Smartphone Addiction

Not many years after Apple totally remade the smartphone business, millions are now suffering from smartphone addiction.

A recent NY Times article identified the international technology company Atos as phasing out all emails among employees by the end of this year requiring workers to find other means to communicate.

Daimler Benz employees can have emails deleted automatically during vacations so as not to flood their inboxes upon return.

A nationwide Pew survey of 2,254 adults cited in the article found that 44% of cellphone owners had slept with their phones next to the bed and 67% admitted to checking their phone even if it was not ringing or vibrating.

I wouldn’t give up my smartphone and I don’t imagine you would either.  But with small children now carrying phones and human discourse negatively impacted by distracted relationships, I’m interested in putting my digital device in its proper place.

  1. Turning off a smartphone actually helps people stay refreshed.  There is no evidence that users who switch it off jeopardize their careers.  In fact, it’s the reverse.  Less overwhelmed, more refreshed.
  2. Just because we can work from anywhere at any time doesn’t mean it is an advantage to do so.
  3. Thinking and contemplating are two powerful career tools that are getting lost in digital addiction.  Rediscover them.
  4. Establish digital hours.  Build in downtime.
  5. Establish black out hours, you know, the kind that millions of people were forced to do when the Blackberry network goes down.  Work went on although anxiety ran high.

As I have shared with you in the past, my USC students went nuts when I made them give up their cellphones for two days, but they also admitted to liking it.

When life becomes more hectic because of a great tool like a smartphone, take steps to balance your analog and digital life. 

Don’t throw either away.

“Technology offers us a unique opportunity, though rarely welcome, to practice patience.” – Allan Lokos, Patience: The Art of Peaceful Living. 

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  • @Scott Simon Thank you, Scott.  You’re too kind.

  • Thank you, Scott.  I appreciate the kind words

  • This column is why I like Jerry. Just bought a 4G Samsung. But only for special features, not for lifestyle.

Working With Jerks

Nothing ruins a great job more than having to work with a “jerk”.

First, short of health issues emotionally or physical that may arise from this stress, there is no reason to let a difficult co-worker push you out of a great job.

A better plan, wait for them to self-destruct. 

It happens all the time, but unfortunately lots of good people leave careers they like just to get away from cynical, abusive, hurtful and undesirable people. 

The Harvard Business Review offers some advice:

  1. Focus on your own reactions. “If there is someone who is annoying or abrasive, don’t think about how the person acts, think about how you react. It’s far more productive to focus on your own behavior because you can control it.”
  2. Keep your distaste to yourself. Complaining can send a negative message about you and you might be perceived as “unprofessional or be labeled as the difficult one.” Communicate through a support network you trust – outside of work.  
  3. Consider whether it’s you, not them.  “Start with the hypothesis that the person is doing things you don’t like but is a good person,” says Stanford Business School professor Robert Sutton to HBR. “It’s reasonable to assume you’re part of the problem…If everywhere you go there’s someone you hate, it’s a bad sign.”
  4. Spend more time with the difficult co-worker.  Talk about taking bitter medicine! The idea is to try and build empathy.  However “If it’s someone who violates your sense of what’s moral, getting away [from him] isn’t a bad strategy,” says Sutton to HBR.
  5. Give the person you hate feedback.  “It may be that what bothers you is something that regularly gets in her way as a professional,” says HBR. Stick to the behavior that person can control and describe how they impact you and your work together.

“Difficult People are your key to self empowerment, you need to learn how to cope with them, not let them dominate and affect you.” — Janice Davies

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Reduce Stress in One Minute

I used to own a small card that I kept in my top desk drawer.  When I placed my thumb on it, I got a stress alert.

Red for lots of stress.  Green for cool.

Now I’ve discovered a new app from Huffington Post that instructs you to place your finger over the lens and flash of your iPhone to get an instant breaths-per-minute (BPM) reading.

In one minute, my breaths went down by 10 as I watched the face of my phone gather and display the information. The app is free and fun to try.  You can also attach stress reducers like music and pictures of loved ones to the app to help take the edge off.  You can get “GPS For the Soul” here.

Stress is the disrupter of all happiness.  A threat to our lives, well-being and relationships.  It’s worth fighting.

Whether it is an app, meditation or a walk, stress can be put in its proper place.

The key is mindfulness – being aware of the high price we pay for stress and the importance of interrupting that stress on a regular basis.  Also lifestyle changes, reassessments of values and goals and the greatest stress reducer of all – appreciation for that which we have and the people we have in our lives.

Lily Tomlin said, “For fast acting relief, try slowing down” and Ghandi said, “There is more to life than increasing its speed”.

But I love the Chinese Proverb that reminds us “”Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.”


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The Value of Compromise

Marriages cannot thrive or even survive without both sides agreeing to compromise.  Governments cannot get anything done and no matter what your politics both sides are to blame.

What is it with our growing unwillingness to let another person have “our” way?

Winning is seen as strength.

Giving away our power as a weakness.

It is the other way around.

I’m not talking about compromising on core values or ethics.  Nothing like that.  Just the willingness to say to another person, let’s meet half way.

Here’s a drill you can try.

For one day, focus on how many times you can empower another person in your life or career by meeting them half way.  Be cognizant of the reaction you get because it is going to be strong and positive.  In fact, you may like it so much that you keep looking for opportunities not to have everything all your way.

Washington isn’t the only thing that is  broken.  Society has placed more value on prevailing at all costs rather than compromising to win cooperation.

Polls show the country wants politicians to compromise and work together.

Ironically, the biggest tool for success in the future will be to have the ability to empower others not winning by doing all their thinking.

“If two men agree on everything, you may be sure that one of them is doing all the thinking” – Lyndon Johnson

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Getting Fired

When I went to Temple University, Professor Lew Klein on parents night (no less) told my communications class and our parents that if we were not fired several times in our careers, we were not working in communications.

What a buzz kill.

What a bunch of disappointed parents.

What a gift.

The fact is no matter what career you pursue, seeking success comes with risks. 

And benefits.

If you’ve ever been fired or fear it, consider this:

  1. Even at its worst, it is a gift.  A wakeup call.  A push, a nudge to dig deeper and ask what you want to do with your life and more importantly what you are willing to do to succeed.
  1. The most important thing is to not allow yourself to be shamed by ignorant people.  Shame kills self-esteem.  Put a stop-loss on the shame that you may feel or others may foist upon you. 
  1. When people are fired unjustly, it all rebounds back on the employer doing the firing.  After all, when an associate is dismissed, everyone else gets nervous.  Not a good place to be for the company.
  1. Best of all, the world is populated by millions – that’s right, millions of people who turned the adversity of being fired into success.  You don’t have to look far to stay encouraged.  No need to sugar coat anything. You just have to look.

I wish for all of you continued success in your present line of employment, but should the day come when you’re forced to move on, consider it a gift.

Oh, and here are 15 rich and famous people who were fired before they became successful – take a look and reflect.

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