Meet the first black women to earn a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from their respective colleges
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three black women nuclear engineers seated at table on the grass outside office building

By Amanda Zrebiec

On most days, the corner conference room in Building 26 on the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory’s Laurel, Maryland, campus is indistinguishable from the many quiet work spaces that surround it. But on a gray afternoon in mid-February, the voices, laughter and energy bounding from its occupants differentiate it from the rest.

As Jamie Porter, Mareena Robinson Snowden, and Ciara Sivels gather around the small table inside, the feeling of stumbling onto a gathering of old friends is difficult to shake. Their bonds, though, are forged less through time than their shared experience of being “the first.”

Each one—Porter, APL’s radiation effects lead for NASA’s Europa Clipper mission; Snowden, a senior engineer in the National Security Analysis Department; and Sivels, a nuclear engineer in the Air and Missile Defense Sector—was the first black woman to earn a Doctor of Philosophy in nuclear engineering from their respective colleges: University of Tennessee, 2012; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2018; and University of Michigan, 2018.

Now, Porter, Snowden and Sivels work in three different sectors at APL, dedicating their time and their brains to important challenges facing the nation. Here, they have created a community.

Path to the Ph.D.

“I used to hate physics,” Porter says with a laugh. “Lord, I don’t know how, but now I live in this world.”

Porter arrived in APL’s Space Exploration Sector in 2015. She focuses on radiation hardness assurance for all electric, electrical and electrochemical parts of missions, specifically NASA’s planned Europa Clipper mission to Jupiter’s icy moon. She also manages the sector’s Radiation Analysis and Test section.

Three years before she arrived at APL, Porter was the first black woman to earn a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Tennessee. It’s likely, Porter said, that she was just the second black woman in the country to do so, after J’Tia Hart, who received hers from the University of Illinois and subsequently appeared on Season 28 of the CBS show Survivor.

After completing her undergraduate studies, Porter said her goal was to get a master’s. Her professor and graduate advisor, Lawrence Townsend, told her a Ph.D. was what she needed. Porter credited Townsend for pushing her—from undergraduate classes through her doctorate, and even a postdoctoral fellowship. “He told me, ‘You need to do this for yourself, and you need to do this for other people,’” Porter said.

It wasn’t until Porter was nearing her graduation that Tennessee discovered she’d be their first. They didn’t publicize it at the time—a decision reached through a conversation with Porter, where the school admitted embarrassment that it took until 2012 to reach the milestone. They later acknowledged regret at not celebrating it more publicly.

“I actually got to be the speaker at the hooding ceremony the year after I graduated, and it resonated with a lot of people,” Porter said.

When Snowden became the first black woman to earn a nuclear engineering Ph.D. from MIT in 2018, on the contrary, it was well publicized, particularly after her own Instagram post from graduation day went viral. That doesn’t mean her path to that moment was smooth. In retrospect, it wasn’t even a path she necessarily chose.

“People ask me, ‘How did you pick nuclear engineering?’ and I’m like, ‘Nuclear engineering picked me.’ You get a ticket, you get on the train,” she said.

Snowden credited her father, Bill Robinson, with guiding her into studying physics as an undergraduate at Florida A&M University, a historically black college in Tallahassee. It was a visit with a friend of a friend who worked at the school that started her trajectory.

The mantra of FAMU is they don’t expect you to be the best student on the way in, but you will be the best and most competitive student on the way out. That, Snowden said, was absolutely her experience.

It was acceptance into a summer research program at MIT after her freshman year that set Snowden on a firmer course. “It was the only application I sent out because I just knew I was going to be at FAMU doing research in the lab like normal,” she said. “But they messed around and accepted me. And we celebrated like I got into the Ph.D. program.”

A few years later, she did that, too.

Snowden, whose work at APL leverages her technical training in nuclear engineering on current and future national security challenges, applied to eight graduate schools. She got into one.

That’s where she met Sivels.

Sivels and Snowden first connected when the former was an undergraduate MIT student in nuclear engineering and the latter was working toward her Ph.D. That fact alone would knock a 16-year-old Sivels over with a feather.

Originally wanting to be a chef, Sivels’ chemistry teacher pushed her to explore her options—urging her to take his class (advanced placement chemistry) as a senior, recommending she look into chemical engineering schools, and turning her down time after time as she suggested potential colleges that might be a good fit.

“He kept saying, ‘This isn’t good enough, this isn’t good enough,’” Sivels recalled.

To boost her credentials for engineering school, Sivels enrolled in a local community college physics class that covered the history of the discipline. Fascinated by antimatter, she read about work at the California Institute of Technology. The Virginia native showed that school to her mom, who nixed the idea. But as she researched Caltech further, their rival, MIT, popped up.

“I didn’t know what MIT was, the prestige associated with it, anything,” said Sivels, whose work at APL focuses on how radiation interacts with and changes the properties of various types of materials. “It just came up in the sentence with Caltech, so I took it back to my teacher, Robert Harrell, and he was like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s the kind of school you need to be applying to.’”

Even after she was accepted, Sivels was certain she’d be attending Virginia Commonwealth University. It was a campus visit to MIT—coupled with the release of the movie 21—that helped convince her of the school’s esteemed reputation.

Her undergraduate studies were difficult. Sivels noted, among other setbacks, she failed a class and shed many a tear. She got through it, and knew she wanted to further her impact in the field. That’s when her advisors suggested moving on to Michigan for her graduate education.

And it wasn’t until she went searching for a mentor there—preferably another black woman who’d gone through the program—that Michigan noted she’d be the first.

 The Challenges of Being the First

In many ways, these women know they are the exception, not the rule. They were able to navigate turbulent waters and persevere through biases and other challenges.

It doesn’t mean, however, that just because they did it, black women trying to get nuclear engineering Ph.D.s are suddenly no longer the exception.

“I come from an HBCU [Historically Black Colleges and Universities], and so much of that culture and legacy is about that question of responsibility,” Snowden said. “FAMU was intentional about teaching us the context—about what it meant to be black in America and in professional spaces. I went into my Ph.D. process with that context, so when I came up against a challenge, or a person coming at me sideways, I could leverage that context to help me interpret the situation.”

“Both of my parents went to HBCUs, so I had that training, too,” Sivels added. “My parents didn’t want to jade me, but they knew I was smart, and they knew it was coming…When I used to cry to them at MIT, my parents were like, ‘You’ll get over it. Welcome to the world—something is finally hard for you.’”

Porter, who grew up in Tennessee with a white mother and a black father, said, “There are moments when I am like gosh, I do feel the pressure, because I have to deal with comments or expectations that my counterpart does not. Sometimes I will send out an e-mail that says, ‘This is a learning moment, please do not do this [thing you may not think is offensive, but is offensive],’ and I’ll put it out there because I feel like…”

As Porter trails off, Sivels jumps in. “If you don’t, who will?”

“That’s exactly right,” Porter said. “But it’s hard. You have to pick and choose your battles. You have to think, ‘How is this going to affect me if I react right now?’”

“I read a paper once that talked about that,” Snowden said. “They called it the tax. It’s the tax you have to pay of being ‘one of only’ of an identity. That extra calculation you have to do in your mind of ‘How am I going to be perceived in this environment? How do I respond to this stimulus?’ That’s a tax your counterparts from majority populations don’t have to pay.”

And that, the women noted emphatically, doesn’t even include bouts of impostor syndrome that often lurk just around the corner even as they continue their ascents.

Eyes on the Future

To listen to Porter, Snowden and Sivels, you’d think their trailblazing happened with a shrug of the shoulders—they just put their heads down and did what they thought they were supposed to do. It wasn’t nearly so simple.

They also know the rewards of their perseverance come with a duty to future generations.

“I definitely feel a responsibility,” Porter said. “I am the lead radiation engineer for a billion-dollar flagship NASA mission, and when I do reviews, most often I am the only black person in the room. So, I try really hard to bring people with me.”

They make an effort to mentor those behind them. They work on committees and in outreach programs, like the IF/THEN Ambassador program, of which Sivels is a part.

And they tell their stories. They talk about their journeys so that their shared experiences as “the first” are ultimately just a way to pave the road for those behind them.

“I look at the diversity and inclusion conversation as two sides to one coin,” Snowden said. “You have the recruitment piece, and the second, less-talked-about part, is the retention piece. Once they’ve gotten into these programs, and they’ve gotten their Ph.D.s and they’re STEM professionals, how do we get them to and through mid-career, promoted up to senior levels, given power so they can hire, and all of those types of things that will make an impact?

“Now, I think the mission is to preserve the recruitment momentum but create a new body of momentum on the retention piece, but it’s the harder challenge to me.”

In a way, what Porter, Snowden and Sivels would like is for their accomplishments as “the firsts” to fade. For them to be the firsts of many—and for that to extend through to professional life.

“I love outreach,” Porter said. “It’s telling your story. It’s letting a little girl see what’s possible. [Snowden and Sivels] saw each other [at MIT], but they didn’t really see it was possible until it happened. I didn’t see anybody and it was just like, ‘Well, this is happening.’

“But it all goes back to that responsibility and the fact that now we have that responsibility to put ourselves out there—so other girls can see it’s possible.”

Photo Caption: From left, Jamie Porter, Ciara Sivels, and Mareena Robinson Snowden, who all now work at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, were each the first black woman to earn a Ph.D. from their respective colleges in nuclear engineering.

Credit: Johns Hopkins APL / Craig Weiman

This story is courtesy of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. This is an abridged version. The Applied Physics Laboratory, a not-for-profit division of The Johns Hopkins University, meets critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology. For more information, or to read the unabridged story, please visit www.jhuapl.edu.

How Superstar Candidates Know if a Company is Right for Them
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woman using video chat for online job interview in office, closeup

It’s all about how you interview. But not in the way you might think.

By Jeff Haden

You need to hire the best possible employees. You need to hire superstars. But superstars have options.

For talented people, the job market is a seller’s market: Because they’re in demand they can to a large extent choose where they want to work. That’s at least partly why recent research involving nearly 100,000 interview reviews and offer decisions shows that last year, more than 17 percent of job offers were rejected by candidates, according to Glassdoor.

That’s right: Nearly 1 in 6 were offered a job they decided to turn down.

So how can you increase the odds that great candidates will accept your job offer? Make the job interview more difficult. The survey showed that the acceptance rate for people between 25 and 34 increased by 3 percentage points when the interview process was more “difficult.” And candidates in professional and technical fields are most likely to accept an offer if their interview is “difficult.”

Toughening Up the Interview Process

For the candidate, the interview is a good way to gauge the potential of a particular employer or job. “If the interview process is tough,” the thinking seems to go, “then that means getting a job here is tough—which means getting in the door should be great for my career,” according to Daniel Zhao, co-author of the survey.

Research clearly shows the interview has a huge effect on how candidates see you as a company. Skills and career development are a priority for younger workers, and interviews are an opportunity for them to see if the company they’re applying for will equip them with the experience they want. Of course, you might think your interview process is already tough. Think again. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “easy” and 5 being “very difficult,” only 10 percent of interviews were ranked as a 4, or “difficult.” And only 1 percent were considered “very difficult.” Which means the odds are, candidates feel your interviews are easier than you think. Which means making your interviews harder should pay off: Increasing the interview difficult by one level increases acceptance rates by nearly 3 percentage points.

Tests Work—As Long as They’re Skills Tests

Aside from asking more difficult interview questions, one way to increase the difficulty of the interview process is to have candidates complete some form of testing. Skills tests, though—not personality tests. Taking personality tests actually lowered acceptance rates by over 2 percentage points. Maybe that’s because superstars want to work for people who care more about results than personality: Taking applicable skills tests increased acceptance rates by over 2 percent.

Don’t Involve Brain Teasers

Many people feel having to answer a brain teaser question during a job interview feels like a bad move, and science backs up their intuition. How you answer a brain teaser says almost nothing about how you will perform on the job, but it says a lot—and none of it good—about the interviewer who enjoys asking the question. All brain teasers reveal is that the interviewer enjoys putting people on the spot and watching them squirm. Which is the last thing any interviewer should want to do—especially since great candidates will see that as reason enough to turn down a job offer.

Instead, do this. First, establish a consistent rubric for how you assess candidates. Then use behavioral interview questions to not only determine how candidates have performed in real-world situations but to also get a sense of what they consider to be “difficult.” The answer to, “Tell me about the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last six months,” instantly gives you a sense of what the candidate considers to be a “tough” decision. Then consider adding a skills test to the process. (Tests are available for just about every job and industry; just make sure you administer the tests consistently and that every short-list candidate takes the test. Where hiring processes are concerned, consistency—and fairness—is everything.)

And then ramp up the difficulty, because the research shows many candidates, especially the great ones, won’t think your process is as tough as you do. They’ll know, within minutes, if your process is easy, or difficult, or very difficult. The answer to that question plays a significant role in how likely they are to accept your job offer. Which means increasing the difficulty of your interviews will not only help you better evaluate candidates… it will also make it more likely that a superstar candidate will say, “Yes.” Win-win.

Jeff Haden is a speaker, Inc. Magazine contributing editor, author of The Motivation Myth.

How to Use Online Networking Now for Future Success
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Smiling Indian girl wearing headphones using laptop, networking online

By Alexis Reale

It’s been said that looking for a job is a full-time job in itself. You need to make finding a job the focus of your daily routine, and follow a detailed job search plan to ensure that your time is being used wisely.

While applying for jobs is a large part of your job search, networking remains one of the top ways job seekers find positions, so it pays to build a variety of solid connections. During the pandemic, in-person networking is out of the question, so you need to change your networking tactics to focus on online networking. However, even during “normal” times, creating a strong online network can benefit your job search and career.

How Online Networking Helps Your Job Search

With online networking, you have a wider reach than you would at an in-person event. People from all over the world can meet up in a professional, like-minded group, giving you the opportunity to meet and network with people in your field that you might never meet otherwise.

Creating a Successful Online Networking Strategy

Start with LinkedIn. LinkedIn has become the go-to site for career-related networking. Beyond creating an optimized LinkedIn profile, be sure you’re taking full advantage of all it has to offer. Let LinkedIn automatically make the “easy” connections by sending invites to everyone in your address book. Then, take heed of its periodic suggestions of other members you might know based on your information or background.

Move Beyond LinkedIn

While LinkedIn is the place for all things career-related, don’t limit yourself to one social network. If your work involves a visual component, create a professional Pinterest or Instagram account to highlight that part of your work. You can also use Facebook and Twitter to engage with thought leaders and other professionals in your field. To take your personal branding to the next level, consider building your own website. It’s a great place to collect testimonials about your work, and create an online portfolio of your accomplishments. This should serve as a one-stop shop for people to connect with you and to learn about your background.

Consider Your Existing Network

Before you reach out to possible new networking connections, reach out to your existing connections first. This is a great way to start building your online network.

Starting with current contacts can offer a greater sense of support and connection simply because of the existing relationship. It can also allow you to catch up with former colleagues and peers, and potentially schedule informational interviews. LinkedIn also has a feature that allows your existing connections to introduce you to their connections. This helps you build your network when one of your current connections is connected to someone you want to meet. You can then ask that existing connection to introduce you.

Try Chats and Groups

Eventually, though, you’ll want to expand your network from existing contacts to new contacts. While that can be intimidating, online networking makes it easier and less stressful for people to connect with new networking contacts.

Join social media groups and chats dedicated to your area of interest. Groups can be found on LinkedIn, and chats exist on Twitter. If you’re savvy with social media, you can also find discussions with like-minded individuals through Reddit. You’ll want to find the sub-Reddit that pertains to your profession.

Choose the Right Connections

Before you reach out to any professional, consider if you’re reaching out to the appropriate person. There is often a pecking order of who talks to whom. If you are a mid-level professional trying to reach out to CEO and executive-level professionals exclusively, you may be hurting your chances of forming any valuable connection.

Connect with professionals on a similar career level to you, or who work on a team where they could be your manager (i.e., a senior tax accountant reaching out to a senior tax manager). This way, you will foster relationships with the people that truly matter—the ones who can influence hiring decisions and likely relate most effectively to your experience. In addition to online networking, joining a professional association in your area is a great way to network in your industry.

Slow Down

“Hi, this is Bob, and I would like a job,” is not the best way to introduce yourself to someone. Networking takes time and requires a relationship to develop. As you continue to build your relationship, you can dive into more details about your professional relationship and potential jobs, but jumping in with both feet and asking outright for a job will only hurt your chances of success.

Keep your “cold call” introductions quick, simple, and professional. Don’t ask too many questions and don’t expound on your great accomplishments in this first message. This first message is just an introduction, a hook to get their attention. Once you have their attention and their response is positive, you can take the next step and delve into more detailed networking questions.

Taking these small steps displays your interest in the company, but it also shows your respect for the person you are contacting.

Online Networking Now for Success Later

Networking is one of the most complex aspects of being involved in the professional world. There are endless methods, tools, and platforms associated with networking, and it can be difficult to decide where and how to start.

One constant about networking, however, is that it is about the practice of building relationships over time. Don’t wait until you are out of work to start networking. It’s something you should develop throughout your career. Take the time to successfully network online using the tips above, and the results will be worth the wait.

Source: flexjobs.com

Job Interviews are Going Virtual, Here’s What You Need to Know
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Young latin woman on a virtual job interview

As businesses prepare to open their doors again, the hiring process has begun. Nearly forty million Americans lost their jobs from the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, which means that many of those people will be searching for work and participating in job interviews.

But, as we are still adhering to some social distancing rules, many of these interviews are likely to occur via video call.

Interviewing virtually is an unfamiliar territory, but having a successful, meaningful virtual interview is definitely possible.

Here are the best tips for having the most successful interview on a virtual platform.

  • Presentation
  • As you would for an in-person interview, you want to look presentable. While this means wearing an interview-appropriate outfit, you want to make sure that your background and camera angle are also presentable. Make sure your background is clean, containing as little distractions as possible, and that your computer’s camera is catching the best angle of yourself. This will allow the interviewer to see the best version of yourself while bringing their full attention to what you are saying and not to what else is happening in your environment.

  • Make Eye Contact
  • As you would in a physical job interview, you want to make eye contact with the interviewer. It can be difficult not to look at your own reflection in the video call and worry about how you look to the other party, but remember to look into the computer’s camera to show the interviewer that you are paying attention to what they are saying and are really listening.

  • Remember the Lag
  • Unfortunately, video calls are known to lag and glitch. Neither party is at fault, but be aware of these inconveniences. Talking over the interviewer, accidentally interrupting, audio cutouts, and temporary freezes are bound to happen, so speak slowly and talk only when necessary to avoid these possible interview mishaps.

  • Use Your Resources
  • Virtual interviews allow for better access to virtual resources. Keeping interview notes on your screen and using screen share to give examples of your work will help you to remember your best selling points and show your interviewer what you are capable of.

Not a ‘Math Person’? —You may be better at learning to code than you think
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Close up of african american woman working on computer in electronics laboratory. Doing Development of Software and Hardware. She wearing a lab coat. Side view

Want to learn to code? Put down the math book. Practice those communication skills instead.

New research from the University of Washington finds that a natural aptitude for learning languages is a stronger predictor of learning to program than basic math knowledge, or numeracy. That’s because writing code also involves learning a second language, an ability to learn that language’s vocabulary and grammar, and how they work together to communicate ideas and intentions. Other cognitive functions tied to both areas, such as problem solving and the use of working memory, also play key roles.

“Many barriers to programming, from prerequisite courses to stereotypes of what a good programmer looks like, are centered around the idea that programming relies heavily on math abilities, and that idea is not born out in our data,” said lead author Chantel Prat, an associate professor of psychology at the UW and at the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences. “Learning to program is hard but is increasingly important for obtaining skilled positions in the workforce. Information about what it takes to be good at programming is critically missing in a field that has been notoriously slow in closing the gender gap.”

Published online March 2 in Scientific Reports, an open-access journal from the Nature Publishing Group, the research examined the neurocognitive abilities of more than three dozen adults as they learned Python, a common programming language. Following a battery of tests to assess their executive function, language and math skills, participants completed a series of online lessons and quizzes in Python. Those who learned Python faster, and with greater accuracy, tended to have a mix of strong problem-solving and language abilities.

In today’s STEM-focused world, learning to code opens up a variety of possibilities for jobs and extended education. Coding is associated with math and engineering; college-level programming courses tend to require advanced math to enroll and they tend to be taught in computer science and engineering departments. Other research, namely from UW psychology professor Sapna Cheryan, has shown such requirements and perceptions of coding reinforce stereotypes about programming as a masculine field, potentially discouraging women from pursuing it.

But coding also has a foundation in human language: Programming involves creating meaning by stringing symbols together in rule-based ways.

Though a few studies have touched on the cognitive links between language learning and computer programming, some of the data is decades old, using languages like Pascal that are now out of date, and none of them used natural language aptitude measures to predict individual differences in learning to program.

So, Prat, who specializes in the neural and cognitive predictors of learning human languages, set out to explore the individual differences in how people learn Python. Python was a natural choice, Prat explained, because it resembles English structures, such as paragraph indentation, and uses many real words rather than symbols for functions.

To evaluate the neural and cognitive characteristics of “programming aptitude,” Prat studied a group of native English speakers between the ages of 18 and 35 who had never learned to code.

Before learning to code, participants took two completely different types of assessments. First, participants underwent a five-minute electroencephalography scan, which recorded the electrical activity of their brains as they relaxed with their eyes closed. In previous research, Prat showed that patterns of neural activity while the brain is at rest can predict up to 60 percent of the variability in the speed with which someone can learn a second language (in that case, French).

“Ultimately, these resting-state brain metrics might be used as culture-free measures of how someone learns,” Prat said.

Then the participants took eight different tests: one that specifically covered numeracy; one that measured language aptitude; and others that assessed attention, problem-solving and memory.

To learn Python, the participants were assigned ten 45-minute online instruction sessions using the Codeacademy educational tool. Each session focused on a coding concept, such as lists or if/then conditions, and concluded with a quiz that a user needed to pass to progress to the next session. For help, users could turn to a “hint” button, an informational blog from past users and a “solution” button, in that order.

From a shared mirror screen, a researcher followed along with each participant and was able to calculate their “learning rate,” or speed with which they mastered each lesson, as well as their quiz accuracy and the number of times they asked for help.

After completing the sessions, participants took a multiple-choice test on the purpose of functions (the vocabulary of Python) and the structure of coding (the grammar of Python). For their final task, they programmed a game—Rock, Paper, Scissors—considered an introductory project for a new Python coder. This helped assess their ability to write code using the information they had learned.

Ultimately, researchers found scores from the language aptitude test were the strongest predictors of participants’ learning rate in Python. Scores from tests in numeracy and fluid reasoning were also associated with Python learning rate, but each of these factors explained less variance than language aptitude did.

Presented another way, across learning outcomes, participants’ language aptitude, fluid reasoning and working memory, and resting-state brain activity were all greater predictors of Python learning than was numeracy, which explained an average of 2 percent of the differences between people. Importantly, Prat also found that the same characteristics of resting-state brain data that previously explained how quickly someone would learn to speak French, also explained how quickly they would learn to code in Python.

“This is the first study to link both the neural and cognitive predictors of natural language aptitude to individual differences in learning programming languages. We were able to explain over 70 percent of the variability in how quickly different people learn to program in Python, and only a small fraction of that amount was related to numeracy,” Prat said. Further research could examine the connections between language aptitude and programming instruction in a classroom setting, or with more complex languages, such as Java, or with more complicated tasks to demonstrate coding proficiency, Prat said.

Source: newswise.com

The Mental, Emotional, and Physical Comeback for Women in Business
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MBDA promo poster featuring Taraji P. Henson as the featured speaker

Join our speakers as we discuss how to ensure emotional, physical and mental self-care as we embark on the new normal for professional and home life.

Featured speaker Taraji P. Henson, Nic Cober Johnson, Author and Business Strategist; Jenniffer González-Colón, Congresswoman of Puerto Rico and Dr. Sherry Blake, Therapist and Mental Health Expert, discuss this important topic on June 3, 2020, 1-3pm EDT.

Get the details and how to register here.

Working from Home? Here Are Some Tips
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woman close up of hands on keyboard with cofeee and pen and paper on desk

Most advice about how to make working from home actually work focuses on the practical: The right office space. The right desk. The ergonomically perfect chair. The right software, the right messaging platform, the right apps…all the “stuff” you need to make remote work actually work.

Yet, ask most people who made the transition to working from home what they struggled with most – and continue to struggle with—and they will list things like staying motivated, managing their time wisely, avoiding distractions and staying on task—none of which has anything to do with “stuff.”

When I first started working from home, I instinctively replicated my old office environment. I bought a big desk. Nice credenza. Conference table. Large filing cabinet. Fancy chair. A cool land-line phone. To paraphrase the eminently quotable Chris Rock, that’s what I was accustomed to.

So, I assumed that’s what I needed.

But none of those things made me efficient, much less effective. I missed the “structure” of the workplace, the natural rhythm of a workday that, even though I was in charge, was still only partly under my control.

So, more often than I like to admit, I sometimes drifted. I was easily distracted. I was easily bored. I missed the structure. I missed the sense of urgency that the presence of other people helps foster.

Then I took a step back and thought about my most productive days. Not just the days I got a lot of things done, but the days I also got a lot of the right things done.

They all had one thing in common: A mission. An outcome, a deliverable—something tangible that created a real sense of purpose.

If you’re struggling to work as effectively from home—or if your employees are struggling to work as effectively from home—shift from focusing on tasks to focusing on outcomes. (Don’t worry; tasks are the foundation of outcomes.)

Before you end your workday, list what you need to get done tomorrow and determine the single most important thing you need to get done tomorrow.

Then, before you step away, set up your workspace (which, if like mine, is simply your computer desktop) so you can hit the ground running the next day. Have the reports you need open. Have the notes you need handy. Make sure the questions you need answered already have answers.

Then sit down and dive in.

And commit to completing everything you need to get done. Allowing yourself to give in to excuses, rationalizations, etc. is a slippery slope—and becomes a habit extremely hard to break.

But will be less of a problem when you get your most important task done right away. Starting your day with a productive bang naturally creates the momentum and motivation you need to move on to whatever is next on the day’s outcome list.

And the next. And the next.

Because completing a task is fine, but achieving an important outcome is satisfying, fulfilling, and motivating.

So never forget: What matters is what you accomplish from wherever you work. Success has nothing to do with your desk, or your chair, or your office space. (Today, my “office” is my backpack and my computer and wherever I feel like sitting.)

Success is all about what you achieve, and achievement always starts with knowing what you want to accomplish. And more importantly, why.

Jeff Haden is a keynote speaker, ghostwriter, LinkedIn Influencer, contributing editor to Inc., and the author of The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win.

Source: Owl Labs

Meet Brittney Nicole: Navy Veteran Turned Fashion Entrepreneur
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A clothes rack with women's coats hanging on it

Transitioning from military life back into civilian life is a challenge for any veteran. While there are many different approaches in choosing a career, one U.S. Navy Veteran decided that she would approach her career choice by following her passions.

Always having a love for fashion, Brittney Nicole decided to open her own clothing business, Coco’s Wardrobe, upon her retirement from the U.S. Navy.  The New Orleans based boutique designs, manufactures, and sells women’s clothing that is meant to look as good as they feel, blending comfort with style. All of the clothing in Nicole’s shop has a women’s desire to feel confident and comfortable at the forefront of everything that is produced.

In addition, Nicole has also began selling uniquely designed face masks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shattering the Status Quo
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Jenny Lee sitting on a panel at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco

From a city’s youngest elected mayor to a country’s first billionaire, these Asian women don’t see obstacles—only opportunities

Otsu Mayor Aims to Use AI to Prevent Bullying

Naomi Koshi is the Mayor of the city of Otsu in the province of Shiga in Japan. She became the youngest woman elected mayor of a Japanese city. The city of Otsu announced plans earlier this year to use artificial intelligence to predict the potential consequences of suspected cases of bullying at schools. This would be the first such analysis by a municipality in the country. “Through an AI theoretical analysis of past data, we will be able to properly respond to cases without just relying on teachers’ past experiences,” Otsu Mayor Koshi told The Japan Times of the planned analysis, set to begin from the next fiscal year.

Source: The Japan Times

Vietjet Founder is Vietnam’s First Woman Billionaire

Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao has made history as the only woman to start and run a major commercial airline, Vietjet Aviation. Her success has also made her very wealthy. She is Vietnam’s first self-made woman billionaire and the wealthiest self-made woman in Southeast Asia, with a net worth of $2.5 billion.

Source: forbes.com

GGV Capital’s Lee Ranks High on Forbes Midas

Jenny Lee is one of the highest-ranking women on the Forbes 2019 Midas list. Her portfolio at U.S. and China-based GGV Capital – where she is a managing partner – includes 11 unicorns, with some valued as high as $56 billion. A former fighter jet engineer with Singapore’s ST Aerospace, Lee has taken 11 of her portfolio companies public, including three IPOs in 2018. Her 2012 investment in Chinese social network operator, YY, netted GGV a 15-fold return.

Source: forbes.com

Grab App Co-Founder is Southeast Asia’s First Decacorn

Tan Hooi Ling is the co-founder of Southeast Asia’s first decacorn, super app Grab. The 35-year-old Harvard MBA graduate has led the company with cofounder Anthony Tan in raising over $9 billion dollars since launching in 2012. Nearly half of that sum came last March when the Singapore-based startup raised $4.5 billion in a funding round led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund, Alibaba, Microsoft and 26 other investors, valuing the company at $14 billion. This Series H round aims to raise another $2 billion before the end of the year.

Source: egradio.org

Awkwafina Makes Golden Globes History

The Farewell star Awkwafina is the first performer of Asian descent to win a Golden Globe Award in a lead actress film category. She’s only the sixth woman of Asian descent to be nominated in the lead actress in a musical or comedy category. Awkwafina joins a small group of performers of Asian lineage who have won Golden Globe awards since the show started. The Farewell, which features a predominantly Asian cast, tells the story of a young woman named Billi (Awkwafina) whose family decides to keep news of a terminal diagnosis from the family’s elder matriarch, Billi’s grandmother Nai Nai (Shuzhen Zhao).

Source: cnn.com

Johnson & Johnson Names Gu and Huang Among Women STEM Scholars

Johnson & Johnson’s WiSTEM2D (Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, Manufacturing, and Design) Scholars Awards program, designed to increase the representation of women in these fields and support the development of women leaders, named Grace X. Gu and Shengxi Huang among its six recent Scholars Award winners. Grace X. Gu is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research interests include composites, additive manufacturing, fracture mechanics, topology optimization, machine learning, finite element analysis, and bio-inspired materials. Her current project focuses on developing a more efficient 3D printer that can self-correct during a print job.

Shengxi Huang is an assistant professor of electrical engineering at Pennsylvania State University. Her research interests include biomedical devices and systems, electronic materials and devices, and optical materials, devices, and systems. Currently, she is developing a device to measure potential disease-causing biomolecules, such as cancer cells.

Source: wiareport.com

MiMi Aung Awaits Summer Launch of Helicopter on Mars 2020 Rover

Burmese-born MiMi Aung is very familiar with uncharted territory. She tackles it as part of her job: overseeing the building of a helicopter to fly on another planet. “What I find most rewarding and challenging about the work I do is the chance to develop never-been-done-before autonomous systems for space exploration,” the JPL project manager for the Mars Helicoper shared by email. The miniature 4-pound, solar-powered helicopter is designed to fly for up to 90 seconds and is scheduled to travel with the Mars 2020 rover. And when it attempts to fly on the Red Planet in 2021 (and hopefully succeeds) it will solidify Aung’s place in the history books.

Source: kcet.org

Ex-Chemistry Teacher Becomes Richest Self-Made Woman in Asia

Former chemistry teacher Zhong Huijuan has become the wealthiest self-made woman in Asia with a $10.5 billion fortune, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The bulk of her wealth comes from her stake in Hansoh Pharmaceutical Group, China’s largest maker of psychotropic drugs, which soared 37 percent during its first day of trading in Hong Kong. Zhong, who founded Hansoh in 1995, overtook Longfor Group’s Chairman Wu Yajun to claim the self-made title. Zhong is the second-richest woman in Asia, trailing only Yang Huiyan, co-chairman of Country Garden Holdings, who inherited her fortune.

Source: bloomberg.com

Photo: PHOTO BY STEVE JENNINGS/GETTY IMAGES FOR TECHCRUNCH

Have a book you want to write? There’s never been a better time!
LinkedIn
Annalisa Parent sitting at outdoor table in backyard with books, pen and paper

Millions of people have a dream of writing a book. They have a story they want to tell. Whether it’s their story, or one that they have created through sheer imagination, there are ideas eager to get put on paper. While there may be many industries backsliding right now due to the pandemic, the publishing industry is not one of them. In fact, experts in the field advise that now is the best time for people to get their book written and get the manuscript out to publishers.

“Quite honestly, there’s never been a better time to get the book written and take steps to get it published,” explains Annalisa Parent, chief executive officer of Date With the Muse. “I’ve been working with many clients to help them take advantage of this pause, as it’s perfect timing. The conditions are all right to be successful in the field.”

Timing is everything, Parent explains, because the pandemic shutdowns have led more people to read books. While people have been at home, whether to work or not, they have had more time to engage in leisure activities. Many of them are picking up the books they have been meaning to read. People may not be able to purchase the books in brick-and-mortar stores, but they have been gobbling them up through online purchases, both in digital and print formats.

In addition to it being a great time because people are buying more books, there are other reasons to take advantage of the opportunities right now, including:

  • Many people have more time on their hands, so they can sit down and write the book they want to work on. If they are working from home, they can set aside the time when they used to commute for writing. If they have been furloughed, they can schedule out hours per day to get their story written.
  • Due to so many people reading more, there will be an increased demand for books from publishers. The publishing industry sees that there has been an increase in demand for books, so they will be looking to continue that trend by putting out more titles.
  • Many literary agents also currently have more time that they can spend reading manuscripts. This gives people who are ready to submit their manuscript a competitive edge.

“Right now I am helping writers to optimize their chances of being published,” adds Parent. “We all need something good to come out of this pandemic. If you can get your book written and published, then that’s a silver lining that we can all agree upon!”

Parent is a writing coach who has helped many writers through all aspects of writing, publishing, and living the author lifestyle. She helps people with the book writing process, organization, getting the book published, and. Her free ebook The Six Secrets to go from Struggling Writer to Published Author helps people be successful with their book writing and publishing goals, including offering writing and publishing tips, publishing workshops, and coaching.

Parent has coached hundreds of writers and has taught over 100 writing courses around the world. Her book “Storytelling for Pantsers: How to Write and Revise Your Novel without an Outline,” won the CIPA EVVY Silver Award in Best Business Books and earned a merit award in the Humor category. She speaks internationally on writing-related topics, and she has been a guest on a variety of television, radio, and podcast shows, sharing her secrets for how to write, publish, and sell your book. For more information about Annalisa Parent or her book, visit her site at: http://www.datewiththemuse.com.

About Annalisa Parent

Annalisa Parent helps writers to finish, publish and sell their novels. She is the CEO of Date With The Muse, a two time teacher of the year nominee for her use of neuroscientific principles in the classroom, and a recipient of the French congressional Medal of Honor as a member of a five-week peace-promoting speaking tour of France, in French.

She helps storytellers to publish traditionally at the highest level possible. Her book “Storytelling for Pantsers: How to Outline and Revise your Novel without an Outline” has been lauded by multiple New York Times bestselling author John David Mann as “brimming over with invaluable practical writerly wisdom.”

Annalisa writes for many local, national, and international publications, has written and produced sketches for a Telly-Award winning television show. She has been featured on Huffington Post Live for her novels, CBS, Associated Press and PBS, as well as many international podcasts, radio programs, writing conferences and workshops.

Five Ways to Impress Your Boss While Working Remotely
LinkedIn
cheerful disabled young woman using laptop doing remote work from home on wheelchair

People produce their best work under different circumstances. Some are thriving during this time of working remotely, being able to complete their tasks from the comfort of their own home. However, for many, working from home has presented itself as a challenge. New distractions, change of routine, and being too cozy at home can all be reasons for lowered productivity at work.

To improve your work ethic, and better yet, attract your boss’ attention, here are top five tips for how to impress your boss from the comfort of your own home.

1) Be Responsive

Communication is key, especially in a time when we cannot see our co-workers face to face. Check your email consistently and have your phone on-hand, should your boss or co-worker need to get in touch with you. When you promptly respond to emails and calls during work hours, your boss will know you are reliable, doing your work, and not slacking off.

2) Be Your Best “Video Conference” Self

Treat video conference meetings as if they were in-person work meetings. Come to the meeting a few minutes early to show punctuality, and make sure you wear something professional. You don’t need to dress up in a three-piece suit, but a nice collared shirt, for example, will show you are present and professional, even when your boss isn’t watching.

3) Pay Attention

Whether it be in video conferences, phone calls, emails, or any other means of communication, you want to be paying attention. One of the most effective ways your boss will see this is during video conferences. Actively listen and look at your computer screen during meetings. If you are visibly distracted by your phone or something in your home, it will not only make you look unprofessional but also could tell your boss you are not working at home effectively.

4) Do Your Best Work

The quality of work you produce in the office should not change while at home. Putting the same effort and care (if not more) into your daily tasks will show your boss you are capable of doing quality work no matter the circumstance and that you also care about your work.

5) Keep Your Updates Present and Brief

You don’t need to send your boss an email after you do every little thing (unless they specifically told you to do that), but sending updates will give your boss a grasp on what you are accomplishing in your department. Sending a list of intended goals at the beginning of the day and a list of accomplishments at the end of the day is a great way to keep your boss in the loop on your productivity.

 

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*Please be sure to check event websites for latest updates on postponements or cancellations due to COVID-19 precautions.

Upcoming Events

  1. 2020 American Society for Health Care Human Resources Association Event
    August 22, 2020 - August 25, 2020
  2. 2020 NAWBO National Women’s Business Conference
    September 21, 2020 - September 23, 2020

Upcoming Events

  1. 2020 American Society for Health Care Human Resources Association Event
    August 22, 2020 - August 25, 2020
  2. 2020 NAWBO National Women’s Business Conference
    September 21, 2020 - September 23, 2020