Malaysian Flight 370: now here’s a real math problem

April 9, 2014

Remember those math problems in algebra and geometry class?  Problems about trees and their shadows, trains leaving for Kansas City at 2:00, graphs about average heights of kids in the fourth grade, circles using pi and a radius.  I wondered then why we were doing these things if not for torture.  I was pretty good at them, but absolutely never saw the point.  And no one dared asked the teacher why.

Things could be so different today, and I really hope they are.  Why learn about triangulation and angles of satellites?

There’s a black box down there in the Indian Ocean.  And it has been calling to a searching world, actually overheard a few times.  Some say the pings are heard from locations 16 miles apart.  And then the experts get on tv and explain it.  I find myself fascinated.  I’d love to have seen my scary math teacher, Miss Rockefeller, drawing this all over the board and dragging out a theorem or two to explain it.

So there was a reason for all that!  We who were girls in decades past never imagined actually using math to solve problems beyond calculating the cost of a pair of shoes that was 20% off.  We never ever thought of math as a factor in airline safety.  And of course we did not identify with the experts who have always used math to improve our lives.

So hang in there, math teachers.  Seize this tragic moment and use it to teach your students about the practical uses of math.  Maybe you would share with us how you are using this story.

Other Duties As Assigned…what would you do?

March 23, 2014

How far would you go to fill a need on your job?  What if you were asked to do something …. really bizarre?  Read on:

I know a woman, a federal employee, whose job is pretty structured – she’s on a small team that deals with supplies going out into the field and coming back in.  Straightforward, you might say.

She is in a small office of a very large agency – so large that it has all kinds of volunteer happenings going on all the time in addition to work.  There are art shows, jewelry shows, a singing group, a fund-raising charity group, sports leagues, and so on.  When this woman used to have more free time, she sang with a group, which she enjoyed very much.  Now she puts her volunteer time into organizing and presenting fun, family-oriented activities.  The other day, on a week-end, she joined a team putting on a bowling tournament.  You won’t believe what happened.

This group begins each event with the singing of the National Anthem.  And the bowling alley where the event is held has always had a recording, which they willingly play.  So imagine the consternation when the bowling alley people admitted that they no longer have that recording.

One of the volunteers jokingly (she thought) told my friend that she would just have to sing it.  My friend laughed and walked away, only to hear a voice on the loud speaker saying, “Please  rise for the singing of the National Anthem” and they were holding out the microphone to her.

Other duties as assigned?  You bet.

She took a deep breath, remembered to start low, and started singing.  She expected others to join in, but they did not. She got through it and was surrounded for the rest of the morning with high fives, hugs, compliments and congratulations.

I think the group was  lucky to have this woman with a beautiful, strong voice and a willing heart.  I know she is set for life with an interview story about her dedication to her workplace.

What would you do?

A fresh look at Goals

March 7, 2014

This morning I was fortunate enough to see and hear the Dalai Lama, speaking at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC.  Through the wonders of the internet, I could sit at my desk and watch this great man speak via computer.  What emerged for me was this:

Whatever goal you pursue for your life, make sure that it leads to expanding peace and happiness for the world.

That’s my takeaway.  I hope I am doing the man justice by this summary.  Peace and happiness – wow.

I don’t know about expanding peace.  I haven’t a clue.  I vote, I contribute to charities who just might address the goal of peace. I hope and pray about peace.

Happiness: that might begin with treating people with respect, listening better, validating others’ opinions.  I can do this!

Thank you, your Holiness.  I’ll focus on peace and happiness as goals from now on.

Your 2014 Goals – continuing to explore

February 14, 2014

Attainable?  Varied?  Can these traits coexist in pursuit of a goal?

I think so.  Is it within your grasp, meaning is it attainable?  I hope so, or it would be a silly goal.  Maybe you need to improve your skills or sharpen your focus, but you can achieve it, right?  Because that is how you know you want it…

Varied is easier to describe.  I’ve heard clients say that the routine of the job is the worst thing about it.  It’s killing them, slowly and tediously.  Yawn.

I know there are those for whom routine is a comfortable and secure routine, kind of like the things that happen between sunrise and sunset.

But that’s not everyone.  Some of us crave newness, adventure, surprises, and to put it simply, variety.  I think you should have it.  This may mean a new job, a new turn in your career path, or (at least) a frank talk with your boss.

Make it happen in 2014.  Attain it, keep it fresh and new.  And tell me about it.

Resolution Update #3 – what about your goals?

February 13, 2014

If goals are fun, why wouldn’t you want to pursue them?  I like fun, although yes, it does take a bit of energy.  I’m vowing to say yes to things I might ordinarily be inclined to sleep through.  But fun beckons, or at least the possibility of fun.  So yes, I’d love to go to the theater with a friend, or meet a relative for dinner even when it requires a bit of effort.  It just might be rewarding.

What is fun for you that might lead you into a more rewarding career path?  Have you pursued that kind of fun so far this year?

Did you know that some kinds of fun can make your resume more interesting?  I’m talking about volunteer activities, community involvement, or a special niche activity in your current job.

There’s quite a fine little ebook available on polishing up your resume that (I happen to know) addresses taking the threads of your very interesting life and weaving them into a unique document that can help you stand apart from the crowd.  I know, because I wrote it.  Check out Reflections on Resumes at your nearest online bookstore.

Have fun this year, let it show on your resume, and let other readers know what is working for you.

Resolution update: Are you giving?

February 6, 2014

At the end of 2013, I proposed that all successful job seekers and changers should be more intentional about giving.  This includes three kinds of generosity:

Information, Support, Recognition

During the new year, now 1/12 gone, have you shared information you’ve come across, such as a new website?

I noticed today on LinkedIn that the esteemed Richard Bolles has shared an online service that might be of use to all of us.  He has directed us to, to engage in a bit of feedback and analysis.  Thank you, Dr. Bolles.  I just might try it as well as recommend it to others. I think it is possible that receiving feedback from the people in our lives can be perceived as information, support (don’t we all hope!) and recognition of what we are doing right.

Why not try this free service?  I hope you will be so encouraged that you will pass this on to others who could use a bit of feedback.



Resolution Update: How are you doing?

February 3, 2014

We’re a month into 2014.  And at the end of last year, I proposed three resolutions for you job hunters out there.  Time to ask:

How are you doing on the first one?

Keep in Touch.

So, what does your calendar show?  Any lunch dates?  Coffee?  Walks around the lake?

How about emails or phone calls to set up a get-together?  Scheduling is often not easy, but it is a priority for successful people.

Please take this reminder as a nudge to get going.  Keep active, keep connecting, keep in touch.  Your next job is worth it.

Shameless plug for art

January 27, 2014

Readers of this blog know that I don’t often plug a commercial product.  In fact, I can’t remember doing so, unless it is my own book or other career products.

Here’s an exception.  My very talented brother, Pete Simcox, has opened a shop on Etsy for his paintings, and I’m inviting you to visit the online gallery and take a look.

You can go to and search for SimcoxFineArt.  If large-scale landscapes or bold abstracts interest you, you will love his works.  Yes, I’m prejudiced, and yes, I’m hoping you will help spread the word of this talented guy and his paintings.

Pete, thanks for sharing with the world.  Here’s a salute to the family member who got ALL the artistic ability. You’re a role model for other retirees, who now have the opportunity to go back to previously-undeveloped passions and skills.

Quitting by text – you be the judge

January 20, 2014

I was shocked to hear that there is now an app that helps you quit your job via text.  Available on the site of The Ladders, a highly respectable job search site, it evidently helps you identify your reasons for leaving, then helps you craft an appropriate message and send it to you boss.

I haven’t actually seen this app.  But I have REALLY strong feelings about it.

First, the very few reasons why this is an acceptable idea:

  • Personal emergencies,
  • Something unethical or illegal is happening in the workplace,
  • You were hired by text, you accepted by text, and that’s the way your workplace communicates,
  • It’s home-based employment and your workplace is centered far away.

And if any of these are true, please follow up that very day with a polite, more extensive real letter (or at least email) that is the equivalent in quality of the cover letter you once sent to get this job.

Now, why this is a bad idea for most of us:

  • It looks petty,
  • It gives a hostile feel, which may or may not be what you want to convey,
  • The app is described as humorous;  what if someone doesn’t get the humor?

Humorous? I don’t see what’s funny. I’m old-fashioned enough to think that courtesy and professionalism should rule any transaction at work.

Unless it is an emergency, please don’t do this.  I’d love a story or two on this – have you seen it?  Have you done it?  Is it in fact funny?

The shock of the text will live long after your departure.  Is this how you want to shape your legacy?

Where would you be in Downton Abbey?

January 12, 2014

Or rather, who are you in that world?  Do you suppose that’s an interview question waiting to happen?

There’s a quiz you can take to find the character you are most like.  Wow!  I’m (the late) Lady Sybil – caring about social change, the first to wear pants to a party instead of a fancy dress.  True.  I’m married to a Robert, Earl of Grantham type – loyal to tradition and family. That explains a lot!

Would you like to know whom you most resemble?  Try the Downtown Abbey quiz for yourself.  It’s fun, somewhat provocative, and a great preparation for your next interview.


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