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How one product ended an art form



For thousands of years, possibly in every culture, humans carried cloth handkerchiefs.

They were the privilege of wealthy humans. Evidence of handkerchiefs dates to 2000 BC, when wealthy Egyptians carried bleached white handkerchiefs made of expensive linen. In western culture, the handkerchief became art by the 14th century. Queens embroidered silk, lace handkerchiefs. They were carried not just for personal hygiene, but also became symbols of love, according to Even Shakespeare wrote about them. By the early 20th century, every respectable person carried a handkerchief, many tatted by grandma.

Then, in the 1920s, the cloth handkerchief was rendered obsolete when the paper company Kimberly-Clark came up with a disposable tissue. But how could one product effectively kill thousands of years of tradition and art?

The answer is probably the flu.

From 1918 to 1920, the flu pandemic infected 500 million people around the world. At least 50 million died. Some sources say 100 million. Everyone knew people who died of the flu. People were wary of touching things. They avoided crowds and conversations.

The public suspected everything, but they especially suspected handkerchiefs. People were urged to carry them to avoid sneezing in public so they wouldn’t pass cold and flu viruses. But, didn’t that mean the viruses were in the actual handkerchief?

Kimberly-Clark’s disposable tissues were soon adopted by ordinary people. Thus, Kimberly-Clark hit on a slogan that matched the angst of the times: Don’t put a cold in your pocket. It was true that the product genuinely enhanced personal hygiene. And, that was the beginning of the end of the handkerchief.

Today, only men’s pocket squares remain as the remnants of the heyday of handkerchiefs, an art form rejected because of the flu.

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Capturing and creating ideas



Business and personal challenges often demand new ideas–those often fleeting solutions that streak through dreams, only to be forgotten in seconds.

One thing that distinguishes creative people from others, according to Psychology Today, is that the creative ones have learned ways to pay attention to and preserve some of the new ideas that occur to them. They have capturing skills.

Scientist Otto Loewi struggled long with a problem in cell biology. One night, a new approach occurred to him in his sleep. He grabbed a pen and wrote it down in the dark. But the next morning he couldn’t read it. Fortunately, the great solution came to him again during sleep. Taking no chances, he went straight to his lab. He won the Nobel Prize for the work he began that night.

People who want to capture their ideas develop methods of doing it. Artists have sketchpads. Writers carry notebooks. Restaurant napkins are famous media for brilliant brainstorms.

Salvador Dali got ideas for paintings from his early sleep state. For new inspiration, he devised the “slumber with a key” method. He put a plate upside down on the floor next to his chair. Then he would relax back in the chair extending his arms over the sides. In his fingers, he lightly balanced a heavy key or spoon. When he drifted off to sleep, the spoon fell onto the plate and the sound would wake him. He would then sketch the images he was seeing.

Steve Jobs always conducted his most serious discussions and brainstorming sessions while walking.

In fact, research from Stanford University says that walking increases the flow of ideas by 60 percent over sitting.

Anyone can learn to capture new ideas and nudge creativity to new levels. So can you, so develop your own technique and you will soon discover that you are more creative than you think.

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The late Tony Hsieh’s profitable solution to job satisfaction



Tony Hsieh – Charlie Llewellin from Austin, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

One the most original thinkers in business, Tony Hsieh, died in November in a house fire in Connecticut.

Hsieh, 46, left a vast legacy of entreprenuership, most notably in his online shoe company, Zappos, which he sold to Amazon in 2009 for $1.4 billion.

One of his innovations in staffing is the Hsieh put an actual dollar amount on job satisfaction and, you might say, company dissatisfaction.

How much does it cost a company to keep a worker that doesn’t like the work, doesn’t like the company, wants to leave, but can’t afford to quit the job?

In 2008, Hsieh thought getting rid of an unhappy worker was worth $1,000.

So, after a week or so on the job, some workers would be given an offer. They could continue to work and presumably do better, or they could quit. If they quit, the company would pay them to go.

Author Bill Murphy, Jr., wrote about this policy in his blog

He looks at the policy from a different perspective: That of the employee. Although the Hsieh policy wasn’t intended to be an act of charity, it actually is, Murphy writes, since it saves a person from doing something they hate. Life is too short.

Murphy should know. In 2009, he famously quit a six-figure job at 7:30 a.m. on the second day. But, he knew he was going to quit on the first day. No one paid him to quit that job.

The moral of the story: Don’t spin your wheels somewhere you hate. Find something you want to do and then give it all you have.

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Pre-employment tests: 4 preparation tips



As part of their overall recruitment strategy, some employers administer pre-employment tests. These examinations are frequently used to evaluate candidates’ job skills, cognitive ability, and personality. Here are four tips to help you prepare for this type of assessment.

1. Rest
Get a good night’s sleep so that you’ll be alert during the test. Being well-rested also reduces stress.

2. Review

Does the job you’re applying for require a certain level of computer literacy or other technical know-how? Take the time to refamiliarize yourself with the software used in your industry, and brush up on other skills or knowledge you may be called upon to demonstrate.

3. Reflect
Will you be taking a personality, integrity, or emotional intelligence test? These types of assessments don’t have correct answers. The important thing is to be truthful about who you are. Before test day, identify your core values and motivations so that you can answer questions more easily.

4. Run through
IQ tests and other assessments that aim to measure cognitive ability can be difficult to study for. However, it helps to familiarize yourself with their format by taking practice exams online.

Best of luck on your test!

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Do you have what it takes to work in IT?



There’s no shortage of employment opportunities in the field of information technology (IT). However, there’s also lots of competition for positions, with numerous candidates who possess the baseline qualifications. If you’re looking to land a great job in IT, here are some qualities that will help you stand out from the crowd.

• Analytical skills. The ability to interpret data effectively and see the big picture is essential to solving the sort of complex problems involved in IT work.

• Communication skills. It’s likely you’ll work in a team setting alongside people who aren’t as tech-savvy as you. To have productive exchanges with co-workers and clients, it’s important to be able to communicate technical concepts in terms anyone can understand.

• Organizational skills. In the IT field, it’s common to work on several projects at once, and co-workers and clients will depend on you to meet deadlines. You’ll need to have the ability to prioritize and effectively manage your time.

• Learning skills. The IT field is constantly evolving. To have a successful career in this industry, you need to be willing to update your skills and knowledge on a continual basis. Moreover, there’s often overlap between the worlds of IT and business, so you may be called on to develop your corporate skills.

If you possess these qualities and have a degree in information technology, then the digital world is your oyster.

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3 tips for at-home workers



Working from home has its perks but for some people, it can be more challenging remaining on task. Here are some tips for being efficient, productive, and motivated if you work from home.

1. Have a fixed schedule
To stay focused when working from home, many people benefit from having a fixed schedule that reflects the average nine-to-five workday, complete with the standard coffee and lunch break. Having a set schedule also means truly logging off when the workday ends. Let your colleagues know when you’ll be reachable.

2. Invest in your office

Working from home is much more pleasant and productive when you have a good work setup. Get the furniture and equipment you need to work in comfort. An ergonomic chair and desk are essential, as is good lighting. In addition, now may be the time to invest in that second monitor, those noise-canceling headphones, or that fancy espresso machine.

3. Stay in touch with colleagues
For many people, the lack of face-to-face interaction with co-workers and clients is one of the main challenges of working from home. Find ways to stay in touch with your colleagues, whether it’s through videoconferencing, telephone calls, online messaging, or the occasional in-person meeting.

The most important thing is to figure out what works best for you, as everyone has their own style of working. Don’t be afraid to try different approaches, and don’t get discouraged if it takes time for you to find your groove.

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The office after COVID-19 will look and feel different



Our experiences inside grocery and retail stores and restaurants have changed dramatically over the past few months, with many changes likely permanent–plexiglass dividers at checkout and contactless purchases, for example.

But what about the office? What will it look like after the quarantines ease and more workers return to the office after months of remote work?

Touchless technology and air purification systems will likely be the norm, along with separate entrances and exits. A number of design and architectural websites suggest that buttons and handles will be replaced by innovations like foot-activated call buttons for elevators and methods of entering and exiting office restrooms that don’t include handles.

Desks will be spaced farther apart and may feature sneeze guards, and offices may install more motion sensors to turn on lights and faucets. Going even further, companies might rotate staff schedules.

According to Forbes, a hub-and-spoke office model may become more common–a company’s headquarters serves as the “hub,” while the “spokes” are used for smaller teams and are in a variety of geographic locations. The hub is no longer the base where everyone shows up each day.

Other ideas include the elimination of a single office refrigerator in favor of smaller fridges by departments and grab-and-go meals in cafeterias for the foreseeable future instead of self-service hot bars. Self-cleaning surfaces are likely to become the norm as well.

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