Here’s a terrifying population growth stat

From here:

Sub-Sahara Africa’s population boom is one of the main reasons for optimism about the continent’s economic growth potential. But that doesn’t come without major challenges. Forty-eight countries classified by the UN as “least developed countries” are expected to double in population size by 2050; 33 countries, most of them falling within this category, will triple in size by 2100.

Er. Then there’s this:

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You’re not going to be a millionaire, sorry

You're not going to be a millionaire

New paper from the St. Louis Fed (that’s a thing?) on how your age affects your income. Let’s start with something basic that no one ever really acknowledges, best I can tell: unless you have an inheritance or work in about 4-5 specific fields, it’s typically pretty hard to have a boatload of money before you’re 40-45 or so (and even then, it’s hard). You gotta work your way up the chain, and stuff like vacations/kids/horrible decisions around going to happy hour and staying till 10pm will cut into your finances. I make a decent salary relative to what I do, and I still often feel like I’m paycheck-to-paycheck. I’m 34, if you care.

Here’s the methodology behind everything:

The paper, by William Emmons, Bryan Noeth and Ray Boshara, draws on surveys of 40,000 families that the Fed carried out between 1989 and 2013 to examine the all-important role that your age plays in how much income you make and how much wealth you accumulate. It offers a few clues as to how young people can game the system and end up like their wealthy older counterparts, as well as a lot of evidence to show that things are just different for young people today.

And — drum roll, please — here’s the part that will make you feel as sad as when you saw that cat as roadkill:

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Your business has a Casssandra Complex

Business and The Cassandra Complex

Admittedly I didn’t pay as much attention as I should have in school around the Greek/Roman mythology stuff, so this morning I learned a little bit more about Cassandra from Troy; if you’re unfamiliar with the story, she’s the beautiful daughter (was everyone in Troy beautiful? I think so) of King Priam and Queen Hecuba. She was given the gift of prophecy — so she knew what was going to happen! — but then subsequently cursed so that no one would believe her. (Apollo, that bastard, did the cursing.) This became a whole thing because she foresaw the fall of Troy, but no one believed her.

It’s kind of a little bit (a tiny bit) like a mythological “Boy Who Cried Wolf,” ‘cept it’s a beautiful princess.

Anyway, point being: this all does have relevance back to the business world. Here’s how.

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Better meetings: Thoughtful question first, No-Rehash Rule

Meetings are a total joke, scourge, and waste of time at most organizations. That video above gets it right in a humorous way. (Watch it; it’s short and worth your entertainment value.) I’ve written about meetings a few times, notably about my confusion on several topics:

Again: a scourge. But some companies kind of get it. Here’s a few.

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Brief Thought Exercise: Intelligence vs. Authority

Intelligence vs. Authority

Just thought of this one: it’s going to be a short post that Google will probably penalize me for or something, so that sucks, but I think it has validity in how we think about work. Here’s how the game works; admittedly it’s better for small to mid-size companies, although if you work at a huge company, you can do it for your department:

1. Try to think of the 10 smartest people in your office/organization/department.

2. Try to think of the 10 people with the most influence/authority/clout/power in the same area.

3. Count the overlap number.

I feel like this is a generally good litmus test, right? If the number you get is 1, that’s probably bad: the intelligent people are virtually not-at-all overlapping with the people who have power and authority. We often confuse the ideas of “formal power” and “knowledge about every topic under your power,” but I think an ideal number for this exercise would be 5 or so: that would seem to mean some intelligent, forward-thinking people are rising up and the rest of the 10 most powerful people are probably hard-charging clout-chasers. That’s not ideal, but at least there’s some balance there.

I don’t know if I’ve ever worked at a place where this exercise would yield me a number higher than five.

And yes, there are elements here that are fraught — it’s hard to define “intelligence,” especially in a work context (people often confuse “intelligence” and “good at politics”), but I feel like it’s a valid question to consider.

Be A Better Leader: Priorities, Who, Relationships (PWR!)

Leadership, Priorities, and Relationships

I write about leadership all the time. Honestly, I probably write about it way too much. I think I have elements of “strong leadership” in my personality, but day-to-day I’m a rank-and-file employee at a mid-size company … so I mean, no one is confusing me with any type of “thought leader” space, even if some of the stuff I say is relevant or interesting (which it is, from time to time). Here’s all my leadership posts. Scroll through if intrigued, baby!

There’s six million and 19 different theories about leadership, and all of it is a little bit of a farce: people are different, organizations are different, and industries are different. Cash flows are different. Every situation requires a little bit of a different touch to make sure the people are on point, the bottom line is healthy, and everything else you need to be/should be concerned about.

Yet, we still fly people all over the world every day to talk to other groups of people about leadership. It’s a big industry, and oftentimes it can feel like the blind leading the blind. People can go sit in leadership seminars for weeks, but then they get back to the office and their boss wants to know “the status of Project A,” and everything about “leading from a place of empathy” is out the window faster than the morale of the place in question.

What if we tried to simplify it, though?

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A 40-hour work week in 1950 = 11 hours of work in 2015

Take a look at this chart; I got it from here:

1950 Worker Productivity vs. 2015 Worker Productivity

Here’s the basic way to read that: a 40-hour/week worker in 1950 (far left of the chart) is essentially equivalent to an 11-hour/week worker in 2015. Phrased in a more logical way, it takes an average person about 11 hours/week to do what a post-WW2 worker took a full work week to do. This shouldn’t necessarily surprise anyone: just off the advent of Microsoft Office and Google, you’d assume the work week would have to reduce (easier to present information, easier to share information, easier to find information). E-mail is a massive waste of time, but it has made things more effective, especially in terms of quickly and cost-effectively communicating with people in other offices/countries.

So: what does all this mean?

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On metrics and honesty

You gotta be honest about your metrics

Was bored at work yesterday before a full staff meeting and hopped onto #TChat for the first time ever, which is basically a Twitter chat about people, talent strategy, people analytics, HR metrics, and all that. I’m interested in that stuff, which makes me a weird, fringe-y member of the overall population. Hey — it’s all about chasing down your own personal dream, no? So I’m on TChat, throwing grenades like this puppy:

… and as a result, this whole area is something I’ve been thinking about for much of the last 24 hours … all the way up to therapy this morning.

Let me back up one step. I write about this kind of stuff all the time — basically like, everyone’s chasing the idea of Big Data and analytics, but they’re chasing it wrong. They forget that it means we have to teach it better, we have to hire people with new skill sets, we have to understand the difference between “synthesis” and “analysis,” and we have to get executives to a place where data is accepted and it’s not just about their “gut feel.”  That’s a lot of steps. Work doesn’t always flow in such a narrative fashion — most people are all about those daily deliverables, baby!

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