How Boston Consulting Group’s vision of a ‘bionic workplace’ can help companies build a seamless and resilient hybrid model

microsoft middle east remote work
The “bionic company” combines tech with the “flexibility, adaptability, and comprehensive experience of humans” to create a “superhuman enterprise.”

  • BCG’s “The Bionic Company” envisions a workplace where tech combines with human adaptability.
  • It’s one model for the future of the post-pandemic company considering going hybrid or fully remote.
  • It involves tech being a main focus, bucking traditional leadership, and giving employees autonomy.
  • This article is part of a series called “Future of Work,” which examines how business leaders are rethinking the workplace.

With the Biden administration setting a goal of 70% of US adults having at least one vaccine shot by July 4, business owners and employers are now anticipating a return to the workplace in some form.

As much as dealing with the pandemic itself was a completely new challenge, envisioning the shape of the workplace in its aftermath has become a discipline all its own.

Brandy Aven, associate professor of organizational theory, strategy, and entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, told Insider that companies are not going to be able to take a one-size-fits-all approach.

Brandy Aven
Brandy Aven.

“Leadership should consider each worker’s situation and circumstances in as nuanced a way as possible rather than try to generate a uniform or blanket policy,” she said. “Similarly, the motivation and rationale for bringing workers back to the office should also be carefully considered and discussed with your workforce.”

Aven’s recommendation for companies includes a “collective dialogue” to generate solutions.

“In general, I would first aim to get individual feelings in a manner that will allow as many people to share their concerns and situations – for example, a survey or one-on-ones,” Aven said. An online forum or discussion board are other options.

This is one path forward in what consultant Paula Rizzo, author of two books on organization, labels as “an opportunity to not go back to the way things were.”

Paula Rizzo
Paula Rizzo.

“None of us are the same. Now people have this new sort of freedom from working remotely, and now everything is changing again,” she told Insider. How companies handle this change, Rizzo added, will determine how successful they are at retaining their employees.

“We’ve got a challenge where when we come back into the world of mixing virtual and physical interaction again, companies really need to think about how they make it the best of both of those experiences,” Rich Hutchinson, managing director and senior partner and social impact practice leader at Boston Consulting Group (BCG), said. “I really believe that people thrive on engagement and seeing other people, but the flip side is that there are huge benefits in being more productive in what you’re doing, but also spending more time with your family or being more flexible with where you are.”

Rich Hutchinson
Rich Hutchinson.

Hutchinson was one of the authors of a recent BCG report envisioning the future of the workplace entitled “The Bionic Company.” In it, the consulting group envisions a workplace where technology combines with the “flexibility, adaptability, and comprehensive experience of humans” to create a “superhuman enterprise.”

This breaks down into several actionable steps that all businesses should keep in mind.

Make technology a priority

First, companies must work to integrate the technology they’ve leveraged during the pandemic into their regular workflow, and evaluate how those processes can be further deployed as workers return to the workplace.

“How will the core processes of the business evolve?” and “How will humans and technology create a more efficient process?” are the key questions leaders should be asking, Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson gave an example of outcomes he’s seen these questions produce in action at a leading retailer. The company “built an algorithm to choose fashions for the next season. The algorithm improved on human choices alone,” he said. “But the best results were achieved when human recommendations were both inputs to an improved algorithm and also experts audited the outcomes. It’s an example of leveraging the power of humans and technology together.”

Becoming a “bionic company” isn’t just for large enterprises, either.

“The trick for small companies and entrepreneurs is to think about their processes in this bionic or digital mindset from the beginning, or adopt them in order of the ones where they think they’ll get the biggest bang for the buck,” Hutchinson said. “But because you’re small, I actually think you can build in a lot of the agile organizational mindset or the technology mindset pretty easily,” he added.

Buck the traditional leadership model and remain transparent

The next consideration is how leadership functions as you come back to work after the pandemic.

In the bionic workplace, it differs from the traditional top-down model, Hutchinson said. In traditional leadership, direction comes from the top and flows down to employees without much input or room for questioning, whereas in bionic leadership, it’s team-based, where the teams build products or drive outcomes and are charged with accomplishing their missions on their own.

“Leadership becomes much more about how I structure my teams, what are they working on, what’s the mission, do I have the right composition of talent on those teams, can I help remove roadblocks from them along the way, and if the project just isn’t working, do I shut it down and redeploy that talent onto other teams that have better uses?” Hutchinson said. “It’s basically how do you set up the teams, charge them with the mission, remove the roadblocks, and let them go, rather than managing a team and sort of orchestrating its activities in a very controlled manner.”

Keeping workers motivated throughout the changes that encompass a return to the workplace is another critical consideration, Hutchinson said. He said that taking the time to explain how the changes are going to be beneficial not just for the company, not just for the customer, but also for the workers, is key to their success. Having reached an unprecedented level of transparency during the pandemic, there’s no going backward.

For example, many companies that are digital natives use agile staffing processes to supplement their core employee base. Hutchinson said that handled properly, employees don’t see this as a threat.

“Employees are restaffed to other work that is now higher value. They see that making the company efficient through technology helps it win,” he said. “Growth creates opportunities for the employee. And agile staffing makes work more interesting rather than stagnant.”

That type of communication is common among companies that originated during the digital age, Hutchinson said.

“One of the things the digital natives have done really well is helping people understand that if we can grow and become more efficient and leverage these techniques into a more bionic operating model, that actually creates more opportunity for all of us, and our sincere goal is to help people find new roles and grow,” he said. “So I think there’s a large part of it that’s down to how the company executes it and helps people see the positives in their journey.”

Give employees an opportunity to structure their days

As business owners start pondering how to move forward, employees’ views will be central to considerations, Hutchinson said. He predicts that more autonomy in the workplace is almost unavoidable.

Employees “sharing what worked and what didn’t – and what they are looking for in a job moving forward – both will shape how employers structure jobs post-pandemic,” Hutchinson said. “For some, the pandemic has meant they needed to and could work in a more independent manner. Where this worked, I think employees will push hard for it to stick.”

Rizzo also believes that employees should get a head start on showing employers what they want and need by planning out what they’d like their work model to look like.

“We have an advantage because we know it’s coming,” she said. “We were all blindsided when remote work became full time, now you have some perspective – use it! Make a list of what you’re better suited to do at home and what works better in the office as you design your hybrid work model. It’s a good time to craft your days in a particular way that will make you more efficient, no matter where you are.”

Hutchinson identified less management, or the feeling of less management, as a benefit of the bionic workplace as well.

“They find that they’re operating more agile, which can be really energizing because it doesn’t feel as managed, it feels much more self-directed and they’re much more empowered,” he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

6 ways to figure out if your side hustle idea will be a quick failure or a long-term success

side hustle video influencer young entrepreneur
The more you can understand what your audience needs from you, the more you can build something of long-lasting value.

The number one thing I love to do in my free time is brainstorm new business ideas. I find it fun thinking about problems and solutions in the form of innovative, unique, and interesting side hustles. My friends know this about me and at some point, at every dinner or phone call, I ask them if they want to chat about random ideas and see if any of them have potential for success.

While coming up with a long list of business ideas is easy, spending the quality time to check and see if these ideas can actually turn into something requires a series of practical steps.

If you’re collecting business ideas wondering which could turn into long term success and which are doomed for quick failure, here are six ways you can put your idea to the test before investing money into getting a business up and running.

1. Get the idea in front of an audience

Side hustles are created for people to help solve a problem they have in their life. Even if you think your idea is brilliant, it can’t be validated until it’s in front of a group of people, who are your ideal target audience, to see what their response is.

For example, if you’re thinking of starting a career coaching service for women in their 30s who want to make a career transition to another industry, find 10 to 15 people who meet this criteria and spend 30 minutes to an hour understanding their perspective, what kind of coaching they’d like, and how they feel about your idea.

If you are thinking of creating a modern stress ball for those who work in high-energy and fast-paced careers, first spend time chatting with this audience to see if this is something they’d use and then create a test product for them to try out before you build the real thing.

This data will help you pivot or change the purpose of your business. The more you can understand what your audience needs from you, the more you can build something of long-lasting value.

jen glantz
Jen Glantz.

2. Have a pulse on industry trends

It’s common for entrepreneurs to start side hustles in industries they aren’t too familiar with. Sometimes being new can allow you to see what problems no other company has ever tried to solve. Spend time keeping a pulse on trends, projections, and innovations happening within a certain space.

An easy way to help you do this is by setting free Google alerts for topics and keywords within an industry so that you can review daily updates about what’s happening. You can also read industry blogs, listen to podcasts, and attend conferences, all before actually starting and launching your product or service.

What you learn will help you brainstorm ways to make your side hustle stand out and be practical to the ever-changing needs of your customer base.

3. Understand your competitors

Before getting too deep into planning your idea, look into better understanding your competitors. Map out their business plan, identify what they’ve done in the past that’s worked well for them and what has failed, and see what opportunities they haven’t even tried yet.

Once you know the performance of at least three to five competitors, you can really understand how your side hustle can fit into the overall landscape of the industry and potentially service customers in a new or different way.

Look into the marketing of these companies (check out their website and sign up for their emails) and use analysis tools like Rival IQ for help on how your competitors are performing on social media platforms.

4. Eyeball your business plan

A great step to take to really see if an idea has what it takes to grow into a success business is to write out a full and formal plan. Once you can identify how the business will grow and scale, what kind of budget you’ll need, and what the overall solutions are to the problems you’re solving for your audience, you’ll be able to have a blueprint for next steps.

Print out a free business plan like this one and see how much of it you can fill out. Over time, consult with mentors and other experts in your industry to expand on your business plan and see if your idea has legs or is just a decent idea.

5. Chat with a handful of mentors

Side hustle ideas should be shared. The more people with business and industry knowledge you share your ideas, the more you can refine your purpose and product based on their expertise.

Join communities where these experts might be (Facebook groups or conferences) and ask if they will meet with you for 15 to 20 minutes, and come prepared with questions catered to their insights and experience.

6. Be willing to pivot, pause, and plan

A lot of successful businesses started out as something completely different than what they are now. Take Amazon, for example, which started off as an online book seller and has now turned into a platform for buying everything you could possibly need and getting it sent to your doorstep quickly.

If you notice you’re hanging onto an idea that’s not getting a good response from your target audience or industry experts, understand that if you don’t pause, pivot, and re-plan, you might not find the success you’re looking for.

Be willing, as a new entrepreneur, to bend your idea from its original state. Following these steps will help you get clarity on whether or not an idea is worth pursuing.

Read the original article on Business Insider

5 working moms on what they really want this Mother’s Day, from quality alone time to family-friendlier employers

Lekeshia Angelique
Lekeshia Angelique and family.

  • The pandemic has created even more challenges for many already over-burdened working moms.
  • Author Melissa Petro spoke with five working mothers to ask what they really want for Mother’s Day this year.
  • From a better work-life balance to more quality time with their kids, here’s what they asked for.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

If you Google “Mother’s Day gift idea,” you’ll be inundated with tacky jewelry, personalized trinkets, and sugary treats. It’s a sad compensation for the relentless stress that comes with mothering. And this past year has been particularly exhausting.

Even before the pandemic, working while parenting was a challenge, especially for mothers. Post-pandemic, the struggle remains. To give just an idea, my husband and I spent last weekend in tears, struggling with the fact that New York City is reopening and he is being called back into the office, separating him from his children and forcing me to reduce my already limited work hours and parent our two toddlers alone.

Forget bubble bath and breakfast in bed; this Mother’s Day, I want quality, affordable childcare to compensate for the options permanently lost due to the pandemic. I want return-to-work programs to reintroduce those of us who’ve fallen out of the workplace, and family friendlier employers that put an end to secret parenting once and for all.

On Mother’s Day – and every day – I want recognition for the incalculable value of our unpaid, invisible labor, including the mental load that weighs disproportionately on moms.

While I’m always appreciative of a homemade card, a little common courtesy is the gift that keeps giving. To my husband: Put your bowl in the dishwasher. Pick your damp towel off the bed. To his employer: Please don’t make him come back into the office when this doesn’t work for our family – especially considering studies have found employees are actually more productive when you let them work from home.

I spoke with five working moms who got real about what they’ve been through this past year, and what they’re truly hoping for this Mother’s Day.

‘Leave me alone’

Shoshana Fain
Shoshana Fain and family.

People are realizing during the pandemic that health is more important than everything. Moms reach a point where they’re doing everything for everyone else and neglecting their own self care. But at the end of the day, no one’s happy when mom’s skipping meals or forgetting to properly hydrate.

After giving birth in May, I struggled with my weight and gestational diabetes. Even though I had a newborn to care for, I started prioritizing myself and lost 50 pounds with the help of a coach. I was so inspired that I started coaching others.

For Mother’s Day, I want to lock myself in my room for the day and only be interrupted with deliveries of snuggles and coffee. I feel like it sounds horrible, but the thought of ignoring my family and just staying in my bed for as long as I want would be bliss.

– Shoshana Fain, 34, Chicago, IL, health transformation coach, married with 3 boys ages 11 months, 4, and 5

‘I need a real vacation’

Lekeshia Angelique
Lekeshia Angelique and family.

Last March, I quit my full-time job as an HR specialist to start my own business. I run workshops and mentor staff at all levels, teaching people about unconscious bias, microaggressions and other barriers to inclusion and diversity. When it comes to things like race, gender, sexuality, and other individual differences, people are overwhelmed and afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. That’s where I come in.

Being an advocate for change and a minority during this year’s social justice movements and in the midst of a pandemic was simultaneously exciting and terrifying. It brought on a lot of new feelings that were felt by the entire family. But we thrived.

For Mother’s Day, I’d love a vacation out of the country. I haven’t traveled since the pandemic began, and Greece has been on my vision board since forever. The blue roofs, beaches, and cuisine make it the ultimate relaxation destination. I’m ready for a well-earned break.

– Lekeshia Angelique, 39, Clarksville, TN, diversity coach and consultant, engaged with five kids ages 9, 9, 19, 19 and 23

‘A little kindness would be nice’

Cat and her son.
Cat and her son.

I’ve loved working in politics news the past three years. It’s felt like a public service more than ever. This past year especially, I poured my efforts into getting it right and amplifying a diverse group of wise and credible voices. My son splits time between me and his father, so my parenting is 24/3.5. I love that I’ve gotten the intense time with him this past year – we’re closer than ever – but I hate how often my attention is divided when we’re together. I’m always at the mercy of my work phone.

For Mother’s Day, I want my son to make me a card, which is a painful challenge for single parents; who’s going to oversee such a thing? I confess that I want flowers. I want the day off, but I work on Sundays. I want democracy and kindness. I want forgiveness to be cool. People can be really mean and unforgiving – especially on social media. I want to never see the Michael Jackson eating popcorn meme ever again.

– Cat, 38, New York City, journalist, divorced with one son, age 5

‘I want a better work-life balance’

Nicole Phillips
Nicole Phillips and her daughter.

Trying to work from home with a two-year-old and no childcare was not easy. Sticking my daughter in front of a screen and depriving her of the attention and social interaction she was begging for – I felt like such a bad parent at times. And at work, everything felt like an emergency. I was giving 100% at everything, but constantly falling short.

When I was let go in February 2021, I was shattered. I realized that as much as I’d loved my work, it wasn’t worth my sanity. I found a job freelancing in my field, plus size fashion.

My wish for Mother’s Day is simple: I don’t want to go back to what life was pre-pandemic.

I miss being in the office, and collaborating in-person with my coworkers, but I don’t miss the expectations put upon me – and that I put on myself. I don’t want to sit in a car for three hours a day battling traffic and then missing dinner or bath time. From now on, I want to define my work schedule. I’d also love for all our laundry to be done.

– Nicole Phillips, 37, Los Angeles, CA, freelance writer, married with one daughter, age 3

‘I need quality – not quantity – time with my child’

Lydia Elle
Lydia Elle.

The hardest part about working and parenting this last year was throwing out the idea of what I thought everything should look like and becoming compassionate with myself about what life actually was and who I was in it. I was not prepared for a racial and health pandemic that forced me to become so much for my daughter. I had to be OK with not always being OK, and create a space that freed my daughter to admit when she was struggling so we could process through our feelings together instead of getting stuck in them.

For Mother’s Day, it would be glorious if I had some quality time with my daughter. A night or two somewhere close by for us to reflect and have fun together – and maybe a little time for me to just be, and sleep.

– Lydia Elle, 40, Southern California, self-employed, single with one daughter age 11

Read the original article on Business Insider

Biden’s break from neoliberalism to invest in the middle class could create ‘the mother of all economic booms’ – an economic commentator explains why

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden delivers remarks about vaccinations, in the State Dining Room of the White House, Tuesday, April 6, 2021, in Washington.

On this week’s episode of “Pitchfork Economics,” Nick Hanauer and David Goldstein talk with Anusar Farooqui, who writes probing analytic essays about economic policy on Substack under the pseudonym Policy Tensor.

Farooqui researches and thinks deeply about some of the most complex systems shaping our world today, and he’s not afraid to take big swings on bold predictions. One such prediction in a recent essay, “The Making of the Mother of All Economic Booms,” caught Hanauer’s attention

In the piece, Hanauer says, Farooqui “argues that the Biden administration is making a really profound break with the last 45 years of neoliberalism, and that that break is going to create probably the biggest economic boom in collective memory, probably since the ’60s.”

If Farooqui is right, the consequences of that boom would be world-changing. Hanauer explained that it would “absolutely create the kind of broad-based growth and benefits that should both transform the economy and also potentially transform politics, which is an even more important achievement.”

The pandemic’s economic impact

Farooqui says that it’s now common knowledge that we’ve seen a slowdown in growth and an increase in income inequality in the decades since the broad global adoption of trickle-down economics as the dominant economic theory.

“What I think has happened, which is the main thesis in that essay,” he explained, “is that elites in the United States today, and technocrats in particular, have come to the conclusion that the only way to stop the political instability which was revealed in 2016 is to restore broad-based growth,” in the form of huge public investments in infrastructure, in support programs, and in policies that will broadly improve the lives of the American people.

“Public investment has been declining, and is really low by historical standards,” Farooqui said. So now, the Biden administration needs to show positive economic progress in a way that can be empirically proven. In other words, the Biden administration wants you to be able to see big improvements to the American middle class with your own eyes after the next infrastructure bills have passed – and before next year’s midterm elections.

Biden’s approach to the economy

The fact that President Biden, who was largely very mainstream throughout his career in the Senate, happens to be the messenger for this economic theory, Farooqui said, is “very pleasantly shocking, I must confess.”

So what has happened to the economy to bring Biden around to this idea of investing deeply in everyday Americans? Farooqui believes that the last 40 years of neoliberal constraints on the economy, in the form of deregulation and tax cuts, have basically hamstrung global economic growth by taking power away from the sectors of the economy that actually produces things.

“All of the great industrial firms are responsible for the mid-century productivity growth” of the 20th century, he said. That productivity was “responsible for the growth of the American working class and the achievement of middle class standards that was the envy of the world.”

But when neoliberalism took root, “the private equity firms went in and really created a market for corporate control.” With their newly unfettered financial might, the equity firms forced industrial companies to “disgorge their services to finance and to essentially move away from an investment in long-term productivity growth and towards the short-term model where you borrow money from the bond market and you do some [stock] buybacks or something.”

“Where bankers used to wait on the industrial firms’ CEOs,” Farooqui explained, “it was now the CEOs who were reporting to the financial analysts – and this relationship of power between Wall Street and industry is crucial to why dynamism vanished from the manufacturing sector.”

Rather than creating products and services that appealed to customers, the sole purpose of every large company became a devotion to increasing shareholder value, creating an “hourglass economy” in which “income growth stalls for the bulk of the population” while wealthy shareholders and CEOs increase their fortunes exponentially.

“So the sheer number of jobs disappear for high school graduates, and this is devastating for working class families,” Farooqui continued. “These depths of despair, beginning at the turn of the century, are a huge story, because those depths of despair are the single best predictor of the swing towards Trump in 2016 – it’s really the pain of working class America.”

Investing in the middle class

The primary argument against these big investments in the American middle class is that it might set off a “macroeconomic instability of some kind,” which has been “baked into people’s minds from the ’70s,” when inflation skyrocketed, Farooqui says.

But when you accept that “inflation is globalized” and not directly tied to the Federal Reserves’ decision to print more money, as Modern Monetary Theory argued, “you get to a place where you can be freed from the old rigidities that prevent a decisive action on the main challenges of the day.”

Does that mean that the tumultuous boom-and-bust economic cycle that we’ve seen over the past 40 years, in which most millennials have lived through three major economic crises, is the result of neoliberalism’s economic stagnation?

Or as Goldstein asked Farooqui, “are you implying we could have had an economic boom all along over the past 45 years? None of the dislocation, none of the inequality, none of the slow growth was necessary or unavoidable, had we not had this swing towards neoliberalism?”

“Absolutely,” Farooqui said. “I’m absolutely certain of that. For example, the Fed could have always run the economy really hot. That could have meant that low-skilled workers’ wages, middle-skilled workers’ wages, people with high school degrees – their wages would have grown at the same rate as college graduates’ salaries, and professional class salaries, which have exploded.”

Many pundits have predicted that we’re on the verge of a once-in-a-lifetime economic boom. But Farooqui’s claims take that idea one step further: He argues that we could potentially see a once-in-a-century realignment that wipes out the old thinking and sets the table for a new understanding of how the global economy works.

While many futurists love to make wild predictions of what the world will be like in a decade or two, the change the Farooqui is foretelling is right around the corner. We won’t have to wait very long to discover if he’s right or not.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Why highly regarded leaders don’t always do the best work – and why they should be critiqued like everybody else

Businessman work
High performance on one project does not guarantee high performance on the next.

  • A leader’s high status among peers doesn’t guarantee a positive outcome for the projects they lead.
  • High-status people are prone to high highs and low lows, while moderate statuses have higher averages.
  • Executives must remember to critique their stars, too, and not let ego overshadow the actual work.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

When it comes to leading a successful project, sometimes having too much status can be a bad thing.

Take, for example, video-game producer George Brussard, who in 1997 announced plans for a new game, “Duke Nukem Forever.” Expectations were high: Brussard’s previous title, “Duke Nukem 3D,” was one of the top-selling video games of all time, beloved by critics and players alike.

But instead of another smash hit, “Duke Nukem Forever became a legendary boondoggle, released more than a decade late to lackluster reviews and fan response. What went wrong?

It may seem shocking when an iconic leader like Brussard swings and misses, but it’s not uncommon, according to research from Brayden King, a professor of management and organizations at the Kellogg School. In a new study of the video-game industry, King and his coauthors – Balazs Szatmari of the University of Amsterdam, and Dirk Deichmann and Jan van den Ende of Erasmus University – found that a leader’s high status among their peers doesn’t guarantee a positive outcome for the projects they lead. Indeed, it can often be a liability.

Leaders with high status, the research revealed, are prone to extremes – big successes or big flops – while moderate status is associated with the highest average level of project performance.

Why? With status comes everything a leader needs for a project to succeed: resources, support, the faith of executives, and team members. But there is peril, too: high-status project leaders are often overburdened. And precisely because of their status, the people around them may not offer honest feedback.

“We tend to be too deferential to people who we consider to be higher status. And where we give deference, what we should be doing is increasing our scrutiny – or at least, scrutinize them as much as we do people of lower status,” King said. “There is greater potential for them to let their egos take control and produce something that sounds good to them but that is in reality a terrible idea.”

Read more: I’m a first-time founder who raised $2.5 million despite the pandemic upending the fundraising process. I know why we were successful.

Game on: testing status and performance

The researchers focused their study on the video-game industry – a useful test-bed because of the large quantity of games released each year to an audience of vocal, engaged fans. But, King said, “I don’t think these findings are just characteristic or a dynamic specific to the video-game industry.” Any field where leaders can attain status is subject to the same set of forces.

To begin, the researchers assembled a database of 745 games produced by leading companies between 2008 and 2012, for which full information about the development team was publicly available. They winnowed that list down to games with a single producer who was not a first-time producer, leading to a final sample of 349 titles. Data on performance came from the popular MobyGames database, which aggregates critic and user reviews.

To assess producers’ status, the researchers used their “network positions” – a statistical measure based on patterns of who has collaborated with whom within an organization. The idea, Szatmari said, is that people who are well-connected tend to be the best-regarded.

“If you enter in a room and you see someone surrounded by many people, you think, ‘Oh, that person must know something.’ There’s a reason why people are around them,” he said. “If many people want to work with you or seek your advice, that’s a sign of competence.”

Then, the researchers analyzed the relationship between producer status and game performance – controlling for a variety of factors that might affect success, such as year of release, team size, and whether the game broke technological or conceptual ground and involved greater risk.

When too much status can be a bad thing

What they discovered was an inverted U-shaped relationship between producer status and average game performance. In other words, having status helped – until it didn’t. Middle-status producers had the best average performance, while high-status and low-status producers fared about the same.

However, while high-status and low-status producers had similar average performance scores, in the case of high-status producers, that stemmed from extreme variation in performance. Some had wild successes and others abject failures, resulting in an average comparable to low-status producers.

These patterns were reflected in observations from industry insiders, whose comments offered a qualitative complement to the researchers’ statistical analysis – and Szatmari said, “helped shed light on some of the causal explanations for what was going on.”

For instance, the researchers suspected that high-status producers’ tendency to flounder stemmed from being overwhelmed because, given their reputation, everyone wanted some of their time.

One producer put it this way: “I can certainly notice that as my status grows, my productivity goes down. When people are not absolutely clear, I start to miss the signals … until somebody says something like, ‘I need help!’ In the past, I had more time for processing the information, but now, if somebody doesn’t scream then I don’t see the problem.”

Another insider confirmed that executives’ faith in high-status producers can lead them to ignore serious problems in a project. Once, the insider said, a legendary producer sold company owners on a game that many employees questioned. It quickly spiraled out of control, but the owners didn’t see it, despite employees’ repeated attempts to raise concerns.

As for the high success rate of intermediate-status producers, King believes it’s partly attributable to career phase. People with moderate status are likely to be mid-career, a time when they are trusted but still hungry. They’ve attained “enough status and recognition that now people are willing to put resources behind them, but they’re also still striving to reach the top” – and aren’t yet surrounded by yes-men. This combination of ingredients, he believes, accounts for their success.

Why companies should scrutinize their stars

It’s easy for companies to assume their most well-regarded leaders have things under control – after all, they got that positive reputation for a reason. But King said it’s essential for executives to pay extra attention to stars when they are leading important projects.

When people are put in charge, there’s “a double whammy,” King said: our egos can swell at the same time as those around us stop telling us the truth, “so they’re constantly giving us feedback that we’re always right.”

So he has a word of advice for anyone taking charge of a project: “Be aware of this potential in yourself.” Learning to accept negative feedback isn’t easy, but it can save you from a disaster.

“People only give us the feedback they perceive we’re comfortable taking,” King said. “And if we’re not open to being told ‘no,’ when we’re in a high-status position, people probably won’t tell us ‘no’ enough.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

SCOTT GALLOWAY: Elon Musk is now the most influential person in the world – whether or not that’s a good thing remains to be seen

Elon Musk
Elon Musk.

  • Scott Galloway is a bestselling author and professor of marketing at NYU Stern.
  • The following is a recent blog post, republished with permission, that originally ran on his blog, “No Mercy / No Malice.”
  • In it, Galloway discusses the impact Elon Musk has on cryptocurrency, the auto industry, and the free market.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

I often write about platforms (iOS, Amazon Marketplace, etc.) as they are a source of value creation and power. The platform of unprecedented wealth creation is the free market of capitalism. The global adoption of markets has corresponded with the greatest expansion of prosperity in human history. But similar to tech platforms, free markets are neither naturally occurring nor immune to collapse. The “free” market can fail.

Scott Galloway

Live from New York

This Saturday at 11:29 p.m. ET, we’ll witness the latest manifestation of market failure. A new king will seize the Iron Throne from Mark Zuckerberg, whose empire has been disarticulated. (He just doesn’t know it yet.) I wonder if Professor Tim Wu or Senator Amy Klobuchar visits the Night King in his dreams? Or maybe depressed teens, the GRU, or the ghosts of people dragged out of their cars in India and hanged because of falsehoods spread on WhatsApp. OK … that escalated quickly.

Anyway, the social network’s CEO has ceded the Iron Throne to the Launcher of Dragons, Borer of Tunnels, and Father of X Æ A-Xii. The coronation will take place before a live studio audience, with Tesla long bots and adoring CNBC personalities shaming anybody who doesn’t surrender to the narrative. Elon Musk is now the most influential individual in the world – so influential, he can distort the modern world’s premier platform, our free market system.

Is Mr. Musk a net positive for society? 100% yes. It’s the word “net” that is the problem. We do basic math on a person/firm, issue a thumbs up/down, and decide (if thumbs up) to ignore the externalities. This is tantamount to deciding pesticides are a net good (they are), so we should disband the EPA.

Read more: Elon Musk personally recruited me to work at SpaceX when it was starting up. He was a relentless problem solver and taught me valuable lessons I use even to this day.

Naked examples of Musk’s influence/externality: the tweeted endorsements of his favored assets. Bitcoin is a trillion-dollar cryptocurrency that could reshape the world economic order … and Musk can manipulate it with (many) fewer than 280 characters.

Researcher Lennart Ante found “significantly abnormal returns of up to 18.99%” after Musk tweeted about bitcoin. “I believe that cryptocurrency traders are looking for role models and validation,” Ante told us when we asked him about his research. But, “we are facing a moral dilemma” he pointed out, between free speech and the protection of investors. When Musk changed the bio of his Twitter account to “#bitcoin” on January 29, the cryptocurrency rose from $32,000 to more than $38,000. Is it free speech? Yes. Does that mean it won’t destabilize the markets and end badly?

I. Don’t. Know.

Mr. Musk can even move markets accidentally. When he tweeted “Use Signal,” referring to the encrypted messaging app, shares in Signal Advance, a Texas medical device maker, increased 5,100% in three trading days.

The musk of Musk’s influence gets stronger this week. He’s established an informal alliance with Dogecoin, a functioning cryptocurrency that’s also an extended practical joke. In the week leading up to Musk’s “SNL” appearance, and following his tweet claiming to be The Dogefather, Dogecoin briefly reached $85 billion in market cap, more than Moderna or Airbus. By midweek it had registered an astounding $45 billion in transaction volume in 24 hours. Click here for a detailed, scientific video rendering of what this level of trading actually looks like.

Reality distortion field

The theory of relativity dictates that massive objects distort the space-time continuum, and light and matter slide toward it. Musk has become a similar celestial force in our markets – but in this case, the graviton particles are genius, attention, ID, and capital.

Scott Galloway

In a healthy market, resources flow where they’ll generate the best return: Workers move to cities with strong job markets, capital flows to companies with robust growth prospects. But in Musk’s case, the power of celebrity in a social media age, a rising class of retail investors with stimulus funds, and our idolatry of innovators have combined to create a vacuum that may cauterize other naturally forming celestial objects. I’m especially proud of the last sentence.

Show me the money

None of this is by accident. Despite being one of the wealthiest people in history (on paper), Musk constantly needs more cash. He recently acknowledged that SpaceX will need “to pass through a deep chasm of negative cash flow” just to launch its satellite internet service. The company has already raised more than $1 billion this year, and $7.5 billion over the course of its history, while continuing to burn billions in revenue. Musk’s other projects, including Neuralink and The Boring Company, have raised another half-billion dollars with little revenue so far.

Tesla posts an accounting profit, but in its most recent quarter, it was emissions credits (a regulatory program that rewards auto companies for making electric rather than gas vehicles) and – wait for it – $101 million in bitcoin trading profits that morphed earnings from a miss to a beat. What Tesla did not do last quarter was produce a single one of its two premium cars, the Model S or the Model X. Promised redesigns have apparently snarled production. On this topic, Musk has been uncharacteristically CEO-like (that is, discrete).

Scott Galloway

Cash burn isn’t the only challenge facing Musk’s companies. Tesla, his flagship business, now has a market cap larger than the auto and airline industries. The company achieved that value, in part, because for a decade it operated without a serious competitor. There’s never been a car like the Tesla Model S, and if you want a high-performance, luxury EV, your choice is easy … and singular. Value creation via disruption is as much a function of the incumbents as the disruptor. Imagine a world in which the only phones were flip phones and the iPhone 12. That’s the auto industry since the Model S arrived in 2012.

Scott Galloway

Or that was the auto industry. Because the Germans are coming. And the Swedes. And the Japanese. On May 2, we got a glimpse into a post-Tesla future when the New York Times ran an article titled: “Mercedes EQS Electric Sedan: The S Stands for Stunning.” The innovation gap is closing. And it’s not just car companies coming for Tesla’s fat margins. The industry’s shape-shift from a $100 billion low-margin manufacturing business to an $800 billion high(er)-margin software business has attracted some enormous sharks. The first overnight $100 billion-plus transfer of shareholder value will occur in 2022, when Tim Cook stands onstage in front of an automobile bearing an Apple logo.

What is the shark repellant for these circling great whites? Musk must keep capital and talent flowing into these enterprises while distracting us from anything regarding fundamental analysis (P/E ratios) or sobriety (it’s a car company). The embrace of crypto serves both needs: It’s consistent with his techno-utopian vibe, and it directs the conversation away from the Mercedes EQS or Apple car while providing a shock absorber for earnings misses. The “SNL” appearance, Dogecoin tweets, Elvish-letter-named kids, tickling of our senses with 420 references and suggestive emojis: It’s David Copperfield, plus 60 IQ points. To be fair, landing two rockets on barges concurrently is genius and inspires awe. But does it warrant consensual hallucination?

Carbon costs

Pumping bitcoin might buttress Tesla’s earnings, but it blows open a bigger hole in Tesla’s narrative. The narrative police demand we link Tesla’s valuation to solving the climate crisis, to reducing carbon emissions by replacing gasoline cars with electric ones. And it does that. According to the EPA, the average 22 mpg gasoline car spews out 4.6 tons of carbon every year. Powered by the US grid, an EV is the equivalent of a 68 mpg car, generating about 1.6 tons of carbon per year. (In other words, each Tesla on the road saves three tons of carbon every year.)

But bitcoin mining generates a lot of carbon, too: Current estimates put it at around 53 million tons of carbon production per year. (Yes, miners use a lot of renewable sources and may catalyze greater renewables investment – but does that compensate for incremental electricity demand rivaling that of Argentina?) Here’s some back-of-the-envelope math that’s definitely going to raise the army of the undead (i.e., TSLA longs and bitcoin bots):

In the short term, bitcoin’s carbon emissions are a function of its price – the higher the price, the more miners are willing to spend on electricity to mine. Assuming a linear relationship (a convenient if aggressive assumption), for every $1 that Musk’s pump has increased the price of bitcoin for one year, miners expel another 1,000 tons of carbon. That wipes out the annual carbon savings of 300-plus Teslas. If Musk’s bitcoin evangelism increases the price by $4,500, that effectively eliminates the ongoing carbon savings of every Tesla on the road today.

The deeper problem? Our elevation of Musk as a capitalist idol has distorted the flow of capital and talent. Healthy markets don’t take cues from the tweets of one man.

Man in the mirror

As “SNL’s” Lorne Michaels likes to say, “Here’s the thing.” Musk is going to keep tweeting, appearing on “SNL,” and ensuring he has a bigger rocket than other masters of the universe … because it works. While we’re watching the fireworks, he’s building cars and rocket ships. Is he the best person to build those things? Is the most efficient amount of capital flowing to his factories, versus those in Ingolstadt or Toyota or Detroit? A healthy market is supposed to answer that. It’s the allocation platform. It’s also hard to deny that Elon has inspired an extraordinary flow of capital into EVs and innovation in transportation.

But our idolatry of innovators and the algorithmic media ecosystem have distorted the allocation platform. In the spectacle economy, it’s about the show, the now, the short-term hit. We’re the richest country in the history of humanity, and we can’t garner the political will to fix our bridges, let alone reach for the stars.

This all raises the question: What do we expect? You only have to drive a Tesla around the block to know that Musk is not a grifter. He is a genius (see above: rocket ships landing on a pad floating in the ocean). Maybe a world-saving, visionary genius should deploy any weapon at his disposal to garner the resources, fend off the challengers, and most importantly, buy the time to achieve his vision. Maybe.

We say we want straight shooters. We say we want wealth to be fairly distributed. But 53 million of us follow Musk’s Twitter feed, and tens of millions of us are going to watch him on Saturday night, and the Elon show will go on.

If there is a glitch in the matrix, it’s us. One in five US households with children is food insecure, and we have a man telling his 53 million acolytes to purchase a digital currency so he can sell it at a profit to pad the earnings of a company that’s worth more than automakers producing 60 times the vehicles. And why wouldn’t he? When you tell an innovator he’s Jesus Christ, he’s inclined to believe you. Once we idolized astronauts and civil rights leaders who inspired hope and empathy. Now we worship tech innovators that create billions and move financial markets. We get the heroes we deserve.

Live from New York, it’s …

Life is so rich,

Scott

Read the original article on Business Insider

The founder of $5 billion healthy snack company Kind on how to build a culture of empathy without losing your competitive edge

Daniel Lubetzky Headshot 1
Daniel Lubetzky.

  • Daniel Lubetzky is founder and executive chairman of Kind snacks and a “Shark Tank” guest judge.
  • He recommended leaders incorporate kindness into their cultures as it helped him find success.
  • To build an empathetic culture, define and implement your “how” and encourage honest feedback.
  • This article is part of a series called “Secrets of Success,” which examines specific leadership tips from prominent business leaders.

Daniel Lubetzky, founder and executive chairman of snack company Kind, guest judge on “Shark Tank,” and founder of multiple foundations and nonprofits, grew up with empathy in his blood.

The child of a Holocaust survivor and Jewish immigrant to Mexico, his parents taught him the importance of deeply caring about other people and finding common ground in order to avoid hatred and division.

While these types of childhood lessons don’t always translate into great business advice, Lubetzky has always been adamant about instilling empathy into the companies he builds.

His team culture emphasizes kindness over competition, and he believes this approach actually helps his companies outperform – and based on Kind’s recent $5 billion acquisition, this softer approach hasn’t stopped them from succeeding.

Here are a few of the ways Lubetzky recommends other leaders start to bring more kindness into their cultures – without needing to completely overhaul their approach or lose their competitive edge.

Focus on the ‘how’ as much as the ‘what’

Setting aggressive goals is a part of any competitive business strategy.

But Lubetzky thinks too many business leaders overlook an important aspect of this kind of planning – how you want to go about achieving those goals. “Where you’re heading is very important, but how you get there, how you’re approaching every day, is as important as anything,” Lubetzky told Insider.

In an end-of-year letter to employees, Lubetzky shared some examples of what this looks like day-to-day on his team: “The way we work – the way we welcome hearty debate and disagreement, because we know it makes our ideas better and stronger; the way we respectfully listen to one another, try to see one another’s points of view, and assume positive intent; the way we practice integrity across all of our decisions and refuse to cut corners or accept false compromises; the way we push ourselves to achieve excellence but not at the expense of practicing kindness in every small action; the way we take initiative and responsibility for what we do – is what fills me with pride.”

Defining and implementing the “how” of your business can take many approaches, but Lubetzky swears by a simple set of core values that can guide team behaviors and decision-making. Perhaps more importantly, this can also help ensure you’re hiring the right people to keep this empathetic culture strong.

For instance, two of Kind’s values are “kind yet hungry,” which helps them look for teammates who will balance a drive to achieve with integrity and respect.

They can also guide what behaviors you choose to incentivize and celebrate. “We have an annual tradition called ‘Kindos of the Year,’ when we recognize those team members who have gone above and beyond to live out the kind values and champion them within the organization,” Lubetzky said. “Kindos is just as high an honor, if not more so, than meeting an important sales goal or other business objective.”

Be kind, not just nice, and encourage honest feedback

Lubetzky said there’s an important distinction to keep in mind when building a more empathetic team culture: that true kindness is different than just being nice, and while one will create a more competitive team, the other may weaken it.

“You can be nice and not criticize and be polite,” he said. “I’ve seen it so many times with companies I admire where nobody will tell the CEO or founder something they need to hear because they don’t want to be the one to disagree. That’s the moment when mediocrity is going to start seeping into the consciousness of that company.”

Instead of just being passively nice, you should be aiming for an active empathy, where your teammates have plenty of opportunity to get to know each other and connect – which ultimately leads to an organization where people are comfortable giving hard but important feedback.

“Kindness requires honest feedback and honest feedback requires strength, and that strength is much better achieved when you have a culture where people trust each other and know that they mean well toward one another,” Lubetzky said.

This deep trust built off connection and empathy is why he and former Kind president John Leahy worked so well together, despite rarely seeing eye to eye. “Because we knew we shared a goal to strengthen Kind, we never tried to one-up one another or put the other person down,” he said. “We were able to have constructive back-and-forths knowing there never was a different agenda or underlying issue masked as something else.”

Start small and build empathy into the everyday

Lubetzky said an intent to improve is the best way to start integrating empathy into your workplace. “If you’re asking how to create a more empathetic workplace, you’re already way ahead of everybody else,” he said.

Then, think of small ways you can model the behaviors you want to see, such as taking a moment to ask a colleague how they’re doing, giving a more junior person the floor, or celebrating a small win a teammate had. “We all are a product of all those little interactions with every person, and that’s what counts the most,” he said.

Also look for ways to build more opportunities for empathetic connection. This doesn’t have to be anything revolutionary: Lubetzky suggests things like team events that give everyone a chance to meet or slightly less efficient meetings that allow time for casual connection. “All of our leadership team is encouraged to do 15-minute connects every month or so where they check in with everyone on the team on a personal level,” Lubetzky said.

Finally, as you’re going through this process, be empathetic and forgiving with yourself, understanding that it’s not easy to build this kind of culture and you’re sure to make mistakes along the way. “I don’t have all the answers and I don’t always behave the way I’d like to,” Lubetzky said. “But it’s the commitment to try to improve that really matters.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

3 women leaders share their experiences in the male-dominated cryptocurrency industry and what its future looks like for women

Full length of young woman looking back over shoulder while walking on pink currency symbols GettyImages 1253985676
  • 2020 saw a 43% increase in women working in crypto, an industry heavily dominated by men.
  • Three women leaders discuss their crypto careers and how to bring more women into the field.
  • They also discuss where crypto is headed and what it means for women.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Just like the startup boom in Silicon Valley during the early 2000’s, jumping into a career in crypto is not for everyone. It requires a lot of commitment and time. The best reason to pivot your career to crypto full-time is because you are passionate about what can be achieved.

The three of us come from various finance and tech backgrounds, from big institutions to startups, but we all found our way into crypto.

And while it was hard nudging our way into a boy’s club, crypto doesn’t have to stay a boy’s club. It’s a thriving industry with over $2 trillion in market capitalization (and growing).

Having women at the forefront of the early stages of development of the industry is a positive indicator for a future where priority goes to the right education and access for everyone to join this new crypto club. Last year we saw an increase in women working in the industry by 43%, according to a study by CoinMarketCap.

Here are some of our experiences and perspectives on the future of crypto for women leaders.

Leah Jonas, head of partnerships, Celsius Network

 Leah Jonas, Head of Partnerships, Celsius Network
Leah Jonas.

When I caught the crypto bug four years ago, the most effective way to learn about and start a crypto career was by attending niche networking events. While this is true in any industry, unfortunately, the gender imbalance at crypto events in particular has created and perpetuated a barrier to entry that often prevents women from becoming involved in the digital asset space.

I went to my first Meetup in a bar in New York City, and I was the only female in a room of forty.

Unsurprisingly, the experience was not only intimidating but also off-putting as my fellow attendees were much less interested in conversations about growing in this industry, but were more focused on the trending news of the day.

While I did continue to attend events despite that first bad impression (and ultimately started my career on Celsius Network’s founding team), it’s easy to understand why many women give up on breaking into the industry.

What’s the right direction forward? Mentorship programs can be a path to inviting women and building more inclusion. Learning how to navigate a predominantly male industry is difficult, but it’s made much easier with advocates on your side who have faced similar challenges.

Having a female-focused crypto mentorship program for women looking to get into the space or just beginning their careers in the industry would create a more welcoming gateway to entry and foster upward mobility and growth of the women who are passionate about building the next wave of fintech products.

While industry entry points have widened since that first event I attended, we still have a long way to go.

Where is crypto going? While many are looking to traditional financial institutions for the next evolution in finance, I believe big tech will be the catalyst for growth over the next 2-5 years. While traditional institutions like MicroStrategy and BlackRock have started dipping their toes into crypto, their ability to stay agile and innovative in a quick-moving, ever-changing market is minimal.

On the other hand, big tech like Apple, Square, Twitch, and Facebook have adaptability and innovation in their blood.

The recent trend for big tech has been bringing their financial stack in house, like Uber building financial products for payments and driver payroll internally. I believe that big tech companies have the means to inject crypto and blockchain payments in a multitude of different ways into their already existing, foundational structure and growing financial products of their own. Most importantly, they can move as fast as the crypto industry.

Catherine Coley, CEO, Binance.US

 Catherine Coley, CEO, Binance.US
Catherine Coley.

Headlines have roiled hedge funds, and the bros of Reddit have seized capital markets, sending crypto bros into a chant of “I told you so.”

The act of conquering has historically been a masculine activity, but let’s really unpack this revolution, which included the Internet, a fervent community, and a justice-seeking thesis to protect the people as voiced through visual art, better known as memes. It’s time to wake up and plug into our generation’s greatest opportunity for women.

The muscle required was no more than clicking a mouse and the ability to connect the dots, take risks, and go. If these are the requirements to play a very active role in our economy’s future, then ladies, it has never been a fairer playing field. We have a unique opportunity to define a new era of financial markets and make these changes faster than our predecessors.

I share this not as an observer but as an active builder in this industry who has grown a team over the last 18 months, building an app, website, and API for Americans to access and trade over 50 different digital assets, growing the assets under custody more than 25 times in 12 months.

Women have a real opportunity to lead, create, and define how the world will operate and how the money will move. This freedom contrasts the start of my career on Wall Street, which took about 200+ years since the first American bank opened to place a woman at the highest leadership level. There is so much potential for growth and diversity of leadership and thought.

I’ve made it my mission to hire some of the best and brightest from diverse backgrounds at my company. Our head of business development, Rena Shah, started as a petroleum engineer on oil rigs and found her way into the crypto industry as a crypto miner (crypto mining is the process in which transactions between users are verified and added to the blockchain public ledger) with her knowledge of commodities and obsession with mining using clean energy.

In crypto, we recognize that we all had a life before Bitcoin, and the creativity to apply what we know from prior industries helps us build for a more resilient and inclusive future. We are all so much more than our jobs. Still, I feel confident that digital asset management roles will help more people underrepresented in past industries have the chance to define the digital future on their way to financial independence and freedom.

What would you say to those who say this is bitcoin’s peak and are selling now? The recent parable played out over Game Stop illuminates some of our current markets’ ugly underpinnings today, reiterating the importance of building towards decentralization. But even before that, we’ve seen macro investors all summer of 2020 coming out and validating Bitcoin, with Ray Dalio most recently in January 2021 recognizing the invention’s brilliance.

Beyond the market cycles, I would urge every woman to stay current and learn about this unfolding technology in our generation. Doing our digital homework and research before diving into crypto is critical to owning your future. If it consumes your thoughts every day, then you should apply that passion to the industry itself. Crypto and blockchain companies don’t just need analysts and engineers. Companies like ours are continually looking for the sharpest minds in all professions.

Georgia Quinn, general counsel, Anchorage

 Georgia Quinn, General Counsel, Anchorage
Georgia Quinn.

I have worked in finance my entire career and have frequently been the only woman in the room, meeting, or panel. One of the things I love about the blockchain space is the diversity I have found.

Anchorage has worked hard to create a diverse environment with an all-female legal team, three female department heads, and a growing number of women on our engineering team. Our former general counsel, Katie Biber, is now on the advisory board, utilizing women at all organizational levels.

What would you say to those who say this is bitcoin’s peak and are selling now? Crypto is about so much more than the price of bitcoin. Do you want to be a part of the next generation of global finance? Do you like shaping the future instead of catching up? Do you want to make things better for everyone by providing financial inclusion and lower transaction costs? Then yes, now is the perfect time to jump in.

I would urge everyone to do his or her research before diving into crypto. Learn about the up-and-coming projects in DeFi or the markets, and then decide where your skills can be used. Crypto and blockchain companies don’t just need analysts and engineers. Companies like mine are continually looking for the sharpest minds in all professions.

Read the original article on Business Insider

‘Gray divorce’ – getting divorced later in life – is on the rise. Here’s how an attorney says you should handle separation when you’re older.

Couple talking on couch older man woman divorce unhappy at home
“Gray divorce,” also known as “silver splitter” or “diamond divorce,” refers to the increasing trend of late-in-life divorces.

  • Nicole Sodoma is the founder of a family and separation law firm in Charlotte, North Carolina.
  • She says ‘gray divorce’ may be caused by factors like longer life expectancy and financial independence.
  • Older couples should consider division of retirement benefits and marital estates in the separation process.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

“Gray divorce,” also known as “silver splitter” or “diamond divorce,” is a term used to refer to the increasing trend of late-in-life divorces. This term first became mainstream in 2004, when AARP published a study on divorce at “midlife and beyond,” and is generally used to describe adults aged 50 or older who are going through a separation.

In 2015, every 10 out of 1,000 couples aged 50 and over got divorced, which was double what their divorce rate had been in 1990. And for those over 65, the increase was even higher – it had roughly tripled in 25 years. In fact, while the overall rate of divorce has continually declined since then, the divorce rate of people over 50 is increasing.

Statistically, gray divorce is and continues to be on the rise, and not just in the United States. Canada, Japan, Australia, India, and the United Kingdom have reported increases in the last decade as well. While in recent years the discussion has become more prevalent online, this is a conversation that many divorce attorneys have grown familiar with for well over two decades.

The rise of gray divorce can potentially be attributed to a variety of things: people are living longer, both spouses are working and are therefore becoming more financially independent, and the stigma associated with divorce has shifted significantly. If you’re going through a separation later in life, here’s what you need to know.

The differences between going through a gray divorce and getting divorced when you’re younger

There may be some unique issues that you’ll need to address in addition to the standard concerns of a divorce at any age, such as equitable distribution and alimony. Some problems associated with “gray divorce” include division of retirement benefits, confusion over beneficiaries, more complicated marital estates to divide up, health insurance and Medicare benefits, healthcare expenses overall, and potentially more than one support obligation. Additionally, a financially dependent spouse may feel they need more support given the reduced likelihood of starting a career late in life, and a financially supporting spouse may be worried about their ability to keep up support payments as they slow down or retire.

The need for retirement benefits becomes more critical when you divorce later in life because people have less time to “make up” any losses they may face pursuant to a divorce. Understanding what benefits are available, and how they can be distributed, is paramount as you plan for a separate future.

For example, a qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO, is one mechanism by which certain retirement plans can be divided. QDROs are often, but not always, necessary depending on the type of retirement plan being split. While you could expect QDROs to be seen in any divorce, it’s much more likely in gray divorces, where retirement accounts tend to be more significant.

For many gray divorces, custody is often not relevant to the discussion because the parties’ children are over the age of 18. However, there may still be issues to address to avoid involving adult children and grandchildren.

Adult children can get dragged into late-in-life divorces and be asked to side with one parent or the other, and that can hurt the family unit (which is often exactly the reason why unhappy couples wait to split until after their children have grown up). There are various ways individuals can address these concerns, including estate planning and postnuptial agreements, which can all help lay out future expectations not just for the individual, but for their family.

Postnuptial agreements are signed after the date of marriage instead of before, and can address issues such as debt, inheritances, and any other property the couple owns – such as a house – in the event of a separation. Often, couples who feel their marriage is on shaky ground utilize postnuptial agreements because they can help remove some of the difficult conversations about finances so that the couple can refocus their energy on their relationship.

Your estate plan generally includes a will, medical and financial powers of attorney, and an advanced care directive, which all work together to legally protect your wishes for your estate and your family after your passing.

Looking forward, you’ll also need to consider new partnerships, should you decide to get married again. Couples will need to address the impact of divorce on their children from prior relationships as well as future relationships. For example, you may need to consider how the marital estate could be impacted or challenged if you remarry – any effects on retirement, social security and pensions, and estate planning documents will need to be updated and maintained. Maybe rather than a postnuptial agreement, a prenuptial or premarital agreement could best serve a family’s future interests.

A prenuptial agreement is a legal document signed by both individuals before they are married. Much like postnuptial agreements, prenups can address a variety of topics including, but not limited to, who gets what in the event of a split and any stipulations in regards to receiving payment of alimony.

How to move forward

For those going through a divorce later in life, be sure to create a strong foundation and clear expectations about what you want your next chapter to look like. Identify a trustworthy and knowledgeable divorce attorney, estate planning attorney, and financial advisor. Use litigation as a last resort, and consider an alternative dispute resolution method, such as mediation, which can usually keep costs lower, take less time, and be less stressful for all parties involved.

Nicole H. Sodoma is the founder and managing principal of Sodoma Law, based in Charlotte, NC with additional locations in Union County, NC and York County, SC.

This story was originally published on Insider February 10, 2020.

Read the original article on Business Insider

1 in 3 women of color are planning on leaving their jobs by next year, according to a new survey. Here’s what employers should do to help.

Black women influencers
Many women of color are often the ‘first’ or one of a ‘few’ in their corporate environments and the challenging dynamics that come with that are exhausting.

  • Women of color often feel unheard, unseen, and mentally and physically burned out at work.
  • A new survey found that nearly “two-thirds of women of color are not satisfied with their company’s diversity and inclusion initiatives.”
  • Women of color don’t feel safe talking about their challenges or saying they need a break without it affecting their career.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Women of color are exhausted. That is why so many of them are planning on leaving their job by sometime next year. Are you one of them?

A recent survey by Fairygodboss, the largest career company for women, and nFormation, a community for and by professional women of color, found that one in 3 of all women of color are planning on leaving their jobs by next year. More than anything else, the women surveyed cited feelings of burnout as their reason for leaving.

As the saying goes, a woman’s work is never done, and in 2020 our workloads became back-breaking. Many women faced additional family duties such as homeschooling kids, or taking care of aging parents in addition to having to shoulder most household responsibilities and increased demands at work.

“When you add all of these factors on top of the racial, gender, and class-based trauma caused by the events of the past year and the ways that those events directly impact the hearts, minds, and psyches of women of color, it can be easy to understand why all of us just need a break,” said Rha Goddess, cofounder of nFormation. “We have to remember that women of color are navigating the challenges of often being a ‘first’ or a ‘few’ in their corporate environments and many of the challenging dynamics that come with that, even in the best companies, are already exhausting.”

With women of color facing both the COVID-19 pandemic and the plague of racism, Goddess said, of course, stress levels increased in 2020. The survey found that despite lofty statements about a commitment to diversity, nearly two-thirds of women of color are not satisfied with their company’s diversity and inclusion initiatives. And 60% of women of color feel that their companies are not prepared to handle racist incidents in the workplace – both contributing factors when it comes to leaving their jobs.

“Many of the women we speak with at nFormation are tired of having the same conversations over and over again with leaders who just don’t seem to consider the full scope of their realities and the ways in which they differ greatly from their white colleagues,” Goddess said. “They want to be in the company of people who get it without the need for a PowerPoint.”

Furthermore, many women of color want more than a career; they desire a calling, which also causes women of color to consider leaving their jobs.

“COVID has caused many women of color to reconsider their career paths and they want to find a career with greater purpose,” said Georgene Huang, CEO and cofounder of Fairygodboss.

Reclaiming my time after leaving my job

Dionne Nicole of Houston, Texas, recently left her job at a full-service boutique marketing agency. She was hired to be a copywriter but as the company’s number of clients grew and the staff didn’t, she found her role expanding. Soon, she was handling strategy, business coaching, and project management for clients.

Then 2020 happened.

“It was a challenging year for all of us with the COVID-19 pandemic, but especially for me, as a single Black woman,” she said. “George Floyd’s murder was such a stark reminder that I’m not safe in this country, that the work isn’t over, and I have to continue to advocate for myself.”

Nicole says she felt that in order to do so, leaving her job was a must. She needed to no longer be in an environment that didn’t support her well-being.

“I also need to have more control over who benefits from my intelligence and gifts because I want the world to be different and I feel called to do my part,” she said. “That’s why I decided to start my own business.”

Today Dionne Nicole is a holistic business coach for women who want to do business differently. Her goal is to show women that the 9-to-5 or 40-hour workweek model isn’t the only path to productivity – something she realized during her time at her previous job.

“I need to have space for deep work, and I need to be able to stop and go for a walk and let my ideas marinate instead of being behind a desk just for the sake of being seen as working,” she said. “There is absolutely not just one way to accomplish something.”

Most of all, Dionne Nicole wants to help the women she works with to prioritize self-care. During the pandemic, she recorded more than 100 episodes for her podcast Unconventional Self-Care Diary to offer ways women can reexamine their relationship to self-care.

“A bath only goes so far,” she said.

Dionne Nicole wants to help women learn how to give themselves a break.

“More than anything, I’m on a mission to help women value rest because in a world that is ‘go, go, go,’ I want to reclaim my time,” she said. “My ancestors didn’t have the luxury of rest, so I actually consider it a form of my reparations.”

What can companies do to better serve women of color?

If companies want to retain the women of color they employ, they must get serious about diversity and inclusion initiatives – which means moving beyond lip service.

“Corporate pledges and statements are a great place to start, but they need to be backed up with actions,” Huang said.

These actions should include investing time and resources into defining a diversity and inclusion strategy that spans recruitment, hiring, and workplace practices and that sets specific goals.

“From thousands of anonymous company reviews left on Fairygodboss, we know that seeing women and women of color, in positions of leadership is critical in attracting women to your organization and is a clear example of showcasing your commitment to gender diversity,” Huang said.

Company leaders must be willing to have difficult conversations.

“There has to be honest dialogue about where the gaps are in knowledge, mindset and behavior so that they can be addressed,” Goddess said. “Company leaders need to be willing to be educated about realities that are distinct from their own.”

Women of color need to feel safe to talk about the challenges they face and safe to say they need a break without it being detrimental to their career. Women of color also need to feel supported in their goals and aspirations.

“High quality leaders understand the importance of investing in their people,” Goddess said. “According to our women, there are cases where individual leaders within companies are doing it and it makes a world of difference when a woman of color can say that she feels seen and heard by the people who are supposed to serve and support her leadership.”

Women of color want credit where it’s due. When they don’t get it, they consider leaving their jobs.

“They want their intelligence, brilliance and infinite potential to be recognized instead of taken for granted,” Goddess said. “They want to be honored for their contribution.”

But company leaders must care about their employees’ overall well-being, too.

“At nFormation, our women are seeking a kind of asylum from all of these never-ending demands to put everyone else’s needs and agendas before their own health,” Goddess said. “Yes, women of color are strong, but we are also human.”

Read the original article on Business Insider