February 2014 Articles

Job applications present us with a list of desired traits, characteristics and experience. Everyone who applies to that job will likely cite how they meet the stated criteria. So if everyone states how they meet the expected criteria, how do you stand out? How can you make it easy for the recruiter or recruiting team to remember you?

Play to your other strengths and spin your weaknesses to your advantage. You may meet most of the criteria but you can leverage your experience in other areas to make yourself unique and show you bring something special to the table.

  1. Socialize with people with similar interests.
  2. Stop multitasking.
  3. Copy the habits of successful people.
  4. Make a to-do list every day.
  5. Don’t leave things unfinished.
  6. Spend some alone time every day.
  7. Set one or two big goals.
  8. Focus on the process of achieving your goals.
  9. Eat real food.
  10. Be productive with your downtime.

In the summer of 2010, a friend and I at work corresponded over instant message about how neat it would be to create a shared reading list. The idea was to create a website where we, and our friends, could list the books that we’d read and see reading recommendations from our friends. I promptly went out and purchased the domain name “OurReadingList.com”. The project never got very far, in large part because we discovered another website had beat us to the punch by three years. That website was Goodreads.

A technical solution for a new technology. And the idea that technologies should be able to operate by themselves on the back end — that part of the system that the user never sees. All a user should have to do is tell the technology what they would like to do and the technology should take care of the rest. So went the evolution of the telephone as the country transitioned from human operators connecting calls across the country to a world where locations are identified by three little digits.

A letter, written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky to his patroness Nadezhda Filaretovna von Meck. Tchaikovsky wrote the letter on March 5th (17th), 1878 while in Clarens, Switzerland writing his Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35. Note that the date is given both in the Old Style and according to the Western calendar. The letter was translated by Rosa Newmarch.

“It is delightful to talk to you about my own methods of composition. So far I have never had any opportunity of confiding to anyone these hidden utterances of my inner life; partly because very few would be interested, and party because, of these few, scarcely one would know how to respond to me properly. To you, and you alone, I gladly describe all the details of the creative process, because in you I have found one who has a fine feeling and can understand my music.

“Do not believe those who try to persuade you that composition is only a cold exercise of the intellect. The only music capable of moving and touching us is that which flows from the depths of a composer’s soul when he is stirred by inspiration. There is no doubt that even the greatest musical geniuses have sometimes worked without inspiration. This guest does not always respond to the first invitation. We must always work, and a self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood. If we wait for the mood, without endeavouring to meet it half-way, we easily become indolent and apathetic. We must be patient, and believe that inspiration will come to those who can master their disinclination. A few days ago I told you I was working every day without any real inspiration. Had I given way to my disinclination, undoubtedly I should have drifted into a long period of idleness. But my patience and faith did not fail me, and to-day I felt that inexplicable glow of inspiration of which I told you; thanks to which I know beforehand that whatever I write to-day will have power to make an impression, and to touch the hearts of those who hear it. I hope you will not think I am indulging in self-laudation, if I tell you that I very seldom suffer from this disinclination to work. I believe the reason for this is that I am naturally patient. I have learnt to master myself, and I am glad I have not followed in the steps of some of my Russian colleagues, who have no self-confidence and are so impatient that at the least difficulty they are ready to throw up the sponge. This is why, in spite of great gift, they accomplish so little, and that in an amateur way.

“You ask me how I manage my instrumentation. I never compose in the abstract; that is to say, the musical thought never appears otherwise than in a suitable external form. In this way I invent the musical idea and the instrumentation simultaneously. Thus I thought out the scherzo of our symphony — at the moment of its composition — exactly as you heard it. It is inconceivable except as pizzicato. Were it played with the bow, it would lose all its charm and be a mere body without a soul.

“As regards the Russian element in my works, I may tell you that not infrequently I begin a composition with the intention of introducing some folk-melody into it. Sometimes it comes of its own accord, unintentionally (as in the finale of our symphony). As to this national element in my work, its affinity with the folksongs in some of my melodies and harmonies proceeds from my having spent my childhood in the country, and having, from my earliest years, been impregnated with the characteristic beauty of our Russian folk-music. I am passionately fond of the national element in all its varied expressions. In a word, I am Russian in the fullest sense of the word.”

Tchaikovsky, Modeste. The Life & Letters of Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky. Trans. Rosa Newmarch. London: John Lane the Bodley Head, 1906. Print. (Pages 280-282)

Manti Te’o had a fake girlfriend. Rob Ford smoked crack. Brett Favre texted photos of his junk to a young woman. That these and countless other onetime secrets are now public knowledge is thanks to Nick Denton, the founder and owner of a network of news-and-gossip websites called Gawker Media. When Denton, a U.K.-reared financial journalist, founded it in 2002, he was already a successful entrepreneur twice over, having started and sold First Tuesday, which produced networking parties for young professionals in technology and related fields, and Moreover Technologies, which automated the process of aggregating news headlines for websites. The two sales netted around $90 million.

Denton’s third company started with Gizmodo, a gadget blog, then blossomed with the launch of Gawker, a nasty and funny blog about New York’s cultural and financial elite as viewed by the resentful underclass. A sensation from its launch, it spawned sister sites covering sports (Deadspin), women’s issues (Jezebel) and other subjects. Operating outside the journalistic establishment and its constraints, Gawker Media writers were the first to break the scandals around Te’o, Ford and Favre. They also published the photo that forced “Craigslist congressman” Chris Lee to resign and got their hands on a prototype of the then top-secret iPhone 4–a scoop that drew considerable heat from law enforcement and a furious personal response from Steve Jobs.

Despite the hundreds of millions of page views these and other stories have yielded–translating into an estimated $40 million in annual ad revenue–Denton isn’t satisfied. Gawker’s reliance on journalists is, he believes, a fatal weakness, one he means to correct with a new system called Kinja, which he is currently in the process of refining. Part publishing platform, part social network, Kinja aims to do nothing less than turn Gawker Media’s 80 million monthly readers into willing accomplices, a virtual nation of gossip reporters. In fact, Playboy is also an accomplice, regularly republishing articles from both the magazine and its digital platforms on Kinja.

To pry secrets out of the man who exposes the secrets of others, Playboy tapped respected media writer Jeff Bercovici. He reports: ‘When I first sat down with Denton, he had some personal news he was happy to share: He had just gotten engaged to his boyfriend, Derrence Washington, a handsome African American actor. The two live together in a vast and somewhat severe loft apartment in SoHo, where we conducted much of this interview (when we weren’t eating Thai food at a nearby restaurant). A trim 46, Denton dresses in casual but stylish clothes of gray and black and keeps his salt-and-pepper hair cropped short. Feared and reviled by so many, in person he is candid and voluble, with no shortage of opinions and no fear about betraying his own privacy.’”

“…But we’re wrong to think of walking only as a way to calm the mind, a source of exercise, or as a leisurely luxury. When it comes to work, walking can dramatically increase productivity. In a very real sense, walking can be work, and work can be done while walking. In fact, some of the most important work you may ever do can be done walking.”