Natasha Koifman: How to Put the Spark Back in Your Career

We all go through phases with our career. No matter how much you love your job, there are times when a certain ennui sets in. Perhaps it’s the grind of the daily commute, or the notorious “death by meeting” syndrome… for all of us, there are days when those career sparks seem a thing of distant memory.

My own career is so much more to me than a job I clock into every day. It’s not just a source of income, but one of personal identity and pride. Even so, it’s not without its challenges. Like all relationships, your relationship with your job will have highs and lows. But how do you rekindle the fire when you’ve gone through some career lows? Here are some of my tips:

(1) Pace yourself
I see this all the time: People are so hungry when they first take on a new role or embark upon their career. But when the gratification, promotion, or success is not overnight, they jump ship. Our culture is definitely one of instant gratification, and patience is a rare trait. But managing a career is more like a marathon than a sprint. It’s important to commit to the long course and to pace yourself to go the distance.

When you’re first embarking on your career, it’s important to absorb as much as you can from the people around you, to challenge yourself to higher and higher standards. As a manager, I really notice those people who create their own passion and sparks, rather than those who expect it to be given to them. But even if you’re proactive, it all takes time… so, unless you want to burn out, make sure to pace yourself!

(2) Keep a life
Yes, you should pour your heart and soul into your career, make it a thing of passion. But it shouldn’t be the ONLY object of passion in your life. We all know how important both giving and receiving love is — and your job can be a place of love, (love for your job and for the people you work with). But also, leave plenty of room in your life for other people and for hobbies that fill you with passion and energy. For example, Bunmi in our office loves to sing and is recording a CD — which is amazing for her, but also something the entire office shares in the excitement of!

I really believe your life should be integrated, (not in competition), with your work. So, if fitness is important to you, set your days up so that you can workout without feeling like you’re performing a high-wire balancing act. If you’re always trading off the things you love doing or people you love being with, because of your job, you’ll start to resent your workplace — which isn’t good for you or your employer.

Arriving at an objective understanding of your role so that you can set priorities and identify areas that can be streamlined or eliminated is one way of making sure you keep your work-life in check. Sometimes we get sucked into doing way more than is necessary, adhering to procedures that are no longer valuable or efficient. Staying streamlined and open to help from others will help you keep everything balanced. Simply put, if you keep your career in a healthy and balanced place, you’ll feel passionate about it for a lot longer.

(3) Find your role
No matter what industry or position you work in, you have a set of skills that are your real core strengths. Perhaps you’re an excellent communicator, or maybe you’re a mentor who loves to take new staff under your wing. Maybe you’re a soloist who likes nothing more than to own a project completely and work independently.

Without judging yourself harshly, acknowledge the kind of role you really thrive in and try to create opportunities to put yourself in a position to do more work in that vein. If you’re a communicator, maybe ask if you can contribute to the company website or blog. If you’re a mentor, see if there’s an internship or work placement program you can get involved in. We all feel deeper satisfaction when we’re doing that thing we’re really good at. Sometimes, it’s not even a matter of changing roles, but of manoeuvring yourself into a position where you can play to your own key strengths.

(4) Give yourself butterflies again
This one really applies to those of us who have been doing the same job for a long time. When we look back on those early days of our careers, many of us can remember the excitement of learning the job. Much of this excitement was wrapped up in nervous and excited energy — every meeting was nerve-wracking, every new project a challenge.

The more experienced you become the less you feel that early nervousness. In some cases, people start to coast once they’ve figured out how to do a job well. In more extreme cases, people become resistant to change. So, if you want to keep the sparks alive, be sure to challenge yourself. Whether it’s through adopting new technology, challenging yourself to come up with new ideas, or doing something an entirely different way… you’ll reignite that early nervous excitement again and you’ll see it’s really good to give yourself butterflies.

***

There are definitely times when, for personal and professional reasons, you may decide that a change of workplace, or even industry, is the thing you need to keep the spark alive. Obviously, we all need to follow our own heart and path when this happens and sometimes that kind of change can be one of those landmark transformations in a person’s life.

On the other hand, it’s always easy to assume the grass is greener on the other side. If you’re contemplating change, make sure you’re considering it from a grounded perspective. Perhaps there are opportunities in your current workplace that you might want to consider? It’s worth exploring whether you can grow and develop WITH a company rather than jumping every time you get itchy feet.

Work should be exciting and challenging, a source of pride and joy. And each person’s definition of “success” is subjective. When you’re staying true to yourself and following that course, your passion will stay alive.

xo Natasha

Apple Seeds Build 12D74 of OS X Beta 10.8.3 to Developers [Mac Blog]

Apple today seeded build 12D74 of OS X Mountain Lion to developers, marking the twelfth beta iteration of the newest version of Mountain Lion. 10.8.3 was first seeded to developers in November of 2012.

build12d74
Build 12D74 comes two weeks after build 12D68 and features no listed changes. Registered developers can download the update on Apple’s Developer Page.

Florian Kohlbacher, PhD: The Business of Aging

Corporations have a social — and fiduciary — responsibility to develop and provide products and services for older people.

Business leaders in developed countries have their eyes on the “silver market” — members of the Baby Boom generation now entering retirement — because many have accumulated significant wealth and will soon have a lot of time on their hands. Most companies pitch their silver market strategies to the segment of the elderly population who are rich and young at heart, generally neglecting those who are poor and weak of limb. That’s a mistake, because in the silver market of the future, those who are old, poor, and sick will likely be the majority.

The United States, according to a 2011 survey of American demographic trends by the Congressional Research Service, “has been in the midst of a profound demographic change: rapid population aging.” By 2050, the research service reports, one in five Americans will be 65 or older. Also by 2050, the country’s most populous age group, accounting for 7.4 percent of the population, will be “the oldest-old”: age 80 and above. Moreover, the report says, the numbers of older people in poor health “are almost certain to rise.”

Japan is the world’s most rapidly graying nation. It’s good place to look for a preview of what’s to come in the United States and other countries, and what these changes mean for businesses.

The age at which physical decay often starts to accelerate dramatically is 75. In Japan, those who are 75 and older already make up more than 10 percent of the population — a share that is increasing. Social stratification — kakusa shakai — creates economic disparities that put this age group at a unique disadvantage. As a result, although a third of the Japanese population is employed, a high ratio of nonregular employees — those without permanent, full-time jobs — do not or cannot pay for health insurance or pensions.

Although Japan’s Baby Boom generation are famously affluent consumers who live and work on the bright side of the silver market, economic inequality and poverty are increasing among the elderly. In an article for the journal Japan Close-up a few years ago, Andrea Weihrauch and I attribute the change to “the effect of the aging of society itself” as Japan “struggles to cope with the exploding costs of its aging population and tries to cut back on its safety net of universal health care, pensions, and welfare benefits for seniors.” The result is a demographic time bomb that ticks louder every day.

In Japan, as in the United States and other countries (developing as well as developed), businesses must prepare today for the realities of the silver market of tomorrow, in order to leverage the looming demographic crisis as an opportunity.

Social responsibility is economic wisdom

Do corporations have a social responsibility to provide transgenerational and age-friendly products and services to support the daily lives of older people? Against the backdrop of these demographic trends, the question takes on new urgency. Supporting seniors in their everyday lives and enabling them to grow old in a humane way are not simply matters of corporate philanthropy. Given the right business model, socially and ethically responsible action can also yield economically responsible profits, not to mention positive public relations.

The late management guru C.K. Prahalad has shown how this works for markets in developing countries in his seminal book, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty through Profits. The title refers to consumers and potential entrepreneurs at the bottom of the income and wealth pyramid. This concept can be applied to the silver market of the future, in which those at the top of the age pyramid will be at the bottom of the income/wealth pyramid.

The same economies of scale that Prahalad says can be achieved by marketing to the large, poor populations of developing countries can be achieved by marketing to large, poor, elderly populations everywhere. Products with adapted functionalities, foods packaged in smaller servings, and packages or products specifically addressing the needs and means of poor, elderly people are just some examples. Population size ensures that profits can be gained even from sales with narrow margins to poor, elderly consumers, because the group’s combined total fortune is substantial — and growing. Most important, elderly consumers will benefit, as their standard of living, quality of life, and subjective well-being improve.

Report: Low-Tax States Have Slower Economic Growth

Small-government advocates often claim that high taxes hold the economy back. But a new report finds that states without a personal income tax have experienced slower economic growth than states with high income tax rates.

The report, from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, found that between 2002 and 2011, the economies of the nine U.S. states without a personal income tax grew 37 percent less quickly per capita than states with high income taxes. Check out the chart below:

state income tax

That may be inconvenient news for several Republican governors, who have recently proposed cutting or eliminating the personal income tax in their states. Louisiana and North Carolina have proposed ending their state’s income taxes, and Oklahoma and Kansas are considering cutting theirs.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) said in January that abolishing the state income tax would “make Louisiana more attractive to companies who want to invest here and create jobs.” And Republican leaders, from House Speaker John Boehner to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have claimed that raising income tax rates would hurt the economy.

(Hat tip: ThinkProgress.)

Quebec drops in mining investment ranking amid concerns over political stability

For the past decade, Quebec was considered one of the best places in the world for mining investment. Not so much anymore.

In the Fraser Institute’s latest annual rankings of mining jurisdictions, Quebec dropped out of the top 10, landing in 11th place. The province finished in first place from 2007 to 2010, and was fifth in 2012.

The drop was not a shock. Throughout last year’s election campaign, Premier Pauline Marois threatened the mining industry with higher royalties, a 30% super-profits tax and changes to Plan Nord, the province’s $80-billion northern development strategy. And her threats came shortly after former premier Jean Charest himself raised mining taxes.

No substantial changes have been announced by the Parti Québécois government so far, though they are being reviewed. The ongoing threat of them has been enough to rattle some mining executives.

“The respondents felt that political stability had deteriorated and that uncertainty about the enforcement of existing regulations had become more uncertain and negative,” survey director Kenneth Green said in an interview.

“When you look at those two considerations, it would seem both the elections and the ongoing controversies about mining and energy production in Quebec could have been responsible [for the decline].”

Canadian provinces performed relatively well in the survey. Alberta and New Brunswick ranked third and fourth, while Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Newfoundland and Yukon all ranked in the top 20.

The prospect of regime change, regulatory change, or having lands yanked back from resource development, those are critical areas that miners seem to hone in on

The top two spots belonged to a pair of Scandinavian countries: Finland and Sweden. While those jurisdictions have relatively high tax rates and tough regulations, they also offer strong political stability and infrastructure. Their top rankings prove that mining companies value stability very highly.

“It’s a particularly important factor in the mining industry because of the long lead times for investment,” Mr. Green said. “When you have the prospect of regime change, regulatory change, or having lands yanked back from resource development, those are critical areas that miners seem to hone in on.”

There were no surprises among the bottom five countries in the rankings: Indonesia, Vietnam, Venezuela, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kyrgyzstan.

Indonesia’s year was highlighted by the highly irregular seizure of a project controlled by Toronto-listed miner Intrepid Mines Ltd. And Kyrgyzstan was constantly in the news after politicians made some outrageous allegations of misconduct against Centerra Gold Inc.

“It’s not a big puzzle as to why they’re down there,” Mr. Green said.

Manning guilty plea on some charges

Bradley Manning, the US Army private accused in the Wikileaks case, pleads guilty to lesser charges but may still be prosecuted for aiding the enemy.

Facebook buys Microsoft ad technology platform

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Facebook Inc said on Thursday it had agreed to buy advertising technology from Microsoft Corp that measures the effectiveness of ads on its website, which should help in its fight with Google Inc for online advertising revenue.

SandRidge quarterly loss narrows on improved production

NEW YORK (Reuters) – SandRidge Energy Inc, the U.S. oil and gas company whose board and executives are under fire from activist investors, posted a narrower fourth-quarter loss on Thursday as it produced more oil and gas.