Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
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Why You Shouldn't Network With Close Friends

Question:  How can people network better?

Jeffrey Pfeffer:  Well first and most important networking essential is kind of obvious, but I think it’s something that people find very hard to do.  Most of us like to spend our time with our close friends.  Why not?  Or with our family, why not?  The problem with close friends and family is that they are people that you already know well and if you spend all your time with people that you already know well and who already like you, how are you going to make new friends and meet new people. And also your friends and family probably know pretty much the same people you know and the same information that you already know, so you don’t really get a broadening in your perspective, so there is an argument that talks about the strength of weak ties, that you actually are more likely to find a job from someone who you are very loosely and tangentially connected to than from somebody who you’re really close to.

So it’s very important for you to meet people in a diverse set of industries and a diverse set of companies and a diverse set of geographies so that you broaden out the scope of people that you tie and to whom you have ties even if those ties are relatively weak and then ping them once in awhile.  Just be back in touch with them on an occasional basis to renew the acquaintance, to share a little bit of information.  Send them a Christmas card.  Send them an email occasionally to tell them what you’re doing and keep in relatively loose touch and that way you can have access to a diverse set of information and people, which is much better.  I mean it’s the same idea as in a financial market.  Just as you would not want to put all your financial eggs in one undiversified basket you would not want to put all your human capital eggs in a relatively undiversified basket of just your close friends and family.

Question:
How does perception influence power?

Jeffrey Pfeffer:  Perception becomes reality.  You know if I believe you are the most effective person at what you do: Bumber one, the most talented people are going to want to work with you.  Number two, people are going to want to back you and give you resources and over time if you get lots of resources and lots of talent working with you, you actually become more successful.

And I do think if you look at CEOs, including some iconic CEOs, a part of this is a matter of them being very successful in building their public image.  A lot of this has very little to do with the realities of how their organizations have performed or the realities of how they have behaved.  This is really... so perception actually does become reality.  You know if everybody thinks that the Apple products are the coolest products in the world, everybody buys the Apple products and they become the coolest products.  I mean this is fundamentally like marketing 101 and the interesting issue is that you need to market yourself and you need to have a personal brand and a personal brand strategy just as much as Apple or Google or anybody else has a brand and a strategy.  You know if everybody thinks Google is the search engine everybody searches on Google and it has the dominant view in search, then it becomes the dominant search engine and the thing cycles, so there are a lot of self-reinforcing dynamics in getting and keeping power, so I’m a big believer in having a public relations strategy early in your career.  

Question:  How can someone gain power today?


Jeffrey Pfeffer:  Everything we’ve talked about really is something that I think somebody could do today.  You can start today to figure out who are the 10 people I don’t know who if I knew it would be helpful for my career and how am I going to meet them.  How am I going to get out of my comfort zone to meet people in diverse geographies and industries and different positions?  So you can start today to build your network.  You can’t start today to assemble if you will, a personal board of directors to give you honest feedback on your qualities that are related to building power and ask yourself or ask you and ask them what am I good at, what am I weak at and how do I begin today with a personal development plan to play to my strengths and buttress my weaknesses, what do I do today to learn how to become a better actor to act with more confidence, to speak more powerfully and that is something again you can begin today.  You can begin today to understand that if you want help just ask, so ask that you can being today, ask people for help and advice.  So basically everything I’ve talked about you should not only can you start it today, but you really should.  I think we have many ways of putting off for the indefinite future things that we ought to be doing now and now is a pretty good time to start.

Recorded September 21, 2010

Interviewed by John Cookson

When it comes to networking, there is more strength in the weak ties of loose acquaintances than in the close ties you have with friends and family.

The “new normal” paradox: What COVID-19 has revealed about higher education

Higher education faces challenges that are unlike any other industry. What path will ASU, and universities like ASU, take in a post-COVID world?

Photo: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Everywhere you turn, the idea that coronavirus has brought on a "new normal" is present and true. But for higher education, COVID-19 exposes a long list of pernicious old problems more than it presents new problems.
  • It was widely known, yet ignored, that digital instruction must be embraced. When combined with traditional, in-person teaching, it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale.
  • COVID-19 has forced institutions to understand that far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted.
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Giant whale sharks have teeth on their eyeballs

The ocean's largest shark relies on vision more than previously believed.

Photo by Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • Japanese researchers discovered that the whale shark has "tiny teeth"—dermal denticles—protecting its eyes from abrasion.
  • They also found the shark is able to retract its eyeball into the eye socket.
  • Their research confirms that this giant fish relies on vision more than previously believed.
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A massive star has mysteriously vanished, confusing astronomers

A gigantic star makes off during an eight-year gap in observations.

Image source: ESO/L. Calçada
Surprising Science
  • The massive star in the Kinsman Dwarf Galaxy seems to have disappeared between 2011 and 2019.
  • It's likely that it erupted, but could it have collapsed into a black hole without a supernova?
  • Maybe it's still there, but much less luminous and/or covered by dust.

A "very massive star" in the Kinman Dwarf galaxy caught the attention of astronomers in the early years of the 2000s: It seemed to be reaching a late-ish chapter in its life story and offered a rare chance to observe the death of a large star in a region low in metallicity. However, by the time scientists had the chance to turn the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Paranal, Chile back around to it in 2019 — it's not a slow-turner, just an in-demand device — it was utterly gone without a trace. But how?

The two leading theories about what happened are that either it's still there, still erupting its way through its death throes, with less luminosity and perhaps obscured by dust, or it just up and collapsed into a black hole without going through a supernova stage. "If true, this would be the first direct detection of such a monster star ending its life in this manner," says Andrew Allan of Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, leader of the observation team whose study is published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

So, em...

Between astronomers' last look in 2011 and 2019 is a large enough interval of time for something to happen. Not that 2001 (when it was first observed) or 2019 have much meaning, since we're always watching the past out there and the Kinman Dwarf Galaxy is 75 million light years away. We often think of cosmic events as slow-moving phenomena because so often their follow-on effects are massive and unfold to us over time. But things happen just as fast big as small. The number of things that happened in the first 10 millionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang, for example, is insane.

In any event, the Kinsman Dwarf Galaxy, or PHL 293B, is far way, too far for astronomers to directly observe its stars. Their presence can be inferred from spectroscopic signatures — specifically, PHL 293B between 2001 and 2011 consistently featured strong signatures of hydrogen that indicated the presence of a massive "luminous blue variable" (LBV) star about 2.5 times more brilliant than our Sun. Astronomers suspect that some very large stars may spend their final years as LBVs.

Though LBVs are known to experience radical shifts in spectra and brightness, they reliably leave specific traces that help confirm their ongoing presence. In 2019 the hydrogen signatures, and such traces, were gone. Allan says, "It would be highly unusual for such a massive star to disappear without producing a bright supernova explosion."

The Kinsman Dwarf Galaxy, or PHL 293B, is one of the most metal-poor galaxies known. Explosive, massive, Wolf-Rayet stars are seldom seen in such environments — NASA refers to such stars as those that "live fast, die hard." Red supergiants are also rare to low Z environments. The now-missing star was looked to as a rare opportunity to observe a massive star's late stages in such an environment.

Celestial sleuthing

In August 2019, the team pointed the four eight-meter telescopes of ESO's ESPRESSO array simultaneously toward the LBV's former location: nothing. They also gave the VLT's X-shooter instrument a shot a few months later: also nothing.

Still pursuing the missing star, the scientists acquired access to older data for comparison to what they already felt they knew. "The ESO Science Archive Facility enabled us to find and use data of the same object obtained in 2002 and 2009," says Andrea Mehner, an ESO staff member who worked on the study. "The comparison of the 2002 high-resolution UVES spectra with our observations obtained in 2019 with ESO's newest high-resolution spectrograph ESPRESSO was especially revealing, from both an astronomical and an instrumentation point of view."

Examination of this data suggested that the LBV may have indeed been winding up to a grand final sometime after 2011.

Team member Jose Groh, also of Trinity College, says "We may have detected one of the most massive stars of the local Universe going gently into the night. Our discovery would not have been made without using the powerful ESO 8-meter telescopes, their unique instrumentation, and the prompt access to those capabilities following the recent agreement of Ireland to join ESO."

Combining the 2019 data with contemporaneous Hubble Space Telescope (HST) imagery leaves the authors of the reports with the sense that "the LBV was in an eruptive state at least between 2001 and 2011, which then ended, and may have been followed by a collapse into a massive BH without the production of an SN. This scenario is consistent with the available HST and ground-based photometry."

Or...

A star collapsing into a black hole without a supernova would be a rare event, and that argues against the idea. The paper also notes that we may simply have missed the star's supernova during the eight-year observation gap.

LBVs are known to be highly unstable, so the star dropping to a state of less luminosity or producing a dust cover would be much more in the realm of expected behavior.

Says the paper: "A combination of a slightly reduced luminosity and a thick dusty shell could result in the star being obscured. While the lack of variability between the 2009 and 2019 near-infrared continuum from our X-shooter spectra eliminates the possibility of formation of hot dust (⪆1500 K), mid-infrared observations are necessary to rule out a slowly expanding cooler dust shell."

The authors of the report are pretty confident the star experienced a dramatic eruption after 2011. Beyond that, though:

"Based on our observations and models, we suggest that PHL 293B hosted an LBV with an eruption that ended sometime after 2011. This could have been followed by
(1) a surviving star or
(2) a collapse of the LBV to a BH [black hole] without the production of a bright SN, but possibly with a weak transient."

NASA releases first sounds ever captured on Mars

On Friday, NASA's InSight Mars lander captured and transmitted historic audio from the red planet.

NASA
Surprising Science
  • The audio captured by the lander is of Martian winds blowing at an estimated 10 to 15 mph.
  • It was taken by the InSight Mars lander, which is designed to help scientists learn more about the formation of rocky planets, and possibly discover liquid water on Mars.
  • Microphones are essentially an "extra sense" that scientists can use during experiments on other planets.
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Changing the way we grade students could trigger a wave of innovation

How students apply what they've learned is more important than a letter or number grade.

Future of Learning
  • Schools are places where learning happens, but how much of what students learn there matters? "Almost all of our learning happens through experience and very little of it actually happens in these kinds of organized, contrived, constrained environments," argues Will Richardson, co-founder of The Big Questions Institute and one of the world's leading edupreneurs.
  • There is a shift starting, Richardson says, in terms of how we look at grading and assessments and how they have traditionally dictated students' futures. Consortiums like Mastery.com are pushing back on the idea that what students know can be reflected in numbers and letter grades.
  • One of the crucial steps in changing how things are done is first changing the narratives. Students should be assessed on how they can apply what they've learned, not scored based on what they know.
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