Blogging provides a community — or a paycheck — to Idaho Falls mothers

Idaho Falls Moms Blog MAIN

Every detail of Valerie Illguth’s life is potential fodder for her blogs.

She started her travel blog, 51 Cent Adventures, six years ago to write about all the unique and under-the-radar places her family visited on vacations. Over the last few months, she has been writing about all the details of Yellowstone National Park that they encountered while living in an RV near the park last summer. In December she joined the newly started Idaho Falls Moms Blog as one of a team of volunteers writing about her life and the area. Her most recent post talked about the effects of her son’s autism.

Why did Illguth enjoy blogging enough to write for two sites?

“I don’t know,” she laughed. “It’s a good hobby. I don’t need to have any other items around than my laptop.”

It’s easier than ever to create a website and share your writings online. WordPress, one of the world’s largest blog-supporting websites, sees more than 70 million new posts every month.

Not all of those blogs will draw in a ton of traffic or earn their creators money — the average WordPress post gets fewer than six views a month— but most bloggers aren’t looking to make it rich as long as they attract some community of readers.

In the last year, a handful of new blogs have started adding their content to the web out of Idaho Falls. One is a collective effort from more than 20 women looking to help local families, while the other is one woman’s attempt to expand her platform to speak about her disease.

The Moms Blog

In August, Idaho Falls became one of the 92 cities represented by the City Moms Blog Network. Idaho Falls Moms Blog, staffed by nearly two dozen volunteers from in and around the city, is the only city in Idaho, Utah or Wyoming to join the network.

Idaho Falls Moms Blog
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Heather Jarrell speaks to a Post Register reporter about the Idaho Falls Moms Blog on Thursday, May 16, 2019.

“We’re kind of a dot on our own over here,” Idaho Falls founder Heather Jarrell said.

Jarrell started the blog as a one-stop location for parents like her to see what the opportunities are for families in the city. The blog gets a lot of traffic from its roundup of the weekend events that will be happening and the guides offering advice on where to find splash pads or host a kid’s birthday party.

“I felt like I was hearing about all these great things that were happening in town and wanted to get all that information in one place,” Jarrell said.

The blog is run by a team of volunteers, many of whom only post once a month. It gives them freedom to write about any subject, whether it’s recent things that happened with their children or advice on what to do during the summer. Some posts are sponsored by local businesses — Jarrell said health-related events have proven especially popular.

Some of those contributors also manage blogs of their own outside the Idaho Falls Moms Blog. Valerie Illguth started her travel blog six years ago while her husband was stationed in Fort Hood, Texas. She said her friends enjoyed hearing about the unique places she would stumble across with her husband and children, so she began writing about them online to get a wider audience while her husband was serving.

“He was deployed to Korea and I was at home with four kids. I would turn on ‘Toy Stor,’ and I would sit and write so I would feel like I was communicating with the outside world,” Illguth said.

The Illguths live outside Pocatello and she isn’t the only mother from outside the city limits writing for the Idaho Falls Moms Blog. The blog posts generally shy away from controversial topics or politics but the differing ages and experiences of the writers allow for some variety in the writing styles. Contributing writer Kim Lewis thought that style combined with the local focus of the blog has helped to grow its audience.

“It’s validating to hear from others in the community that are dealing with the same things,” Lewis said.

{strong style=”font-size: 1em;”}Hailey and a Spoon{/strong}

{p dir=”ltr”}Hailey Williams has been managing a YouTube channel for five years, since around the time her second daughter was born. Her videos were focused on parenting and her family life until she was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2016.

Blogger two
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Hailey Williams enjoys the freedom being a blogger provides. Williams is able to work almost anywhere and that allows her to spend more time with her family. She often blogs in her garage so she can be near her two daughters Khloe, 7, and Kaelyn, 5, while they play outside.

{p dir=”ltr”}She switched the focus of her channel to gluten awareness and advocacy. She cut back her number of videos to just one a week but saw her subscriber count rise from just over 1,000 people to nearly 6,000. Last month, Williams used that momentum to launch her own blog called Hailey and a Spoon. She admitted that, before she had launched a blog of her own, she hadn’t been that interested in reading food blogs.

{p dir=”ltr”}“I know if I was going to do blogging it would have to be my style. If I’m not going to like writing that, why would anyone want to read it?” Williams said.

{p dir=”ltr”}That shift in the focus of the blog is not unique to Williams.

{p dir=”ltr”}Former Post Register commentary page editor Katie Stokes ran her own ‘mommy blog’ in Idaho Falls for several years, around the time that blogging first peaked early in the days of the Great Recession.

“It was an easy way to women who were staying home with their kids to pick up some income,” Stokes said.

{p dir=”ltr”}Since then, Stokes said a lot of parents have dialed back on the details they shared about their children. The blogs would stay online forever, meaning an embarrassing story from when a child was 3 could follow them for the rest of their life. Stokes deleted her blog a few years ago in an attempt to remove some of the more personal details she had shared.

{p dir=”ltr”}Williams’ husband recently earned his technical degree and began working as a mechanic in town, but her YouTube channel and blog has become her main source of income. She runs the occasional sponsored video reviewing a gluten-free product and works with the local gluten-free store Mom’s Place. Last month, she traveled to Utah to create videos and meet representatives from celiac-friendly brands at the Nourish Festival.

{p dir=”ltr”}Traveling to Utah also allowed her to connect with other people who blog about the same subject. Gluten-free recipe blogs are much more common in Utah than in eastern Idaho, which has made it tougher for her to befriend other local bloggers.

{p dir=”ltr”}“There’s not a lot of what I do here. I have a niche, so it’s harder to make an acquaintance or friendship easily,” Williams said.

{p dir=”ltr”}Creating a website over the last month and becoming a blogger has led to changes in Williams’ life. She had to learn about website design and coding without any formal training on the subject. Her schedule moved around to let her post regular weekly content — Monday nights are preparing for her YouTube videos to post the next morning and Friday nights are the final touches for her Saturday blog posts.

{p dir=”ltr”}The trade-off for those nights of work, however, is that Williams can easily spend time with her kids at home or take them wherever they need to go without worrying too much about her schedule.

“I can work from the house, the park, the garage. I like being able to work from anywhere,” she said.

[“source=postregister”]

To Write or Not To Write? Pros and cons of blogging as an ECR

If you’re reading our blog regularly, we imagine it’s likely that you’ve toyed with the idea of submitting a post yourself. But perhaps you thought you wouldn’t have enough time, or that the commitment to writing would take away from your thesis work. We editors are here to share our experiences with writing as an ECR, and to lay out the pros and cons of writing as a side hustle. We hope to encourage new writers to try out blogging for any platform–if you’re interested in writing with us specifically, you can reach us at [email protected].

 

“Working with various editors over the years has strengthened both my writing and the way I work.”

I was once taught that the best way to improve your writing is to read good writing. I now believe that another great way to improve your writing is to write regularly. The blogging I’ve done in graduate school has helped me never stop flexing my writing muscles. This has then served me well when I’m tasked with more formal writing situations. And the ability to work with an editor gave me the regular feedback I needed to spot common mistakes I was making and avoid boring cliches; working with various editors over the years has strengthened both my writing and the way I work. Writing is like running a race; if you haven’t been training regularly, it’s going to be really difficult to perform well when the race comes around. Blogging helps me keep my writing skills from ever getting too out of shape, and then whenever I need to crank out an abstract or do some other writing for my graduate studies, I’m ready to run.

Meredith

 

“To read and write in different contexts and for different audiences has enriched my research performance.” 

While pursuing my PhD, I came upon the opportunity to write a course book in public health. This was an opportunity I simply could not resist and I do not regret this decision, despite having to write in the little time I had to spare when not working on my thesis. To write in a more loose and popular way was a real challenge and the editorial process a new experience compared to the strict scientific way of working. This got me thinking of writing about research instead of not just performing it myself. Here, the scientific blogs like the ones handled by PLOS are a great way to do this and at the same time sharpen the communicative skills so necessary in order to describe my own research outside academia. This also helped me in my a role as a peer reviewer for scientific journals together with any editorial experience from this blog. As argued by others, science blogs are still an effective platform to reach out and communicate science, something that ought to be recognized within academia as well. While many universities have mandatory PhD courses in academic and scientific writing, students are seldom encouraged to write for blogs despite that it is a  great way for ECRs to sharpen these skills. Hopefully, writing and communicating science in blogs, newspapers, and magazines some day will be credited as an important aspect of a research career. Until then, we can continue to write about and share our experiences as ECRs coming from different parts of the world but with the scientific endeavor in common.

Andreas

We’d like to close out with our top five pros and cons of blogging as an ECR. What are yours?

Pros

  1. Blogging about science gets me reading more literature than I might do otherwise.
  2. My creative writing skills never get too out of shape.
  3. I gain experience communicating with an editor in a professional and timely manner.
  4. Blogging helps you network, since it gives you a way to meet and interact with other scientists.
  5. It can foster a future career in scientific writing.

Cons

  1. It does require discipline to make time to write, and this isn’t easy.
  2. It may take time away from research writing and thus hard to explain to your PI, but you should remember that the experience will give you other skills that are important to gain in graduate school.
  3. Science communication still not prioritized by mentors.
  4. Blogging can be time consuming from time to time.
  5. It can put a pressure to deliver new posts.

While making time for blogging and coming up with good ideas is admittedly challenging, we can attest that the skills and experience you gain are totally worth your effort. Working through the cons we’ve listed will help you hone the ‘soft skills’ of time management, working with an editor, peer-reviewing, and more. Again, if you’d like to give blogging a shot, hit us up at [email protected]

 

Featured Image: Healtcare.gov user experience, after Andreas Vesalius. The image belongs to the flickr account of Mike Licht and is used under a Creative Commons CC license Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

[“Source-blogs.plos”]

Three New Moto Mods Launched in India, Can Be Bought or Rented

Three New Moto Mods Launched in India, Can Be Bought or Rented

HIGHLIGHTS

  • JBL SoundBoost 2 Mod claims 10-hour battery life, water repellent coating
  • GamePad Mod offers handheld gaming on Moto Z smartphones
  • TurboPower Pack Mod offers fast charging on the go

Lenovo brand Moto on Friday announced the launch of three new Moto Mods for its flagship Moto Z range in India. The new Moto Mods comprise the JBL SoundBoost 2 Mod for audio, the GamePad Mod for handheld gaming, and the TurboPower Pack battery mod for charging on the go.

Priced at Rs. 6,999, the JBL SoundBoost 2 Mod succeeds the previously launched JBL SoundBoost Mod. Moto claims a 10-hour battery life and water-repellent coating on this mod. It comes in Red, Blue, and Black colour variants and features a fabric-coated back for better grip. With a built-in kickstand, the JBL SoundBoost 2 Moto Mod offers a handsfree experience. The My JBL SoundBoost 2 app will also be available for managing audio settings.

jbl soundboost 2 mod Moto Mods JBL Soundboost 2

The second Moto Mod announced on Friday is the GamePad Mod. It snaps to the back of a Moto Z-Series smartphone and offers a handheld gaming experience. The Moto Game Explorer app pops up on first-time installation and gives you a list of the compatible games on Google Play. Once you install your preferred game, it automatically gives functionality to the gamepad, which has dual control sticks, a D-Pad, and four action buttons. The GamePad Moto Mod is priced at Rs. 6,999 and comes with a built-in 1035 mAh battery.

gamepad mod GamePad Moto Mod

Finally, the last Moto Mod that came to India is the Moto TurboPower Pack Mod that packs in a 3500mAh battery for your charging needs on the go. It snaps onto a Moto Z phone, just like other mods, and is claimed to offer up to 7 hours of battery life within 15 minutes of charge, which is made possible with a fast charging 15W output. This Mod is priced at Rs. 5,999.

turbopower battery mod TurboPower Battery Pack Mod

All three Moto Mods will be compatible only with the Moto Z, Moto Z Play, Moto Z2 Play, Moto Z Force Droid, and the Moto Z2 Force Edition. The Mods will be available online via Flipkart and offline via Moto Hubs and other Moto retail partners. The Moto Mods will go on sale starting Saturday, December 16. You will also be able to rent out Moto Mods on Rentomojo.com, starting December 22.

Sudhin Mathur, Managing Director, Motorola Mobility India said “We are ending the year on an exciting note and have upheld our commitment to build a better mobile future with the promise of limitless possibilities, through the new mods. The partnership with RentoMojo is basis our understanding our customers’ better and ensuring that we work relentlessly to remove barriers that deter them from adopting new innovations. This is a unique concept and we are positive that our customers will embrace it.”

[“Source-ndtv”]

Reasons for blogging. Or not blogging. Meow!

nikkikitty

Three years ago, blogging and social media shenanigans got kicked down to the bottom of my priorities list for a number of reasons, important reasons and a shifting of priorities. These reasons and priorities took up most of my time. But not all of it. I had plenty of time to blog. The main reason I haven’t been blogging is simple.

I just have not felt like it. Period.

Another reason? Spending precious time and energy writing and then sharing my words with people when I knew damn well that a hefty chunk of those people would react in an aggressive, argumentative, or butt hurt ways seemed like a waste of time to me. Why would I do something that doesn’t feel good if I didn’t absolutely have to?

I wouldn’t because I’m not a masochist.

Another reason for not blogging that I’ll share is that even after all these years, I know that a hefty chunk of people do not give half a shit what I have to say. I have never NOT thought any different about that, but it didn’t used to make me feel like NOT blogging. It still doesn’t.

And… at the risk of other bloggers getting mucho offended, argumentative, and butt hurt, (despite the fact that I only speak for myself) is that putting my words out there in the first place was, is, and will always feel like a conceited and desperately pathetic attention seeking thing to do.

So what changed?

Nothing changed.

So what am I trying to say in this blog post?

Nothing really.

Why did I write a blog post?

In the movie, “Forrest Gump,” the main character, Forrest Gump started running one day and didn’t stop for three years, two months, fourteen days and sixteen hours. When asked why we was running so far and for so long and he said, “I just felt like running.”

Well, I just felt like blogging.

Meow!

Filed under: Mental Health

[“Source-chicagonow”]

What matters most to employees? Great workplaces or great career?

The best workplaces excel in recognition. Photo: iStockphotoThe best workplaces excel in recognition. Photo: iStockphoto

Once upon a time, if you were fortunate to be born into the small middle class in India, your parents would force you to be a doctor or engineer. Many opted for civil services. If you were still left out, you would apply for a probationary officer’s post in a nationalised bank.

Else you were dead! Every family had a story of an educated unemployed cousin who missed the bus.

Post liberalisation in 1991, options increased. The newly formed IT and IT-enabled services (ITES) sector provided opportunity to the educated unemployed cousin who outpaced the doctor, engineer, probationary officer and the bureaucrat in terms of compensation and global exposure.

These IT/ITES professionals are all around us—in our housing society, at the mall, in the MBA institutes from where we recruit. This gives us the impression that this sector has created a huge number of jobs. While being a significant part of our GDP, and an even more significant part of our exports, the IT/ITES industry employs only about 2 million. By contrast, the direct employment in the textiles industry is 35 million.

The difference is that these 2 million are a part of the group that is reading this article—the Indian middle class. Contrary to popular notions, the Indian middle class, by global definition of wealth and income, is only about 2% of our population. So employment of 2 million out of the total 24 million middle class population (read Credit Suisse’s Global Wealth Report, 2015) is significant for the middle class.

Reality check. IT and ITES industries are going through manpower rationalisation. Banking and financial services will follow once the new players in the industry move beyond the start-up phase. Telecom is consolidating (read not adding jobs).

Readers of this publication are aware that jobs in the organised sector are not being generated fast and the percentage of our workforce working in the organised sector has stagnated at 8% for a very long time.

Given this context should the reader of this article be less worried about joining a great place to work and more worried about building a great professional career? What is the difference?

In the middle of 2015, The New York Times ran an elaborate article on Amazon’s work culture. The article claims that Amazon’s professional employees are well paid and work on world-changing projects, but are pushed to the breaking point in a survival-of-the-fittest climate where they tend to burn out and leave quickly.

Much before The New York Times article, the CEO and the HR head of Netflix created one of the most famous documents in human resources—the culture deck of Netflix, downloaded more than 13 million times since then. The following is an extract from this deck: “adequate performance gets a generous severance package”.

At first glance both Amazon and Netflix do not seem to be ones where one will spend a long time. Jeff Bezos built Amazon’s highly competitive environment on a concept he calls “Purposeful Darwinism”. Patty McCord, the HR head who was the co-author of the culture deck, was herself asked to move on in 2012 after serving Netflix for 14 years.

Yet, both these organisations get great talent to apply to them. In part, it is the inspiring purpose and the challenge they create for their business, and their unwillingness to settle. You may not last long here, but you would not have spent your time doing an “ordinary” job.

These organisations may not be a complete exception to the rule. With a third of the workforce in US being free agents, and the trend likely to be similar in India in the future, chances of being in one organisation for long periods of time is slim.

A key question for the reader is no longer which is a great place to work, but how to build a great career. Indeed, some organisations may not be great workplaces, but be great places to be from, from the point of view of your resume and your career!

Which company is good for me to join?

While the pre-liberalisation workforce was satisfied if they could find a job in any company at all, for a large section of middle class in India liberalisation increased the number of choices. This meant talented employees were no longer happy with just any workplace—they wanted to work with great workplaces.

A simple dictionary search of the word “great” reveals the following definition: “of an extent, amount, or intensity considerably above average”. Great Place to Work® Institute defines a great place to work as one where employees trust the people they work for, take pride in what they do, and enjoy the company of people they work with.

Why should organisations invest time creating a great place to work? Apart from attracting great talent, is there any other advantage in creating a great workplace? Repeated studies over the years have confirmed that a great place to work is not just great for people, it is also great for business.

It is no fluke that recognised great places to work have consistently provided three times the shareholder returns and have significantly higher PBDIT (profit before depreciation, interest and taxes) percentages than the remaining, which is “considerably above average”.

It is fairly settled in research done by us and others—high trust cultures lead to sustained business results.

While this was the profit side of the story, what is it that a great workplace will provide to its people that will be considerably above average?

Recent studies by Great Place to Work® Institute have shown that about 74% of the workforce in great workplaces report a positive experience on matters of fair pay (not necessarily the highest pay package on paper), profit share, benefits, fair promotions and people avoiding politicking in the workplace, as against 58% in others.

A case in point is InMobi, where on discovering that the quarterly variable pay system was not differentiating high performers from the rest, they decided to do away with variable pay and added that component to their fixed pay.

The result? Workers could work more efficiently, take risks and not be worried about safe targets that would have helped them earn their quarterly bonus.

Hence, it may be worthwhile to ask the question—is it possible to have a great professional career and work in a great place to work at the same time?

The answer is yes!

What matters most to employees?

Contrary to popular notions, “best practices” alone do not explain the difference between the great workplaces and the rest. The ability of leaders and managers to walk the talk, show demonstrated caring and take sincere interest in their employees (and not just treat them as a resource) is what set the best workplaces apart from the rest.

Gemba is the Japanese term to describe the place where the real action happens and actual value is added.

Leaders at SAP Labs practise “Go Gemba” by visiting employees at their workstations and directly witnessing the work done at the heart of the organisation. Short sessions of 15-30 minutes are dedicated to each team, where members share demos of ongoing projects, showcase their work, and discuss their opportunities and challenges in day-to-day work with the senior leaders. The discussion is kept direct and presentation-free, where managers are not required to share updates on behalf of their teams.

Leaders at great workplaces understand and value the contribution of front-line and on-floor colleagues, and hence go the extra mile to listen to, thank and motivate them.

The best workplaces are fanatical about communication.

The Scooter Store, one of America’s largest suppliers of power wheelchairs and scooters, fosters transparency and honest communication through their programme—the Rumor Game. The president/CEO plays the Rumor Game during company rallies, where they allow any employee-owner to address any rumour that he or she might have heard and would like to know whether it’s truth or fiction.

With gifts in hand from the company store, leaders eagerly wait for the first employee-owner to stand up and seek clarification on a perceived rumour. By opening the floor to such straightforward, candid interactions, leaders at great workplaces successfully build a culture of honesty and trustworthiness.

Every year in India we survey 600-800 organisations. Some of the key drivers of employee engagement are pride in being a part of the organisation, career and growth prospects, and fair performance appraisal.

More than an annual activity, performance management is a continuous process of planning and reviewing individual contribution and ensuring achievement of goals.

The philosophy at Teleperformance is that targets are best achieved when there is a pull versus push factor. With this principle in mind, Teleperformance India developed a visible scorecard methodology that creates an environment of positive competition. The targets and performance achievements are visible in real-time and shared daily. Employees also know what they are expected to achieve and where they stand in comparison.

The best workplaces excel in recognition.

Job promotion is a milestone in one’s career and like any other achievement, it is best celebrated with family and loved ones first. Gabriel India came up with a heart-warming practice of announcing staff promotions by first congratulating the employee’s parents or spouse and emphasizing on the accomplishments and extraordinary efforts of the concerned employee that year. The family is then asked to surprise the employee with the news, making the announcement a very special memory for the employee.

While there are many extrinsic motivation tools, internal online portals are being used by numerous organisations today to recognise and appreciate colleagues.

Marico, for instance, has gone one step further and built a holistic recognition forum called “Maricognize”. Apart from the usual features and appreciation categories, employees have an additional option called “Make Your Own Award” where they can suggest recognitions currently not being catered to. Many such categories have been created and have gained huge popularity. Some rewards also have reward points allocated which can be redeemed later.

Seventy per cent of the members (Marico uses the term “member” for employees) received at least one recognition and have been appreciated 1.5 times on an average.

Underlying many of the above practices is a fundamental principle that leaders and managers of the best workplaces have internalised. They treat employees with the same respect they give their customers.

As an illustration, the main goal for in-person interviews at Hyatt is to ensure that candidates experience the same level of comfort and hospitality provided to guests. When candidates arrive at the property, they are welcomed and personally escorted to the human resources department. In case they arrive early, they are also offered refreshments.

This practice reinforces Hyatt’s promise of a superior guest service and establishes the right expectations from a prospective employee. Even if applicants do not end up joining, they would still talk positively about Hyatt and become brand ambassadors in the process.

What are the best workplaces looking for in the talent they recruit?

Traditionally, organisations have looked at competencies such as domain knowledge, professionalism, high ethical standards, flexibility to cope with different business situations, adaptability, result-orientation and execution ability in people they recruit.

The best workplaces largely hire for attitude and fit with culture (and train for skills). In addition to the competencies mentioned above, the best workplaces expect their people to quickly understand the global business environment, be partners in co-creating future businesses, display creativity and innovation and have maturity and emotional intelligence.

Managing one’s physical and psychological health is increasingly becoming a key prerequisite in a fast-changing workplace. gCalm, for instance, is a new online, interactive portal to help Googlers manage stress. Users learn about the science of stress, hear from other Googlers across all functions about how they manage their stress, and learn quick, in-the-moment tools called “stress-busters” to help them manage their personal stress to build resilience.

Hyderabad is one of the 38 Google locations where this programme is live and 93% of attendees report positive effects.

Does creating a Great workplace require the same effort for all organisations?

The answer is no. Our research shows that socio-economic demographics play an important part in determining the expectation levels of employees. For a similar experience in an organisation, an employee with lower expectations will be more engaged. This is the reason why some industries like IT, ITES and telecom will need more good practices than industries like microfinance, retail or manufacturing to achieve the same level of employee engagement.

Contrary to what many claim, the differences in employee engagement have less to do with age and artificial categories like GenY and millennials, and more to do with demographic differences. In fact, educational qualifications, place of origin, time taken to reach office—there are numerous variables which have an impact on engagement of employees, factors over which organisations have no control.

So why are young people less happy in some organisations?

Great Place to Work® surveys more organisations in India than any other research and consulting firm. Research shows that engagement levels of younger workforces is lower than those of older workforces. However, statistical analysis of survey data shows the key drivers of employee perceptions of a workplace do not vary from age group to age group.

For example, sense of pride, career and growth opportunities, fair performance appraisal and family or team feeling is important to all age categories, not just to Generation Y or millennials.

Cross-tabulation of age data with tenure establishes that age is not the key variable to study differences in engagement levels—tenure is more significant. Our research shows that at the time of joining, younger employees do not join with lower perceptions about the organisation. Perceptions of employees fall after the first six months in the organisation and starts increasing only after five years in the organisation.

Employees with lower tenure have had a lower opportunity to integrate and establish themselves in the organisation.

Isn’t the manager the biggest reason why people leave?

Many studies routinely identify the manager as the biggest driver of engagement and disengagement. This concept is now more than 20 years old. Consultants and engagement specialists continue to reinforce this belief.

Is this the complete truth or is it a self-perpetuating myth? Is this strong belief as relevant today as it was twenty years back?

Twenty years ago, the manager had real power over people, simply because not many jobs were available. Today’s employees, particularly millennials, have more options.

If they can switch jobs easily without the manager having any power to stop them, what would they gain by giving the manager absolute power over their engagement? What will happen if from day one employees are told that only they can drive their own engagement, managers and others can support the process (or be a roadblock at times)?

The notion that employees are at the mercy of managers seems to be one of those self-perpetuating beliefs that we should question. Most such beliefs are based on assumptions that are not questioned, leading to actions based on prejudice, which reinforces the same assumption.

To break this mindset, CitiusTech has developed a wonderful practice known as My Job My Choice. Through this initiative, young employees can share their desired job profile in the short term (three years) and their mobility preference, if any, using an online portal opened for 30 days every year. This helps leaders learn and discuss the career aspirations of employees and offer a role change based on their preferences whenever positions open internally.

Employees develop a greater faith in the organisation’s ability and willingness to align individual needs with organisational objectives, while the organisation is better equipped to retain and develop employees by being aware of their desires, creating a win-win for all. The manager is not the gatekeeper.

It is in the interest of employees to take charge of their careers and not jump ship every time they encounter a manager who is not supportive.

Studies show a clear correlation between engagement and productivity, quality and creativity. If it is so important to my career, why would I sit back and wait for my boss to engage me? What if she is herself disengaged and waiting for her boss to engage her? Where does this chain stop?

If I were a young person starting my career today, I would keep in mind the following principles:

1. My professional career can only be built by me. A great place to work is a logical first choice for anyone. Since great professional experience and exposure is critical for my future, a great place to be from is my second choice if I do not work in a great workplace.

2. Ability to learn is more important than competence in any one area.

3. The biggest driver of my engagement is me, not my manager (or mom or dad!).

4. My relationship with my manager is a relationship of mutual dependence between two adults, both of whom are not perfect. My manager is not an encyclopaedia of knowledge with infinite time and extra-sensory perception. Neither am I. My manager’s intentions might be good, but actions may not match intentions. Just like me. In short, for the clear majority of people the manager is not evil. If you empathise with your boss, his or her default reaction will be to empathise with you.

For organisations that want to attract and retain the best talent the message is clear. Start treating your people the way you treat your customers. Use every opportunity to build trust, start by walking the talk. Manage expectations and understand socio-economic demographics of your people, since that will impact their engagement.
[“Source-ndtv”]

SXSW 2017: Bravo’s ‘Stripped’ Is A Life Without Gadgets… or Anything Else

Stripped on Bravo

[SXSW 2017 – Stripped is a new series on Bravo where you have nothing – not even your clothes.]It’s 2017. The iPhone has turned 10 years old, and it, along with all of its Android friends, are all over the place, and in hundreds of millions of hands all over this world. Netflix is an established company and no longer a novelty. Podcasts play on voice-activated devices like the Amazon Echo. We could go on, but you get the point:

We’re connected. We’re tied in. We’re people with toys and gadgets and we’re possessive about those effigies of consumerism.

But Bravo knows it’s Lent. It’s time to give some of that stuff up. And while religion has nothing to do with their programming, it’s fitting that their new show, Stripped, is being promoted right now.

People familiar with the show at Bravo tell Geeks Of Doom that Stripped is a reality show based on a Danish format where participants drop their clothes, along with everything else, for 21 days. While they can take back one thing every day while on the show, they have to live their lives without, which means having to choose wisely and strategically. Which item would you choose? And is the item they choose going to satisfy their needs in the long run, or provide a quick fix?

There is no voting off the island and no prizes other than self discovery. Still, here are the rules:

  • Participants give up everything they own including clothes.
  • They’re only allowed toilet paper Only toilet paper, food and water are all they have access to.
  • Their belongings are kept in a container less than a mile away.
  • Each day, contestants are allowed to retrieve 1 item from the container.

Could you do it? Could they? We’ll find out.

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

Quarter of families buy or rent new home to secure school place

One in four parents with school-age children have either bought or rented a new property to secure an address in the catchment area of the best schools, according to a report.

The study by financial services provider Santander reveals the extraordinary lengths to which middle-class parents will go in order to get their child into their preferred school, with London parents among those most likely to make the move.

According to the survey, London has the highest proportion of parents (46%) moving to secure an address within a school catchment area, and they are willing pay a premium of over £70,000 to buy a house close to a good school.

Yet more than a quarter of all families (27%) who move to be within a catchment area will leave as soon as a school place is secured for their child.

The survey of more than 4,000 adults found that almost one in five (17%) have to change jobs to facilitate a move into a good school catchment area. A fifth (20%) are forced to downsize; 15% admit they have to move to an area they don’t like, while 21% leave family and friends, and 22% pay more than they can afford – just to get their child into the right school.

Of those families who move to be within their desired catchment area, almost half (49%) sold their previous property and bought a new one close to their preferred school. A quarter said they purchased a second home in the catchment area, while 26% admitted to renting a property to secure a school place.

Miguel Sard, managing director of mortgages for Santander UK, said: “School catchment areas remain a key discussion point for many parents.

“Our research shows that with competition for school places remaining high, parents are making significant financial and lifestyle sacrifices to be within the catchment area of desirable schools. Living within a certain school catchment area is a priority for many families but these premium addresses can come with a hefty price tag.”

Parents in the East Midlands are the least likely to move to try to secure a place for their child in a good school: at 11%, the East Midlands has the lowest proportion of parents moving in order to get an address in the right catchment area.

But, on average, families are prepared to spend an 11% premium, which according to Santander, equates to an average of almost £24,000 in the current property market, to move to their desired catchment area.

[Source:- theguardian]

Ofqual on why exam performance improved after 2010 – and it’s not because of ‘dumbing down’ or pupil ability

Exam paper

Performance rose as pupils and teachers became more familiar with the tests, exams watchdog finds

Any improvements in GCSE and A-level performance since 2010 are likely to have been caused by pupils and teachers becoming more familiar with the tests, rather than by an increase in students’ ability levels or a “dumbing down” of exam papers, according to a new report from the exams regulator Ofqual.

The study found that pupils’ performance – as measured by marks rather than grades – improved significantly in the first three years after the introduction of new A-levels in 2010-11 and new GCSEs in 2011-12, but that this improvement slowed after that time.

The improvements probably result from teachers gaining more experience of teaching the new specifications and pupils having more past papers to learn from, the report suggests.

Limits of familiarity

It says benefits brought about by growing familiarity with the tests usually last for about three years. After this, the “limits of familiarity” are reached and the effect no longer brings about significant improvements in performance.

Ofqual’s report says the fact that pupils’ marks rose in the wake of exam reforms suggested that familiarity, rather than other factors, was the cause: “One would expect that improvements due to [test familiarity] can be made more quickly than [those] due to [genuine improvements in ability], meaning that improvements due to test familiarity might explain a greater portion of the more rapid changes occuring in the first few years.”

It adds: “The fact that most [grade] boundaries exhibited relatively rapid increases which seemed to lessen after the third assessment year…is consistent with the proposition that post-reform improvements in performance are test-specific and related to student/teacher familiarity (rather than reflecting more general improvements in ability). This is because one would expect improvements to subside once the limits of test familiarity and preparedness are gradually reached.”

Allaying concerns

Ofqual said its research, which covers the period since 2010, would “allay concerns of a systematic ‘dumbing down’ of assessments”.

This was because it was “unlikely” that improvements in pupils’ performance were “due to assessments becoming easier”, it said, adding: “Changes in test familiarity is a more plausible explanation.”

Ofqual’s report uses increases in grade boundaries, rather than in final grades, as an indicator of rising pupil performance. An Ofqual spokeswoman said the use of “comparable outcomes” – a system that has ended grade inflation by linking overall GCSE and A-level results to pupils’ prior attainment – would prevent grades from dropping and then rising as a result of new exams, which are being introduced over a three-year period from 2017.

However, she added that the years of rising GCSE grades between 1988, when the qualification was first introduced, and 2012, were not caused by increasing familiarity with the tests. This was because, during this period, there was a “year-on-year steady increase” in grades, rather than sharp rises in the wake of new exam specifications.

[Source:- tes]

Should I Share Or Buy A Dedicated Server?

Perhaps you are a business owner and you are considering a dedicated server to run your business’ site, you most likely must have thought of sharing or buying that server. And in addition, you are probably contemplating on which one will be the best for you. Although sharing hosted servers havetheir benefits such as low renting cost compared to buying and less maintenance (if any) among others, decision to buy a dedicated server is inevitable at some point and the right choice is important because it will depend on many potential problems in the future.

Reasons why you need to buy a dedicated server hosting

Availability of traffic and large storage

If your websites experience user traffic with enormous page views most of the times or your project requires a considerable amount of storage space, then you need to buy a dedicated server. With dedicated hosted servers,you will have the whole disk space to yourself. They have a large amount of bandwidth that provides maximum responsiveness and reliability to cater for heavy user traffic on your websites. In this regard, you can be sure that your clients will experience a faster web page loading.

Complete control of your business

When you buy a dedicated server, you will have a complete knowledge of your business and also have the responsibility of managing your server. You can modify all the aspects of security as much as you want in hosted servers, as long as you are aware and know what you are doing. You have to, for instance be prepared to install each and every security updates and patches. If what you need is a dedicated server but wish to eliminate carrying out the server management tasks, then you should think about purchasing a managed dedicated hosting.

Memory needs

If your web applications or projects require a great deal of RAM then you need to buy a dedicated server to help you provide a service with appropriate response times. Particularly where large database applications are involved and you need a large memory, it is almost impossible for you to trust shared hosting.

Hosted servers for highest and fastest performance

This is among the most influencing factors why people buy a dedicated server. If your website project requires a great deal of CPU power, then a shared hosting server will be too slow for you. This could occur should your site experiences high volumes of traffic or runs complex tasks for instance image conversions or 3D rendering. In addition, applications hosted on shared server may become bulkier and generate immense load giving very sluggish performance which can have adverse impact on your business. However, dedicated hosted servers provide robust platform for hosting such applications.

Web Hosting Platform

The fact that it is not a shared server and only accessible to those authorized makes it a highly secure web hosting option. All your resources are exclusively yours. You certainly find out that owning a server is better than sharing with several businesses.

Meteor or AngularJS: When should I use each framework

We all know that is the wrong question, so below you will find my answer. Comparing Meteor and Angular is a bit difficult since the two are actually very different, other than they are both written in javascript.

Opinion on Meteor:

Meteor is a full stack framework/platform that runs on top of Node.js on the server. Meteor actually modifies NodeJS and becomes your server. It supplies everything you need to run a web/mobile app. You add any number of frameworks on top of Meteor’s platform.

Meteor comes with a bunch of in built frameworks. Meteor comes with a View framework called Blaze which is a better comparable to Angular.

Finding Meteor programmers would be a tough job as it’s fairly new framework.

Opinion on AngularJS:

AngularJs is a complete application MVVM framework.  Angular is a client only framework, running only in the browser.

If you want to play it safe and develop a front-end in a very well defined space then AngularJS is the battle-tested man for the job. Even finding a good AngularJS development company wouldn’t be a tough job.

Why Confusion?

Newcomers think Meteor and AngularJS are similar, but they are not. AngularJS and Meteor are very different in that matter. Angular is solely focused on the frontend whereas Meteor’s philosophy is about glueing backend and frontend together.

Real-time UI: Angular provides real-time front-end data binding between elements. At a glance it seems like Meteor does too but at deeper inspection you’ll realize Meteor is reactive on the back-end and front-end as well. Whereas Angular being only front end frame can never do.

JavaScript: Both have JS at the end of their names since both are made with the Javascript language. Yes they share the same language but again Angular is in the browser, while Meteor is in the server and browser.

Conclusion:

It’s a bit like comparing apples and oranges.

Meteor is a full-stack library that runs on top of Node.js, intended to simplify both client-side as well as server-side development.

Angular is a client-side library, intended to simplify client-side development, regardless of the technology you’re employing on the server-side.