Service of Medical Impact When Loneliness is not Solitude

September 21st, 2017

Categories: Loneliness, Medical Care, Mental Health, Social Media, Social Skills

Photo: npr.org

There are plenty of self-help books with titles like “Married…But Lonely.” And loneliness doesn’t just happen to the elderly, although seniors over 80 represent the largest percentage for understandable reasons: Lost hearing, sight, mobility, family and friends and many are isolated because they lack funds to socialize.

I didn’t realize the crucial impact of loneliness made clear in the lead to Emily Holland’s Wall Street Journal article: “Loneliness is hazardous to your health—and more psychologists and doctors are calling for a public-health campaign to fight it.”

In the article, “The Government’s Role in Combating Loneliness –Medical experts say social isolation needs to be seen as a public-health issue,” Holland quotes Brigham Young University professor Julianne Holt-Lundstad: “cumulative data over hundreds of studies with millions of participants provides robust evidence of the importance of social connections for physical health and risk for premature mortality.”

Photo: womansday.com

Studies have shown that “the risk is equal to or greater than major health problems such as obesity.” Dr. Holt-Lundstad presented analyses of data from multiple studies at this summer’s American Psychological Association convention that “found that having greater social connections is associated with a 50% reduced risk of premature death.”

Photo: pinterest.com

According to Holland, an AARP study estimated 44 million adults 45 and up experience chronic loneliness. “In the survey, 35% of respondents said they were chronically lonely, up from 20% in a similar survey a decade ago.” Why? “An increase in single-person households, higher divorce rates and too much focus on social media over in-person communication,” may be some reasons.

Holland reported that loneliness doesn’t get the attention of smoking or obesity but that it is beginning to, noting the AARP public education initiative Connect2Affect. In addition, she mentioned a toll free number seniors can call to get rides via Uber and Lyft in some areas; a 24 hour, free Friendship Line–800-971-0016–sponsored by the Institute on Aging for those 60+ who feel lonely, depressed–even suicidal and programs at some senior living facilities that encourage socializing between generations.

Early detection and encouraging people to seek help are key to turning around the situation. Physicians must learn to question patients and patients must feel comfortable admitting their feelings of involuntary isolation and seclusion.

What is the difference between loneliness and solitude? Do you know people who are surrounded by humans and yet they feel lonely or others who prefer to be alone and say they are happiest that way? Have you heard of effective ways that infirm or financially strapped people of any age can remain involved?

Photo: mysocialstate.com

Service of Skilled Trades—the Noble Professions

September 18th, 2017

Categories: College, Skilled Labor, Work

Photo: oldbroadabroad.com

Erica Martell refinished a handsome wood chest, sanding, priming and painting it [photo below, center]. My friend’s research, patience, diligence, and results impressed me.

I envy the skills of carpenters, plumbers, electricians, builders, auto mechanics, landscapers, tree surgeons, bricklayers and stone masons who create and fix things. These professions need a great deal more admiration and respect than they get.

Mike Rowe Photo: mikerowe.com

In spite of diligent work by people such as Mike Rowe, I wonder if recognition of people who make a living via skilled manual labor has changed significantly. Chuck Todd interviewed Rowe on his MSNBC show on Labor Day. The actor, TV host, producer, narrator and writer’s passion was no doubt inspired, in part, by the 39 episodes of “Dirty Jobs,” a show on Discovery where he completed 300 different ones, according to his website. The show was his concept. He founded mikeroweWORKS on Labor Day nine years ago. He calls the program “A PR campaign designed to reinvigorate the skilled trades.”

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, “Fewer Americans Value a College Degree, Poll Finds,” Josh Mitchell and Douglas Belkin reported that the “wage premium of getting a degree has flattened in recent years,” according to Federal Reserve research. “Some Americans believe that learning a trade offers more security than going to college.” The survey of 1,200 took place in August.

Photo: 123rf.com

Respondents who were most skeptical about the value of a degree were those who didn’t have one. “Four years ago, men by a 12 point margin saw college as worth the cost. Now they say it is not worth it, by a 10 point margin.” Americans 18-34 who don’t believe outnumber those who do 57 to 39 percent—a figure that hasn’t much changed.

They reported that 63 percent of college grads said college is worth the expense—about the same now as in 2013. Nevertheless, there’s the matter of student debt, that Mitchell and Belkin quoted as $1.3 trillion—with $millions of payments in arrears. Yet, according to the reporters, unemployment is 2.7 percent vs. 5.1 percent among college grads and those who never attended college respectively, “But the wage premium of getting a degree has flattened in recent years,”

I think the prestige relating to physical work can and should change—do you? In countries such as France waiting on tables is a noble profession so why not skilled trades here? When it comes to making a living, do you see the value of a college degree? Has the significance of such a degree changed in your mind? Do you wish that you were skilled at a manual trade?

Erica Martell’s refinished chest

Service of Portions: How Much is the Right Amount?

September 14th, 2017

Categories: Food, Waste

You can’t miss the bus stop poster sponsored by savethefood.com [photo above] on Third Avenue which declares “Every American Wastes 290 pounds of food a year.” It continues, “Cook it. Store it. Share it. Just don’t waste it.”

And the website is full of tidbits such as a family of four “loses $1,500 a year on wasted food.” Percentages of wasted foods include 50 percent of seafood, 48 percent of fruits and veggies, 38 percent of grain products, 22 percent of meat and 20 percent of milk.

According to its website, savethefood.com is a © of the Natural Resources Defense Council [NRDC]. The NRDC describes its mission “to safeguard the Earth, its people, its plants and animals and the natural systems on which life depends.”

Photo: pinterest.com

A friend shared an experience that illustrates the issue. Over Labor Day she attended a catered party for 70 at a home in the Hamptons—salmon, all sorts of bar-b-q, salads, dessert bar–and was shocked at the amount of leftover food. Not a scrap was subsequently eaten by the large family and their guests because they had other engagements over the weekend, she said. She suggested to the host that next time he coordinate with the caterers to arrange for a hookup with a charity to donate leftovers at the end of a party.

Compost collection @ NYC farmer’s market

We have friends who make enough food for an Air Force squadron when they have company but they send guests home with goody bags filled with toothsome treats. We made three delicious meals out of what we were given the other week—nothing wasted.

Another dear friend serves barely enough for two when there are four at his table. The conversation is generous and we enjoy the evening but admit we grabbed a snack when we got home. My parents had a friend like this. She followed suggested portions on packaging to the letter. My dad always ate before going to dinner at her place.

What steps do you take so as not to waste food? What, if anything, do you find yourself throwing out most? Do you make more food than you expect people to eat when you have company or do you try to make just enough?

Photo: tripadvisor.com

Service of a Kindness from an Unlikely Source: Thoughtful, Responsive NYC Civil Servant

September 11th, 2017

Categories: Compassion, Customer Care, Kindness, New York City

“12 Angry Men” Photo: gablescinema.com

I was married at City Hall in NYC and I’ve dealt on several occasions with various divisions of the Manhattan Motor Vehicles Bureau [to take a test for a driver’s license, report a lost license plate and renew my driver’s license], so I think I know where robot manufacturers go for their models. Warmth and compassion aren’t words that come to mind regarding the frontline of city employees I’ve dealt with, which is why this story that touched me was worth a shout-out.

Photo: newyorkpersonalinjuryattorneyblog.com

A friend—I’ll call him Curt–was called to jury duty in NYC and for health reasons was unable to serve. When he tried to reach someone on the phone to learn what he had to do to be excused he dialed a bunch of phone numbers and got automated voices, so I offered to try my luck.

I found a number online and a message gave me a second number to call and shock of shocks, a person answered. His name was Jeffrey. He asked me for Curt’s juror index number, which I didn’t have, and gave me a third number to call after lunch that, he said, rang at his desk. Curt called and left a message on voicemail.

I wanted to be sure that Jeffrey had all the information he needed and that he’d cleared Curt from the system so I didn’t have to visit him in jail for being a no-show. I take seriously all government warnings. I called the next morning. Jeffrey confirmed that Curt’s name was deleted—he is also over the mandatory age for jury duty in any case.

Photo: en.wikipedia.org

I asked if Jeffrey needed a note from Curt’s doctor and he said, “No.” I thanked and Jeffrey said with some urgency, “There’s one more thing.” I replied, “Yes?” He said, “I want you to have a nice day. And bless you.”

His thoughtful words–out of context–took me by surprise. Have you been happily astonished by a kindness from an unexpected source?

Photo: shoppersocial.me

Service of Networking: Is That All There Is?

September 7th, 2017

Categories: Networking, Self Promotion, Uncategorized, Work

Photo: successinhr.com

 Adam Grant, a New York Times opinion writer, author and Wharton School professor doesn’t think networking is all that it’s cracked up to be. Think of the numerous networking events–or how to network workshops–you may have forced yourself to attend. A cornerstone offering of industry associations to which I belong, his article “Networking is Overrated” caught my eye.

Photo: LinkedIn.com

Grant wrote that when he read research about how people in one study felt about networking—dirty—it made him want to take a shower. Clearly he would rather not network at cocktail parties. This could very well be one of the reasons LinkedIn is so popular. It’s painless networking while you sleep.

I selected a few paragraphs that support his position. Grant wrote: 

Photo 123rf.com

“Not long ago, I watched a colleague try to climb the ladder of success solely through networking. For a few years, he managed to meet increasingly influential people and introduce them to one another. Eventually it fell apart when they realized he didn’t have a meaningful connection with any of them. Networking alone leads to empty transactions, not rich relationships.”

So what to do in place of networking? Become skilled at something Grant suggests.

Photo: geocaching.com

“Of course, accomplishments can build your network only if other people are aware of them. You have to put your work out there. It shouldn’t be about promoting yourself, but about promoting your ideas. Evidence shows that tooting your own horn doesn’t help you get a job offer or a board seat, and when employees bend over backward to highlight their skills and accomplishments, they actually get paid less and promoted less. People find self-promotion so distasteful that they like you more when you’re praised by someone else–even if they know you’ve hired an agent to promote you.” [What a perfect example of the importance of third party endorsement, a cornerstone of the value of PR!]

Grant sagely pointed out that the “right people” will help you depending on what you have to offer. “Building a powerful network doesn’t require you to be an expert at networking. It just requires you to be an expert at something.”

“The best networking happens when people gather for a purpose other than networking, to learn from one another or help one another.” [That’s my kind of networking.]

Do you like to network? Do you agree with Adam Grant? Have you made worthwhile connections doing so? Were you surprised by Grant’s conclusion that tooting your own horn has a negative impact on job searches and promotions?

Photo: greatfxprinting.com

 

Service of No Room for Sentimentality in Business: The Plaza and Eloise

September 5th, 2017

Categories: Books, Hotels, Museums

The Plaza Hotel is for sale again. It’s natural for things to change yet it still makes me sad to see what’s happened to this landmark which launched a trend to transform legendary NYC hotels into condos. The Chinese owner of the Waldorf Astoria has followed suit: Condo owners, not hotel guests, are the focus of both former hotels.

In an article, “The legendary Plaza Hotel is, once again, up for sale,” on curbed.com, Amy Plitt wrote what she called the short version of the hotel’s ownership history: “Let’s revisit how the hotel got here: It’s had many owners over the years, including the Hilton clan and current president Donald Trump; El-Ad purchased it in 2004, and led the conversion of more than 100 of its hotel rooms into luxury condos. In 2012, Sahara Group purchased a majority stake in the company, valuing it at about $575 million. But things spun out of control quickly for the firm and its president, Subrata Roy; after defaulting on loans, Roy was imprisoned in India, and Sahara was said to be shopping the hotel around to help get him out of jail. (WSJ says he’s been out on parole since 2016.)”

Photo: theplazany.com

A memorable childhood birthday–tea in the Plaza’s Palm Court–and subsequent visits there in its heyday were always a treat for me as were weddings and posh business and personal events in the ballroom.

Fondness for the hotel and for its most famous fictional guest, Eloise, was why I visited–and enjoyed–the “Eloise at the Museum” exhibition at the New York Historical Society [open through October 9, 2017]. It was a charming celebration of the character, books about her as well as author Kay Thompson and illustrator, Hilary Knight.

Ms. Thompson was a piece of work and would have fit well in the self-centered, cutthroat business atmosphere in which some find themselves today. According to Wikipedia, “in 1964 Thompson was burned out on Eloise; she blocked publication and took all but the first book out of print.”

Wikipedia coverage about illustrator Knight—who at 90 writes, draws and lives in Manhattan–shed additional light: “The live CBS television adaptation on Playhouse 90 (1956) with Evelyn Rudie as Eloise received such negative reviews that Kay Thompson vowed never to allow another film or TV adaptation.” She didn’t care about the financial impact on Knight that closing down the book publishing element had. In addition to lost royalties for the Eloise books–he also illustrated Eloise in Paris, at Christmastime and in Moscow–while Thompson was alive he also didn’t see a cent for the illustrations he had created for “Eloise Takes a Bawth,” which was scheduled for publication in 1964. It saw the light of day 38 years later.

Do you have memories of The Plaza Hotel? Did you read the “Eloise” books as a child and/or to children? Is the Eloise appeal to NY children only? Why do some books capture generations of children’s attention–is it the story, the illustrations or a magical combination?

The Gift of Giving Back: Handmade Global Design at NY Now

August 31st, 2017

Categories: Artisans, Arts & Crafts, Charity, Fashion, Fashion Accessories, Gifts, Jewelry

 

Aid Through Trade “Coral Reef”

Charity isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when I think of NY Now, the former NY Gift Show. This August I visited a different section than in previous seasons: Handmade Global Design. Giving back was a recurring theme for many of these exhibitors. In some cases they donate money to charities; in others, through their efforts, lives of poverty and hopelessness are transformed by work, education and access to global markets.

Some were members of the Fair Trade Federation. It describes itself as “part of the global fair trade movement, building equitable and sustainable trading partnerships and creating opportunities to alleviate poverty…by continually and significantly expanding the practice of trade that values the labor and dignity of all people.”

Meyelo’s Fynn Rucksack

I call out two of its some 50 members listed in the directory: Aid Through Trade, one of the Federation’s founding members, and Meyelo.

The original creator of the Roll-On® Bracelet made with glass beads, Aid Through Trade employs 200+ women from Nepal. Founded in 1993 by former Peace Corps volunteer Damian Jones, he recognized that women’s lives changed dramatically when they have an income.

As I passed by Meyelo’s booth, I heard one of the sales staff say to a customer, “Our for profit gives back to our nonprofit.” Eighty women from Kenya make bags, earrings, necklaces, rings, bracelets, scarves and sandals sold through Meyelo. On its website: “Every purchase provides our artisans with a source of fair trade income, support for their community, and a global platform for their work.….We work in community development with Maasai villages and provide access to education, water, farming co-ops and medical needs. We empower women, girls and their communities with sustainable programs.”

Bella Tunno’s Giraffe Pacifier Lovie

A striking poster caught my eye in the Bella Tunno booth filled with collections of children’s accessories. It touted: “You buy one product, we give one child a meal.” Founded by Michelle Tunno Buelow, the website reports that “A portion of every Bella Tunno product sold is donated to the Matt Tunno Make a Difference Memorial Fund.” To honor her brother Matt, Michelle Buelow’s fund supports drug and alcohol abuse education, prevention and rehabilitation and programs for at-risk children and teenagers.

Aid to Artisans

Aid to Artisans creates opportunities for low-income craftspeople and designers in East Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Central and South Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East and North and Sub-Saharan Africa “to build profitable businesses inspired by handmade traditions.” According to its website, it offers “access to new markets, business training, eco-effective processes and design innovation through a network of partners to promote sustainable growth and community well-being.” The artisans make a range of products from decorative pillows and children’s accessories to desk accessories, ceramic vases, shawls, jewelry, home furnishings and decorative pieces, glassware and ornaments.

“Comfort for a Cause,” is The Elephant Pants Company’s slogan. Founded in 2014, it donates 10 percent of its net profits to save elephants. “Thanks to you, $145,615 has been donated to charitable organizations dedicated to saving elephants,” it declares on its website, as a result of selling over 400,000 pairs of what it says are “The most comfortable pants that anybody had ever worn.”

For a company to combine help for impoverished foreign artisans or to donate a percentage of profits to charity is nothing new but it appears to be a successful approach given the numbers of companies doing it. Do you favor such products when you buy gifts and decorative pieces for your home?

The Elephant Pants Company’s harem pants

Service of Fashion in August 2017

August 28th, 2017

Categories: Dress Code for Women Broadcasters, Fashion

Photo: lipstickalley.com

A friend wrote: “You have to address the issue of the way we are dressing!!!!! I don’t know where to start!!! Women are the worst offenders I’m afraid.”

She follows fashion and always looks just-so.

 “Coincidentally,” she, continued, “Boston is addressing the way female broadcasters are forced to dress.” She mentioned Heather Unruh, a longtime lead newscaster on WCVB-TV who resigned last fall. Unruh talked to The Boston Globe’s Beth Teitell about “the pressures women feel about how they dress on TV.”

Heather Unruh Photo depauw.edu

Teitell asked: “Should a TV anchorwoman be required to dress for work in a cocktail dress? Or Stilettos? What about body-hugging tops?” In “For at least a decade, women broadcasters have been pushed to look sexier on-air,” Teitell quoted another newscaster who said “management at her station has told women to wear ‘tighter, smaller, shorter, more revealing clothes.’”

Teitell continued, “What you don’t see is that many times women have clothespins in the back to make [their clothes] tighter.” She wrote about broadcasters who didn’t want to put on what consultants selected; who cried about how they were pressured to dress; who were told to copy the sexier look of another anchor who “wore her skirts short and her tops unbuttoned” and one who was reprimanded for wearing blazers that were “too boxy.”

Grasswalkers

My friend went on: “Too much information prevails for everyone, but I want to see no more:

  • exposed behinds
  • gigantic ripples of jelly fat especially near views of underpants
  • décolletage causing women to spill out from center and SIDES of cutout or strapless concoctions
  • garments that threaten to fall off
  • leggings in outrageous patterns and colors that make even toothpick size legs seem gigantic
  • dizzying, horror prints
  • excess of assorted animal patterns together
  • infantile embroidery over patterns–(including Gucci)
  • overweight women tottering on super spikes that generally impede balance and are often inappropriate for the chosen moment. A ridiculous off-shoot of super spikes are grasswalkers–transparent platforms that protect spikes when the wearer walks on grass.” [Note: I think the grasswalker concept is ingenious!]

 

“And it’s not just women’s fashion,” she wrote:

  • men’s bare legs are everywhere
  • the sockless high water line of men’s ankles stare at us out of tie shoes
  • the sickening view of men’s undies or behinds peeking out of pants that are about to fall down
  • relatively sheer exercise shorts that are generally not attractive outside of the gym no matter what designers tout

This is all without touching on age appropriate fashion for either sex or work versus leisure. We have become both boring and repulsive in our tastelessness. I don’t mean that I think I am a paragon of style and taste, but I try to err on the side of discretion.

Even though traditional TV viewership is down in the first quarter—11.2% by millennials 25-34 and almost 5 percent by Gen Xers 35-49 according to marketingcharts.com–do you still think some women take their fashion cues from broadcasters squeezed into their attire or is the desperate attempt to drum up male viewership unrelated to style?

Is fashion out of kilter or is it that some men and women have lost their compass for what looks good on them?

What or who is influencing some to dress in such a sloppy way?

Kim Kardashian Photo: dmarge.com

Service of Recommendations That Make it Easy on Recruiters

August 24th, 2017

Categories: Jobs, Recommendation, Recruiting, Technology

Photo: roberthalf.com

Recently headhunters have sent me electronic forms to fill out on behalf of a job-seeking colleague. One reminded me of what CVS sends after I’ve visited a branch or used the online ordering system. To answer questions I graded the candidate from 1 to 10. I was appalled. The recruiter got numbers from the program all neat and collated in seconds but learned little about my colleague. Sometimes my answer didn’t fit any number without explanation. I grade the effectiveness of this system 2 out of 10.

A second one took me longer to do but I felt gave me a chance to describe the candidate. It also took the reader longer to absorb but the information was more valuable. I imagine that some of the copy, if well written, is used by the headhunter to describe a candidate to prospective employers, saving him/her time in the end.

Photo: workitdaily.com

My colleague said she met one of these recruiters and filled out forms for the company. She spoke to the other on the phone, no forms required.

I posit that some recruiters will learn the most from a phone call interview as inefficient and time consuming as that is for them. The New York Women in Communications scholarship vetting process includes phone and in-person interviews for finalists. The phone interviews require time to prepare for, conduct and write up but the results tell plenty about a candidate.

Francesca Fontana wrote about recommendation letters requested of MBA candidates’ friends this summer by NYU’s Stern School of Business. They are “trying to get a better sense of what its applicants are really like.” Where most such letters “focus on analytic acumen or leadership skills,” they expect a pal or co-workers letters will “comment on the applicant’s social skills or emotional intelligence.”

Photo: bcgsearch.com

She reported in “Dear Friend, Tell Us More” that “about 40% of MBA applicants said at least one manager asked them to draft their own recommendation letter.” This statistic came from an Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants 2014 survey. I believe it. Another job-seeking colleague is often asked to write letters about herself by former managers and bosses.

Fontana reported that 24 business schools “collaborated with the Graduate Management Admission Council to create a common recommendation form.” This is easier on recommenders and as they are asked to keep their answers short, means that readers don’t have to pour through pages of copy.

One of the questions was smart: “Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant.”

Can you learn much from a recommender you’ve not spoken with? Have you been asked to write your own recommendation by a boss or colleague? How secure would you be in evaluating whether you wanted to meet or interview a candidate by phone based largely on responses to a 1 to 10 system? Are there valid shortcuts in the recruiting process?

Service of Pick up the Phone Already: When Written Communication Runs Amok

August 21st, 2017

Categories: Communications, Miscommunication, Texting

Photo: connectmogul.com

Here’s an example of miscommunication in the extreme illustrating the potential impact of careless texting or hastily written messages of any kind.

The friend who shared this story received tragic news that blessedly turned out to be poor communications. She is a meticulous writer, speaker, retired PR manager at a major corporation and longtime instructor of Management Communication. She said if she were currently teaching a class she would use this as an example of what happens if you don’t consider what the recipient of your text or email might be thinking. The lesson applies to both personal and business communications.

I have made up the names of the characters in this tale.

  • My friend will be Maude
  • Her friend, the grandmother, Pam
  • Pam’s husband, the grandfather, Fred
  • Pam’s sister, Steph, is also a good friend of Maude’s and is the baby’s great aunt

Maude’s friend Pam traveled to be with her son and daughter-in-law last week for the birth of their second child. Her husband, Fred, stayed at home. The delivery of their first grandchild, now three, was extremely difficult. But their grandson, born on Maude’s birthday, was a healthy 9 lb baby and angelically beautiful. His mother, too, was fine.

Photo: rainmaker-strategies.com

The day after the infant was born, Pam’s sister, Steph, sent Pam a text telling her that she’d just bought a few things for the baby.

Pam texted in response: “We lost boy around noon today.”

Shocked, Steph called Maude. I happened to call Maude moments after she’d heard from Steph. Usually unshaken, Maude was stunned.

Pam has many siblings and they frequently invited Fred to have dinner with them while Pam was with the young family in the East.  When she opened the door, she told Fred that she was so sorry and he replied that he “knew this would happen a long time ago,” which was news to Steph.

Fred continued, “I was with him.” Odd, given that the baby was born over 1,000 miles away. “When I saw him this morning I knew he wasn’t going to make it.” Puzzling still.

In her distress and alarm over what she’d interpreted as the sudden death of her grandnephew, Steph forgot that Pam and Fred had a cat named “Boy.” It is he who had died.

Photo: thenation.com

An aside: Maude was telling me the story on the phone as she was getting a manicure. The manicurist apologized for eavesdropping and asked if the woman who’d written the text was American because “a native English speaker wouldn’t have written that.” Even this didn’t trigger an aha! moment because the baby didn’t yet have a name.

She wondered whether Pam had read what Steph had written about her purchases before responding with her news. As importantly, did Pam consider what might be on her sister’s mind given the family’s focus on the new addition? Maude advised for important information, don’t rely on hastily written texts and emails. If you don’t have time to reread then wait until you do or pick up the phone. Do you agree?

Photo: blog.near-me.com

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