight.”

    On how her non-technical skills helped her in the tech field: “We’re very contrary to the Internet,” Hirschfeld said in a 2013 interview with The Huffington Post. “So these people who were the scions of the Internet did not get it. They were like, ‘Why would you care what it looks like? Wouldn’t you just want a calendar invite? Why would you want to have an image?’ Like, you know, the Internet’s not about that — we left those formalities back in the real world.”

  • Jack Ma, Alibaba Chairman

    Jack Ma Alibaba CEO
    Andrew Burton—Getty Images Jack Ma poses for a photo outside the NYSE prior to Alibaba's IPO on Sept. 19, 2014 in New York City.

    Degree: B.A. in English, Hangzhou Normal University (Hangzhou Teacher’s Institute), 1988

    On struggling to put his English degree to use: After graduating from college — it took Ma three tries to even pass China’s college entrance exam — Ma faced a string of over 30 job rejections, including a rejection from Kentucky Fried Chicken. He was eventually was hired to teach English at a local college for $20 a month, while also running a small translation company and peddling flowers, books and clothes to support himself on the side. Ma’s English skills later caught the attention of some entrepreneurs, through whom he learned about the Internet. In 1999, he and 17 friends founded Alibaba.com, the global wholesale online marketplace. Its $25 billion IPO in 2014 was the largest ever.

    On why liberal arts education matters, especially for China: With entrepreneurship and innovation critical for China’s future, Ma has emphasized repeatedly why Chinese education needs to be less pre-professional. As Ma shared in an internal speech to his Alibaba employees: “I told my son, ‘You don’t need to be in the top three in your class. Being in the middle is fine, so long as your grades aren’t too bad.’ Only this kind of person has enough free time to learn other skills.”

TIME Careers & Workplace

50 Life-Impacting Books Recommended By 50 Global Entrepreneurs

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From Rich Dad, Poor Dad to The Alchemist to The Art of War

From 2011 to 2013, I read 197 books, and I became more cultured, intelligent, informed and dare I say better looking. Books have the power to change lives. ( I feel like somebody needs to queue theReading Rainbow theme song. “Take a look, it’s in a book, Reading Rainbow!”)

I’m pro entrepreneur in all I do. Let’s consider me the self-proclaimed “People’s Entrepreneur.” My mission is to help other entrepreneurs realize their dreams and maximize their potential.

It’s the reason I created a Facebook group for a bunch of entrepreneurs to connect, share their wisdom, stories and ask questions. We have almost 4,000 entrepreneurs from about 20 countries. We all ask questions daily and learn from each other and get better at being entrepreneurs.

One of the recent questions was, “Name one book that has had the greatest impact on your life.” This list contains 50 different books from 50 different entrepreneurs in the group from around the world:

1. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill — recommended by Sandile B. Magwaza

2. Start by Jon Acuff — recommended by Kimberly Edwards LaComba

3. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries — recommended by Matt Barber

4. Zero to One by Peter Thiel — recommended by Franklin McCullough

5. Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki — recommended by Mannan Gupta

6. The 100 Dollar Start Up by Chris Guillebeau — recommended by Nawaz Dangra

7. Produced by Faith by Devon Franklin — recommended by Say Smith

8. The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind by Gustave LeBon — recommended by Ingo Behle

9. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey — recommended by Puna Snamandla Gumede

10. The Pursuit of Happyness by Chris Gardner — recommended by Vrush SG

11. The Day That Turns Your Life Around by Jim Rohn — recommended by Paul Kudzaishe Kuona

12. Miss Jessie’s: Creating a Business From Scratch Naturally by Miko Branch

13. Rich Dad’s Guide to Investing: What the Rich Invest In, That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not Do! by Robert Kiyosaki — recommended by Bek Alcantara

14. The Richest Man in Babylon by George Samuel Clason — recommended by Mphezeni Thwala

15. The Four Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss — recommended by Roxana-Mark Stahl

16. Rework by David Heinemeier and Jason Fried — recommended by Shan Ru Shaman

17. Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson — recommended by Marci Pascua

18. Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk — recommended by Alex Velev

19. Stay Hungry by Rashmi Bansal — recommended by Shaukat Kotwal

20. The Startup of You by Reid Hoffman — recommended by Bright Bruce

21. Good to Great by Jim Collins — recommended by Adetona Abiodun Abdulquadri

22. Entrepreneur Revolution by Daniel Priestley — recommended by Oliver Woodward

23. Millionaire Fastlane by MJ Demarco — recommended by Andrew Kingsley

24. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie — recommended by Niall Kenny

25. The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz — recommended by Marisol Acevedo

26. The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley — recommended by Mark Whelan

27. The Amazing Race to Entrepreneurial Freedom by Georgina Terry — recommended by Dana Malkenhorst

28. The Education of Millionaires by Michael Ellsberg — recommended by Oscar Niebla Fuentes

29. The E Myth by Michael E. Gerber — recommended by Matthew Deem

30. Do You by Russell Simmons — recommended by Shy Set Apart

31. The Alchemist by Paolo Cohelo — recommended by Nick Taylor

32. The Law of Success by Napoleon Hill — recommended by Yoshua Werts-Galloway

33. You Were Born Rich by Bob Proctor — recommended by Golden Gepp

34. The Art of War by Sun Tzu — recommended by Terri Hayes Leary

35. What the Rich Know and Desperately Want to Keep Secret by Brian Sher — recommended by Okoro Henry

36. Business at the Speed of Thought by Bill Gates — recommended by Simphiwe Siflso Hlabisa

37. How to License Your Million Dollar Idea by Harvey Reese — recommended by Shelly Kochevar

38. Start With Why by Simon Sinek — recommended by Terry Tsang

39. Creativity, Inc. Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand In the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull — recommended by Jessica Adams

40. Choose Yourself by James Altucher — recommended by Tony Williams

41. The Opportunity Analysis Canvas by Dr. James V. Green — recommended by Jamilah Merrick

42. Do Cool Shit by Miki Agrawal — recommended by Richard Kevin Nesbitt

43. Three Feet From Gold by Sharon Lechter and Craig Reid — recommended by Ash Schmidt

44. The Obstacle is the Way – the Timeless Art of Turning Trials Into Triumph by Ryan Holiday — recommended by Prabhjot Maan Puar

45. The Everything Store by Brad Stone — recommended by Arne Giske

46. The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham — recommended by Nilo Frias

47. The One Thing by Gary Keller — recommended by Caio Amaral

48. The Bible — recommended S’phiwe Ngubane

49. The Success Principles by Jack Canfield — recommended by Kelly Jacobson

50. Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill — recommended by Kyle Scouten

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com

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TIME Apple

Why Apple’s CEO Tim Cook Probably Has Way Too Many Direct Reports

Apple Unveils iPhone 6
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Apple's CEO Tim Cook.

He manages 17 people

Tim Cook took over the top role at Apple in 2011 and has since amassed 17 direct reports, according to an analysis by Business Insider.

Cook was only overseeing nine people when he took over as CEO of Apple, which means his management load has increased more than two-fold in almost four years. That’s a pretty significant gain — and one that management experts say may be more than one manager can handle.

According to Hal Gregersen, who heads up the MIT Leadership Center, told Business Insider that the ideal number of direct reports is between six and 12. The optimal number is dependent on how many people a leader can have in a room and still maintain a constructive conversation, said Gregersen.

Gregersen hasn’t studied Cook directly, but said that he has his work cut out for him: “The odds are against any team of 17 versus a team of six.”

For instance, in an hour-long meeting, 17 people would each have three-and-a-half minutes to share their thoughts, versus 10 minutes each for 6 workers. Small groups of people have the ability to go deeper on any one issue.

On the other hand, more direct reports could mean fewer layers of management. Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch considered that an advantage when he ran the international conglomerate. It allowed “people to flex their muscles,” and it allowed him to “focus only on the big important issues, not on minutiae.”

MONEY Workplace

I’m an Intern Managing 8 People. Should I Ask for a New Job Title?

penguin leading 9 other penguins
Donovan Reese—Getty Images

Q: I’m an intern managing 8 people. Should I lie about my job title on my resume when applying for jobs or try to get my title changed officially?

I got hired as an intern 8 months ago, and continued to be trusted with more and more responsibility. About a month ago, I was given an informal title change and responsibility of leading a small team; I manage 8 people and work directly with leads on sister-teams.

I wasn’t given a pay raise due to budget cuts and recent layoffs, so according to payroll, I am still an intern. The pay doesn’t bother me since it’s a great opportunity to have so early in my career, but when I apply to my next job (which may be soon if projects keep getting cut), I’m worried getting credit for the experience I’ll have.

My company has a rule that prohibits letters of recommendation or contacting direct supervisors. Potential employers are allowed to call HR, who is only able to verify job title, dates of employment, and if they would re-hire you.

If I put “intern,” they will brush off my experience, but if I put anything but that, it will look like I’m lying. I’m not sure what to do. Please help!

That’s ridiculous, and your new informal title needs to be reflected in your company’s record. Talk to your manager and say this: “Now that I’m managing a team and using the teapots manager title, I’d like my records with the company to reflect that. I understand that there’s no budget for raises right now and so I’m not requesting one, but it’s important to me that the company records are correct. How can I get the title change reflected with HR?”

If your manager pushes back and tells you there’s no need for that since everyone working with you is using the new title anyway, say this: “I’m thrilled to be doing the work I’m doing and have no plans of leaving, but with the recent layoffs, I’m not comfortable risking that my work here will stay recorded as an internship if my role is eliminated at some point. It’s important to me to ensure that it’s recorded accurately.”

Also, your company’s rule on references is horrible. Fortunately, in most cases if your manager loves you, they’ll find ways to communicate that to reference-checkers anyway (and once they move on to a new job, all bets are off anyway and they can say whatever they want).

Paying someone intern-level pay to manage eight people is also pretty horrible. I totally get you deciding to do it in exchange for the experience and resume-builder anyway, but it’s still horrible of them … and at a minimum, they need to ensure it really is a resume-builder by formalizing the title. In fact, you could point that out — “I’m being paid intern-level pay for managing eight people, which I’m willing to do because I’m glad for the experience, but for that trade-off to make sense to me, I absolutely need the correct title reflected in our records.”

Q: Should I remove any mention of a controversial issue from my resume?

I’m searching for a position more in line with the field I am pursuing a masters in (public health). I volunteered for an organization that has a political agenda regarding reproductive health options, including abortion. The work that I do with this group is purely awareness-related, and the organization also supports initiatives and health clinics that promote proper prenatal care, safe sex practices, and testing for sexually-transmitted infections, in addition to their attention to abortion access.

Despite the fact that I take pride in being involved in this volunteer program and have learned skills from it, I think I need to try taking it off my resume. The only other problem that I have with taking this off is that it will appear as if my volunteer work screeched to a halt when I graduated from undergrad a little over two years ago, which is a sticking point with me because my job is only slightly related to public health and my volunteer work has always been more relevant experience. What should I do here?

A: Well, I say this as someone who has marijuana policy and animal rights work on my resume, but I think that you’re being more cautious than you need to. Especially in public health, I just don’t think this is going to be a huge sticking point for the majority of employers. (Are the people who are telling you to take it off hiring managers in your field? I’m betting not. I’ve noticed people who aren’t actually hiring tend to think this kind of thing is far more of an issue than it actually is.)

The work experience will help far more than it will hurt you.

These questions are adapted from ones that originally appeared on Ask a Manager. Some questions have been edited for length.

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TIME Management

Nike Co-Founder Phil Knight to Step Down as Chairman

Phil Knight Nike Chairman
Bloomberg via Getty Images Phil Knight attends a panel discussion at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 15, 2013.

Knight recommended CEO Mark Parker to succeed him as chairman

Nike co-founder Phil Knight, who built the iconic athletic gear brand from a small-scale shoe business, will step down as chairman next year, the company announced on Tuesday.

Knight, 77, has recommended to the Nike Board of Directors that CEO Mark Parker to succeed him as chairman, the company said in a statement. Nike also announced that Knight’s 41-year-old son, Travis Knight, was named as the newest member of the board.

“For me, Nike has always been more than just a company – it has been my life’s passion,” said Knight, who co-founded Nike, then known as Blue Ribbon Sports, in 1964 with his former college track coach, Bill Bowerman.

Knight, who plans to stay involved with the company, added that he will transfer most of his Nike Class A Common Stock to a limited liability entity called Swoosh LLC, managed by Knight, Parker and two other Nike executives. Since Class A shares generally hold more voting rights, the transfer will allow Swoosh to elect about three-quarters of Nike’s board.

“I believe this structure will maintain NIKE’s strong corporate governance, which has focused our management on serving the consumer and pursuing profitable, long-term growth,” Knight said.

TIME Companies

Rupert Murdoch to Take a Back Seat at 21st Century Fox

Will hand over chief executive role to son James

Rupert Murdoch, the mercurial head of 21st Century Fox, is stepping down from his CEO role, according to CNBC.

The 84-year-old media mogul will pass the reins on to his son James, according to the report.

Murdoch is still the controlling shareholder of the media company, which separated last year from its news business News Corp. He will also remain as the executive chairman of Fox, and his other son Lachlan will also be a co-executive chairman.

Also stepping down is COO Chase Carey, who is expected to maintain an advisory role at the company. He’s expected to exercise his right to an early release from his current contract, allowing him to leave the company, which he joined in 2009, at the end of this year, CNBC said.

More: Read about 21st Century Fox in the new Fortune 500

The departure of Carey would leave the company without a layer of senior management from outside the Murdoch family for the first time.

James Murdoch will be in charge of day-to-day operations, but he will work with both his father and brother, the report said.

Last year, Fortune’s Pattie Sellers spoke with Rupert Murdoch in his first wide-ranging interview in five years. Murdoch discussed remaking his business, luring back his son Lachlan, divorcing Wendi Deng, and moving beyond a very trying past few years.

This article was originally published on Fortune.com

TIME Careers & Workplace

10 Effective Ways to Give Feedback

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Be tough-minded on standards and tender-hearted with people

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It was a little past 1:00 a.m, and I sat alone at the dining room table. If only I had listened to my tired body and gone to sleep, I might have saved a friendship and a business partnership.

Instead, I pushed through and gave overly harsh feedback on a letter. It took me only a few minutes to send my feedback, but it damaged that relationship forever. The person never came back to me for feedback, and it contributed to a negative spiral in the relationship that ultimately failed.

That’s when I learned the stakes of giving bad feedback. As leaders, parents, and friends, if we chronically give bad feedback we destroy relationships, make other people feel stupid, and stunt their growth.

Giving feedback incorrectly is one of the worst mistakes smart people are particularly prone to make. Experts tend to…

  • overestimate their expertise and give feedback in areas where they don’t have expertise;
  • feel compelled to give feedback as a result of their expertise;
  • be condescending as a result of thinking something is obvious to others when it isn’t; and
  • be too general as a result of forgetting the little insights that make up ideas.

These disadvantages are collectively known as the curse of knowledge.

I interviewed 10 world-class leaders (including the founder of two television networks, a former Fortune 500 CEO, and similarly successful entrepreneurs) to get their perspective on how to give feedback in the best way. In the few minutes it takes to read this article, you’ll have a whole new toolkit, which will immediately improve how you give feedback to others.

1. Help employees think like ownersJason Duff, founder and CEO of COMSTOR Outdoor

I think the best way for a CEO to give feedback is by letting his or her employees experience what it’s like to be an owner.

I used to want to shield my team from the hard parts of what I do. The unintended result was employees who made poor decisions and developed beliefs that everything is easier than it actually is.

To inspire an ownership mindset, I follow two practices that work really well:

Job shadowing. I’m a big believer in the idea that you can’t really understand someone’s perspective until you walk a mile in their shoes. I shadow my employees, and they shadow me as well as each other. This helps us understand each other, but also be nimble and step in when necessary.

Open-book accounting. We recently moved our business to open book accounting, which means we share all of our financial numbers with our employees. This was a very difficult decision for me but I’ve been impressed with the outcome so far. Misconceptions about the money that I was, or was not making, have been completely put on the table. Many of my employees had a lot of sympathy with some of the financial goals, challenges, and tax consequences that the company was facing. They offered great ideas and suggestions about their roles and their compensations to help the company be more successful. I highly recommend The Great Game of Business to learn about the power of open book accounting and how to implement it in your company.

2. Put on your welcome faceRyan Simonetti, co-founder of Convene

I have one core belief, based on research in Drive, that structures how I give feedback: People are intrinsically motivated to do a great job. They don’t intentionally do bad work.

Most people I know take a tremendous amount of pride in their work and have an emotionally vested interest in both their success and that of their company.

What this means is that my job isn’t to reprimand or judge people. My true job is to empower them. Given that most communication is nonverbal, the most important thing I can do is to be in the right state of mind before I give feedback. I call this putting on a ‘welcome face’. To me this signifies “I’m open, compassionate, and excited to listen.” If I can’t immediately get myself to be authentically in that state, I will sleep on it.

Finally, I lead feedback discussions with an open-ended question like, “What is it about this project that you’re especially proud of?” My goal is to put myself in the other person’s shoes before I make judgments.

3. Follow the NORMS of objectivityRohit Anabheri, founder of Circa Ventures

I use what I call the “NORMS approach” to keep the feedback objective rather than subjective. Here’s how it works:

Not an interpretation. Describe the behavior, don’t interpret why someone did something.

Observable. Focus on specific behavior or outcomes that are seen or heard.

Reliable. Two or more people independently agree on what they observed.

Measurable. Use facts to describe the behavior or result rather than superlatives like ‘all the time’ or ‘always’.

Specific. Based on a detailed description of the event (e.g., who was involved, where and when it happened, and what was the context and sequence of events).

As a result of going through this process, “John is always late,” turns into, “John was late for the leadership meeting three times last week.” This helps avoid emotions and exaggerations, as well as the disagreements that come when someone naturally tries to defend their behavior.

4. Put on your coaching hat Benji Rabhan, founder of AppointmentCore

When I’m about to give feedback, I put on my coach hat. Here’s what I do:

Strike while the iron is cold. To be effective, I must wait until I have emotionally separated myself from the equation. This way, I can proceed calmly and collectively, so as to not engage the employee’s fight or flight reflex.

Ask for permission. Once we sit down together, I say, “I’m going to wear the coaching hat as we talk about the project. Is that okay?” With their agreement, I explain, “There’s been something I’ve been trying to figure out, and I need your help. I am betting there is something I did not tell you, or there is a difference between our past experiences in this area. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions to see if we can figure out what I’m missing?” Doing this sets the context of the discussion as mutual improvement and prevents defensiveness.

Challenge assumptions with open-ended questions. I ask questions to help me understand their process for creating the work. Rather than ask, “Did you know that you did this wrong?” I’ll say, “Tell me about how you went about this assignment.” As they’re sharing, I’ll ask follow-up questions such as “What was the thought process of why you did it that way?” I keep going until I run out of questions. Open-ended questions help me discover what went wrong on the assignment, and how to correct the missteps. They also help the employee see the gaps in their own logic without me even having to say anything. And sometimes, I realize that I’m the one with the gap or that we both are.

In the end, I believe the key to making the process work is a sincere curiosity and desire to:

  • Understand what you personally could do better.
  • Get to the root of the problem.
  • Help the other person solve their own challenges in a peaceful way.

I recommend the book, Nonviolent Communication. It details great processes for having difficult conversations without sparking negativity.

5. Forget motivation. Stop demotivating Sevetri Wilson, CEO of Solid Ground Innovations

I am a very “straight to the point” person, and I’ve learned the hard way that this can really hurt morale.

Constant criticism, without an environment that praises great work, leads to employees becoming demotivated because they feel like they can never be ‘good enough.’ In a study that surveyed 1.2 million employees at primarily Fortune 1000 companies, they found that employees often don’t need motivation. It is constant critique without recognition that causes them to be demotivated.

When I give constructive criticism, I always emphasize that I believe in the person and their work. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have hired them. I make it a point to let my team members know that I’m fully aware of their capabilities, and I won’t accept anything less. I try to transform the conversation’s energy into something constructive by reminding them of what I loved about their other more successful projects and work. Whether that’s creativity, attention to detail, or content, it’s important to get people to dig deep down and pull out the work that made me hire them in the first place.

6. Give the conversation over to the employee Brian Scudamore, founder and CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, You Move Me, and Wow 1 Day Painting

My approach is to turn the conversation over to employees to lead – and hopefully – resolve.

I start by asking “How do you feel about your work?” or “Is this your best?”

Then my role becomes, “How can I help you?”

This leads to more employee ownership over problems and solutions. By taking myself out of the equation, I avoid negative feelings, but more importantly I believe the team grows and becomes capable of solving even greater challenges on their own.

Ultimately, this has led to a culture where our team looks forward to getting negative feedback because they know they will benefit from it. This mirrors the approach taken by Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, who proactively seeks out and listens to negative feedback.

7. Be tough-minded on standards and tender-hearted with people Doug Conant, former CEO of Fortune 500 company Campbell Soup Company and founder and CEO of Conant Leadership

When I give feedback, I often start with the four magic words of leadership, “How can I help?” Next, I ask additional questions to get to the root challenge. For example, “What can we do better?”

By asking these questions with sincerity, commitment, and a desire to help, leaders can be tough-minded on standards and tender-hearted with people. Most people unnecessarily sacrifice one for the other, but it is imperative that leaders incorporate both in a meaningful way, if they hope to achieve sustainable high performance.

The power of this approach is that it:

  • Sets the purpose of the conversation as solving the problem, not attacking the person.
  • Positions myself as a resource rather than a combatant.
  • Empowers the person to productively work through the issue.

8. Sandwich your feedback and spread it out Cameron Herold, author of Double Double, CEO coach, and globally renowned speaker

I “sandwich” the constructive criticism inside the good stuff and spread it out throughout the day:

  1. Tell them what they’re doing well.
  2. Tell them what specifically needs to improve.
  3. Tell them something else they’re doing well.

I learned this 30 years ago in the One Minute Manager, and it still holds up today. It’s also a great way to raise kids too – and I have four. Here’s why it works:

It is crucial to give MORE positive feedback than negative feedback. According to one study, top performing teams give each other more than five positive comments for every negative one.

It is crucial to give feedback immediately. Stanford University researcher on behavioral change, BJ Fogg, shares, “It’s critical for people to give feedback during or immediately after the behavior so that people’s brains will wire it correctly.” In other words, the tighter the feedback loop, the more immediately that feedback can be incorporated into and influence future behavior. How much more slowly would your golf swing improve if someone told you to ‘square your shoulders’ a week after a practice session vs. after your first few swings?

9. Direct your passion to competitors and your heart toward employees Aaron Steed, CEO of Meathead Movers

We all have passion and heart about our businesses. That passion is critical for the success of the company. It’s good for employees to see. However, the mistake that many founders make is directing that energy negatively toward employees with harsh feedback that employees can’t help but take personally.

The goal isn’t to kill the passion; it’s to redirect it.

When giving feedback, I direct my passion toward competitors, and my heart toward employees. When I do this, meetings turn from defensive to inspirational. Here’s how I do it:

I set my default to always come from a place of love, gratitude and curiosity (LGC).

I write “LGC” on the top of my personal, printed meeting agenda, if I’m stepping into a serious meeting. This helps me focus on why LGC is important. Our environment unconsciously triggers certain emotions. One study even found that holding a warm cup of coffee can increase the odds of us being more warm to others.

10. Show a funny video before giving feedback Kay Koplovitz, founder, USA Network and Syfy

A great way to relax someone is to find a cartoon, funny video or something else of interest to share to help the person let down their defensive guard. From there, it is easier to direct conversation to why their performance was subpar, and how to improve.

Beyond the immediate impact on everyone’s mood, laughter has long-term health benefits as well. And it may not only help the person you’re giving feedback to! It may help you. If you’re resisting confronting a lackluster performance, keep in mind a fascinating study, which found watching comedy videos increases willpower!

Special thank you to Ian Chew and Luke Murray for being an integral part of putting this article together.

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

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TIME Careers

These are the Most Extreme Jobs

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Venom milker and skydiving instructor make the list

Adrenaline addicts looking for a new job may want to consider a few of the following: Crocodile physiologist, venom milker and skydiving instructor. They all made a list of the world’s most extreme jobs, at least according to YourTradeBase, a company that helps other businesses with the entirely sedate job of completing their paperwork.

Take safari guide, for example, which was identified as the extreme career with the highest average salary. They are exposed to potentially dangerous animals like lions, work in an area lacking in medical facilities and drive on muddy and bumpy dirt tracks. But let’s face it: Despite the danger, it’s a great job.

Here are he most extreme jobs ranked by average salary per year (or season) are:

  1. Safari Guide: $73,000
  2. Professional Stuntman: $70,000
  3. Crocodile Physiologist: $62,500
  4. Storm Chaser: $60,968
  5. Cave Diver: $58,640
  6. Smoke Jumpers: $33,000
  7. Venom Milker: $30,000
  8. Skydiving Instructor: $24,000
  9. Whitewater Rafting Guide: $6,675 per season
  10. Everest Guides: $5,000 per season

In case you were wondering what a venom milker does, YourTradeBase writes that it’s a position to “massage the venom glands of many snakes, whilst pressing their fangs on a plastic plate/tube, to collect their venom.” It notes that “snakes don’t enjoy being milked.” Well, imagine that.

TIME Management

Why Monitoring Employees’ Social Media Is a Bad Idea

Quote tweet feature
Nick Ansell—PA Wire/Press Association Images Quote tweet feature. File photo dated 10/02/15 of the Twitter bird logo. Twitter has overhauled its "frustrating" quote tweet feature to allow people to say more about text they want to comment on. Issue date: Tuesday April 7, 2015. The social media giant had faced criticism that users barely had any characters left to add a comment when they quoted a tweet because of the 140-character limit. See PA story TECHNOLOGY Twitter. Photo credit should read: Nick Ansell/PA Wire URN:22671665

there is a vast difference between asking for employees to exercise good judgment and hovering over their Tweets like Big Brother

People today live in a virtual online aquarium, and chances are good that one of the people watching you is probably your current or potential employer. According to job site CareerBuilder, 52% of companies now check job applicants’ social media profiles before hiring them, up from 43% just a year ago.

On one hand, it’s understandable. After all, it can be embarrassing for a business if one of its representatives posts offensive content or does something illegal via social media. Employers can even get into legal trouble for their workers’ actions. Advocates of the practice say that it’s necessary to protect companies’ reputations, confidential information, and is an inevitable byproduct of the Internet age, according to the Wall Street Journal.

But does monitoring of employees’ social media really protect a company or can it do more harm than good?

First, the argument that companies need to keep tabs online to ensure that their employees refrain from inappropriate or illegal behavior doesn’t really hold. While it’s conceivable that some low level silliness, such as posting a picture of yourself dancing on a table, could be prevented by employer monitoring, more serious infractions are unlikely to be shared on social media and therefore never appear on the radar of the company anyway.

In addition, when job candidates or employees know that they are being watched, they can restrict access to certain posts, set up dummy profiles to fool companies, or otherwise throw up smokescreens. This is particularly true of millennials, who are technologically adept at controlling and manipulating their online avatars. The point is, the limited preventative effect of social media monitoring may not be worth the time and expense required for companies to do it.

There is also the problem of bias. Americans today are arguably more socially and politically conscious than previous generations and actively use social media to convey their thoughts, debate important topics, and fight for causes. In some cases, employers may even be supportive, such as if a job candidate works tirelessly to raise money for breast cancer research, but in other cases, there is a real danger of people being penalized for their personal views on things like politics, race, or religion.

Even if a company itself is neutral, the subjective feelings of the person tasked with monitoring employees’ social media could easily lead to discrimination, especially in the highly polarized environment of the U.S. People should be able to share their views on gay marriage, for example, with their friends on social media, without running afoul of an employer who disagrees with them. Recognizing that in essence this is an inadvertent violation of laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, political preference, gender etc, employers should at the very least factor this into their social media policies and put safeguards in place to prevent against it. The harm caused by bias to workers is immense but so are the potential legal consequences for companies.

Finally, by looking over workers’ shoulders, companies could stifle the most important trait that can benefit a business: creativity. As innovation becomes increasingly necessary in a hyper-competitive business landscape, this factor can be crucial for a company’s success.

Social media, for those who use it avidly at least, can be a medium to express our personality – for who we are – which is naturally linked to our creativity. Companies that foster creativity are more profitable and 50% more likely to be market leaders than their peers, according to the Harvard Business Review. Yet some businesses fail to make the connection between suppressing their employees’ online freedom and restricting their creativity.

There is no doubt that companies are within their rights to expect compliance with some common-sense social media etiquette. However, there is a vast difference between asking for employees to exercise good judgment and hovering over their Tweets like Big Brother. The latter can erode a necessary sense of trust between companies and their workers and undermine loyalty. Just as an employee or a job candidate needs to trust that a company has integrity and is worth working for, the company needs to show its people that it trusts them to behave like responsible adults.

By allowing workers to live their personal lives without intrusion, smart businesses can make a powerful statement; namely, that they accept them for who they are, treasure their professional contributions to the company, and want them to be happy and fulfilled outside as well as inside the office. This, in turn, would inspire loyalty and boost productivity in the workforce, and make those companies more profitable.

Kumar has worked in technology, media, and telecom investment banking. He has evaluated mergers and acquisitions in these sectors and provided strategic consulting to media companies and hedge funds.

TIME Management

Ex-Staffer: ‘I’d Rather Go to Iraq than Work for Carly Fiorina’

Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina speaks at TechCrunchÕs Disrupt conference on May 5, 2015 in New York City.
Andrew Burton—Getty Images Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina speaks at TechCrunchÕs Disrupt conference on May 5, 2015 in New York City.

Ex-staffers have harsh words for Republican presidential candidate

Carly Fiorina apparently left a trail of unpaid, unhappy campaign staffers after her unsuccessful 2010 U.S. Senate bid. According to Reuters, the former HP CEO and 2016 Republican presidential hopeful waited more than four years to give her campaign staff the compensation they were promised.

“Federal campaign filings show that, until a few months before Fiorina announced her presidential bid on May 4, she still owed staffers, consultants, strategists, legal experts and vendors nearly half a million dollars,” Reuters reported.

Twelve ex-Fiorina campaign workers told Reuters that, if given the chance to work Fiorina again, they’d rather not. One anonymous senior staffer reportedly said they’d prefer to be sent to Iraq. Ouch.

To be sure, political campaigns often spend beyond their means and end up not having the funds to pay their staff. In many cases, the candidates themselves wind up footing the bill. In the end, Fiorina’s staffers got their paychecks.

Fiorina’s tenure as CEO of Hewlett-Packard was particularly tumultuous and involved significant boardroom tension and a massive, strained merger with hardware giant Compaq.


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