Tips for a Happy Boss’ Day – Even If You Have a Difficult Boss !

Wake Forest University expert offers five tips for creating a good working relationship

Newswise — Winston-Salem, N.C. – Knowing how to handle a difficult boss can mean the difference between being happy and successful at work, and dreading every morning’s alarm clock. With National Boss’ Day just around the corner on October 17, 2011, the best present you can give yourself and your supervisor is a great working relationship. Evelyn Williams, a professor and associate vice president of leadership development at Wake Forest University Schools of Business has five tips to get you started.

1. Your boss is probably not really a psychopath.
Despite a recent study that says 1 in 25 executives could be diagnosed as a psychopath, chances are you’re working for a boss who is stressed out, not morally bankrupt. “If your boss is under enormous stress, they may make decisions due to the circumstances. That doesn’t mean they have a personality disorder,” Williams says. “But they might be making decisions without considering the full impact on employees.”

2. Recognize that you have a mutually dependent relationship.
Your boss signs your paychecks, and you do the work that gets your boss rewarded too. “It behooves you to figure out how to make your relationship work,” Williams says. “If you give it your best effort to turn your boss into your ally, you will enjoy your relationship more.”

3. Figure out your boss’ work style.
“You can ask your boss some simple questions that will help you deliver the work they’re looking for in the way they like to receive it,” says Williams. Does your boss like details or big picture reports? Do they use extroverted thinking patterns and think out loud, or introverted thinkers who need time and introspection to arrive at a decision? Does your employer like to make a final decision and move on, or invite additional comments and feedback to make decisions by committee? “Knowing the answers to these questions can help you develop a road map that will guide your work interactions,” Williams says.

4. Be direct and document outcomes.
As you are developing your relationship road map, be direct and ask the questions that will help you determine your best communication style. Williams says documenting your conversations will help you too. “This isn’t a punitive kind of documentation, but rather helpful reminders. After you have a conversation with your boss or arrive at a decision, sending an email stating the decision or action steps from the conversation can help you both stay on track,” she says. “It may also be helpful to have that record so you can look back at decisions that were made if any questions arise.”

5. Remember your boss is human, too.
“As employees we want to have positive recognition for the work we do,” Williams says. “Think about how your boss might need positive recognition or reinforcement and offer it. Everyone likes recognition for their work.”

Chances are, you will work for a difficult boss at some point in your career. Making smart decisions about how you will communicate and develop a good working relationship with your boss will enhance your professional abilities and help you turn around a situation that might be causing you stress.

Released: 10/12/2011

Source: Wake Forest University

Via Newswise

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Important New Book Discusses China’s Economic Strategy

Newswise — Everyone is talking about China.

In the news daily — on TV, online and in print — China’s arrival as a rapidly developing and industrializing global power is front and center.

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) ranks as the world’s second largest economy after the United States. It has been the world’s fastest-growing major economy, with consistent growth rates of around 10 percent over the past 30 years. The nation is also the largest exporter and second largest importer of goods in the world.

Despite an economy that seems to be growing at a boundless rate, China’s rise as an economic powerhouse has been carefully managed by its Communist leaders, according to Roselyn Hsueh, assistant professor of political science and Asian studies at Temple.

“In the last 30 years, China has opened its doors to global integration and external investment,” said Hsueh. “Today’s China is governed by a new economic model that departs fundamentally from its East Asian neighbors and its own Communist past.”

“But behind the buzz of ‘China’s rise’ is a complex story of how the Chinese government has selectively used market liberalization followed by re-regulation in a way that enables the Communist leadership to promote domestic industries, enhance its technology base and retain power, including the power to control the flow of information,” she said.

Hsueh examines China’s distinctive integration into the international economy in her new book, China’s Regulatory State: A New Strategy for Globalization (Cornell University Press, 2011).

While visiting China in the summer of 2002, Hsueh confronted a paradox: On the one hand, the state’s hand could be seen in economic activities everywhere; yet simultaneously there existed genuinely capitalist practice and values. Foreign influence was ubiquitous — from neon displays of ING on skyscrapers in Shanghai to billboards selling Motorola handsets on provincial boulevards. Yet, she said, visits to municipalities and towns and villages revealed the government was still maintaining tight control over some sectors of the economy.

“Witnessing this apparent unevenness of liberal market capitalism got me asking deeper questions about China’s politics and economy,” said Hsueh.

In her book, Hsueh demonstrates that China only appears to be a more liberal state. According to her model, the central government tightly regulates sectors with high strategic value, such as telecommunications, but will allow much looser regulation of nonstrategic subsectors, such as textiles.

“China has adopted a bifurcated economic strategy,” said Hsueh. “Even as it introduces competition, the state selectively asserts control over industry and market development at the sectoral level to achieve state goals.”

Released: 9/30/2011
Source:Temple University
Via Newswise
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Wakeup Call for College Students: New Research Finds You Need to Catch More Z’s

Newswise — University of Cincinnati research finds that college students could be undermining their own education, simply because they’re not practicing proper sleep habits. The study, led by Adam Knowlden, a UC doctoral student in UC’s Health Promotion and Education Program, also holds recommendations for students to form better sleep habits that will ultimately enhance their learning.

The study evaluated the sleep habits of nearly 200 undergraduate college students between the ages of 18 and 24 who were not living with a parent or legal guardian. The study included 130 females and 67 males who were mostly first-and-second-year college students. The majority of them also worked either full or part-time jobs as they were going to college.

The study surveyed student sleeping habits over a 24-hour period against national recommendations for adults to get at least seven-to-eight hours of sleep. Only 24 percent of the students who were surveyed reported getting adequate sleep – 54.8 percent reported getting under seven hours of sleep, while 20.8 percent reported sleeping more than eight hours.

Short-term effects of inadequate sleep affect concentration and memory, which is what students need to learn and to pay attention in lectures.

“Sleep helps us save energy. It repairs cells in the body. And it’s key for memory consolidation,” Knowlden explains. “During sleep, the brain acts like a hard-drive on a computer. It goes in and cleans up memories and makes connections stronger, and it gets rid of things it doesn’t need.”

“So if a student is sleep-deprived, it affects the whole process,” Knowlden says. “Students aren’t able to learn, they’re not able to remember, it’s harder to concentrate and it affects mood. They’re working their way through college and they’re not maximizing their learning potential,” he says.

Knowlden says the survey found that time management, financial concerns and stress management were all factors in why students were reporting they were sacrificing sleep.

He adds that if they’re not practicing proper sleep habits, they can’t catch up on the weekend. “It’s like a bank account. If you try to take what’s not there, it’s not going to work. You can’t make up for it once you miss it – you either get it or you don’t.”

Knowlden explains that the health term for setting up proper sleep habits involves proper sleep hygiene, or proper planning for a good night’s sleep. He adds that the benefits stretch beyond not feeling sleepy or grumpy the next day.

“It’s difficult to change habits, especially sleep habits, but if students really want to make a difference in maximizing their education and their learning experience, getting enough sleep is critical,” says Knowlden.

“I’ve taught a stress management class here at UC and I’ve told students before that if they get nothing else out of this class, they need to remember to get seven or eight hours of sleep each night.”

Proper sleep hygiene means setting up a proper bedtime ritual to enhance sleep, Knowlden says. Here’s what he recommends they avoid:

* Restrict caffeine, alcohol and nicotine within four-to-six hours of bedtime.
* Avoid intense exercise within one hour of bedtime.
* Avoid going to bed and getting up at different times.
* Avoid long naps – a 15-minute “power nap” is enough.
* Avoid Internet social networking and games (considered stressors that keep the mind alert) before bedtime.
* Avoid studying, reading, eating or watching TV in bed as part of the bedtime routine.
* Eliminate too much light and noise in the bedroom.

Here’s what they should do:

* Keep bedtime and waking time consistent.
* Set up a comfortable sleeping environment – not too bright, too cold, too hot or too noisy. Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows.
* Use the bed for sleep, not for studying for exams.
* Turn to relaxing sleep routines such as relaxation exercises or the student’s personal religious ritual.
* Writing out worries in a personal journal can also ease stress.

Knowlden’s research was awarded first place in 2010 and 2011, at the Ohio Public Health Association Conference academic student poster presentation. The study was also awarded first place in the social and behavioral sciences category of the University of Cincinnati Graduate Poster Forum in 2010.

Manoj Sharma, UC professor of health promotion and education, and Amy Bernard, a UC associate professor of health promotion and education, were contributing authors on the study.

The research was supported by a faculty mentoring grant from the Office of the Dean, UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH).

Released: 8/30/2011
Source: University of Cincinnati

Via Newswise

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No Technical Know-How Needed: Endless Forms Web Site Helps Users ‘Breed’ 3-D Printable Objects

Newswise — ITHACA, N.Y. – Forget draft tables and complicated computer-aided design programs: You dream it. Endless Forms helps you design it.

Cornell University engineers are allowing anyone to point, click, collaborate and create online in the evolution of printable, three-dimensional objects. They aim to transform the design of art, architecture and artificial intelligence.

Their new, interactive website, allows users to design their own things – from lamps and butterflies to furniture and faces – without any technical knowledge and using the same principles that guide evolutionary biology.

The Web site was developed by Jeff Clune, Cornell postdoctoral fellow; Jason Yosinski, Cornell graduate student in engineering; and Eugene Doan, Cornell undergraduate student in the Creative Machines lab of Hod Lipson, Cornell associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and computing and information science. users can develop objects just as gardeners raise roses – a “generation” of objects is displayed, and a user chooses objects they like, which are “bred” to produce the next generation. Over time, objects evolve and users can publish these objects. Others can further evolve, share and rate them, creating a collaborative exploration of designs that, according to Lipson, represents an entirely new way of thinking about design. Users can then have their objects made by 3-D printing companies in a wide range of materials, such as silver, steel, ceramic or sandstone.

The concept eliminates the need for skilled engineers to draw in Computer-Aided Design (CAD) programs, which can be complicated and non-intuitive. These new design tools free people to focus creativity, instead of being mired in technical details, Lipson said.

Now that 3-D printing is taking off, the goal is to unshackle the design process, flooding the industry with objects that are truly one of a kind. Lipson likens the 3-D printing industry to iPods with no music – the printers exist, but the availability of content is bottlenecked by the old methods like CAD that few people know how to use and that stifle creativity.

The Web site demonstrates in real time the power of evolution to produce complex designs, providing a rare glimpse of the process in action. Users can also view the ancestral lineage of each object stretching back to the first, simple, randomly-generated object, and thus can see how evolution builds complexity via a series of small changes.

Cornell Creative Machines lab:

Released: 8/17/2011
Source: Cornell University

Via Newswise

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New Favorite Software Feature Series Starts Today on 8PAK.COM

As a service to our readers, the Editors of 8PAK.COM are adding today, a new regular feature. We know that many of you are looking for useful, and hopefully inexpensive or free programs, to help you increase your productivity, while at the same time, being cost effective.

We will be recommending software that we ourselves have used, and which we have found over time, actually performs the way it is supposed to perform.

Our first recommendation, which we heartily endorse is; Open Office. This program is available as a free download from

Open Office is a software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It is available in many languages and works on all common computers. It stores all of your data in an international open standard format and can also read and write files from other common office software packages, and the best thing about the program is that it can be downloaded and used completely free of charge for any purpose.

We have found Open Office to be an outstanding suite of office productivity programs, and we heartily recommend it!