A Point of View: Does more information mean we know less?
We pay a price for all the information we consume these days - and it's knowing less, says Alain de Botton.
One of the more embarrassing difficulties of our age is that most of us have quite lost the ability to concentrate, to sit still and do nothing other than focus on certain basic truths of the human condition.
The fault lies in part with our new gadgets. Thanks to our machines, of which we are generally so proud, the past decade has seen an unparalleled assault on our capacity to fix our minds steadily on anything. To sit still and think without succumbing to an anxious reach for a machine has become almost impossible.
But we can't just blame the machines. There is a deeper issue at stake - the feeling, so rife in modern secular culture, that we must constantly keep up with what is new.
The obsession with current events is relentless. We are made to feel that at any point, somewhere on the globe, something may occur to sweep away old certainties. Something that if we failed to learn about it instantaneously, could leave us wholly unable to comprehend ourselves or our fellow human beings.
It might seem like pouring water onto sand - almost literally - but the Gulf kingdom of Qatar is banking on a remarkable transformation in its fortunes.
The small but fabulously wealthy state is using its hydrocarbon earnings to try to convert itself into a global knowledge hub.
Billions of pounds are being pumped into a 2,500-acre complex for 80 educational, research, science and community development organisations, under the umbrella name of Education City.
The astonishing physical transformation of the desert is nothing compared with the long-term ambition to be a cradle of innovation, based in the Middle East but global in scope and impact.
The country knows that its hydrocarbon resources, which have given it the second highest per capita income in the world, will eventually run out.
"Future economic success will increasingly depend on the ability of the Qatari people to deal with a new international order that is knowledge-based and extremely competitive," says the country's proposals set out in its National Vision.
Qatar is a desert peninsula of only 4,500 square miles (11,655 sq km), with a native population of under a million - about as many as Norfolk in the UK.
"In the online world you don't need to fill buildings or lecture theatres with people and you don't need to be trapped into a lecture timetable," says Peter Scott, director of the Open University's Knowledge Media Institute.
The Open University, the UK's open access university, which allows people to study from home in their own time, has been an international pioneer of degree courses online.
The university, with more than 263,000 students in 23 countries, has become a record breaker on the iTunes U service, which provides a digital library of materials for university students and staff.
A university degree no longer confers financial security
MILLIONS of school-leavers in the rich world are about to bid a tearful goodbye to their parents and start a new life at university. Some are inspired by a pure love of learning. But most also believe that spending three or four years at university—and accumulating huge debts in the process—will boost their chances of landing a well-paid and secure job.
Their elders have always told them that education is the best way to equip themselves to thrive in a globalised world. Blue-collar workers will see their jobs offshored and automated, the familiar argument goes. School dropouts will have to cope with a life of cash-strapped insecurity. But the graduate elite will have the world at its feet. There is some evidence to support this view. A recent study from Georgetown University’s Centre on Education and the Workforce argues that “obtaining a post-secondary credential is almost always worth it.” Educational qualifications are tightly correlated with earnings: an American with a professional degree can expect to pocket $3.6m over a lifetime; one with merely a high-school diploma can expect only $1.3m. The gap between more- and less-educated earners may be widening. A study in 2002 found that someone with a bachelor’s degree could expect to earn 75% more over a lifetime than someone with only a high-school diploma. Today the premium is even higher.
Roughly half of all managers don’t trust their leaders. That’s what I found when I recently surveyed 450 executives of 30 companies from around the world. Results from a GolinHarris survey of Americans back in 2002 were similarly bleak: 69% of respondents agreed with the statement “I just don’t know who to trust anymore.” In that same year the University of Chicago surveyed 800 Americans and discovered that more than four out of five had “only some” or “hardly any” confidence in the people running major corporations. Granted, trusting corporate leaders in the abstract is different from trusting your own CEO, and some companies and executives are almost universally considered trustworthy; but the general trend is troubling.
It’s troubling because a distrustful environment leads to expensive and sometimes terminal problems. We hardly need reminding of the recent wave of scandals that shattered the public’s faith in corporate leaders. And although you’ll never see a financial statement with a line item labeled “distrust,” the WorldCom fiasco underscores just how expensive broken trust can be. When I teach executive seminars on trust, I ask participants to describe how a working environment feels when it is characterized by low levels of trust. The most frequent responses include “stressful,” “threatening,” “divisive,” “unproductive,” and “tense.” When asked how a high-trust work environment feels, the participants most frequently say “fun,” “supportive,” “motivating,” “productive,” and “comfortable.” Clearly, companies that foster a trusting culture will have a competitive advantage in the war for talent: Who would choose to stay in a stressful, divisive atmosphere if offered a productive, supportive one?
It is crucial, then, for managers to develop a better understanding of trust and of how to manage it. I define trust as confident reliance on someone when you are in a position of vulnerability. Given the pace of change in organizations today—mergers, downsizing, new business models, globalization—it is not surprising that trust is an issue. Fortunately, 50 years of research in social psychology has shown that trust isn’t magically created. In fact, it’s not even that mysterious. When people choose to trust, they have gone through a decision-making process—one involving factors that can be identified, analyzed, and influenced.
This article presents a model that sheds light on how the decision to trust is made. (We will ignore the extremes of complete trust based on blind faith and total distrust based on paranoia, and focus instead on the familiar situation in which uncertainty, possible damage, and multiple other reasons to trust or distrust are combined.) By understanding the mental calculations behind the decision whether or not to trust, managers can create an environment in which trust flourishes.
A Model for Trust
Building on the social psychologist Morton Deutsch’s research on trust, suspicion, and the resolution of conflict, and on my own experience over the past 15 years consulting with organizations and executives on trust, I developed a model that can be used to predict whether an individual will choose to trust or distrust another in a given situation. (See the exhibit “To Trust or Not to Trust?”) I have tested this model, which identifies ten factors at play in the decision-making process, with hundreds of top executives. Using it, they were able to identify relationships that would benefit from greater trust and to diagnose the root causes of distrust. Armed with that knowledge, they took concrete steps that made it easier for others to place confidence in them.
To Trust or Not to Trust?
When deciding whether to trust someone, people weigh ten basic factors. Three relate to the decision maker alone—the “truster”—and seven reflect the specific situation involving him or her and the person asking for trust—the “trustee.” The more factors that score on the high end of the scale, the more likely the decision maker is to choose trust.
The first three factors concern the decision maker himself: the “truster.” These factors often have little to do with the person asking for trust: the “trustee.” They are the result of a complex mix of personality, culture, and experience.
Some people are natural risk takers; others are innately cautious. How tolerant people are of risk has a big impact on their willingness to trust—regardless of who the trustee is. Risk seekers don’t spend much time calculating what might go wrong in a given situation; in the absence of any glaring problems, they tend to have faith that things will work out. Risk avoiders, however, often need to feel in control before they place their trust in someone, and are reluctant to act without approval. Not only do they not trust others, they don’t even trust themselves. Research by the organizational anthropologist Geert Hofstede suggests that at some level, culture influences risk tolerance. The Japanese, for instance, tend to have a lower tolerance for risk than Americans.
Level of adjustment.
Psychologists have shown that individuals vary widely in how well adjusted they are. Like risk tolerance, this aspect of personality affects the amount of time people need to build trust. Well-adjusted people are comfortable with themselves and see the world as a generally benign place. Their high levels of confidence often make them quick to trust, because they believe that nothing bad will happen to them. People who are poorly adjusted, by contrast, tend to see many threats in the world, and so they carry more anxiety into every situation. These people take longer to get to a position of comfort and trust, regardless of the trustee.
For example, Bill, a senior vice president at a major financial services firm, was a poorly adjusted person who always operated in “high alert” mode. He micromanaged his direct reports, even his most talented ones, because he couldn’t feel secure unless he was personally involved in the details. His inability to delegate had little to do with the trustees and everything to do with his own nature; he regularly chose suspicion over trust because he saw even the slightest mistake as a potential threat to his reputation.
Relative power is another important factor in the decision to trust. If the truster is in a position of authority, he is more likely to trust, because he can sanction a person who violates his trust. But if the truster has little authority, and thus no recourse, he is more vulnerable and so will be less comfortable trusting. For instance, a CEO who delegates a task to one of her vice presidents is primarily concerned with that person’s competence. She can be reasonably confident that the VP will try to serve her interests, because if he doesn’t, he may face unpleasant repercussions. The vice president, however, has little power to reward or sanction the CEO. Therefore, his choice to trust the CEO is less automatic; he must consider such things as her intentions and her integrity.
The remaining seven factors concern aspects of a particular situation and of the relationship between the parties. These are the factors that a trustee can most effectively address in order to gain the confidence of trusters.
Earlier we dealt with risk tolerance as a personality factor in the truster. Here we look at the opposite of risk—security—as it relates to a given situation. Clearly, not all risks are equal. An employee who in good times trusts that his supervisor will approve the funding for his attendance at an expensive training program might be very suspicious of that same supervisor when the company is making layoffs. A general rule to remember: The higher the stakes, the less likely people are to trust. If the answer to the question “What’s the worst that could happen?” isn’t that scary, it’s easier to be trustful. We have a crisis of trust today in part because virtually nobody’s job is truly secure, whereas just a generation ago, most people could count on staying with one company throughout their careers.
Number of similarities.
At heart we are still quite tribal, which is why people tend to more easily trust those who appear similar to themselves. Similarities may include common values (such as a strong work ethic), membership in a defined group (such as the manufacturing department, or a local church, or even a gender), and shared personality traits (extroversion, for instance, or ambition). In deciding how much to trust someone, people often begin by tallying up their similarities and differences.
Imagine that you are looking to hire a consultant for a strategy assignment. The first candidate walks into your office wearing a robe; he speaks with an accent and has a degree from a university you’ve never heard of. When you meet the second candidate, she is dressed very much like you and speaks as you do. You learn that she also attended your alma mater. Most people would feel more comfortable hiring the second candidate, rationalizing that she could be counted on to act as they would in a given situation.
That’s partly why companies with a strong unifying culture enjoy higher levels of trust—particularly if their cultural values include candor, integrity, and fair process—than companies without one. A good example of this is QuikTrip, a convenience store chain with more than 7,000 employees, which has been named to Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in each of the past four years. One of the company’s bedrock values is do the right thing—for the employee and for the customer. This meaningful and relevant shared value serves as a foundation for an exceptionally strong culture of trust. On the flip side, a lack of similarities and shared values explains why, in many organizations, the workaholic manager is suspicious of his family-oriented employee, or the entrepreneurial field sales group and the control-oriented headquarters never get along: It’s more difficult to trust people who seem different.
Alignment of interests.
Before a person places her trust in someone else, she carefully weighs the question “How likely is this person to serve my interests?” When people’s interests are completely aligned, trust is a reasonable response. (Because both the patient and the surgeon, for instance, benefit from a successful operation, the patient doesn’t need to question the surgeon’s motives.) A fairly unsophisticated leader will assume that everyone in the organization has the same interests. But in reality people have both common and unique interests. A good leader will turn critical success factors for the company into common interests that are clear and superordinate.
Consider compensation policies. We’ve all heard of companies that have massive layoffs, drive their stock prices up, and reward their CEOs with handsome bonuses—in the same year. It’s no wonder that so many employees distrust management. Whole Foods Market, by contrast, has a policy stating that the CEO cannot make more than 14 times the average employee’s salary; in 2005 CEO John Mackey forfeited a bonus of $46,000. That policy helps demonstrate to workers that the CEO is serving the best interests of the company, not only his own. Aligned interests lead to trust; misaligned interests lead to suspicion.
This factor also operates on a more macro-organizational level. In “Fair Process: Managing in the Knowledge Economy” (HBR July–August 1997), W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne described how a transparent, rigorous process for decision making leads to higher levels of organizational trust. Opaque decision-making processes, which may appear to serve special interests whether they do or not, breed distrust.
Trust is an issue not because people are evil but because they are often self-centered. We’ve all known a manager whom employees don’t trust because they don’t believe he will fight for them. In other words, he has never demonstrated a greater concern for others’ interests than for his own. The manager who demonstrates benevolent concern—who shows his employees that he will put himself at risk for them—engenders not only trust but also loyalty and commitment.
Aaron Feuerstein, the former CEO of Malden Mills, represents an extreme example of benevolent concern. In 1995 a fire destroyed his textile mill in Lawrence, Massachusetts, which had employed some 3,200 people. He could have taken the insurance money and moved his manufacturing overseas. Then 70, he could have retired. Instead Feuerstein promised his workers that he would rebuild the mill and save their jobs, and he kept them on the payroll. Feuerstein’s benevolent concern for his employees, despite the cost to himself, gained their trust. Unfortunately, it lost the trust of his banks, which probably would have preferred that more benevolent concern be directed toward them. The resulting debt eventually forced the company to file for bankruptcy protection. This points to a real challenge in managing trust: how to balance multiple and sometimes competing interests.
Similarities, aligned interests, and benevolent concern have little meaning if the trustee is incompetent. (If you’re going to have surgery, you’re probably more concerned about your surgeon’s technical skills than about how much the two of you have in common.) Managers routinely assess capability when deciding to trust or delegate authority to those who work for them.
Capability is also relevant at the group and organizational levels. Shareholders will be suspicious of a board of directors that can’t establish reliable processes for compensating CEOs fairly and uncovering unethical behavior. A customer will not trust a firm that has not demonstrated a consistent ability to meet his or her needs.
Predictability and integrity.
At some point in the trust decision the truster asks, “How certain am I of how the trustee will act?” A trustee whose behavior can be reliably predicted will be seen as more trustworthy. One whose behavior is erratic will be met with suspicion. Here the issue of integrity comes into play—that is, doing what you say you will do. Trustees who say one thing but do another lack integrity. The audio does not match the video, and we are confused as to which message to believe. The result is distrust.
In my executive-coaching work, I have seen some managers consistently overpromise but underdeliver. These people are well-intentioned, and they care passionately about their work, but their enthusiasm leads them to promise things they simply cannot produce. Despite their hard work and good intentions, colleagues don’t trust them because of their poor track records.
Take the case of Bob, the managing partner of a global consulting firm. Bob was a creative and strategic thinker who was well liked by everyone. He had good intentions and had demonstrated benevolent concern for employees. But the other partners in the firm did not trust Bob, because he often failed to deliver what he had promised when he had promised it. Despite his good intentions, people in the firm said that any project that relied on Bob was in a “danger zone.” With time and coaching, Bob learned to delegate more and to live up to his commitments. But the point here is that when a person fails to deliver, he’s not just missing a deadline; he’s undermining his own trustworthiness.
Level of communication.
Because trust is a relational concept, good communication is critical. Not surprisingly, open and honest communication tends to support the decision to trust, whereas poor (or no) communication creates suspicion. Many organizations fall into a downward spiral: Miscommunication causes employees to feel betrayed, which leads to a greater breakdown in communication and, eventually, outright distrust.
Consider how the Catholic Church handled allegations of sexual abuse by priests in the Boston area. Cardinal Bernard Law failed to openly communicate the nature and scope of the allegations. When the details emerged during legal proceedings, parishioners felt betrayed, and trust was destroyed. The word “cover-up” was frequently used in the media to describe Law’s response to the crisis. His lack of candor caused people to feel that the truth was being obscured at the expense of the victims.
Around that time I witnessed an example of excellent communication within the same Catholic Church. I sat with my family one Sunday while, in an agonizingly uncomfortable homily, a priest confessed from the altar that he had had an inappropriate encounter 20 years earlier with a woman employed by the parish. He acknowledged his mistake, talked about how he had dealt with the issue, and asked for forgiveness. Over time his parishioners came once again to regard him as a trusted spiritual leader. His offense was less serious than Law’s, but his story shows that honest communication can go a long way toward building or repairing relationships and engendering trust. To some degree, one person’s openness induces openness in others, and the decision to put faith in others makes it more likely that they will reciprocate.
Managing with the Trust Model
Once these ten factors are understood, executives can begin managing trust in their own relationships and within their organizations.
Consider the example of Sue and Joe, a manager and her direct report in a Fortune 500 consumer goods company that was in the midst of a major turnaround. Sue, a relatively new VP of sales, wanted to make some aggressive personnel moves in response to pressure from her boss to improve performance. Joe, one of Sue’s employees, was three years shy of his retirement date. He had been a loyal employee for 17 years and had been successful in previous staff roles. Recently, however, he had taken on a new job as a line manager in sales and was not performing well. In fact, Sue’s boss had suggested that it was time to move Joe out.
Joe was a confident person (high level of adjustment), but he knew that he was in the wrong job and wanted to find a different way to contribute (high alignment of interests with Sue). He was concerned about how candid to be with Sue, because he was afraid of being terminated (low risk tolerance and low security). And because Sue was a new VP, Joe was uncertain whether she was the decision maker and had any real control (low predictability and low capability).
As the situation originally stood, Joe wasn’t inclined to trust his manager; there were too many risks and uncertainties. The trust model helped Sue identify what she could do to change the situation and create a climate of trust afterward. (See the exhibit “Trust Intervention: Sue and Joe.”) Sue and I realized, for instance, that we could do little to raise Joe’s tolerance for risk. Cautious by nature, he was genuinely—and quite rightly—fearful of losing his job. So I encouraged Sue to demonstrate greater benevolent concern: to have a candid but supportive conversation with Joe and give him time to go through a self-discovery process using an outside consultant. After that process, Joe requested a transfer. I also coached Sue to work with her boss to gain approval for some alternate options for Joe, thus increasing her capability and predictability in Joe’s eyes. In addition, Sue began communicating more frequently and openly to Joe about his options in the organization and was sincerely empathetic about how this career uncertainty would affect him and his wife—showing still more benevolent concern. Eventually Joe was moved into a more suitable position. He wasn’t shy in sharing his positive feelings about the whole process with his former colleagues, who still reported to Sue. As a result, those people were more apt to place their faith in her, and trust increased in the department even though it was experiencing major change.
The trust model can also be applied on a broader, organizational scale. Consider the situation at Texaco in the 1990s. In 1994 a group of minority employees filed a racial-discrimination suit against the oil giant, charging that black employees were being paid less than white employees for equal work. Two years later tensions reached a crisis level when senior Texaco executives were secretly recorded denigrating black workers. It’s safe to say that among black workers, trust in their company’s executives bottomed out. Then-chairman and CEO Peter Bijur recognized the graveness of the situation and knew he needed to act quickly to repair the broken trust.
Bijur started by hiring outside counsel to investigate the matter; bringing in a neutral third party alleviated any suspicions that conflict of interest would taint the investigation. He also created a special board of directors committee, which was charged with evaluating the company’s diversity training. That step demonstrated that Texaco placed a high value on diversity. New diversity and sensitivity training led to a corporate culture built on shared values. Those who didn’t belong—specifically, the senior executives heard speaking offensively on the tape—were terminated, suspended, or had their retirement benefits cut off. To make the company’s actions more predictable for employees, Bijur hired a respected judge to evaluate Texaco’s HR policies, and the company changed those that were deemed unfair or not transparent. Moreover, senior executives were sent to all company locations to apologize for the humiliation to which black workers had been subjected. These meetings not only demonstrated benevolent concern but also opened up lines of communication between skeptical employees and top management.
Collectively, these actions made it easier for disillusioned workers to place their faith in the company again. Trust wasn’t restored overnight—there’s no quick fix for broken faith—but concerted efforts to correct the sources of distrust eventually paid off. In 1999 Bijur received an award from a national African-American group for commitment to diversity, and in 2000 Texaco received praise from SocialFunds.com for being a “model for challenging corporate racism.”
Broken trust can be mended over time if leaders consistently engage in the right behaviors. The exhibit “Practical Ways of Managing Trust” identifies some behaviors that are particularly effective.
• • •
Trust is a measure of the quality of a relationship—between two people, between groups of people, or between a person and an organization. In totally predictable situations the question of trust doesn’t arise: When you know exactly what to expect, there’s no need to make a judgment call. The turbulence of outsourcing, mergers, downsizing, and changing business models creates a breeding ground for distrust.
Leading in such an environment requires acting in ways that provide clear reasons to decide to trust. There is no returning to the days when organizations expected—and received—unconditional loyalty from employees. But by using this model, you may be able to create a more dynamic and sustainable foundation for productive relationships.
Robert F. Hurley ([email protected]) is a professor of management at Fordham University in New York.
Most managerial work happens through talk--discussions, meetings, presentations, negotiations. And it is through talk that managers evaluate others and are themselves judged. Using research carried out in a variety of workplace settings, linguist Deborah Tannen demonstrates how conversational style often overrides what we say, affecting who gets heard, who gets credit, and what gets done. Tannen's linguistic perspective provides managers with insight into why there is so much poor communication. Gender plays an important role. Tannen traces the ways in which women's styles can undermine them in the workplace, making them seem less competent, confident, and self-assured than they are. She analyzes the underlying social dynamic created through talk in common workplace interactions. She argues that a better understanding of linguistic style will make managers better listeners and more effective communicators, allowing them to develop more flexible approaches to a full range of managerial activities.
This autumn more than a million students are going to take part in an experiment that could re-invent the landscape of higher education.
Some of the biggest powerhouses in US higher education are offering online courses - testing how their expertise and scholarship can be brought to a global audience.
Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have formed a $60m (£38m) alliance to launch edX, a platform to deliver courses online - with the modest ambition of "revolutionising education around the world".
Sounding like a piece of secret military hardware, edX will provide online interactive courses which can be studied by anyone, anywhere, with no admission requirements and, at least at present, without charge.
With roots in Silicon Valley, Stanford academics have set up another online platform, Coursera, which will provide courses from Stanford and Princeton and other leading US institutions.
The first president of edX is Anant Agarwal, director of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and one of the pioneers of the MITx online prototype.
He puts forward a statistic that encapsulates the game-changing potential.
The first online course from MITx earlier this year had more students than the entire number of living students who have graduated from the university.
In fact, it isn't far from the total of all the students who have ever been there since the 19th Century.
Can a poem contain all the career advice you need?
Can a poem contain all the career advice you need?
In life there are little nuggets of advice that make all the difference — tidbits of wisdom and guidance from someone you trust that stick with you for the rest of your days.
But have you ever stopped to think about the single best piece of advice you’ve ever received when it comes to your career?
LinkedIn asked its Influencers to do just that. From insights on being fully in the game , to never giving up, to a single poem that encapsulates a lifetime of lessons, the morsels of encouragement that these executives use every day can be useful to anyone.
Here’s what a few of them had to say.
Tony Fernandes, group chief executive officer at AirAsia
“The year was 1992. I was 28 at the time and I had just made managing director of Warner Music Malaysia… But that wasn’t enough for me,” wrote Fernandes in his post Best Advice: Slow Down. “I wanted to be regional managing director. I wanted to take over the world, and I guess it showed.”
One night an executive at the company took Fernandes aside for a chat. “I still remember what he (Stephen Shrimpton, who was then senior vice president of Warner Music Asia Pacific ) told me then, even after all these years: ‘learn to take things slow’,” wrote Fernandes.
The point, he wrote, was that “there’s no need to rush” and that it was more important to take the time to develop “my own personality and [make] sure I’m ready for the next job.”
It’s advice Fernandes has taken to heart, he wrote. “No matter how bright someone is, nothing beats experience. And that takes time. There is no quick fix, no five easy steps.”
Going slow can help avoid embarrassing pitfalls, especially for entrepreneurs, wrote Fernandes, whose airline has grown from two aircraft to a planned 150. “I’m glad we didn’t rush things because now we have a solid foundation,” he wrote. “While it may not seem the quickest route to where you want to be, going slow is the best way to get ahead.”
Angela Ahrendts, chief executive officer at Burberry
Can a single poem offer all the advice one needs for life and for work? Ahrendts believes the answer is yes. In her post Best Advice: This Poem Tells You Everything You Need to Live, she wrote, “its profound principles subliminally shaped and defined my core and have guided me throughout my life.”
The poem: The Desiderata. Ahrendts first saw it framed on the wall of her father’s office when she was a teenager. “At the time, I repeated the words without reflection, unconcerned by their meaning,” she wrote. “But with perspective, I know these simple truths helped form the fabric of my leadership, inspiring me and reminding me of my place and my purpose.”
An excerpt: “Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.”
“Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”
“Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.”
Gurbaksh Chahal, chairman and chief executive officer at RadiumOne
“It was October 27, 1997. I remember it as if it was yesterday. My family’s dream home was already half built. It was to be our escape from the small, cramped house in the projects that I shared with my parents, my paternal grandmother and three siblings,” wrote Chahal in his post Best Advice: Never Give Up. “Then the stock market crashed.”
“The NYSE plummeted 550 points and trading was halted early. My father was devastated. He had bought stock on margin — a lot of stock — and had lost everything. Worst still, he was going to lose money he didn’t even have,” wrote Chahal. “At the dinner table that night he broke the news that the dream move to a new house in the suburbs was not going to happen.”
His father announced that in the morning, he would sell everything — the family would be left with nothing, but they would at least not be in debt, he wrote. Right after he did, the market recovered. “If he had just waited an hour, he would have recouped most of his losses, enabling the move into the new home to go ahead. Now, that couldn’t happen,” wrote Chahal.
Chahal’s father, never emotional, broke down sobbing in front of the entire family. “He seemed defeated and I was terrified for him,” he wrote. “Just a few days later, though, a remarkable transformation occurred. With no explanation whatsoever my father snapped out of his depression and declared to us all, ‘One way or another, we are going to move into that new house’,” Chahal recalled.
“That resilience and determination would forever be ingrained in my thinking and instrumental in the way I have conducted myself personally and professionally. The lesson was clear: Never give up,” he wrote.
Chahal’s father rallied the family, worked overtime, cut other expenses, sold a car and television and had some family members take on part-time jobs. “My father pulled himself together and inspired us to follow his lead and not give up. He constantly reassured us that we were going to be all right,” wrote Chahal. “Sure enough we raised enough money, sold the house in the projects and moved out and up in the world.” What is the best advice you've ever received? Who did it come from and how has it helped you?
Video games usually get in the way of homework. GlassLab, however, is a collaboration between educators and technologists. Uniting commercial game studios and educational groups the aim is to embrace gaming technology to transform the learning process and make it more relevant to the demands of the 21st Century.
They could even one day replace traditional exams.
SimCityEDU: Pollution Challenge, which has just launched, is an educational version of the video game SimCity. Designed for teenagers, students play the role of a city mayor, managing a city with some pressing pollution problems.
BBC Future spoke to Jessica Lindl, general manager of GlassLab, at the Silicon Valley-based gaming company, EA (Electronic Arts) about how games could prepare children for jobs
The National Digital Public Library Is Launched!
The Digital Public Library of America, to be launched on April 18, is a project to make the holdings of America’s research libraries, archives, and museums available to all Americans—and eventually to everyone in the world—online and free of charge. How is that possible? In order to answer that question, I would like to describe the first steps and immediate future of the DPLA. But before going into detail, I think it important to stand back and take a broad view of how such an ambitious undertaking fits into the development of what we commonly call an information society.
Talks at Google began in 2005 as the [email protected] series to bring innovative authors to speak at Google. The program has since grown to include musicians, filmmakers, chefs, intellectuals, and innovators. The program brings speakers of all stripes to Google for talks centering on their recently published books and to discuss topics capturing the intellectual zeitgeist of the day.
Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. Google Scholar helps you find relevant work across the world of scholarly research.