MONEY College

The Important Talk Parents Are Not Having With Their Kids

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The new Fidelity College Savings Indicator survey reveals that parents are only on track to pay a third of college tuition—and that they're keeping mum on the topic.

Moms and dads expect their children to pay for more than one-third of college costs—but only 57% of parents actually have that conversation with their kids, according to a new study out by Fidelity today.

The cost of college has more than doubled in the past decade, and parents are having a hard time saving for it, Fidelity’s 8th annual College Savings Indicator study shows. While 64% of parents say they’d like be able to cover their kids total college costs, only 28% are on track to do so.

That jibes with reality: For current students, parents’ income and savings now only cover one-third of college costs on average, according to Sallie Mae’s recently released report How America Pays For College. Kids use 12% of their own savings and income. Loans taken by students and parents account for 22% of the funds, while another 30% comes from grants and scholarships.

Experts urge parents to have a frank conversation well in advance with their children about how much college costs and how much they are expected to contribute, either through summer jobs, their own savings or part-time jobs while in school. “If children know that they are expected to contribute to their college funds, they are more likely to save for it,” says Judith Ward, a senior financial planner at T. Rowe Price.

A T. Rowe Price study released earlier this week found that 58% of kids whose parents frequently talk to them about saving for college put away money for that goal vs. just 23% who don’t talk to their parents about how to pay for school.

There’s also reason to believe that parents shouldn’t feel so bad about not being able to take on the full tab. A national study out last year found that the more money parents pay for their kids’ college educations, the worse their kids tend to perform. In her paper “More Is More or More is Less? Parent Financial Investments During College,” University of California sociology professor Laura Hamilton found that larger contributions from parents are linked to lower grades among students.

Apparently, kids who don’t work or otherwise use their own money to pay for school spend more time on leisure activities and are less focused on studying. It’s not that these kids flunk out, according to Hamilton. She found that students with parental funding often perform well enough to stay in school, but they just dial down their academic efforts.

Given all these findings, parents should feel less pressure pay the full ride for their kids—especially if it means falling behind on other important goals like saving for their own retirement. “Putting your kids on the hook for college costs is better for everyone,” says Ward.

MONEY 101: How much does college actually cost?

MONEY 101: Where should I save for college?

TIME

4 Extremely Easy Ways to Fake Confidence

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Expert advice to bluff your way to the top

Confidence is crucial for advancing in your career, but a lot of Americans today are suffering from a lack of confidence with their jobs and the state of the economy. This doesn’t mean that you’re relegated to the sidelines until circumstances improve, though. You’ll just have to fake it. Afraid you’ll be as obvious as Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally? Here’s some advice from experts on how to bluff your way to confidence.

Be shameless. “Confidence rarely equates to competence,” points out Tom Hayes, founder and owner of marketing company Riley Hayes. “sometimes the most competent people are the least confident and that the most confident people are the least competent.” Research shows that people unconsciously defer to people who project an air of confidence, regardless of whether or not they “should be” in charge. Yes, taking those first steps can be excruciating, but if you can just get the ball rolling, your colleagues will automatically perceive you as having confidence and leadership qualities.

Spend your down time studying what leaders do. Even if you’re not feeling it, having the right tools to project an air of confidence can go a long way, suggests Heidi Golledge, co-founder and CEO of CareerBliss.com. “We have noticed employees using their free time to join ToastMasters… programmers reading the latest management and technology books as well as taking a weekend to join a conference in their field lead by creative industry leaders,” she says.

Or don’t. Doing something you enjoy in your free time — an activity or hobby that has absolutely no bearing on your job — can still have a positive impact on your career confidence, Golledge says. So what if you’re a database manager or an administrator — if taking art classes or running obstacle races revs you up, go for it. Then, when you’re back in the office, recall the confidence boost that comes from doing something you like, even if you’re never going to become an expert.

Focus your efforts. If you’re an introverted type, faking confidence and being “on” all the time can be exhausting. In a Harvard Business Review blog post, consultant and speaker Dorie Clark suggests grouping your to-do list so you’re not facing social interactions where you have to project confidence every single day. “Batching my activities allows me to focus, and alternating between social and quiet time enables me to be at my best when I do interact with people,” she writes. If you can pick a day’s worth of tasks that won’t require you to put on a “game face,” you’ll be refreshed for the next time around.

TIME technology

Here’s a Radical Way to End Vacation Email Overload

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Woman sitting on Villingili beach, working with a notebook and mobile phone, surfing in the internet. The island is owned by the luxurious Shangri-La's Villingili Resort and Spa Hotel on September 27, 2009 in Male, Maldives. EyesWideOpen--Getty Images

A German company has introduced an auto-delete program for emails to out-of-office workers. Should the the U.S. follow suit?

Picture your dream vacation. It probably doesn’t include desperately searching for an available wi-fi signal so you can check your work emails, does it? Yet these days, going away on vacation doesn’t usually mean leaving the office behind. Many people often find themselves tapping away on their smartphones, either in an attempt to field urgent questions, or to avoid the dreaded scenario of going back to work to hundreds of unread emails. Either way, many of us end up working when we’re supposed to be getting away from it all.

This is no longer a problem for employees at the German company Daimler. The car and truck maker has implemented a new program that allows employees to set their email software to automatically delete incoming emails while they are on vacation. When an email is sent, the program, which is called “Mail on Holiday,” issues a reply to the sender that the person is out of the office and that the email will be deleted, while also offering the contact information of another employee for pressing matters.

“The idea behind it is to give people break and let them rest,” says Daimler spokesman Oliver Wihofszki. “Then they can come back to work with a fresh spirit.” Not to mention, an empty inbox.

Unsurprisingly, the program — which is optional — has gone down well with the company’s German employees, about 100,000 of which have company email addresses, according to Wihofszki. He says that although the company hasn’t done any polling as to whether the service is popular, anecdotal feedback has been positive. “A colleague used it a few weeks ago and she loved it.”

Though it might seem radical, Daimler’s program fits into a wider phenomenon that’s spreading across Germany and other parts of Europe. Volkswagen and Deutsche Telekom, for example, have made efforts to stop emailing their staff during the evenings. Germany’s Labor Ministry has started encouraging managers to stop emailing or contacting employees outside of working hours by implementing a practice within its own ministry so that no one “who is reachable through mobile access and a mobile phone is obliged to use these outside of individual working hours.”

And then there’s France, which earlier this year was the source of many incredulous news headlines for its stance on post-6 pm work emails. No, despite what the headlines said, France didn’t “ban” work emails after hours. But a federation of employers and two unions of workers did form an agreement to allow employees the right to completely disconnect from their work for a set number of hours a day.

It might be easy to dismiss German and French companies embracing limits on work email as a typical European view of work, along with shorter work weeks and longer stretches of paid vacation time. But it’s not as if worker productivity in either country is pitiable. In fact, according to figures from the OECD, German and French productivity is among some of the highest in Europe and not all that far behind productivity in the U.S.

But while this sounds all well and good and oh so European for French and German workers, is a limit on out of the office work email something that U.S. businesses should try to adopt?

After all, Americans definitely deal with their share of work email. A poll conducted by Right Management, more than half of the respondents said that they’d been sent work emails by their managers or bosses in the evenings, weekends or while on vacation.

“The boundaries of the workplace are expanding and now reach deeper into employees’ lives, especially now that mobile technology is taken for granted,” said Monika Morrow, the senior vice president of career management at Right Management. “Many find they can no longer just leave the office at the office, and instead will get emails or calls while commuting or shopping, or even sitting down to dinner.” Morrow also asks, “this a convenience or an imposition?”

Whether people view after hours work emails an imposition or not, many do report that spending a lot of time checking emails does impact their stress levels. From a recent Gallup poll:

U.S. workers who email for work and who spend more hours working remotely outside of normal working hours are more likely to experience a substantial amount of stress on any given day than workers who do not exhibit these behaviors. Nearly half of workers who “frequently” email for work outside of normal working hours report experiencing stress “a lot of the day yesterday,” compared with the 36% experiencing stress who never email for work.

Yet, despite the polls and examples set by the Europeans, there doesn’t seem to be much groundswell support for implementing limits on after hours work email in the U.S. So, sadly, it doesn’t look like Americans are going to be getting any reprieve from the late-night emails or Sunday afternoon memos. Let’s hope, however, that some people can take some inspiration from the Germans and maybe, just maybe, stop checking their inbox while on vacation.

TIME Careers & Workplace

These Are America’s Best Companies to Work For

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The Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. company logos are seen on an advertising sign during the Apps World Multi-Platform Developer Show in London, U.K., on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013. Bloomberg/Getty Images

A surprising number one

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This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247wallst.com.

By Douglas A. McIntyre, Alexander E.M. Hess, Thomas C. Frohlich, Alexander Kent, Brian Zajac and Ashley C. Allen

No one knows more about a workplace than its employees. Employee opinions reflect basic measures, such as pay, perks, benefits, and hours worked. But they are also influenced by factors such as a company’s culture, internal politics, and even general mood — intangibles that can be lost in internal audits and consultancy surveys.

While companies have websites, public relations teams, and recruiters to tailor their message to prospective hires, employees have far fewer forums to communicate their views. Glassdoor.com, a career community website, provides the opportunity for employees to give their own opinions, and for potential employees to research the company. To identify the 75 Best Companies to Work For, 24/7 Wall St. examined company ratings provided by current and former employees to Glassdoor.com. (See how we made our list on the last page of this article.)

MORE: Ten States with the Fastest Growing Economies

Employees in certain sectors are far more likely to offer a positive opinion of their employer than others. Technology companies are certainly well represented among the highest-rated employers, as are consulting firms. Of the 75 best companies, only 12 received an average rating of 4.0 or higher out of 5. Of these, four are in the technology space — Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and Riverbed Technology — and three are consulting firms.

Being a market leader also appears to help. Many well-reviewed companies are the leaders in their respective industries, and as a result are financially successful. Apple, Intel, Procter & Gamble, and Walt Disney are all among the top-rated employers on Glassdoor.com and among the largest public companies in the world by market capitalization. Others are leaders in public relations, like Edelman and auditing giant EY, formerly Ernst & Young.

Many of the best companies to work for have cultivated an extremely strong reputation among the broader public as well. American Express, Facebook, Google, and SAP are all among the best companies to work for and among the top companies by brand value, according to brand consultancy BrandZ. Top employers also perform well according to other measures of brand awareness, such as CoreBrand and Interbrand.

MORE: Ten States with the Slowest Growing Economies

Not surprisingly, companies with strong employee reviews also give CEOs good grades. It would seem leadership matters, not just for running a company and producing returns for shareholders, but also for promoting employee satisfaction. Among the 75 best companies to work for, 38 have CEOs with an approval rating of 90% or higher. In all, just 10 CEOs have an approval rating below 80%, and all have the endorsement of at least two-thirds of their employees.

Employees at these companies also frequently cite a good office culture and work-life balance. In many cases, employees also praise a company if it promotes learning or training opportunities and career development. At several of these companies, employees also note a good benefits package, which is uncommon in many industries, such as retail.

These are America’s Best Companies to Work For

1. LinkedIn
> Glassdoor rating: 4.5
> CEO rating: 97% (Jeff Weiner)
> Employees: 5,045
> Revenue: $1.5 billion

According to the company: “Founded in 2003, LinkedIn connects the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. With over 300 million members worldwide…LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network on the Internet.”

LinkedIn is the nation’s best company to work for, based on ratings awarded by current and former employees at Glassdoor.com. Of course, high pay doesn’t hurt employee morale. According to Glassdoor.com, the average software engineer reported an annual salary of $127,817, while the average senior software engineer reported an annual salary of $145,192. Like other technology companies, LinkedIn has excellent perks and good, free food, but employees at the company also rave about good work-life balance and a confident, inspired leadership. In fact, 97% of reviewers have a high opinion of CEO Jeff Weiner, higher than all but a few other CEOs. However, LinkedIn is also proof no employer is perfect — the company recently agreed to pay $6 million to hundreds of employees for unpaid overtime, plus damages.

2. Facebook
> Glassdoor rating: 4.5
> CEO rating: 96% (Mark Zuckerberg)
> Employees: 6,337
> Revenue: $7.9 billion

According to the company: “Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.”

Facebook is a rapidly growing and highly profitable company. It is also increasingly successful at reaching users on their mobile phones. The company’s success has not only captivated investors — Facebook’s market capitalization is currently $189 billion — but also potential employees. In fact, technology giant Google was so worried about employees leaving for Facebook that it began to provide a counter offer to employees recruited by Facebook within one hour, The Wall Street Journal recently reported. Strong benefits and perks are just one of the repeatedly mentioned advantages of working at Facebook, according to Glassdoor.com. A relatively flat hierarchy and a fast-paced workday are other characteristics of the company that employees enjoy.

ALSO READ: Customer Service Hall of Shame

3. Eastman Chemical
> Glassdoor rating: 4.5
> CEO rating: 91% (Mark J. Costa)
> Employees: 14,000
> Revenue: $9.4 billion

According to the company: “Eastman is a global specialty chemical company that produces a broad range of products found in items people use every day.”

Specialty chemicals maker Eastman receives rave reviews from employees. Workers at Eastman frequently cite work-life balance, helpful colleagues and strong teamwork, as well as a good corporate culture in their reviews. Workers also praise the company’s dedication to workplace safety. According to the company, safety forms one of Eastman’s core values. The company publicly tracks and discloses its own safety track record, as well as its internal goals for workplace safety. The small town nature of Kingsport, Tennessee, where Eastman is headquartered, is among the few complaints occasionally mentioned in Glassdoor.com reviews.

4. Insight Global
> Glassdoor rating: 4.4
> CEO rating: 94% (Glenn Johnson)
> Employees: N/A
> Revenue: $918 million

According to the company: “Through a nationwide network of 37 regional offices, Insight Global provides clients exceptional IT technicians and consultants to meet the demanding technology challenges of today.”

Insight Global is an IT staffing firm, filling over 20,000 positions a year, according to the company. Workers who were assigned jobs through the company rave about its staffing practices, noting that Insight Global’s recruiters are polite and exceptionally helpful. Many reviewers on Glassdoor.com also note that they were placed very quickly. In one such review a worker notes, “I literally got a job in under 24 hours!” Insight Global says it is on track to exceed $1 billion in annual revenue by the end of 2014.

ALSO READ: Customer Service Hall of Fame

5. Bain & Company
> Glassdoor rating: 4.4
> CEO rating: 99% (Bob Bechek)
> Employees: 5,500
> Revenue: $2.1 billion

According to the company: “Bain & Company is one of the world’s leading management consulting firms. We work with top executives to help them make better decisions, convert those decisions to actions, and deliver the sustainable success they desire.”

Bain & Company is the highest-rated consulting firm on this list, surpassing rivals McKinsey & Company and Boston Consulting Group. Bain notes on its website that, historically, client companies have dramatically outperformed the S&P 500. Also indicative of the company’s success, current worldwide managing director Bob Bechek received a nearly unanimous approval rating of 99%. Employees praise the company on multiple fronts, citing its emphasis on professional development and the quality of the workplace culture at Bain. When employees do complain, it is about long hours and demanding travel schedules.

For the rest of the list, go to 24/7Wall St.

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TIME privacy

How to Manage Your Online Reputation

There’s plenty you can do to make sure the best parts of your virtual self pop up on that first page of search results.

When was the last time you Googled your name? If you haven’t, it’s a good habit to get into, because it’s exactly what a potential employer is likely to do when they’re sifting through a pile of resumes. “The stuff people care most about is what they find when they Google you,” says Michael Fertik, CEO and founder of online reputation-management firm Reputation.com.

That’s why it’s important that you own what you look like online. Depending on what you (or others) post on social networks or personal sites, what a search engine turns up may not reflect the accurate or professional picture you want it to.

But there’s plenty you can do to make sure the best parts of your virtual self pop up on that first page of a Google search. Here, we’ll walk you through how to do everything from maintaining current social media profiles to ensuring that your professional information appears first.

Decide What You Want Out There

While Facebook posts and photos might be for the eyes of friends and family only, privacy settings on more-public networks such as LinkedIn or Twitter can be more beneficial when relaxed. After all, you don’t want to be completely invisible on the Internet. “It’s weird for people in this day and age not to have an online profile,” Fertik says.

But if you haven’t been refining your Internet footprint over the years, your online profile may also include nuggets like ancient MySpace photos, an out-of-date company staff page, even out-of-context rants on old blogs — all of which can give someone the wrong impression.

Deleting these may not necessarily clear the Internet of the detritus. In an age of retweets, shares, and linkbacks, the same photo can exist on many sites across the web. So instead of wasting time and energy cleaning up a digital backlog, focus on strengthening existing profiles, which will help them beat the less-flattering stuff to the top of the search page.

Improve Your LinkedIn Profile

Surveys indicate that anywhere from 88% to 97% of recruiters go to LinkedIn to find candidates. LinkedIn profiles also turn up very high in Google search results, most likely due to the site’s high traffic, how often it’s linked to, and the amount of content users post everyday. So it’s not only a good idea to have a public LinkedIn profile, but to also ensure that it’s accurate, current, and grabby.

LinkedIn trainer and speaker Viveka von Rosen says that the Headline field (the line beneath your name) is the easiest — and most-often overlooked — place to grab attention when building a profile. “Rather than going with the default (your title at your current company) take the opportunity to say what it is that you do. Something like, ‘graphic artist working with startups in the Sudan,’” Von Rosen suggests.

Using keywords related to your field when describing yourself in the Summary and Experience sections can also help your profile turn up on Google if someone is searching for particular skills.

Once your profile is spruced up, you want to make sure it’s visible on the web. Head into Settings and select Edit Your Public Profile. Then check that reads “Make my public profile visible to everyone.” You can then reveal (or conceal) specific information within your public profile.

Von Rosen suggests allowing your Name, Photo, Headline and Summary to be open, while remaining cautious about revealing too much. “With identity theft, I limit what’s visible publicly – for example, in a page of Google search results,” she says.

Get Active on Twitter

If you’re on Twitter, regular posts relevant to your field can help build up your online profile for prospective employers. Like LinkedIn, Twitter profiles often turn up on the first page of Google search due to the site’s traffic and content flow.

Reputation.com’s Fertik suggests picking a Twitter username as close to your real name as possible. That way when someone searches for your name, it’s your Twitter and LinkedIn profiles that pop up alongside your personal website and company blog.

Changing your username is simple: Head to Account and enter the new name. If it’s available, it’s yours.

If your Twitter page is very personal — say, intended for friends and home to some off-color opinions — it might make more sense to limit access to only followers you approve.

Being cautious in that way can do a lot to boost your chances. A CareerBuilder survey found that two in five employers check social-media during the hiring process. Forty-three percent of employers rejected candidates based on inappropriate or discriminatory content on their profiles. On the flipside, 19% of recruiters who scanned social-media profiles hired candidates based on positives they found within.

To stop your off-color Twitter feed from showing up on Google, head to Settings, then Security and Privacy, and select Protect. Bonus: This also prevents the Library of Congress from archiving your tweets.

Dial Up the Facebook Privacy Settings

“Recruiters use Twitter to post jobs, LinkedIn to source candidates, and Facebook to eliminate candidates,” von Rosen says.

Many employers take Facebook profiles into account, even if they shouldn’t. A North Carolina State University study mapped Facebook behavior against personality traits. The researchers found that there’s often little correlation between a person’s real-life personality and how they portray themselves on Facebook, so employers could likely misjudge a candidate based on his or her profile alone.

To keep your Facebook profile out of search engine results, head into Settings, Privacy and select “No” in response to “Do you want other search engines to link to your timeline?” question.

Facebook no longer allows users to hide their profiles from the website’s own search, but you can control how much of your profile will show up. For example, changing who can see your posts and photos to “Friends Only” means that a potential boss would see only your cover photo, profile photo, plus any About info — where you live, work, or went to school — that you’ve allowed to be public.

If a potential boss is in your extended Facebook network, you might want to change who can see future and past posts. We recommend setting updates as viewable to Friends Only — at least during the application process.

You can also clean up your feed post-by-post. Under Settings, Timeline and Tagging, there’s an option to check how your timeline looks to the public (note that this includes anyone logged into their Facebook account). If the photos and statuses displayed aren’t career-friendly, you can change individual visibility by selecting the photo or status, clicking edit, then changing “Public” to “Friends” or “Only Me” from the drop down menu.

If you have a fan page or are the administrator for a group with a lot of fans, allowing these pages to hit the search engines is good for boosting your online profile. For these pages, head to Settings, General, and make sure that “post targeting and privacy” is turned off. You can also lift any country or age restrictions (the page default settings are open and public).

For more on Facebook privacy settings, including how to limit what’s shown to the Facebook public, check out our comprehensive guide.

Pull Up the Positive, Push Down the Negative

Outside your own profiles, there’s content on the web that’s out of your immediate control. Things like rants from ex-employees, customer complaints, or unwanted photos from a past flame can paint a negative picture.

If you find an unflattering photo or inaccurate info on someone else’s site, the best first step is to contact the site owner and request it be removed or updated. In most cases, the site owner will comply.

However, negative reviews and undesired content that has been posted on sites like newspapers, Yelp, Amazon, or Angie’s List might be harder to take down. These larger companies are unlikely to grant a request unless you can prove the content is defamatory or inaccurate.

If they won’t budge, you can try what services like Reputation.com do: publish more content to push the offending article out of the first page of search results. For example, publish a blog post, put up a photo set on Flickr, or add information to a public social profile, such as LinkedIn or Google+. “Make sure your latest and greatest resume info is posted in short narrative and bullet format on a variety of resume sites,” Fertik says.

For bigger cleanup jobs, Reputation.com (and agencies like it) can take on the task for a fee (from $100 depending on the scale of virtual damage). Reputation.com uses patented algorithms to publish search engine optimized content. For example, the service might write and publish your professional details and biography at a selection of websites they say are picked especially for your field. By publishing lots of high-quality content with good keywords, the negative content should be pushed further down the search results list.

Depending on the industry you want to work in, other social network accounts on less popular portals, such as Google+, Pinterest and Tumblr, can help build an even more rounded online profile. If you work in fashion or design, for instance, a Pinterest profile can both show off your work and help you engage with fashion and design followers (i.e., potential customers).

Increasing the right kind of visibility — and diminishing what’s less appealing — is key to putting your best face forward online. “If you’re not findable by your subject matter and name,” says Fertik, “people aren’t going to be able to give you the opportunities.”

This article was written by Natasha Stokes and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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 Shopping

Sitting At Your Desk Is Killing You. Here’s What It Costs To Stop the Destruction

This could be you if you don't get up and move around during the work day. TommL—Getty Images/Vetta

Sitting all day is a real killer. Here's a few products to help you be more active at the office.

The science is in: Sitting at your desk all day is really, really, bad for you. Studies have shown long periods of sitting is bad for the elderly, drastically increases your risk of cancer, and now new research confirms that being a couch potato at work is hazardous to your heart’s health.

Worst of all, your daily (or weekly) trip to the gym isn’t enough to offset the damage that prolonged sitting can cause. As a New York Times survey of the scientific literature concluded:

It doesn’t matter if you go running every morning, or you’re a regular at the gym. If you spend most of the rest of the day sitting — in your car, your office chair, on your sofa at home — you are putting yourself at increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, a variety of cancers and an early death.

How can you avoid this death-by-lethargy? The key is not exercising more, but sitting less. Luckily for desk jockeys everywhere, there are plenty of products and services that promise to get you moving about during the work day. Here’s a quick survey of the market, and how much each solution will cost you.

Standing Desk

Cost: $20-$1,497

The most obvious way to prevent the problems of sitting is to, well, stand. A standing desk is pretty much the same as a normal desk, but much taller, and usually adjustable. The idea is that by standing you’ll be more active—flexing your legs, fidgeting, moving around, shifting your weight, etc—and therefore avoid the complete stasis that makes sitting so damaging.

Standings desks run the gamut from virtually free to obscenely expensive. If you don’t want to spend any money at all—something standing desk advocates actually recommend for newcomers—you can just use a sufficiently high counter top or table. As long as your new workstation meets a few ergonomic requirements (this graphic from Wired is very helpful), you should be all set.

If you like the standing desk lifestyle (and the ability to literally look down on your seated co-workers), it might be time to splurge on the real thing. On the low end, there’s a $20 IKEA hack for the DIY type. A good mid-range product is the $400 Kangaroo Pro Junior, an adjustable (if small) option with a special mounting for your computer monitor.

The top of the line is the NextDesk Terra. At almost $1,500, the Terra is not for anyone on a budget, but it certainly offers some great features. In addition to great build quality, Terra’s electrical motor allows you to easily adjust its height using a small console on the right corner. It also remembers three different heights, allowing for sharing or an easy transition back to sitting position. All this was enough to impress the Wirecutter, which picked the Terra as their favorite standing desk.

Treadmill Desk

Cost: ~$700-$1,500+

Standing desk not hardcore enough for you? Try combining it with an actual treadmill. Surprisingly, these contraptions aren’t that much more expensive than a standing desk, with some options coming in around $700. Consumer Reports recommends the LifeSpan TR1200-DT5, which retails for $1,500.

Treadmill desks are a great way to remain active while working, but try not to go overboard with the exercise (especially if you can’t wear gym clothes to work). Business Insider’s Alyson Shontell walked 16 miles in one day on a treadmill desk and described the experience as less-than-enjoyable.

Office Yoga

Cost: Classes start at $250 a session

Yoga is a great way to de-stress while also getting some needed exercise. The problem? You can’t exactly break out the tights and yoga matts in the middle of your office without getting, at the very least, some weird looks from everyone nearby.

Or at least that’s been the problem until now. A company called Yoga Means Business offers offices group yoga classes that don’t require a change of clothes. YMB’s signature class is the 30-minute method, which features 15-20 minutes of standing and stretching and another ten minutes of meditation and breathing. Half an hour isn’t too much time, but it’s a great way to get out of your chair and be active for a little while during the work day.

In terms of cost, YMB’s classes are free—assuming you can convince your company to pick up the charge. Each 30-minute session starts at $250 and YMB recommends two sessions per week. If yoga isn’t enough, you can also book an appointment with an office fitness expert. Larry Swanson, a Seattle message therapist and personal trainer, offers appointments where you can learn exercises, posture awareness, and other strategies for staying active during work.

Apps

Cost: Free

If all these fancy desks and yoga classes sound like too much, you can make yourself more active using only a smartphone or tablet. StandApp, available for both iOS and Android, allows users to set custom break intervals and then alerts them when its time to get out of their chair. In addition to these periodic reminders, StandApp also has video guides for various office-compatible exercises and tracks how many calories you’ve burned by getting up more often.

Posture Sensor

Cost: $149.99

If you are going to sit for a while, it’s important to have good posture. The LumoBack posture sensor straps around your waist and tracks how your sitting or standing. If it detects you slouching, the device vibrates to let you know you’re doing it wrong. The LumoBack also integrates with your iPhone to track your steps and how many times you stand per day, making it useful for anyone who wants to make sure they’re not sitting for too long.

Get a New Job

Cost: ????

At the end of the day, the problem is your modern work life. Most white collar jobs require sitting behind a desk for 8+ hours instead of moving around. On the other hand, jobs in manual labor offer plenty of opportunities for exercise. Maybe you’ll have to take a pay cut (not always, many manual jobs have pretty great compensation), but you’ll probably be healthier for it. And you can’t put a price on your health, right?

TIME work

Uh, oh. The Biggest Jerk At Work Might Be You

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Businessman pointing finger from behind desk Rob Lewine--Getty Images/Tetra images

If so, you'd be the last to know. A new studies reveals the flaws in our self-perception

Work really is just an extension of high school: No matter how self-conscious you think you are, you are probably wrong about what kind of impression you make on your co-workers. According to a new study out of Columbia Business School, people are really bad at figuring out how they come off in the workplace, and tend to think they’re being more aggressive or more meek than their co-workers think they are.

The study found that most people have about a 50/50 shot of correctly interpreting how their co-workers see them. 57% of people who are seen as under-assertive think of themselves as appropriately assertive or even pushy. Meanwhile, 56% of people seen as too assertive think they’re normal or even too meek.

The researchers also found something called the “line crossing illusion,” which is when people think they’re crossing a line even when their co-workers think they’re behaving appropriately. Otherwise known as “crippling self-doubt.”

The researchers said they didn’t find significant differences between men and women when it comes to perceived assertiveness, which is interesting considering the well-documented evidence that women face different perceptions in the work place when it comes to assertiveness.

 

MONEY career

What’s the Best Way to Manage Your Work Email While You’re on Vacation?

Man using laptop on dock over calm lake
These days, there's no such thing as "off the grid" when it comes to vacation. Caiaimage/Paul Bradbury—Getty Images

Expected to be connected even when you're off duty? You don't need to be glued to your email; all it takes is 30 minutes a day to keep your bosses happy.

Q: How responsive to email should I be when I am on vacation? – Joshua, Park City, Utah

A: That partly depends on you, and partly on the work you do. “You need to know what’s expected of you,” says Lizzie Post, co-author of The Etiquette Advantage in Business. “If you’re in sales or in a high ranking position, you may not have the option to unplug completely.”

Know your company culture—and even more specifically, your department culture. If most people stay in touch, it’s probably not a good idea to opt out completely, says Post.

The good news is that more people, even at the top of the ladder, are leaving the office behind when they are on vacation. Half of executives say they won’t check in with work during summer vacation, up from 26% in 2010 and 21% in 2005, according to a survey by staffing firm Robert Half International. The big shift may be tied to better economic times and—counterintuitively— technology. “The economy is doing better and some firms aren’t as short staffed,” says Paul McDonald, a senior executive director at Robert Half. “With wireless networks everywhere, people know they can be reached if there is something urgent.”

In a situation where you just don’t think you can be out of touch, but also don’t want to be glued to your devices while you’re on vacation? Let your team know you will be checking email once daily, and also what constitutes an important matter for them to get in touch by phone. Then set aside just 30 minutes each day to skim emails, delete the junk, and respond to what you deem urgent. No going back to the device after that; trust that your bosses or underlings will call for anything more dire. And, of course, set up an out of office reply so clients and customers know you’re away, including contact info for someone to help in your absence.

In fact, you’ll greatly reduce the emails you have to respond to if you can convince a colleague to cover for you when you’re away. Return the favor, and you’ll both able to enjoy your time out of the office more.

Doing all this may actually help you relax. You won’t have to sift through hundreds of emails and play catch up for the first day after you return, so you may be able to hang onto the post-vacation glow for a few hours longer.

TIME career

Matt Lauer Asked Mary Barra If She Can Be a Good Mom and Run GM

GM CEO Mary Barra Testifies At House Hearing On Ignition Switch Recall
General Motors CEO Mary Barra testifies during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on June 18, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson--Getty Images) Mark Wilson—Getty Images

Just months after Sen. Barbara Boxer said she was disappointed in Barra "woman to woman."

In an exclusive TODAY show interview with Mary Barra, Matt Lauer asked the General Motors CEO if it was possible for her to run a major automaker and be a good mom at the same time.

Here’s a transcript of that part of the interview:

LAUER: You’re a mom, I mentioned, two kids. You said in an interview not long ago that your kids told you they’re going to hold you accountable for one job and that is being a mom.

BARRA: Correct. (smiling.)

LAUER: Given the pressures of this job at General Motors, can you do both well?

BARRA: You know, I think I can. I have a great team, we’re on the right path…I have a wonderful family, a supportive husband and I’m pretty proud of the way my kids are supporting me in this.

Lauer also asked her about the speculation that despite her 30 years of experience at the company, she may have gotten the job because of the desire to have a maternal figure guide the company through a rocky time.

LAUER: I want to tread lightly here. You’ve heard this, you heard it in Congress. You got this job because you’re hugely qualified, 30 years in this company a variety of different jobs. But some people are speculating that you also got this job because as a woman and as a mom because people within General Motors knew this company was in for a very tough time and as a woman and a mom you could present a softer image and softer face for this company as it goes through this horrible episode. Does it make sense or does it make you bristle?

BARRA: Well it’s absolutely not true. I believe I was selected for this job based on my qualifications. We dealt with this issue — when the senior leadership of this company knew about this issue, we dealt with this issue.

This interrogation comes just a few months after Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) told Barra during her Senate questioning that “woman to woman, I’m disappointed.”

How’s this for a question: Can Matt Lauer be a good dad and host the Today Show? Let’s discuss.

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