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Is stress impairing your performance at work and compromising your relationships? Changing the way you think about stress can help you turn stress into an ally and use it to improve mental agility and work performance; a report in the Journal of Experimental Psychology showed that physiological and cognitive benefits result from thinking of stress as “functional and adaptive” rather than a signifier of “threat.”

Turning stress to your advantage is no easy task. It requires mental discipline to pause when you’re in the grip of stress and to reframe it as potentially useful. In my executive coaching practice, I help clients transform their attitude about stress. There are many ways to do this, and the method needs to be individually tailored to each client’s unique situation. Here are three ways that clients in my practice have reappraised their stress and used it to propel positive changes:

Reconceive essential relationships. The third-generation CEO of a family business, my client experienced severe stress as his executive team (comprised of older family members) lambasted his every decision about how to run the company. Feeling defensive, he retreated from key CEO tasks such as strategic planning and securing a line of credit to keep the business afloat. Coaching focused on interpreting his stress as a signal to redefine his relationships with family members, whose support would be essential for survival of the company. Coaching empowered him to think of his family members as repositories of wisdom, people whose interests were aligned with his own. As he rethought these relationships, he transformed the monthly executive meetings from a battleground into a collaborative brainstorming session on opportunities for the company. With this newfound focus, the CEO harnessed the team’s knowledge and motivation to grow the company. Not only did he feel calmer and happier, but within four months he secured the line of credit and initiated critical discussions with potential outside investors. By reappraising his stress as a friendly message to heal valuable relationships, he protected the business and repositioned it for growth.

Develop strategic leadership skills. Another client was an attorney who was recently promoted to serving as his biotech firm’s general counsel, a position in which he was expected both to oversee the legal department and function as a strategic partner in the C-suite. He felt overwhelmed by the pressures of the two roles and the need to delegate tasks to associate attorneys. His stress mounted as he micromanaged their work and got “stuck in the weeds” of low-level tasks. We strove to reframe his stress as a signal that he should stretch beyond his comfort zone and embrace his new responsibilities as a strategic partner on the executive team. This reappraisal prompted him to begin placing more trust in his legal staff’s decision-making capabilities, to meet more often with key partners inside and outside the firm, and to embrace leadership roles that would position him more as a visionary leader than a worker bee. As he did so, his stress evaporated and he led the executive team to take a bold step toward expanding the business into a complex but potentially lucrative overseas market.

Apologize and express gratitude. Another client, the chief operating officer of an insurance company, was experiencing massive stress in the context of a work crisis. During a recent company event, she consumed an excessive amount of alcohol and embarrassed herself by making loud and rude comments to colleagues. Her behavior became so unruly that she was put in a taxi and sent home. She was terrified that she would lose her job. Part of the coaching focused on how to communicate with the CEO and executive team in the wake of this blunder. I was taken aback when she told me that she planned in an upcoming meeting with the CEO to complain that her year-end bonus was lower than she deserved based on performance metrics. My responsibility, I realized, was to respectfully confront her about how ill-conceived and potentially destructive this approach would be. After pointing out that her ongoing stress might be a signal that she was still uncomfortable with this course of action, we had a productive dialogue about alternative strategies. Ultimately, she concluded that it would be most prudent not to request a higher bonus, but instead to apologize for her behavior at the event and express thanks that she still had her job at all. This decision immediately reduced her stress level and served her well with the CEO and management team. She retained her position and continues to repair her reputation as a trustworthy leader in the firm.

These vignettes are real-world examples of what psychologists have been learning about stress management in well-controlled experiments.  If you can reappraise stress as a constructive hint that you should seriously reorient your thinking and behavior, then the stress can diminish and steer you toward a renewed sense of purpose and growth.

Confession: a couple of years ago, I acquired a pair of Beats cordless Bluetooth headphones. I call that fact a confession because Beats headphones are much derided among the technorati, and certainly among gadget reviewers, as being all flash and no substance. I don't think they sound all that bad, but I also haven't been able to use them for the last month or so, because the 'phones are going through one of their frequent periods of being unable to connect to my phone.

In short, Beats don't beat a whole lot. Koss, Sennheiser and Harman Kardon they ain't.

But if Apple does buy Beats for roughly $3 billion, a deal that is widely reported to be in its closing stages, it won't be because of the headphones. (Though given the fact that Apple sells Beats cans in every Apple store in the world, and has exact sales figures for each model, keeping all that profit to itself would be a nice boost for the bottom line.)

No, this is more about Beats' streaming music service, Apple's tenacious grip on music distribution, and the fact that with a deal like this, Apple could easily become a recording industry giant that cuts out the middleman entirely — a notion that keeps executives at Sony, Universal, EMI and the rest of the major labels up at night.

When Apple CEO Tim Cook had a high-level summit with Beats CEO Jimmy Iovine during a visit to LA in early 2013 — a meeting with much more import than was known at the time — it wasn't to talk about Beats' habit of increasing the bass and vocal ranges in its hardware. It was to discuss the Beats app, then known as "Project Daisy."

The Beats Music app has been out in the wild now since mid-January, and it's garnering respectable reviews. Sure, it's another music streaming service in a world stuffed with Spotify and its ilk, but it has also managed to differentiate itself with some clever tweaks — and an understanding that what most of us want out of music streaming is a service that automagically knows what we want to listen to.

When you sign into the app — a too-lengthy process that could do with a simple Apple ID — you're met with a screen of gently floating bubbles, each containing a musical genre. Tap on three bubbles, and you get another bubble screen with artists. That leads you to lists of albums and playlists you might like to start with. There's a screen of "expert essentials," usually with some newsworthy theme.

And then there's probably the coolest feature to grace streaming music apps in a while: "The Sentence," a kind of mad libs approach to music recommendation. For example:

Beats sentence

Image: Beats

As weird as that looks, The Sentence does produce some interesting results — and it gets close to the intangible, emotional answer to the perennial question, "what do I want to listen to now?"

The Beats app just got an iPad-friendly upgrade last week, which seems to have solved some of the technical issues iTunes reviewers have complained about. The ones that remain — the downloaded files are too large, the streaming occasionally freezes up — are just the kind of problems that a company of Apple's scale could help solve.

The music rights library Apple has been assiduously building up over the last decade could also widen Beats' selection — because one of the greatest ironies of the app is that you can't listen to more than one album by Dr. Dre, co-founder of Beats. The Chronic is chronically absent.

Tim Cook, music mogul?

So as much as audiophiles may groan, Beats headphones may bring a veneer of youth culture and cool to Apple, of a kind not seen since its silhouette-based iPod ads. More importantly, the app would give Apple an instant competitor to Spotify, the way iTunes Radio competes with Pandora. (Beats, four months old, has 200,000 subscribers to Spotify's 10 million, but that imbalance would change rapidly if Apple started pimping the app.)

Most important of all, however, is what Iovine and Dre could do for Apple's already considerable clout in the music industry. If you were trying to build a modern-day music label, to persuade more and more big-name artists to ditch their regular suits and release their latest works exclusively via digital download and streaming service, you could do a lot worse than starting with these guys. Iovine has worked with everyone from Springsteen to Lady Gaga to U2 and, of course, Dre has the hip-hop world covered, from Eminem to 50 Cent.

Meanwhile, the New York Post is reporting that Iovine will join Apple as a "special advisor" as part of the deal.

As anyone who's attended an Apple launch event with a musical gues


Opening up your company to people's outside interests can improve your office culture and even lead to unexpected new business opportunities.

1. Building an award-winning office culture

2. Retaining superior talent

3. Enabling unconventional communication

4. Cultivating new ways of thinking within the agency 

5. A balanced team

6. Building new business 



When it comes to making decisions about whom to hire and promote, skills and prior work history are only part of the equation. As many employers know, a candidate's attitude and personality traits play a huge role in how well that person can perform in the workplace.

"An overwhelming amount of data supports the claim that personality predicts job performance better than any other known evaluation method, including interviews and IQ tests," said Robert Hogan, a psychologist and president of personality-test provider Hogan Assessments. "Personality should be [a] major factor used to make personnel decisions." 

Carl Persing, research and solutions adviser at strategy consultancy and survey provider Metrus Group, agreed, noting that people's personalities tend to motivate and guide them in their careers.

10 Personality Traits Employers Want

"Personality traits make you seek out certain jobs, and affect how you fit in," Persing told Business News Daily.

When hiring managers are filling entry-level positions, they frequently screen for basic traits like reliability and organization skills, to make sure the candidate will be motivated to do the job. But when it comes time to promote those employees, personality becomes an even more important factor, said Eric Heggestad, an industrial and organizational psychologist and a professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

For promotions, "you look a lot deeper, at things like charisma and the ability to motivate people," Heggestad said. "It matters more at the higher level, as the span of control increases."

Based on these experts' research, data and experience, here are five personality types that are most likely to earn a promotion:

·         The "people" person. Clients, colleagues and bosses all like this person. He or she has a pleasant personality, gets along with others and is enjoyable to be around. A people person is likely to be a good manager or team leader because of these qualities.

·         The delegator. When lower-level employees are given the opportunity to work on a group project, there will always be at least one who assumes the position of leader. This person knows how to give constructive feedback and delegate tasks based on the team members' strengths.

·         The adapter. This person learns very quickly and is able to adjust to any task or work environment. His or her intelligence and intuition will help in figuring out how to tackle a new role.

·         The decider. A person who is decisive and confident in his or her decisions is a great fit for a leadership position. The ability to choose a direction quickly and effectively is essential for a strategy-based role.


·         The ethical person. No matter what the employee's role is, his or her actions are guided by a sense of ethics and integrity. This person won't compromise his or her morals or try to get ahead at the expense of other colleagues.

Monday, 10 March 2014 19:07

Say goodbye to low batteries

Low battery, you may have met your match.


A new portable charging system aims to put on-the-go power in your pocket, boasting a set-up that reportedly doesn't compromise on power or portability. Modulo, developed by Barcelona-based tech company Idapt, is a credit card-sized gadget that claims to       power any USB device, wherever you go.                                                                                                    source:Mashable