Category Archives: Observations

What should I wear to a campus interview? (Men’s version)

I over-use the Bell Curve when describing averages. Though it’s so applicable in so many and varied situations that I can’t help myself. And believe it or not, what people wear to a campus interview falls into the standard deviations laid out in the Bell Curve.

We all know the curve. The bulk of the curve, the hump, represents 70% of the populace. They’re all within expected norms of this measure. In this case, it means 70% of campus interview candidates dress alike. This is true. It also means that 15% of candidates dress impressively, while 15% dress unfortunately. This is also true. And while some may argue that there are more nuances and degrees of appropriateness, there aren’t. There really aren’t.

So let’s take a look at the three different groupings of male attire for campus interviews. I’m not necessarily going to recommend anything, but at least I’ll highlight what’s happening with the competition.

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Anne Hathaway has T-Rex arms!

Did anyone notice how uncomfortable Anne Hathaway looked while hosting the Academy Awards? Maybe it was nerves, or maybe it’s because her co-host was wooden. But whether she was anxious or not, her body language did little to help. If there was an Oscar for using T-Rex arms, she would have won the hardware. Take a look at her performance:

See how her lower arms, wrists and hands are often caught between her waist and shoulders? This is colorfully called T-Rex arms. Uncomfortable or novice presenters share these traits: A) they don’t know what to do with their hands, and B) they want to hide behind something for security. This results in T-Rex arms, when the arms and hands are used, or sort-of played with, in front of the torso in a manner that does not pertain to the presentation.

Anne clearly doesn’t know what to do with her hands. And when she does have a germane gesture, she goes way overboard–another sign of discomfort. Watch at 00:46, when she proclaims that it’s “Hollywood’s Biggest Night!” It looks like her arms finally release all the potential energy she built fiddling around her waist. Could you imagine Meryl Streep doing that with her arms? No. Not just because she’s more mature and reserved, but because she’s more comfortable and confident. T-Rex arms are a clear differentiator between confident and nervous presenters. Continue reading

US Air’s disturbing practices

In recent months I’ve flown US Airways a few different times, and learned a valuable lesson about pestering people.

Unless I go out of my way to make it so, there are few places in my day-to-day world where I have complete, quiet alone time, largely without interruption. Airplanes are one such place, which is why, when I fly, I enjoy my alone time to the fullest, and I prefer not to be pestered. So that I don’t get in the way of a row-mate’s bathroom excursions, I always select the window seat even though, at a leggy 6′ 4″, the aisle would be far more accommodating. Before longer flights, I cut my water intake so I don’t have to get up myself, and I generally don’t take a beverage from the service cart when it makes the rounds. I use my time to escape into a book, catch up on my magazines, or work. US Air, however, isn’t on board with my plan. Continue reading

Salary may not be negotiable for recent grads

It’s common to assume that salary, benefits, moving expenses, etc. are negotiable during the job interview process.  To a degree, this is an antiquated notion–especially for recent grads.

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Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock and the power of connecting

Plymouth Rock, taken 11/23/2010

Cape Cod is probably the perfect place to spend Thanksgiving.  Surrounded by all that history, it’s hard not to appreciate both the challenges faced in building a life in a foreign land and the importance of relationships and community.  Two days ago I toured some of the most Thanksgiving-y sites in Massachusetts, including Plimoth Plantation, Plymouth Rock, and the Mayflower II.  Each stop was fascinating, no matter how you believe the first thanksgiving actually happened.   Continue reading

You gonna eat, or you gonna be ate?

Fight or flight.  Kill or be killed.  Eat or be eaten.  If only every decision was so binary.  The same holds true in the workplace, though I’d add a third category: wait and see.  I could also break  it up into leaders, followers, and situational somewhere-in-the-middlers (trademark pending).  Moving forward, moving backward, or paralyzed.  (I could go on, but you get the idea.)

As an exercise, look around the room at your next meeting and try to categorize everyone into three groups: Leaders, Followers, and Waiters.  Then look at each person’s career (what you know of it) to see if there’s any correlation between those groups and upward mobility.  I bet there is. Continue reading

Gen Y will never figure it out

At a lunch meeting last week the conversation turned to the differences between generations in the work place today.  While this is a favorite topic of mine, it can be a challenge when the other side of the table comes from a position of superiority, stereotyping, ignorance, or all three.  My lunch company was an intelligent, understanding man, not generally described by any of those terms, so I enjoyed the discussion.  But he did say something that caught my attention.  He said, “They’ll figure it out soon enough.”  Continue reading