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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

10 Excuses Unproductive People Basically Always Use

10 Excuses Unproductive People Basically Always Use


10 Excuses Unproductive People Basically Always Use

Posted: 16 Jul 2014 11:34 AM PDT


This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

By John Brandon

They moan. They wail. They shuffle around the office looking for free candy. Unproductive employees have an excuse for everything. Here are a few of the phrases they use to explain away the problem. Listen for them, then correct the action to get things back on track.

1. I’m overworked.

I hear this one constantly. What unproductive people might not realize is that we are all overworked. We’re in an overworked age. Instant access to email and a mobile browser means work is always just a click away. What separates the wheat from the chaff? The really productive people don’t dwell on the problem. They just do the work.

2. That’s not my job.

I’ve written before about staying productive by focusing on your job and not doing the work of unproductive co-workers. That’s always a bad pattern to set. Curious, then, that the really unproductive people always seem to notice when they’re doing extra work to help a project. They focus on their role too much and on what everyone else is not doing. Truly productive people don’t even care. They just do whatever it takes to get things done and plow ahead, analyzing the exact role definitions later.

3. I’ll finish that later.

Forget the Mark Twain quote about procrastination. Unproductive people waste time because they live in a constant state of incongruity. The loose ends of their tasks never meet up, and stay loose. They start one Word document, work on it for a while, drop it, then start working on a PowerPoint. In the “picking up and setting down” process they waste time because each tasks needs a jumpstart, which uses more energy.

4. I don’t have all of the answers yet.

Overly detail-oriented people use this one. They wait until everything is perfectly lined up before starting a task, usually languishing in perpetuity because things rarely do line up. And, ironically, some of the employees in your company who are wasting time mindlessly browsing all day are the ones who think they have to wait for the project pieces to fall in place. The solution? Productive people just do whatever they can now on any tasks that need to be done. They don’t wait for the perfect timing.

5. I’ll wait for the boss to tell me what to do.

For any employee in a small business, a lack of independence is a true productivity killer. While someone is waiting to be told what to do, a project will spin out of control. We all know the “get it done” crowd just figures out the problem and starts working on a task. Besides, if the boss has to explain every little detail, that’s using up valuable time anyway.

6. I don’t understand all of the variables.

Really? Is there an employee who won’t act until he or she has all of the answers? That is a sign of someone who will be waiting a long time because no one ever has all of the answers. The folks who started Airbnb and Uber didn’t wait for all of the regulatory issues to be ironed out. And Google didn’t wait to test driverless cars until every state allowed them.

7. I don’t see the benefit for me.

We are living in a world of narcissists who take selfies every 30 minutes and post about their inner feelings on Twitter. The underlying problem? They’re slowing down a project because they only care about their own rewards. Productive people see the greater reward of a successful company and want to play a part in building something cool. The selfies can wait until the weekend.

8. I might not get the credit.

Related to that problem is another productivity destroyer: the need to take credit for the task. The process of hyping up your work, demanding crediting, and pestering people to notice your actions all contribute to an unproductive day. The employees who are slowing things down the most are spending too much time trying to get the attention of the boss.

9. I’m worried about my quality of work.

Productive people know how to slam out good work in a constant flow of creativity and skill. They care about quality, but they also understand that being productive requires a push to finish. When the goal is to always create perfection, unproductive people create a serious slowdown. Praise quality, expect proficiency, but encourage productivity.

10. I might fail.

The hallmark of every unproductive person at work is being worried about failure. It’s a time-tested truth. If employees don’t ever start a project, they don’t have to worry about failure, right? I’ve written about total failure before, but letting a few tasks fail is okay. It means you are trying new things and staying busy. Holding back because you want every task to succeed? It just means completing fewer tasks.

 

Here’s the Biggest Problem With IBM’s Supergenius Watson

Posted: 16 Jul 2014 11:34 AM PDT

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This post is in partnership with Fortune, which offers the latest business and finance news. Read the article below originally published at Fortune.com.

Watson has plenty of smarts, but not enough emotional intelligence, says IBM SVP Bridget van Kralingen. The head of the company's consulting and services business (and former psychologist) spoke at Fortune Brainstorm Tech in Aspen today.

Since Watson made its debut on Jeopardy in 2011, the so-called cognitive system has learned slang and transformed into a fledgling analytics tool for doctors, insurance companies and retailers. Recently, the company has also made efforts to open up the super-smart computer and turn it into a platform for third-party developers, paving the way for what IBM IBM -0.72% hopes will be thousands of applications for all sorts of industries. That includes providing some developer tools and giving partners access to "subject matter experts" within IBM. The company also recently announced it would invest more than $1 billion into a newly-formed Watson Group, and launch a $100 million fund for investing in the Watson "ecosystem."

"The thought is that we could have a whole cognitive network of capabilities in the world around us," Kralinger said.

For the rest of the story, please visit Fortune.com.

50 Smartest Celebrities on Twitter

Posted: 16 Jul 2014 11:28 AM PDT

When it comes to big brains and big followings online, Leonardo DiCaprio appears to best them all: the Wolf of Wall Street actor is the smartest celebrity on Twitter. DiCaprio scores higher than the rest when judged by a commonly used reading comprehension test. Here’s where the tweeting and famous rank, according to analysis of the reading levels of the tweets produced by the 500 most followed people on the popular social network.

RANKING NAME GRADE LEVEL
1
Followers
10,537,477
7.5
2
Followers
3,240,488
7.3
3
Followers
4,105,738
7
4
Followers
9,495,505
6.8
Followers
3,394,539
6.8
Followers
3,876,935
6.8
7
Followers
9,624,350
6.6
Followers
3,618,047
6.6
9
Followers
3,512,750
6.5
Followers
6,547,046
6.5
Followers
3,465,262
6.5
Followers
6,957,631
6.5
Followers
4,313,917
6.5
Followers
4,348,803
6.5
15
Followers
9,330,945
6.4
Followers
5,679,824
6.4
Followers
12,790,629
6.4
Followers
3,916,429
6.4
Followers
5,430,990
6.4
Followers
4,439,241
6.4
21
Followers
7,024,230
6.3
Followers
8,330,339
6.3
Followers
6,679,206
6.3
Followers
3,609,118
6.3
25
Followers
5,224,026
6.2
Followers
3,777,176
6.2
Followers
3,453,774
6.2
Followers
6,667,346
6.2
Followers
3,717,750
6.2
Followers
10,384,608
6.2
Followers
4,243,642
6.2
Followers
3,430,272
6.2
33
Followers
18,374,747
6.1
Followers
4,962,687
6.1
Followers
3,356,790
6.1
Followers
17,130,614
6.1
Followers
3,862,527
6.1
Followers
5,043,670
6.1
Followers
12,014,650
6.1
Followers
3,088,771
6.1
Followers
17,130,615
6.1
42
Followers
24,784,725
6
Followers
28,273,688
6
Followers
3,730,469
6
Followers
3,315,673
6
Followers
3,492,788
6
Followers
4,148,210
6
Followers
13,448,230
6
49
Followers
9,688,482
5.9
Followers
4,157,413
5.9

 

Methodology
The ranking above is based on a reading comprehension test known as Simple Measure of Gobbledygook (SMOG). The SMOG test measures the number of three syllable words used in a text to calculate the years of education required to understand it. An environmental activist, DiCaprio often tweets about “conservation” and global warming which may have helped him earn the top spot.

In a recent analysis of more than 1 million tweets, we found that messages on Twitter average a fourth-grade reading level. All of the celebrities above exceed that grade. To find Twitter’s smartest celebrities, we analyzed the last 20 tweets from the 500 highest followed celebrities (stripped of URLs and hashtags), then ran the results through the SMOG test to calculate reading level. SMOG is intended for processing English, so users tweeting in multiple languages were removed. Computer processing of natural language has its limitations. For example, the SMOG test can falsely read slang as multi-syllable words.

You can test your own Twitter grade level or anyone else’s here.

Attorney: Prostitute Had No Reason to Kill Google Exec

Posted: 16 Jul 2014 11:17 AM PDT

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (AP) — A high-priced prostitute accused of abandoning a Google executive on his yacht after shooting him up with a fatal dose of heroin never meant for the man to die, a defense attorney said Wednesday.

“There was no intent to harm or injure Mr. Hayes,” said Larry Biggam, whose Santa Cruz firm has been appointed to represent defendant Alix Tichelman. “Why would she? He was a lucrative source of income to her.”

As her parents watched quietly from the front row of a courtroom packed with media, Tichelman, 26, pleaded not guilty to prostitution, drug use and manslaughter in the death of Forrest Hayes, 51.

Her eyes were often closed during the proceedings, but she told Judge Timothy Volkmann “yes sir” when asked if she agreed to waive her right to a preliminary hearing within 10 days.

Hayes was found dead by the captain of his 50-foot yacht Escape last November. But the circumstances of his death were not widely known until last week, when Santa Cruz police arrested Tichelman after luring her 160 miles south from Folsom with a fake story about a client who wanted to hire her at an upscale resort.

Police detective Laurel Shonfield said video surveillance from the yacht shows Tichelman injecting Hayes with heroin “and doing nothing to render aid when he overdoses,” according to court records.

Shonfield also said Tichelman has wealthy parents and dual citizenship in the U.S. and Canada, and was preparing to move out of California when she was arrested.

At the hearing, Judge Volkmann denied Tichelman’s request to release her on her own recognizance and kept her bail at $1.5 million.

Her attorneys said she has been unfairly denounced in the high-profile case.

“This case is extremely sad. There are five kids without a father today. But to demonize and sensationalize and totally blame Alix Tichelman for his death is misplaced, unfair and simply wrong,” Biggam said after the hearing. “This case is about two adults who engaged in mutual, consensual drug usage in the context of a sexual encounter initiated and encouraged by Mr. Hayes.”

Meanwhile, police in Milton, Georgia have reopened their investigation into the September 2013 overdose death of Tichelman’s former boyfriend Dean Riopelle, 53, the owner of a popular Atlanta music venue. Police said a panicked Tichelman called police, saying her boyfriend had overdosed on something and wouldn’t respond.

She has not been charged in the case, and an autopsy report listed Riopelle’s death as an accidental overdose of heroin, oxycodone and alcohol.

Santa Cruz Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark said detectives are planning a trip to Milton to work with authorities there on portions of the investigation.

It is not clear how long Tichelman might have been involved in prostitution, though police in Santa Cruz say she had many clients in the wealthy Silicon Valley.

Watch the 3 Best World Cup Goals in Flip Book Form

Posted: 16 Jul 2014 11:17 AM PDT

Feeling World Cup withdrawal? Relive the excitement with this gorgeous illustrated flip book depicting three of the tournament’s best goals. Though you might have your own opinions on which goals were truly the best, this artist settled on goals scored by Australia’s Tim Cahill, Colombia’s James Rodriguez and the Netherlands’ Robin van Persie.

Survival Game The Long Dark Coming to Steam in September

Posted: 16 Jul 2014 11:05 AM PDT

You can finally lay hands on The Long Dark this September, Windows and Mac users. Developer Hinterlands just confirmed the game will be playable in prerelease form by way of Steam Early Access — a program whereby developers can sell unfinished versions of their projects in advance of final code. Buyers pay to be testers, though feedback isn’t required (some people just want a peek behind the curtain early, and this lets them have it for a price).

The game, Kickstarted last October to the tune of a quarter million bucks, was estimated to arrive in October 2014. The final release is currently set for “later in 2014.”

Hinterland

No, the game’s title has nothing to do with “The Long Dark,” a Babylon 5 episode about a phantom space creature that chows on cryonic explorers (I mention it only because that’s what comes up if you scan Wikipedia for the game). The Long Dark is rather a first-person survival simulation set somewhere in the “Northern wilderness” after a global disaster.

Speaking as a frequent visitor to said wilderness, how a post-apocalyptic version might differ from what it feels like to camp or hike through northern Minnesota, northern Wisconsin or Michigan’s upper peninsula (or heck, any part of Canada) today, I have to wonder. Anyone who’s done so knows how disconnected parts of those places can seem right now, no need for a holocaust’s helping hand.

On the other hand, there’s something unmistakably romantic about being in the middle of cold, dead, godforsaken nowhere, the day fading to dusk and then blackness, the raw elements (and your hierarchy of human needs) scraping at the door. It’s part of what draws us to tabula rasa tales, that confluence of isolation, beauty, primitivism, terror and possibility. That’s the vein The Long Dark seems to be tapping, anyway.

Hinterland

As setups go, The Long Dark‘s is part of a storied tradition of survivalist fiction and films. If you’ve seen Revolution, the gist isn’t so different: a “geomagnetic event” comes along and knocks out the lights, the power, everything. Food and water are in short supply. And you’re not completely alone: there’s the wildlife to consider, and then you’ll wind up bumping into other survivors, resorting, one assumes, to the kinds of disquieting things survivors do.

The new trailer above is just a few panning long shots of the lovely-looking scenery — sunsets and starry, starry skies and an ocean of snow shrouding the world. The art team’s apparently going for a look somewhere between the austere geometric angularity of a game like Mirror’s Edge and the saturation-cranked colorific vibrance of Blizzard’s World of Warcraft.

Hinterland

The final version will incorporate two play modes: sandbox and story. Sandbox mode starts the clock ticking and drops you into a non-narrative resource management game (you have to manage body temperature, caloric intake, thirst, fatigue, windchill and so forth), while Story mode has you playing episodically as bush pilot Will Mackenzie after crashing into the wilderness (the crash is caused by the geomagnetic disaster), trying to figure out what happened and why. Sandbox mode is what you get if you sign up for Early Access, whereas Story mode won’t be available until launch to keep it from spoiling early.

Couples With Marital Stress More Likely to Have Daughters

Posted: 16 Jul 2014 11:03 AM PDT

They’re always blaming the children. After years of research showing that couples with daughters are more likely to divorce, Duke researchers Tuesday offered up an interesting explanation as to why: female embryos are better at toughing it out.

Duke economist Amar Hamoudi co-authored the study, which analyzed longitudinal data from a random sample of Americans between 1979 and 2010. Their results showed that women who reported higher levels of relationship stress, linked to a increased prevalence of later divorce, were more likely to give birth to girls.

"Girls may well be surviving stressful pregnancies that boys can't survive," Hamoudi said. "Thus girls are more likely than boys to be born into marriages that were already strained."

Research has widely documented men’s higher mortality rates from birth to age 100, and recent studies have shown that the “female survival advantage” may even begin in the womb. Hamoudi suggests that science needs to take a closer look at this critical life stage.

"It's time for population studies to shine a light on the period of pregnancy," Hamoudi said. "The clock does not start at birth."

This Eerie Hole Opened Up at the ‘End of the World’

Posted: 16 Jul 2014 11:01 AM PDT

Helicopters spotted this mysterious hole in northern Russia on Tuesday and scientists are on their way to investigate the scene, reports the Siberian Times.

The hole—estimated to be over 250ft wide—is located in the Yamal peninsula, a region affectionately meaning the “end of the world.” One scientist speculates that global warming in conjunction with natural gas lines may have caused the yawning cavity in the earth.

Anna Kurchatova from Siberia’s Sub-Arctic Scientific Research Centre believes the crater was a result of an explosion when a mixture of water, salt and natural gas exploded underground. Global warming, she claims, has caused the permafrost in Siberia to melt at an accelerated rate, placing stress on the natural gas reserves.

Yamal authorities are visiting the hole along with two scientists from the Centre for the Study of the Arctic and one from the Cryosphere Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

[Siberian Times]

 

Pigs Can Grow Their Own Pacemakers

Posted: 16 Jul 2014 11:00 AM PDT

Pacemakers are remarkable devices that save the lives of 300,000 people in the U.S. each year. They essentially take over for failing hearts, but since the devices require invasive surgery to implant in the heart, researchers have been looking for less invasive approaches to keeping the heart ticking. And now, reporting in the journal Science Translational Medicine, Dr. Eduardo Marban, director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, has a lead—thanks to pigs.

"We were able for the first time to create a biological pacemaker using minimally invasive methods, and show that the new pacemaker cells suffice to support the demands of daily life," he said. "When the pigs exercised, the hearts beat faster. When they were at rest, their hearts slowed down."

He and his colleagues say that a single gene can transform existing heart cells to take over the function of ailing pacemaker cells in the heart, The group tested their theory in mice, and were encouraged enough by the results to predict that human trials may be as close as three years away.

MORE: A 'Vaccine' for Heart Disease Could Mean No Pills, Lettuce or a Gym

Marban has been working for more than a decade to find a better way to keep pacemaker patients' hearts pumping at the right rate. In particular, he was focused on the 2% of them who need to go on antibiotics to treat an infection—because the devices are foreign objects implanted into the body, infections are possible—and in the interim have their pacemakers removed to be cleaned. During that time, these patients receive a temporary pacing device connected to a catheter, but the catheter itself may be an additional source of infection and make the antibiotic treatment less effective.

MORE: Single Gene Responsible for Group of Heart Disease Risk Factors

In Marban’s experiment, he simply loaded deactivated cold viruses, which are able to easily infect cells, with a gene—called TBX18—that is active during fetal development but later shuts off. Earlier studies showed that simply bathing cells in TBX triggered normal heart cells to start morphing into the ones that keep hearts working. That's exactly what happened in the seven pigs whose hearts were injected with the gene. A small proportion of their normal heart cells, the size of a peppercorn, were transformed into electrically pulsing cells and essentially took over the pacemaker function of the pigs' hearts.

Dr. Eugenio Cingolani, director of the cardiogenetics-familial arrhythmia clinic at Cedars Sinai and a co-author of the paper, said that while encouraging, more studies on the efficacy of the genetic reprogramming process, as well as a more in-depth analysis of the potential adverse effects are needed.

But the findings represent a promising first step toward a potentially new technique for treating certain life-threatening conditions.

"This development heralds a new era in gene therapy, where genes are used not only to correct deficiency disorders but to convert one cell to another to treat disease," said Marban. "Now that we and others are hot on the trail of developing therapeutics based on this principle of cell reprogramming, I anticipate that the flood gates will open and people will look for genes of interest to do whatever they want in particular organs or tissues of interest."

At the very least, he believes that a hardware-free, biological pacemaker based on the technique could become reality.

Who Talks More, Men Or Women? The Answer Isn’t As Obvious As You Think

Posted: 16 Jul 2014 10:59 AM PDT

A study released Tuesday sought to answer the ages-old and oft-debated question, do women really talk more than men? This most recent answer seems to be: well, it depends.

Northeastern University Professor David Lazer and his team studied 133 adult subjects in either professional or relaxed settings and gave them all “sociometers,” a device about the size of a smart phone that measures social interactions.

Their results found that the gender who spoke more very much depended on the setting. Women were slightly more likely to engage in casual conversation during a lunch hour but much more likely to engage in long conversations during an academic collaboration. However, men were more likely to dominate conversation when placed in a professional group of six or more people.

"So it's a very par­tic­ular sce­nario that leads to more interactions,” Lazer said. “The real story here is there's an inter­play between the set­ting and gender which cre­ated this difference.”

While Lazer might have been the first researcher to use sociometers in such a study, the question of which gender talks more has been asked many times before. A number of self-help books have cited this statistic: women utter an average of 20,000 words a day while men speak an average of only 7,000. A researcher from the University of Pennsylvania who tried to track this statistic’s origin found that it may have come from a 1993 marriage counselor’s pamphlet. The pamphlet’s numbers were, surprisingly, unsourced.

In the world of actual science, one 2007 study found that women and men use roughly the same number of words a day: 16,215 words for women compared to men’s 15,669. And while one 2004 study found that girls spoke a negligibly small amount more than boys, another from the same year found that boys spoke up nine times more in the classroom.

Above all, Lazer’s study proves that the debate on the subject roils on. However, for those who still believe women to be the more talkative sex, this old Chinese proverb may offer insight: “The tongue is the sword of a woman, and she never lets it become rusty.”

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