About pbilodeau01

Born in Berlin, N.H.; bachelor of arts, major in journalism, Northeastern University; master's degree in urban studies, Southern Connecticut State University; was an editor and reporter at New Haven Register, an editor at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and a reporter at The Meriden Record-Journal. Now a freelance writer and editor.

DARING VS. STUPIDITY

#daring #stupidity #RiskTaking #innovation #phones #technology

In a restaurant ad, two guys are having lunch, when the boss for one of the guys calls him.

He dunks his phone into his drink.

“I have insurance,” he tells the other.

In a second ad, for a vacation package, three guys go on vacation. When they are all in the pool, one guy pulls out his phone to take a selfie of the three. He drops his phone into the pool.

Good thing he saved all that money on his trip, to paraphrase the narrator. (As an aside, did he put his phone in his bathing-suit pocket before jumping into the pool?)

The first ad begs the question: would your phone’s insurer cover your loss if it knew you deliberately dunked your phone? Also, what would the boss say if he knew that not only did you ignore his call, but also dunked your phone?

There are another ads that show people leaning over a cliff walk to take a selfie. Yes, the person comes close to falling, but he (or she) probably got a great picture. Then, we have the ads in which drivers playing with phones crash.

Does modern telephone technology put something in one’s brain that prompts a person to take such risks?

Certainly, the technology is great if used appropriately. If the guy in the first ad did not want to talk to his boss during lunch, he could have just sent the call to voicemail and called the boss back afterward.

The three vacationers would have been better off to take the selfie on the pool deck, with the pool in the background. If the phone got dropped, presuming it had a protective case, no damage would have been done.

One might say that these scenarios illustrate combining technology with daring.

Others might say they illustrate stupidity.

To paraphrase Albert Einstein, the difference between daring and stupidity is that daring has its limits.

We certainly don’t want to encourage people to always take the safe route. Innovation often requires daring, and over-caution can inhibit innovation.

But daring, as well as genius, should not necessarily be limited. Perhaps smart and daring people know how to limit stupidity better than others.

Most innovative people look for options that those who gravitate to safety would never consider.

Certainly, folks of a certain age remember their parents preaching safety and security above all else.

But the innovative never stop dreaming, though they initially may gravitate to the safe option. The safe option(s) can buy time for ideas to gel. Once that happens, the innovator can use his hours away from his safety and security to bring his or her idea to fruition.

In short, be daring, but be smart. Be safe, but don’t ditch your dream just to be safe.

And, when the call comes that could bring your dream to fruition, don’t dunk your phone.

Peter




HOW DO YOU MAKE DECISIONS?

#decisions #MakingDecisions #HowToMakeDecisions #deciders

Different people make decisions in different ways.

Some have to consider all the options before making a decision.

Others fear making decisions, and try to avoid them.

Still others make decisions quickly, and go with whatever they decide.

We all have to make decisions. Some are very important. Some are not. Some are whimsical. Some are very serious.

How we go about the process differs from the type of decision, and our natural tendencies as people.

Regardless of the type you are, some decisions won’t go away because you don’t want to make them. Others can actually be postponed, and could become moot as time passes.

There are no rules for decision-making, but there can be perils. Some decisions will result in something bad no matter what one decides. Others have a clear good option, vs. bad. Some may not see, or want to see, the clearly good option and still opt for the bad one.

Among the serious decisions: Where do you want to live? Whom do you want to marry, if anyone? How big a family do you want to have, if any? What do you want to do for work?

Among whimsical decisions: will you buy that ice cream cone as you walk by it? What will you do for fun today? What would you like to have for dinner? (Note: Decisions such as the ice cream cone may be just fine once in a while, but too many spontaneous ice cream cones can have unintended consequences).

A decision-making disease called analysis paralysis is common among people who don’t like, or have trouble, making decisions. It’s always good to think before one does, but over-thinking can deprive one of good things over time. It’s important for a decision to FEEL right, as well as BE right.

A decision can feel right, but the alternative can be right. It may take a few bad decisions to learn that, but most wise people do.

Getting advice on decisions is advisable for many things. Advisers don’t always know what you think is best for you, but information and voices of experience never hurt. It’s always best to rely on professional opinions when a decision is beyond your level of expertise.

Usually, there are people in your life who love making decisions for you. Parents, teachers, even friends fit that bill. Certainly listen to people you care about, but always know in your own mind what is best for you.

There are no rules for making decisions, but there are guideposts. First, if you have a decision deadline, think, but don’t over-think. If you make a decision that will be long-lasting, try to make it work, even if you have days in which you think it is not going to work. A phenomenon called fear of loss, or fear of missing out, often creeps into the process. Consider this intently. If I don’t do/go, what will happen? If I do/go, what will be lost?

Previously, we talked about ice cream (plug in your own treat here). Some things are harmless done occasionally, or in moderation, but done too often, or at too high a quantity, can be harmful.

In summary, find your sweet spot – that point in the decision process at which you’ve thought enough and can go for it, or not. Like the occasional ice cream cone, finding your sweet spot can be your greatest reward.

Peter


CRAFT A RESUME THAT TELLS WHAT YOU DID

#resumes #JobInterviews #managers #prospects #jobs #workers
In separate ads for Wavely, the job-searching platform, a hiring manager is looking for that special something in a prospect that his or her resume does not reveal.
The second ad shows the prospect hoping the hiring manager will find her to be the perfect candidate.
Thus, we have the competitive world of hiring.
In the past, resumes were seen as a tool to hire or get hired. Prospects tried to craft a resume that would make him or her stand out in a pile.
The resume evolved from simply listing job titles, duties and years of experience to trying to convey how the prospect brought value to the company he or she worked for. In other words, the resume turned from a roster of experience to a story of experiences.
In today’s hiring world, in many cases, there are fewer prospects for every job.
So, how does one stand out? One has to tell his or her story, as briefly as possible.
Hiring managers, in most cases, do not want to read long narratives. But they want to know not only what the prospect did – job titles seldom reveal that – but how effective the prospect was. That involves telling the hiring manager how the prospect’s effort(s) either made money for the company, saved the company money or added some other value to the company.
That’s a tall order for many applicants. Many see themselves as a performer of routine tasks – tasks the employer finds vital, but not necessarily game-changing.
How does a prospect who has experience as a clerk, for example, convey his or her value?
Perhaps the prospect can tell, briefly, how he or she helped his or her boss succeed.
Or, he or she could spell out how much time he or she saves his or her boss.
In short, stories sell, and everyone has stories.
In the past, many hiring managers didn’t always know what they wanted in an ideal candidate. They had to know it when they saw it (in a resume).
Today, hiring managers largely know what they want, and it’s up to the prospect to display that. Certainly, a hiring manager can still stumble upon an unusual candidate. But, generally, the managers have pictures in their mind of what the ideal candidate is.
For the candidates, overselling oneself can be fraught with peril. Truthfully telling your value is usually the best avenue.
Confidence is also a good trait for candidates. It’s not easy to display confidence in a resume, but, if a prospect gets as far as the interview, that’s when he or she can display confidence.
Hiring is not always easy. Getting the right job is not always easy.
For the prospect, the job description does not tell you everything. For the manager, the resume does not always tell you everything.
But both can give some clues about the job, or the candidate. One may have to get further into the process to know whether a job and a candidate are a match.
In summary, if you are looking for a job, have your resume tell the employer what you did, rather than what job you had. For the employer, look to find out what the prospect did, rather than the job he or she held.
May all managers and job seekers find the perfect matches.
Peter

5 P.M.: IS THAT QUITTING TIME FOR YOU?

#9to5 #WorkSchedules #JobDescriptions #CompanyManuals #5PM
Time has been memorialized in song:
“It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere,” by Alan Jackson, with Jimmy Buffett; “5 O’Clock World,” by the Vogues; “9 to 5,” by Dolly Parton, to name a few.
These songs presume, among other things, that most people work a regular schedule. And, when the clock strikes 5 p.m., people go home to do whatever they want.
It begs today’s question: Are most people on such a regular schedule?
Chances are, most people are not. Some are on a regular schedule to start the day, but their day doesn’t necessarily end at 5.
Others work complicated shifts – nights, weekends, holidays etc.
For others, the job never ends. They may go home, but work comes with them. The phone always rings. Urgent e-mails pop in. Such a situation has been dubbed “the electronic leash.”
So, if you are actually on a routine schedule, be thankful. But, know that that could change at any moment.
Part of the reason some folks, particularly women, are staying out of the work force since the COVID-19 pandemic, are not only complicated schedules, but also not knowing how they can work and care for children, whose schedules can flex depending on sickness, weather and other circumstances beyond their control.
In short, working is not what it once was for many people.
Certainly, some workers want flexibility. They want to be able to work when they can, and from where they can.
To attract the best people, companies may have to look at some flexibility to make it worth the employees’ whiles to work there.
As a prospective employee during a job interview, are your first questions something like: what time do I start, and what time do I go home?
For a few jobs, those questions may be appropriate. For most jobs in today’s world, at least in the employers’ minds, those questions are irrelevant.
The same goes for written job descriptions and company policy manuals. If companies still use them – some may have to for legal reasons – you, as an employee, must know that these documents are fluid. Job descriptions and policy manuals, if not on paper, in fact will change over time.
It makes one long for the days of set hours, set duties, set expectations etc. Of course, no one wants set pay. Everyone wants to get raises. But, in some jobs, pay is set. Period. Take it or leave it.
A big part of the reason we can create many jobs, yet still have people out of work is NOT because people are lazy and government benefits are paying them to stay home. (Some of those cases may exist, but not many).
The crux of the problem is that work and life have become more complicated. Companies reorganize often. Job descriptions change multiple times. A person may be hired to do Job X, but ends up doing Job Y – a situation that may have been a deal breaker for the employee, had he or she known it was coming.
In summary, don’t presume a job is what it seems. Don’t presume, as employees, that more will not be expected of you than you think, often without more pay.
It’s not a 9 to 5 world for most. You have to have your eyes open to that.
Peter

VIRTUE OF BEING NICE

#BeNice #kindness #performance #credit #action
Perhaps your mother told you as a child, when you did something she didn’t like, “that’s not nice.”
In the current movie “Banshees of Inisherin,” we learn that ending a long friendship is “not nice.”
As you grew older, you may have learned that “nice guys finish last.” Some confusion may have set in, because mom taught you to “be nice,” but, by being nice, you won’t win.
As years went on, you may have learned that kindness is a virtue, to the point that you were inclined to perform random acts of kindness. Perhaps, these random acts were not witnessed by anyone, except you, and the person to whom you were kind. That recipient was the only one that mattered in that instance.
Later, you learned that character was built by doing good things, even when no one is watching. In other words, you were DOING rather than performing. It may have made you feel good, but you got no “credit” for it.
In today’s world, for many, it’s ALL about performance and credit. They even try to make bad actions look good to an audience, thereby getting “credit” for it.
This milieu might make it a good time to relearn, perhaps through “Banshees,” the virtue of being nice.
It is indeed possible to create a persona in yourself that is both nice and winning. In fact, such a persona is a foundation for success in whatever endeavor one chooses.
If you own a business and people work for you, those who are “nice” to their employees tend to get more out of them.
Unfortunately, some who own or manage businesses are nice to customers, because they have to be, but are not so nice to their workers. In this labor market, such people may be chronically short-staffed.
Also, today, many long friendships and relationships have become strained for various reasons, including the hardness of opinions and the growing willingness to avoid those who have certain views.
Such willingness can manifest itself in many toxic, even violent, ways. Not nice at all.
When one gets to that point, he or she may need to not necessarily change his or her opinions, but craft a persona that allows him or her to be “nice,” even to those with whom he or she disagrees.
One way to do that is to avoid inflammatory conversation topics. Another way is to enjoy what you both enjoy.
So, in a complex world, a combination of niceness, enthusiasm and drive can help lead one toward success.
In the past, it’s has been said that one does not have to like you, he or she just has to respect you. One who realizes that respect is earned, not demanded, will be the more successful. One may earn such respect by simply being nice.
One has to wonder when niceness became so unnecessary. For many, niceness comes naturally, no matter what happens to them. Others, who may have been jaded by some event or circumstance, may have lost their niceness.
Be nice. Work hard. Don’t step over others, as that may taint your success. Real success is achieved not at the expense of others, but with the help of many others.
Peter

SEE IT! THAT’S THE POINT!

#truth #falsehoods #DisturbingImages #opinions #facts
Sometimes, one has to see or hear the worst to learn how bad things happen.
An ad for diabetes awareness shows three stages: illness, disability and death. The narrator says, when death is shown, “Too much? That’s the point.”
In the true-story movie “Till,” currently showing in theaters, Emmett Till’s mother insists that her son’s dead body be shown in its entirety after his lynching, to illustrate what those who lynched him in Mississippi did to him before they killed him.
Some TV news clips may be preceded by the broadcaster telling the audience something like: the images you are about to see may be disturbing. Some even advise you to take young children out of the room before viewing. Some even spell out what you are about to see, to allow the viewers to decide whether to watch.
The main point is that sometimes, seeing things we’d rather not look at is necessary to know the true story, instead of some sanitized or varnished view of a story.
So, why is that? Can’t one just let his or her imagination determine how bad something looks? Often, leaving things to one’s imagination creates a vacuum, a place in which falsehoods can reside masquerading as truths.
Not showing EVERYTHING, no matter how bad or disgusting, can be a form of cover-up.
The images may be disturbing, but often, we need to be disturbed. Certainly, there are things that are not suitable for young children to see. They need to mature before being acquainted with some of the nastiness of life.
A good rule of thumb might be: if the activities of humans create the disturbing images, and the images are not altered for extra drama, they probably should be shown.
If people are doing bad things to other people, they need to be shown.
In the hardened modern world, disturbing images don’t always alter opinions. Even the most verified information can be called false, even if it’s true, because certain people want others to think it is false.
The same actually goes for falsehoods. If someone wants people to think something that is false is true, he or she can keep showing or saying it, and, eventually, some will indeed think it is true. But, repeating something false never makes it true.
We can’t always persuade, but if truth is on one’s side, keep showing or saying it.
Truth can not only be disturbing, it can be inconvenient, to borrow from former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.
But, if truth is on one’s side, timing should be irrelevant. Ramifications should not be the primary consideration, even though, in some cases, thought should be given to those ramifications.
Of course, in political campaigns, timing is everything. But, again, in our hardened, opinionated world, timing matters less and less.
When in doubt, if one possesses the truth, it’s better to say it or show it when one knows it – at least in important matters. Perhaps, in trivial matters, things might be better left unsaid, or not shown.
The truth may not always set one free. But, more often than not, truth is always better said or shown, rather than concealed.
Peter

TEACHERS BAILING OUT OF PROFESSION

#teachers #education #parents #SchoolAuthorities #TeachersQuitting
First, the pandemic imposed extra stress on teachers.
Then, politicians started telling teachers what they could teach, how they could teach it and what books or other tools they could use.
It’s hardly a wonder why teachers are asking why anyone would do this job.
Maureen Downey, education columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, tackled the rapid departure of teachers in a recent column.
She quotes a Rand report on the pandemic’s role in teacher resignations. Researchers found that half the teachers who resigned did so because of the pandemic, she writes.
She also writes that stress, more than low pay, was almost twice as common a reason for resigning.
“At least for some teachers, the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have exacerbated what were high stress levels pre-pandemic by forcing teachers to, among other things, work more hours and navigate an unfamiliar remote environment, often with frequent technical problems,” Downey quotes the Rand report.
Teachers didn’t leave the profession necessarily for higher-paying jobs. The Rand researchers said most teachers who left took jobs with either less or about equal pay, Downey writes.
The Merrimack College Teacher Survey, a poll of more than 1,300 teachers conducted by EdWeek Research Center in January and February 2022, says the profession is in free-fall, Downey writes. Only 12 percent of K-12 teachers are very satisfied with their jobs, down from 39 percent a decade ago,’ Downey quotes the survey. It also says the salary satisfaction rates are lowest in the South and Midwest. Only 21 percent of teachers in those areas believe their pay is fair for the job they do, Downey quotes the survey.
In 2011, 77 percent of teachers believe their profession is respected. Now, only 46 percent of teachers believe that, Downey writes.
In short, teaching is a relatively low-paying profession that politicians love to pick on. There is already a teacher shortage, which could become acute if the pressure and restrictions on teachers continue.
Certainly, everyone wants parents actively involved in the school(s) their children attend. Some mostly inner-city teachers have seen a lack of parental involvement as a serious problem.
But, there is a difference between involvement and interference. Involvement means parents are supporting what teachers are doing, and encourage their children to vigorously participate in their education.
Interference means parents are standing in the way of teachers teaching truth to children. Few teachers will put up with that for a long time.
People go into teaching, and education in general, for the love of the job. They certainly don’t do it to enrich themselves. Yet, good teachers can play a significant role in making the world a better place by encouraging students to learn.
If the current milieu continues to chase away teachers from the profession, we may soon have schools that can’t educate students.
Those in authority over schools should not only know the difference between parental involvement and interference, but also the difference between educational improvement and educational destruction.
Teachers acutely know the difference and are voting with their feet.
Peter

UNCERTAINTY AND ANSWERS

#uncertainty #answers #life #changes #preparation
To paraphrase a Mayo Clinic TV ad, the best way to deal with uncertainty is to have answers.
On its face, this implies a black-and-white type of world.
Or, it implies there is an answer for everything.
But most of us are aware that there are many shades of gray. Not everything is what it seems. And, for some things, there are no answers – at least definitively right ones.
The world is filled with uncertainty. One might even say that things we thought were “certain” may not be.
Opportunity can be disguised as uncertainty. Alas, so can peril.
The Mayo Clinic may work diligently for answers to some uncertainties. It has a pretty good track record for doing that.
But other uncertainties persist, not just in science and medicine. They persist in the everyday world, and our everyday lives.
For example, one may think his or her job is a certainty. But, companies reorganize. Managers change. Something that for many years was a certainty suddenly, without warning, is not.
What do we do about uncertainty?
First, we have to presume it is always there. Always presume that someday, sometime, something you thought was certain will suddenly become less so.
That may be difficult to do, especially in times when things in your life are going well.
On the other hand, it can be easy to do when things in your life are not going as well.
An old adage goes: “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”
The key word here is PREPARE. Try to have a Plan B, just in case what you thought was certain suddenly is not.
Most importantly, try to deal with sudden uncertainly with rational thought, instead of emotion.
We are all emotional about some things, but, when uncertainty hits, we should take a breath before deciding what to do next.
That breath – that time for thought – could make the difference between doing the right thing for you, and not doing the right thing.
It may be easy to react emotionally. It may not be as easy to react rationally.
Secondly, look for something good amid sudden uncertainty. Most likely, the thing that’s uncertain may only be a part of your life. There may be other parts of your life that give you pleasure, and may be more certain at the moment.
Sometimes, there may not be immediate answers to your new uncertainty. Therefore, you may have to look harder to find more certainty.
Death and taxes may be certain. The rest of life is very likely less certain. If something in your life suddenly becomes uncertain, you may not have an immediate answer. Searches for answers can be a lifelong pursuit, not just for the Mayo Clinic, but for all of us.
Presume there is more uncertainty in your life than you realize. That way, when the uncertainty is revealed, you may have a wider variety of potential answers.
Peter

FREEDOM, MANDATES AND OVERREACH

#overreach #rules #regulations #beliefs #freedom
Everyone wants freedom.
Few, if anyone, want mandates.
Still others object to overreach.
That is, until one, or one’s representatives, gets power.
People are out there protesting for their “freedom.” The emphasis should be on the word “their.”
They want the freedom to do what THEY want, but don’t want others to have the freedom to do what “THEY” want.
They object to mandates that they don’t want, but are happy to mandate on others things those others don’t want.
Some will object to overreach by this or that entity. But, those same folks are happy to overreach when seeking their own goals.
Yes, democracy is not easy. One person’s freedom is another’s violation of beliefs. One person’s mandate opposition is another’s necessity.
In short, we want our own freedom, but are willing to impose restrictions on others that those others do not want.
It’s all about power, and who has it. It’s all about making the system work for YOU, regardless of whether it works for others.
To paraphrase the James Bond title, it’s the Live and Let Die syndrome.
To make society better for everyone, we have to be more “live and let live.”
One does not have to adopt others’ beliefs, but that same person should not impose his beliefs on others.
We end up with laws and policies imposed on people by others who would not be affected by them.
One is entitled to a set of beliefs that suits him or her. One is entitled to follow rules and norms that are part of those beliefs.
But, when one imposes those rules and norms on others who don’t necessarily follow those same beliefs, it crosses a line that need not, and should not, be crossed.
There are certain rules imposed on everyone that have been demonstrated to contribute to the public good. There is, more or less, general agreement on those.
But imposing unnecessary restrictions aimed at specific groups is wrong, no matter the imposer.
Absolute power corrupts absolutely, as the adage goes.
We all should be able to live in a diverse world without feeling marginalized or oppressed. We all should be able to find common good among differences.
We will not change the world by imposition. The world will evolve, no matter who imposes what.
Peter

HOLD YOUR HEAD UP; OR, KEEP YOUR HEAD LOW

#HoldYourHeadUp #KeepYourHeadLow #ambition #survival #jobs #goals
Hold your head up.
Keep your head low.
The first concept, the title of a 1972 song by Argent, tells you to put your head up, get noticed and go after it.
The second concept, taken from a 1974 song titled, “Billy, Don’t Be a Hero,” by Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods, tells a soldier to keep his head low, avoid getting shot and come back to his fiancée.
In a workplace, do you hold your head up, do something unusual to draw recognition with the intention of attracting the boss’ attention? Or, you keep your head low, blend into the woodwork, thinking, perhaps, that you are less likely to get your head cut off – lose your job, or otherwise get punished.
Different types of people keep their heads in different places. Ambitious people hold their heads up. Those who just want to survive keep their heads low.
If you are in survival mode, stop. Think about what you want and where you want to be. Survival should not be a goal. It may require you to think about what you want your life to look like. EVERYONE has life goals. You can try to survive as a temporary status, but you should have a goal to do something that will get you want you want.
A job is a job, but a life goal may help you convert a “job” into a means to an end.
You may not want to keep your head low forever. You may want to raise your head slowly, and, eventually, keep it up.
A raised head is always better than a lowered one.
Then, you may have to find something to help you keep it up. Your current job or situation may not be it.
For no other reason, keeping your head up will help you help others. Others will respond to people whose heads are up. They may not see, or recognize, someone whose head is low.
“Billy,” the soldier, did not take his fiancee’s advice, according to the song. He volunteered for a risky mission and was killed. The fiancée was told she should be proud, but she threw the notification letter away, the song says.
The fiancée wanted Billy to come home alive, for her own, understandably selfish reasons, Yet, Billy was unselfish.
In short, goals can create ambition. Those who keep their heads low and blend in may never get the life they want. They learn to settle for contentment – or just plain survival.
If you don’t have natural ambition, you have to generate it yourself – and you can. You have to know what you want, why you want it and where you want to go. If you determine all of those things, you can find how to get them.
That is how ambition is created.
Peter