Today I Learn… I make a point of learning something new everyday. This is what I learn each day

1, Nov 30, 2016

If you need a good laugh, read H.L. Mencken

Filed under: American Culture,Best quotes,Fun,Happiness,Life — admin @ 10:11 am

On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. H. L. Mencken

It is inaccurate to say that I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office.

The difference between a moral man and a man of honor is that the latter regrets a discreditable act, even when it has worked and he has not been caught.

It is even harder for the average ape to believe that he has descended from man.

In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.
For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.

Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.

Before a man speaks it is always safe to assume that he is a fool. After he speaks, it is seldom necessary to assume it.

Communism, like any other revealed religion, is largely made up of prophecies.

To be in love is merely to be in a state of perceptual anesthesia – to mistake an ordinary young woman for a goddess.

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.

The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out… without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable.

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

A bad man is the sort who weeps every time he speaks of a good woman.

1, Nov 27, 2016

Introducing Zhongshi Chen’s Modern Classic, White Deer Plain

Filed under: Book — admin @ 12:19 am

I wrote this great book review and published on Critical Flame.

I am not sure how large is the readership on this book review. It won’t make much sense if you have not read the original novel, White Deer Plain. Since there is no English version of the novel, only those who can read in Chinese can possibly read this, which makes readership even smaller.

Another discouraging fact is in this age of mobile technology, people don’t have time for long novel like this. They don’t have time for even short essays like what I posted on LinkedIn. The age of no deep reading. It is what it is.

1, Nov 26, 2016

Doing what you preach: teaching local Chinese kids, making Xmas ornaments…

Filed under: Holiday — admin @ 8:38 pm

I went to Blue Valley library today to teach a group of Chinese kids making Christmas ornaments, like the ones I posted on 11/17/2016. I remember the words that I kept telling my children when they were small, if you are smart and want to mean something to others, do one thing — help others. Whatever you know, whatever you have means nothing to others, if you don’t share with others, if you are selfish… I am glad that I have lived up to what I once preached, exemplify the virtue that I want my children to possess.

I only hope the children were teenagers or little ones with their parents around helping them. It took too long to get anything across with the little ones. I don’t think I have achieved what I had planned. I wish I have the virtue of patience. I’d like to work with teenagers, sharing with them both skills and ideas. But I guess by teenage years, kids feel like above doing things like this. They might not like listening to adults at all. That’s life.

1, Nov 24, 2016

Three salient features of Poor man’s mentality

Filed under: Time management — admin @ 1:53 pm

I wrote this wonderful piece a few days ago. Please go to LinkedIn to leave your comments. Thank you.

People are likely to associate mentality of the poor with the real poor who have no plan of getting out of government assistance. But in reality this mentality is found not just among the real poor. It exists within many who are in the range of middle class. It is the mentality that traps people where they are for decade after decade, leading them to be surrounded by a pile of poor man’s junks.

Number one salient feature of this mentality is they don’t know the value of time, in that they value money more than time. They are willing to save money at the cost of spending extra time. They let time pass without gaining any tangible and intangible value. In a way, we all trade our time for money when we go to work every day. Very often, how much value we can extract from our time at office is not entirely up to us to decide. Some people have to take a day job for basic sustainability so that they can work on their day dreams as soon as the day job is over. There are always something that we can control in regard to our time. Here are some examples.

An IT guy who works in the neighborhood of Overland Park Convention Center lives north of the Missouri River. He spends an hour and half daily on the road. He told me that he would not be able to buy a large house like his in Overland Park. Never mind about the cost of daily gas and the stress on the road. I would say he exhibits the mentality of the poor when he tries to save money by squandering extra driving time every day. The thought process must be like this– while time is free, large house costs more. He would trade his free time for the costly house.

Influenced by this mentality, he finds it hard to part with his money and would grab anything that is free. Here’s what he doesn’t realize: the free time is not unlimited. With money, he earns, spends and can earn it back; but not with time. Always keep this in mind — time is the only thing in life that we have less and less.

It is because they don’t value the free yet limited resource that they don’t invest wisely their time to generate more values or assets. People waste something that is the most valuable one in life.

There is another case where a friend of mine drove us around the town in Los Angeles to find sale beef. For a ridiculously insignificant amount of saving, we spent like an hour checking in and out grocery stores. It even seems comical.

Number two of poor man’s mentality is to trade health for money. Like when people work strenuously or sit there for so long that they won’t stop until they are struck down by illness. They don’t know how to extend their life span by investing in some fitness activity or by stopping working when they should. Whatever they earned is not enough to pay their medical bills or to bring back their health and enable them to enjoy life. What a short-sighted idiocy!

Number three is to bring home sale items or free stuffs even if he doesn’t need them. Nothing is free. Everything he brings home takes up his time and space. Once again this mentality leads people to trade their time with some cheap or free stuff that they don’t really need, and later on they will have to spend some time to decide how to dispose it, like selling them at garage sale. Gradually they end up being collectors of poor man’s junks and their lifetime will be an endless cycle of junk collection and junk disposal. How pathetic!

My 85-year-old mother knows best. She keeps telling me, “Don’t bring back anything from America. They are all made in China. If I need, I can get it cheaper here. More important, I don’t need anything.” I know what she needs most. My time. Good luck on this.

1, Nov 23, 2016

Men, you don’t have to follow the masculine norms, it’s for your own mental health

Filed under: Men's Health — admin @ 1:16 pm

I read this article today. I cannot say that there is a definite association between masculine norms and man’s mental health. But I can say for sure that the society-enforced masculine norms are unnatural. And anything unnatural is detrimental to our health. Take for example self-reliance. On the one hand, it is great that we are financially independent, that we don’t have to be seeking daily assistance; on the other hand, we are social beings. From time to time, we rely on each other emotionally, psychologically, and financially. It would be unnatural if a man tries to appear like a superman when he is not.

The title of the article is “Being sexist could harm men’s health, study suggests”

The article starts this way, “Men who have “playboy” attitudes and believe in power over women may face a higher risk for mental health trouble than men who don’t, a broad new research review suggests.”

The findings from the studies that involved nearly 19,500 predominantly white male participants include:
(1) “the more that men conformed to masculine norms the poorer their mental health, and the less likely they were to seek mental health services… men who adhere to masculine norms are generally in a worse state of mental health, and less motivated to seek psychological help.”
(2) “self-reliance was the trait most strongly associated with worse psychological outcomes.”
(3) “masculine norms was more likely to be associated with being lonely, hostile or having problems socializing than it was to a risk for depression.”

The study defines “masculine norms” as
— the desire to win;
— to retain emotional control;
— to take risks;
— to engage in violence;
— to exert dominant behavior;
— to participate in a “playboy” lifestyle;
— to be self-reliant;
— to elevate work to the highest level of importance;
— to retain power over women;
— to maintain a disdain for homosexuals;
— and to pursue “status.”

1, Nov 22, 2016

Christmas for the needy families

Filed under: Holiday — admin @ 9:05 pm

Our clinic participates in adopting a needy family during this holiday season. Below are the items that they need. It gives me a sad feeling when I go through the list. I think of my children and miserable I would be if I wasn’t able to provide them with what they needed when they were small.

Mom Age 32
· Wears size M Shirt
· Wears 12/13 Pants
· Wears Shoes size 9
· Coat Size Large
daughter Age 12
· Wears size L Shirt
· Wears 14 youth pants
· Wears Shoes size 9
· Favorite Color RED
daughter Age 2
· Wears size 4-5t Shirt
· Wears size 4-5t Pants
· Wears Shoes size 10 Toddlers
· Loves Disney Princesses, Peppa Pig & Mickey Mouse
· Favorite Colors PINK & PURPLE

Items that are needed/requested:
1. Coats
2. Gloves
3. Toddler Bedding
4. Twin Bedding
5. King Bedding (Earth tones/Black/White/Grey Preferred)
6. Sweatpants
7. Underwear (Size 7)
8. Shirts
9. Pants
10. Gift Cards for the Teenager (Target/Walmart/etc.)
11. Toys/Dolls for Toddler (Disney princess preferred)

1, Nov 18, 2016

The highest insult at workplace

Filed under: Leadership,work — admin @ 9:30 pm

I wrote and posted this one today while at work.

1. Unappreciative of Efforts
2. Lack Recognition and Respect
3. Constant Criticism
4. Expect Employees to Be Like Them
5. Hypocrisy
6. Delegate Too Much – or Not Enough
7. Micromanagement
8. Manipulative
9. Don’t Value Employees

What an awful list! Two years ago when I read Glenn Lopis’ article “9 Ways Leaders Insult Their Employees,” I thought who, in his/her right mind, would do these to his/er employees, like hypocrisy, manipulative? Get real! Not in my wildest dreams!

I have seen micromanagement. It is called super responsibility in my vocabulary. I have no complaint about it as long as the manager takes responsibility for whatever under his micro.

Many of the items in the list look like the same thing to me, like appreciation, recognition, respect and value. Of course, appreciation and recognition encourage people to keep doing what they have done. But what difference does it make if you are paid adequately? We are old enough not to crave for recognition, and we won’t do a shoddy job even if we are not duly appreciated. Respect? It would be nice if you are truly respected. But how do you know it’s genuine or not? I can live without it. What matters most is you are treated legally, that is, without any form of discrimination.

To me, the highest workplace insult for someone, who is the key player in a team and who should play the leading role in a project, is assigned a subordinate position and is told to play second fiddle to an outsider who doesn’t know what he is talking about and who interferes in whatever the key player does.

Readers, what is the highest insult that you have experienced at your workplace? Go to LinkedIn to post your comments.

1, Nov 17, 2016

The season of giving … share the joy of origami with patients, colleagues and all….

Filed under: Holiday — admin @ 3:38 pm

I made over 50 of origami ornaments and donated them to our clinic. These will be sold at $4 each and the proceeds from the sale will go to benefit some needy families during the holiday season. I felt like breathing a sigh of relief when I finally handed them over. It’s a few months in the making. I have realized that it takes more time on my part than simply handing out some cash. It’s not that I have more time than money but the fact that I wish to share with people the joy of origami. I am sure the joyful color will bring festivity to the season.

This is one of the reasons that I’d like to involve in teaching teenagers. As the saying goes, many hands make light work. No fear of spoiling the soup.
origami-ornament-home-door
origami-ornaments-office
the-joy-of-origami-ornaments

1, Nov 10, 2016

Some questions from Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Filed under: Book — admin @ 10:37 pm

Some questions from Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (designed for 文化村英文读书会 by 吕行)

1. Why do you think Coates decided to format the book as a letter to his son? Why is it effective? (Fun fact: the book wasn’t formatted this way until the book’s fourth draft!)

2. Coates praises Malcolm X for being “the first pragmatist I knew” (p. 36) and speaking like “a man who was free” (p. 36). Do you think Coates would describe his own writing in this book as such?

3. How does he differentiate between the racist individual and racism as an institution? Does he believe there is a difference? How does the moment in the movie theater with his son speak to both?

4. Who are the Dreamers? What does he mean when he says “The Dream is the enemy of all art?” (p. 50)

5. Coates claims that he has not spent his life studying the “problem of race” (p. 115) and yet many would argue that the problem of race is this book’s very focal point. Why is this an important contradiction?

6. What is “the black body?” (p. 35) Who are those who “believe they are white?” (p. 42)

7. What did Coates gain at Howard University that he feels other universities in America could not offer?

8. Describe why Coates felt more freedom as a foreigner in France than as an American. Why did he feel it was important to take his son to Paris?

9. How does he differentiate between the violence at home (in the form of corporal punishment) and the violence experienced by the black body outside of home?

1, Nov 8, 2016

Five categories of to-do list

Filed under: Time management — admin @ 1:34 am

When I was in school, weekend relaxation started Friday noon. When I work, weekend planning starts Friday afternoon when I am physically in the office but have mentally checked out. Sometimes I made such a long ambitious list for the weekend that it is even discouraging to look at it. Recently I found that I will be able to get more things done if I divide the tasks into different categories. I think for me there are at least 5 categories of to-do list for now.

(1) Office (I make this one during weekday, not on weekend)
(2) Sideline –books I’m reading, articles that I have saved and will read, pictures that I will take, writing topics;
(3) Friends and relative — my children, my relatives in China, crafts I promise my colleagues, friends I will contact, volunteer activities if there is an opportunity
(4) Family — grocery shopping, cleaning (endless), kitchen work, yard work;
(5) Personal care — walk and other exercise, daily mental exercise, memory training.

1, Nov 7, 2016

Reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Filed under: Book — admin @ 1:48 pm

I remember a colleague of mine told me she couldn’t remember what was about in a book that she has read. Now that I have read novels and non-fictions one after another, I want to make sure that I will take home at least one thing from each of the books that I have read. I just finished reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.

The story is pretty straightforward. As the title indicates, A Little Life, it is about one person’s little life — Jude, though the novel starts with the lives of four college kids.
JB — artist, gay man
Willem — actor, gay man
Jude St. Francis — lawyer, gay man
Malcolm — architect, non-gay, got married
In the end, only JB survives. Willem and Malcolm died in a car accident. The four men were friends and roommates in college and continued being friends throughout their lives.

More than anything else, the novel is about the long-time impact of the traumatic experience that Jude had during his childhood. He was a foundling in a bag by a dumpster, picked up, raised and abused by monks in a monastery. One man (Brother Luke, a pimp) took him out of the monastery when he was 8 years old and turned him into a male prostitute. He prostituted till he was 15 years old. He developed the habit of cutting himself during that period and continued throughout his life.

Jude wasn’t able to recover psychologically and emotionally from his childhood trauma throughout his life, even though he was smart, very handsome, worked very hard, became successful lawyer, loved by everybody who knew him. He committed suicide at age 53.

I think the author’s message is one’s children’s trauma is like a lifelong psychological wound that is hard to erase, that is continuing cutting a person, that it is crucial that parents provide children with a happy childhood so that they can grow into healthy adults.

Some people might think there are plenty of people who haven’t had healthy childhoods and not all end up killing themselves. I agree with this view. There are always something that we cannot control in our lives, especially in our childhood, but once we are strong enough to protect ourselves and wise enough to make sound decision, we can be and should be masters of our lives.

Then again, I think people are different. In some rare cases, some people simply can’t rise above life’s traumas and adversities. Since I don’t have that kind of extremely traumatic childhood, thank goodness, so I don’t know what I would do if I were in Jude’s shoes. That’s why I try not to judge too harshly.

1, Nov 4, 2016

Plan for next year… continue good practice

Filed under: _Today I learn... — admin @ 10:52 am

When I started my current job in 2005 in healthcare area, I realized this was a totally new field for me and I had a lot to learn at this place. So I made a point of learning at least one thing a day. I even created a file named “What I learn Today” to record my learning. lol

I plan to quit my job at the end of this year. But I don’t want to get lazy and boring, and quit some of the practice that has benefited me for the past decade. One of them is learning new thing everyday, even if it’s not everyday, at least continuously.

With this plan, I have changed the title of this site to “Today I Learn… I make a point of learning something new everyday. This is what I learn each day”

I hope my readers will learn and grow with me as days go by.

1, Nov 2, 2016

Employees as Customers: Loyalty, Trust, Empathy and Happiness

Filed under: Leadership,work — admin @ 7:41 pm

This is what I wrote today at office,

People might not see employees this way, but when an employee is considering changing jobs, it bears some similarities to a Sprint customer thinking of switching to AT&T or Verizon. Here are four places that show their similarities.

Number 1: accessibility. Because customer service cost money, some companies discourage customers to talk to the real person by making it difficult for customers to reach them. So, making customer service accessible is the first step to a good service. Similarly, a good employer will provide its employees with an avenue through which an employee can unreservedly share his work-related ideas and thoughts. I remember vividly when, back in 2013, my workplace hired an outside listening ear to hear what people had in mind. During the meeting with these outsiders without the presence of our manager, people were like horses being unbridled, vying with one another to have their voices heard. Because they don’t have such an opportunity as often as they wish. Such listening ears should be always available.

Number 2: same expectation. When customers called customer service, they expect customer service agents to treat them with due respect and make them happy and satisfied. When people go to work, they have the same expectation of their employer as the customers.

Number 3, same win-win situation. That is, if the company respects and treats customers decently, making efforts to make them happy and meet their need, customers will more likely to remain loyal to the company and to stick at it for as long as they can. This benefit both the company and the customers. It’s the same win-win situation between an employer and his employees.

Number 4, same empathy. That is, we listen to both employees and customers with the same empathy and same eagerness to help them out. Because we are dealing with human beings, be they customers or employers, we need the same kindness, sincerity and the capacity to understand and meet their need.

The thought for the leaders: if you think customer service is all about making customers happy, we can say the same thing about managing people.

1, Nov 1, 2016

People are different. It is unprofessional to Compare one Employee to Another

Filed under: Leadership — admin @ 11:06 am

Today I wrote this one at the office. Enjoy!

There was one incident at my workplace where a manager told one person, “Look at what L is doing at her role. And what you’ve done?” The word made that employee instinctively on the defense. I was watching and at the time speechless at this unprofessional behavior from the management team.

It is unprofessional because we have our professional standards, in that one employee is not the standard for the others to follow. All the employees are expected to live up to their job descriptions, good clinical practice, FDA guideline, etc.

It is unprofessional because people are vastly different in their personal aspiration and their social, educational, economic, cultural, ethnic background. Each of us come to the office not empty-handed but heavily loaded with values, dreams, hopes, and everything up to that point that has made what we are. Our past defines our present. Some employees dream big while others are happy without any dreams.

It is unprofessional for a manager to say this because it is potentially pitting one against another instead of encouraging teamwork.

The thought for the management: as long as the employees live up to what is expected professionally, accept them as what they are.

1, Oct 30, 2016

The Healthcare hierarchy with gender factor

Filed under: American Culture,Women,work — admin @ 3:28 pm

I wrote this short piece today and posted it on LindedIn. I don’t have a clear idea as why I wrote it. Perhaps I want to cause people’s attention to this well-known phenomenon.

More female nurses than male nurses.
More female nurses than female doctors.
More male doctors than female doctors.
More male doctors than male nurses.
More nurses than doctors.
Naturally, more money paid to a doctor than to a nurse.

In a team building event at my work place early this month, an announcement was emailed out, “Bowling lanes will be reserved: 8 people per lane/6 lanes so be thinking about how you want to construct team competition!” One doctor replied all, asking to have four guys on his team. I replied to him, “From my observation, the healthcare hierarchy is like a pyramid, the downward you go, the larger is the crowd, the less guys you will find there.” So I wished him good luck on getting four guys among nurses.

A quick search on the Internet confirms my observation. Beckers Hospital Review’s “Gender ratio of nurses across 50 states” reveals ratio of females to one male in America as 9.5 to 1. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation shows the distribution of physicians by gender in percent with female taking up 33 percent and male 66 percent in America.

I was wondering how other countries are like in this regard. So I got the data on female doctors as percentage of the total in 2000. See my article posted on LinkedIn. At least we are getting better now than 16 years ago.

1, Oct 29, 2016

Some of the best gifts that parents can possibly give to their children

Filed under: Parenting 2015 — admin @ 10:36 pm

The best gifts that parents can give to their children do not include any material like gold and silver. Instead, they are good habits, a strong character, values that last life long time. Here are some real basic ones.

(1) Have a kind heart. Be reasonable and nice toward anybody.
(2) Have the habit of making a plan for whatever you want to get done and follow it through.
(3) Be self-reliant. Anything you can do, do it yourself.
(4) Manage your time well. Time is all we have in life.
(5) If it’s not yours, don’t ever touch it.
(6) Be humble and sincere in your heart
(7) Admit your mistake. Say I-am-sorry when you are wrong.

1, Oct 27, 2016

Take Nothing for Granted –The Need for Recognizing Good Work

Filed under: Leadership,work — admin @ 1:45 pm

I wrote this article today, while at office.

The company that I was associated with was bought by another entity in June 2011. After that, especially after a new senior executive director came aboard in mid-2013, a new meeting item crept in monthly, that is, massive accolades showered upon the deserved employees within that new entity, almost nothing upon old place folks. This is something entirely new to me.

Some people in my old company might think it nothing but you-scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours. People just do what they are supposed to do. There is no need to make a fuss about it. This is so not true.

First of all, there is a difference between following your job description and going above and beyond, and between a good job and a shoddy one. There is definitely a need for encouraging excellent job over the not-excellent one by the endorsement from someone, so that the bar will be raised for everybody.

Secondly, recognition will make it more likely for the outstanding people to continue their great performance. It’s like I open the door and let you in first and you say thank-you to me. This way I will do the same next time. This is called the rule of reciprocity that we all embrace. A recognition from the management will most likely make someone a happy employee. We know the relationship between being happy and being productive. People don’t like to be taken for granted for too long.

Third, there is a need for the manager/supervisor to engage every employees by confirming his expectations. Sometimes, a manager can make it known to the employees his expectations by recognizing some people and leaving out some others, sending a clear message to those being left out that they need to catch it up.

A thought for the leaders: keep your eyes open for great performers. Be profuse in your praise for the great ones.

1, Oct 24, 2016

Locker Room Culture and Conformity in Office

Filed under: Leadership,work — admin @ 9:04 am

Finally I finished this piece on locker room culture last weekend, which I planned to get done the weekend before last.

Donald Trump’s widely publicized ‘Locker-Room Talk’ is at best a sign of adolescence immaturity; at worst, you can say whatever you want. Your imagination is the limit. No comment. The term itself pushes to the front what I experienced when I first started my current position back in 2007.

Urban dictionary has this definition — “The crude, vulgar, offensive and often sexual trade of comments guys pass to each other, usually in high school locker rooms. Exists solely for the purpose of male comedy and is not meant to be taken seriously.” Don’t take me wrong here. Urban dictionary’s definition is too narrow. My office is not like this. Because it is both different and much more than that.

People called that office room a big closet because it doesn’t have a window. Once the door is closed, people who are kindred spirits would say whatever they had in mind without any moral scruples, nor any qualms of conscience. One lady almost never spews out one sentence without her favorite ingredient, the f word. See the similarity here? Except they are not people of high school age and not boys. These are people who are old enough to be grandmas.

Trump’s locker room talk makes me wonder why people are succumbed to this kind of behavior. I refuse to believe that people are as mean spirited as their words betray them. I would attribute this to two factors: the locker room culture of that office and the desire to belong.

Each company, each office has developed and cultivated its own subculture, some energizing, some energy-draining, some with can-do spirit, some filled with whining and complaints. The one I was first exposed to in 2007 was certainly not a healthy one. You could even see negativity flowing in the air.

Because nobody wants to be marginalized in a subculture, not even me who already stands out in a crowd as a foreign-minority, people make great efforts to conform to the subculture by trying not to appear different from others. Plus, consider this key fact that I have come to appreciate: America is not the land of independent thinkers. Instead, the pressure to conform is the rule of the land.

Thought for the leaders: make every effort to cultivate positive culture. The herd will follow.

1, Oct 15, 2016

Weekend plan, 10/15/2016

Filed under: weekend activity — admin @ 1:44 am

I am the firm believer in making plans, even if it is a weekend. This way I can be more focused and get more things done.

My sister’s son is coming to America for his undergraduate education. I believe he will go to our local community college for a semester of English before he enrolls as full-time student at Kansas University next fall. This means a couple of things for me. House-cleaning is always on the top of the list.

(1) House-cleaning task
(2) Start writing the book report on ‘My Name Is Lucy Barton’ by Elizabeth Strout
(3) Finish writing the article on locker room talk
(4) Work on back yard to remove the weeds that are going to yield seeds.

1, Oct 11, 2016

Two Pearls of Wisdom in the office

Filed under: work — admin @ 1:07 pm

I have such a rich work-related experience that I would waste it if I don’t share it with my dear readers. Here’s one that I wrote today.

(1) Take care of your reputation, even if you don’t intend to stay long at your current position.

Here are something that I hear people talk about behind the back.

“If she does one thing, she will make sure the whole town knows it.”
“If you don’t hear her complain, it’s because she is not doing anything.”
“Her words? You have to take it with a pinch of salt.”
“She talks non-stop but says nothing.”
“She is very trustworthy.”
“She is the to-go person if you ever need help.”
“You can always count on her.”
How do you want your colleagues to talk about you when you are out of sight? This is the reputation that I am talking about. I know someone who often cries wolf at office. When she does need help, people don’t take her seriously until this grandma cries like a baby.

(2) Be your own cheerleader.

Because nobody notices you if all you do is to bury your head and do a great job. There is no grading system at work, no final exam to let your stand out. My children were all great students at school, so they never got teacher’s attention. “Only when you break some rules or break something like window can you get some attention. Of course, son, that’s not a good one.” They got it. In fact, they learned more when they watched TV news. Very often, the one who has done something horrible gets the most TV coverage. Let’s not talk about it.

The point is you don’t want to be a nameless hero at office. Nameless hero only sounds great but let’s face it, in reality it’s not appreciated and recognized at all. You need to make sure you are at least appreciated. It’s like in research, if it’s not documented, it’s not done. Like I used to do two persons’ work in one workplace silently for nearly a year. I thought it known to all and never complained, never bragged or even mentioned it to anybody. In the end, I was not only unappreciated but was told “You are expected to step outside your role to help out.”

It is very tactic as how to broadcast your accomplishments without sounding like the squeaky wheel that wants more oil. Consider sharing your accomplishment this way, “I know it is not in my job description, still I have done this or that because I know too many deviations/mistakes, even if it’s not my fault, would not make us look great.”

In summary, think of this daily at office: (1) how to cement your reputation; (2) how not to be a nameless hero.

1, Oct 9, 2016

At work, we are first and foremost living beings

Filed under: Life,work — admin @ 8:55 pm

I just published this article on LinkedIn today.
After I put down the phone with a colleague, I went to the infusion room. The sights of patients and the words of my colleague suddenly seem so discordant. There is something so not right. My colleague just told me over the phone, “These red queries make my blood pressure shoot up.” I could almost see her anxiety level skyrocketing from the way she talked. Oh dear.

Here I see patients fighting for their dear lives. I imagine they would give up anything if they could get back their health. And there my healthy colleague run the risk of getting hypertension over a few queries.

Once a colleague of mine requested a patient’s chart from medical record department. When she didn’t get what she requested in due time, she marched to the medical record supervisor’s office and reported the incident. When the medical record person came over to explain how busy she was at the time, the two got into a raucous and truculent fight. To me, any kind of fight is detrimental to health and to life.

Very often when people work themselves up emotionally and make a gargantuan deal out of something very trivial or when they entangle themselves insignificantly in the office, they are doing disservice to their health and they lose sight of the big picture, that is we are living beings, which are also called lives. Life means many things. Like all living beings, life has a beginning and an end. On top of everything else, life means vulnerability.

Anytime people place trivial things above their health and their lives, they actually put the cart before the horse. The patients in our infusion room have taught me that nothing, not even wealth, fame, and power is more important than life.

1, Oct 7, 2016

What do you lose by giving your people more responsibilities?

Filed under: work — Tags: , — admin @ 2:25 pm

I posted this great article on the LinkedIn,

I know a case in which an employee at a giant communication company, then software engineer level II, applied but lost for a SE level III position within the same team. That employee is the key player technically in the team, constantly helping other level III team members. His only problem is he doesn’t talk much.

Upon being rejected, he started applying for other internal positions, which immediately triggered panic attack on the part of his supervisor who desperately needs that employee to be in the team. The supervisor knows that employee is the only one who can get any urgent challenging job done. He knows the team cannot function without that employee. In a frenetic attempt to keep that employee, the supervisor promised mountains and oceans to him, including the level III position.

Case like this is not an isolated one. It always makes me wonder this question that I have for the supervisor/manager/to-whom-it-may-concern: What do you lose by giving your people more responsibilities, by trusting your people more, by promoting an internal employee whom you already know?

Nothing, as far as I can think of, especially in light of the fact that nearly all new hires need training before embarking upon the new position. If you can trust that an outsider can be trained into the new position, why can’t an internal employee be thus trusted, unless that internal employee is an imbecile?

What does the denial do to the employees? Potentially, it could lead to decimate trust and productivity, and high employee turnover.

How to retain great employees? The answer should leap to the eye.

1, Oct 6, 2016

My Besetting Sin at the Meeting

Filed under: work — admin @ 2:27 pm

Here’s another great article that I wrote on the LinkedIn,
I have to confess that I enjoy reading and hearing words from pastors or ministers or someone with Rev. before their names. They all make me think about something else. Today, I was reading Pastor Cole’s writing on besetting sins at bible.org.

“Four ministers got away for a retreat. As they sat around the fire talking, one pastor said, ‘Let’s all share our besetting sins. I’ll go first. My besetting sin is that every so often I slip away from the office to the race track and bet on the horses.

The second pastor volunteered, ‘My besetting sin is that I keep a bottle of wine down in my basement. When I get really frustrated with my deacons, I sneak down there and have a nip of wine.’

The third pastor gulped and said, ‘My besetting sin is that I keep a punching bag at home. When I get mad at somebody in the church, I go home and think about that person as I hit the punching bag.’

They all turned to the fourth pastor and asked, ‘Well, what is your besetting sin?’ He hesitated, but they coaxed him. Finally, he said, ‘My besetting sin is gossip, and I can’t wait to get home!'”

It is the last two pastors that not only make me laugh but also set me thinking about numerous occasions at work. The fourth pastor, in particular, reminds me of one of my besetting sins.

While we are all sitting around the table at the work meeting, seemingly thinking about the topics under discussion, you can see the presence of the fourth pastor among us. Sometimes, it’s obvious when you see smile on someone’s face while she is sneaking a peak at the cellphone. Sometimes, a person prefers not to say anything at the meeting but can’t wait for the end of the meeting like the last pastor.

The only time when people competed with one another in expressing themselves was when the company hired an outside consulting company, Huron Consulting, to preside the meeting, without the presence of the manager. That meeting was like a gargantuan boiling pot.

My besetting sin at the company’s work is, I am always thinking about one thing, not about the topics under discussion but this, if I were to preside over the meeting, how can I nail down people’s attention on where I want them to? How can I engage everybody? How can I make them as enthusiastic about the topic as water in a boiling pot? How can I make everybody talk without any fear?

1, Sep 24, 2016

Uphold your own standards, regardless of your work environment

Filed under: work — admin @ 2:30 pm

Well, you can see I am not as busy as I should be at work. So I pour my creative energy here. I have been contributing to LinkedIn lately. This is one of the articles that I wrote.

When my daughter started her intern job last summer, I felt this strong maternal impulse to share with her something really important.

People at your work place can be as diverse as birds in the forest. Some talk more and work less; some work and no talk. Your manager might come from a finance background and try to mess up with your graphic design. Your colleagues might come from the place where minorities are as rare as pandas.

Some people may offer help but will talk behind you about how incompetent you are and have to seek help for the work that you are supposed to know.

On the one hand, you will find people of your grandma’s age gossip and giggle like teenagers, on the other hand, there are people with full integrity.

A friend of mine told me about her daughter’s decision not to work at any bank. “Look at big banks like Wells Fargo,” Of course, we know the notorious deeds of Wells Fargo. I know someone at healthcare office cares only her paycheck. I hear too much whining and complaining around in my office.

Number one: don’t look for absolute fairness and justice at your workplace. It’s all ideals. Whatever you learn at your classroom about social justice and equality, keep it in your head. Workplace is not about justice and equality. It’s all about getting the assignments done legally.

Number two: unethical events like Wells Fargo are not uncommon. But make your own judgment and always do the right thing, regardless of the pressure from above. Better lose job than lose principles.

Number three, seek out your own role model, your mentor in your work place as early as possible, and follow them.

Sometimes, you might think you have to compromise something in order to fit in the culture of your work place. Compromise as we all do in life, but never compromise your values. e.g. you can giggle one of your silly giggles but never gossip about others, even though gossiping is the norm.

Always hold dearly the values and principles that define who you are.

1, Sep 21, 2016

Know Yourself, know your pitfalls

Filed under: Career,Life — admin @ 2:33 pm

This is one of the articles that I published on LinkedIn. You can leave comments there, if you have any.

When my son was small, he would make a face-losing scene at the store if his wish was not met. The remedy for this was not to take him to the store until he could behave himself in public.

Sometimes, while I am in the middle of a task, I find the need to get on the internet for a brief search. Very often that 5-minute sidetrack quickly runs out of control as I click one link to another and then I forget what my initial intention is. This is what happens when time flies by without getting things done. The cure is, instead of stopping for each search, write on a paper notepad what you want to search. Do it at the end. If you need to get answers now, set a timer.

Sometimes, I feel very lethargic after eating too much. The cure is to avoid heavy food intake if I know I still have work to do.

Some people lose focus and become distracted when they get bored sitting in a not exciting classroom or meeting. The trick is how to keep them intrigued.

When I related the story to my daughter, she totally got it because that’s what happened to her, too. Most of us have our particular pitfalls or traps that lead us to the opposite of where we want to go, and to the waste of time and life. The question is how to hold yourself from falling into these pitfalls. I told my daughter this. You need a self-check mechanism.

To act proactively, you need to know yourself, know your pattern of behavior, know when you have your peak hours in a day so that you get serious things done in those hours, know under what situation you are most likely to lose focus. This way you can foresee what will happen in certain situations and proactively avoid getting into that situation, just like what I did with my young son.

The earlier in life you know yourself, the better.

1, Sep 15, 2016

What should young college graduates look for in their first job

Filed under: Career — admin @ 2:37 pm

Of course, readers here have read this article before, perhaps not under the same heading but having the same content.

When my children were at home, I often lectured to them on any topic that came to my head at the moment, so much so that by the time my daughter was in her senior year high school, she would put on her earbud when I got too boring. It was quite funny.

I remember talking to them about their first job upon college graduation. Number one, the decisive factor is not the paycheck. No matter how attractive your first paycheck is, if you don’t have strong expertise, your laughter won’t last longer than the snow flakes under the sun, and your tangible paycheck is as insecure as the delicious cheese in a rat’s mouth. Even worse is this, a big paycheck might intoxicate you and allure you to forget your own dream about your life.

Number two, don’t choose a company because of its world-class benefit. The more comfortable the comfort zone is, the harder it is for you to break away from it. To be sure, comfort hugging is in most of us. But when you are in your early 20s, you are too young for that.

What you should look for is something intangible, that is, an opportunity to learn and grow, and to enhance your skills and broaden your network. You might say, “I don’t know if there’s room for growth before I get my foot in the door.” Of course you wouldn’t. But this is the things you look for once you are on your first job. Your first job matters only in so much as it serves as the step-stone to the next one, hopefully a better one.

If you already know what you want to do with your life, find out if the company fits your plan. If you still don’t know where your passion lies, explore and learn as much about the company as about yourself. Like when I started with China Daily, a hugely fantastic place. I found myself unreal and uncomfortable when I had to extract information from people, sometimes a bit unscrupulously. Then I realized there was a mismatch and the rest is history.

If you enjoy yourself and find it rewarding at office, don’t just bury your head deeply in the assignments every day. Keep your eyes wide open and be mindful of on-goings around you, for your first positions should always be seen as the opportunities to something better, way better than anything currently under your nose.

You will laugh last if you can double or even treble your intangible assets on your first post.

1, Sep 14, 2016

What will you do when you are under-appreciated and under-utilized?

Filed under: Career,work — admin @ 2:42 pm

I have shared this article on the LinkedIn. Please leave your comments there.

My daughter started the first day of her fall unpaid intern at this new place after Labor Day. Of course things always go slow on your first day, no matter where you land. No rush at this moment.

I shared with her this. While you are a college student, it’s OK to accept unpaid work as long as you get what you need. You actually buy work experience with your time and money. If, say after two weeks, you sense that they don’t appreciate your talents, that is, they won’t involve you in anything above clerical nature of work, you really need to take some actions.

Take initiative.
Take actions.
Propose new ideas.
Nothing will happen before you do something.
It’s you time, your life, your responsibility.
Nobody cares but you.
It’s nobody’s business but yours!

One big SECRET about Young People

Filed under: Career,Life — admin @ 2:37 pm

I thought of outpouring more articles this year. But I have not kept my plan so far. My birthday reminds me of time running away and I need to do something. Writing is one of the things that I will keep doing. Here’s one article published on LinkedIn.

I learn this from the conversations with my children.

Let me share with you one big secret about the wealth of young people. Most people do not associate assets and wealth with young people, especially when you think of college graduates with huge loans and unemployed. Instead people tend to think of many senior folks with millions of savings under their mattress.

The fact is both young and the old have their own resources. With the old, theirs is money; with the young, theirs is TIME.

Right. Time is the resources of the young, which the old don’t have. With time, the young are not afraid of learning and trying new ideas, venturing out on a thousand-mile journey. They are not afraid of making mistakes. If one idea doesn’t work out, they have time to start all over again. That’s OK as long as they learn from their experience and keep moving ahead. The old do not have this luxury.

The sad reality is many young people are not aware of their resources. They have not fully utilized their resources while they are young. Some become a lifer at one place, like Robert Frost’s poem, “being shore to ocean –Holding the curve of one position, Counting an endless repetition.” For some, they don’t even realize they were once rich in their lives.

Yes, young folks are rich in TIME. Keep in mind TIME is something money cannot buy and TIME has an expiration date.

1, Sep 13, 2016

Happy Birthday to me!!!!!

Filed under: Mother — admin @ 12:31 pm

My son gave me an early birthday wish yesterday. Even better, my daughter texted me telling me that she would Skype with me tonight after class. They all made my day a special one.

At office, my colleague bought cupcakes for me. Two emailed me birthday wish. The sunshine committee gave me a birthday card with good wishes from many colleagues. They all further warmed my heart.

Wish me happy and healthy in the long years to come…

1, Sep 9, 2016

What will you do when you are under-appreciated and under-utilized?

Filed under: Career — admin @ 12:14 pm

My daughter started the first day of her fall internship at this new place after Labor Day. Of course things go slow on your first day, no matter where you land. No rush yet.

I told her that if, say after two weeks, you sense that they don’t take you seriously, you really need to take some actions.

Take initiative.
Take action.
Propose new ideas.
Nothing good will happen before you do something.
It’s you time, your life, your responsibility.
Nobody cares but you.
It’s nobody’s business!

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