Avoid these “filler” phrases and words @ Work

Source: Fast Company, Jul 2017

“NO PROBLEM”

The speaker implies the possibility that somebody has created an issue that they’re willing to let slide.

“WHATEVER”

Whatever” is often used to dismiss another person’s idea. … “Whatever” denotes resentful resignation, even if it doesn’t sound that way to your own ears. Much the same is true of other tepid notes of assent, like “yeah,” “yup,” “sure,” and “fine.”

“IT IS WHAT IT IS”

Clichés like this make you sound like a lazy thinker. We default unthinkingly to empty expressions when we’re trying to give the impression we have something to say but really don’t, and also when we want to sound as though we’re comfortable with something but might not be.

“PISSED OFF”

“CAN’T”

To be fair, you can’t get away with never saying “can’t”—it’s just too common and useful a contraction—and I’m not suggesting you try. But it is smart to be on you guard for the contexts where you use it.

For example, you might innocently say at a meeting, “I can’t get that report to you until next Monday.” And fine, maybe you really can’t because it just isn’t feasible. But phrasing it like this makes you sound ineffective—like the person who disappoints. Why not flip it around and say what you can do instead? “I’ll have that report to you next Monday.” There—suddenly you’re somebody who delivers, and is helpfully realistic about timelines to boot.

Try to avoid “don’t” in similar situations. Rather than saying, “I don’t know what the solution is,” go with, “Let’s go over what some possible solutions might look like—I could really use some input.” Then you’ll sound bright and collegial.

“HOPE”

Here’s another perfectly innocuous word that can sound defeatist and passive (or even passive aggressive) around the office if you aren’t careful. In some contexts, it can make you sound less than confident.

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Bitcoin’s Split Leads (?) to Free Money

Source: Bloomberg, Sep 2017

“There’s probably going to be another split between bitcoin legacy and SegWit2X version of bitcoin but that just gives me more coins that I can sell for the Bitcoin Cash version,” Ver said in an interview on Bloomberg Television at a conference organized by Bitkan in Hong Kong.

Generosity Can Benefit the Giver

Source: Entrepreneur, Jul 2017

In a recent study by researchers at the University of Zurich, “A Neural Link Between Generosity and Happiness,” scientists conducted an experiment using “functional magnetic resonance imaging” (fMRI) to understand how small acts of generosity relate to happiness and illuminate certain areas of the brain. The scientists saw a relationship between generosity and happiness, noticing a “warm glow” in the brain as a result of completing acts of kindness.

it didn’t matter how great someone’s act of generosity was, it only mattered that they were being generous in some way. Even the smallest act of kindness would generate the same degree of contentment as larger ones.

“You don’t need to become a self-sacrificing martyr to feel happier. Just being a little more generous will suffice,” lead research Philippe Tobler said in a statement.

It also turns out, you don’t need to necessarily pursue an act of generosity to feel happy — verbally committing to being more generous will also result in that “warm glow” in areas of the brain, thus increasing happiness levels.

One Sentence, One Paragraph, One Page

Source: The Creativity Post, Jul 2017

Put the website or the beta version of your app or your manuscript aside and grab a piece of paper or open a blank Word document. Then, with fresh eyes, attempt to write out exactly what your project is supposed to be and to do in . . .

  • One sentence.
  • One paragraph.
  • One page.

This is a ______ that does ______. This helps people ______. Fill in this template at the three varying lengths. It’s best to do this exercise in the third person, creating a bit of artificial distance from the project so you can’t fall back on, “Well, I think that . . .” Deal with facts instead.

GE’s Digital Twins

Source: MIT Technology Review, Jul 2017

cloud-hosted software models of GE’s machines that can be used to save money and improve safety for its customers. GE builds these “digital twins”using information it gathers from sensors on the machines, supplemented with physics-based models, AI, data analytics, and knowledge from its scientists and engineers. Though digital twins are primarily lines of software code, the most elaborate versions look like 3-D computer-aided design drawings full of interactive charts, diagrams, and data points. They enable GE to track wear and tear on its aircraft engines, locomotives, gas turbines, and wind turbines using sensor data instead of assumptions or estimates, making it easier to predict when they will need maintenance. An aircraft engine flying over the U.S. could, for instance, have a digital twin on a GE computer server in California help determine the best service schedule for its parts.

The technology depends on artificial intelligence to continually update itself. What’s more, if data is corrupted or missing, the company fills in the gaps with the aid of machine learning, a type of AI that lets computers learn without being explicitly programmed, says Colin Parris, GE Global Research’s vice president for software research. Parris says GE pairs computer vision with deep learning, a type of AI particularly adept at recognizing patterns, and reinforcement learning, another recent advance in AI that enables machines to optimize operations, to enable cameras to find minute cracks on metal turbine blades even when they are dirty and dusty.

Where Do Ideas Come From?

MIT and Stanford: Innovation

Source: Forbes, Nov 2012

Stanford is ahead because it has a different industry focus than MIT. Eesley notes that Stanford produces companies with more employees and greater revenues because its alumni produce more companies like Google (GOOG) focused on the consumer Internet and mobile.

By contrast, while Eesley worked at MIT, the school seemed to focus more on energy-related start-ups such as clean technology and more powerful batteries. MIT also “has a higher proportion of its startups in electronics (outside of telecommunications related electronics, which was a separate category and more even) than Stanford,” according to Eesley.

One very interesting part of Eesley’s Stanford study is that one of his researchers sorted the companies by their level of innovation — based on a variety of factors such as whether their intellectual property was patented and whether their business model was based on cutting edge science.

He found that 25% of the companies had a Medium Innovation Index (II) while 25% had a High II. But according to Eesley, the Medium II companies accounted for a disproportionate share of the jobs created (37%) whereas the High II companies generated a whopping 48% of those revenues.

Having spent time at MIT and Stanford, Eesley is in a unique position to compare their cultures. He finds that both institutions put a premium on deep knowledge of academic disciplines and using technology to change the world. But he finds that Stanford students in general tend to have a broader focusconsidering how technology can alter society; whereas MIT students are more likely to be content pursuing fascinating technologies for their own sake.