Illustrated Blog


A figure looking at a river from its bank.

Racial justice will prevail despite current events

A summary of America’s 2023 racial-justice developments might read like this: – Hate crime increased. – Topics related to racism were censored out of K-12 and college classrooms. – Politicians attacked corporate diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. – Federal courts and state governments struck down or crippled long-time programs that support disadvantaged individuals and

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Man peering into a void in a hole in the ground.

Are you dancing around the void?

I recently noticed that the word avoidance is a mishmash of three words: A void dance. It’s an apt metaphor for the clumsy way many of us cope with the purpose void that sullies our work. We ignore this gaping deficiency and focus on performing the choreographed steps in our

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A gauge with np on left and yes on right

Your business is unlikely to suffer the fate of Anheuser-Busch

You’re likely aware that U.S. boycotts recently depressed Anheuser-Busch’s US sales by an estimated 14% and Target’s by about 5%. If you’re a business leader, whether for a small or large company, this might alarm you. After all, the boycott-inciting offense is so commonplace that your business most likely practices it:

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Drawing of a boot squashing a heart.

Are you slipping into calloused obstructionism?

Two sales representatives, Lynn and Jane, go out to lunch. Jane remarks that the young server’s scowl is frightening and customer service is poor. Lynn suggests that maybe he’s exhausted from working several jobs, afflicted by back pain or grieving the death of a pet. Jane responds, “Possibly, but he

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Image of business man blowing a New Year's noise maker.

Five meaning-making New Year’s resolutions

If like most workers you pine for more purpose in your job, consider the five New Year’s resolutions that follow. Don’t be fooled by how simple they seem. We humans are so sensitized to meaningful acts that even small acts of contribution ignite a sense of purpose in us – as well

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Image of many question marks with this text: ESG

What ESG is and why it’s trending

I’m honored that David Hessekiel interviewed me for Forbes about ESG and purpose. He asked the hard questions many executives ask: What the heck is ESG? What’s the difference between ESG and purpose? Will the anti-ESG forces prevail? Why or why not? I hope it helps bring clarity and calm

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Drawing of a hand holding out a balloon

Your kindness matters more than you know

That act of kindness you think is insignificant likely does more good than you know. We tend to think that expressing empathy to the receptionist whose arm is in a cast, for example, is frivolous. We expect him to enjoy our nicety mildly and momentarily, but nothing more to result

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For your one wish, shall I... a) Double your income OR b) Halve your cynicism?

The hidden costs of cynicism

“If they can get away with it, every employee will act unethically to benefit themselves,” said Zach, a member of a team I advise. In response, his four colleagues at the table rebutted him eloquently. They told compelling stories of benevolence that made all present teary-eyed. It took the rest

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Cartoon image of several people talking

How to facilitate a meeting of diverse participants

Jerry ran a work meeting to generate possible solutions to a challenge his organization was facing. Yet, his gathering of highly qualified individuals produced no promising ideas. The two racial minorities did not speak. Neither did the sole under-30 team participant — unless you consider her surly expression a statement.

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A hand pushing a heart

In defense of heavy-handed goodness

Carl, a newly-appointed regional director at a fintech company, learns that his region hires shockingly few women. In response, he works with the human resources department (HR) to establish a target for the percentage of new hires who are women. Over the next few months, however, the gender balance in hiring does not improve. Carl asks recruiters what they need to achieve the target. They request — and promptly receive — a larger budget and specialized diversity training and

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A lesson from Atlas on facing long odds

I recently took a walk in greater Indianapolis, where I had traveled to give a keynote. Block after block, I brooded over a question: “Why keep trying when success is unlikely?” You may know that much of my work is guiding corporate executives toward operating in a manner that serves

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menacing image of a tank

Ways our workweek can support Ukrainians

Ukrainians are putting stickers specifying blood type on their children and signs saying “Get out of my home” in Russian on their doors. They’re being bombed. They’re fleeing senseless violence on foot. Some have lost their lives. With news like this, it’s hard to do business as usual. We want

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Dear employers, We a care about more than oursleves. We aspire to more than a bonus. We stand for more than the status quo. We dream of more justice for all.

Today’s definition of a good job takes “good” to a new frontier

In recent years, thousands of Amazon workers have signed a letter making demands of their employer, hundreds of Wayfair employees have walked out in protest and 5% of Coinbase employees have quit due to unacceptable employment terms. Were these workers demanding higher pay? Work-from-home flexibility? Health care benefits? None of

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A surprising antidote to despair

Several people have told me that they’re convinced we’re descending into a dog-eat-dog society, a calloused culture, an uncaring world. Although I feel the same way at times, I don’t think the evidence paints a bleak future. Yes, some airplane passengers are violent. Yes, anti-Asian hate crime is up. Yes,

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Cartoon of a customer at a car dealership telling the sales agent "I refuse to pay less than MSRP plus $10,000 for this car."

Pricing for purpose

Imagine allowing customers to pay whatever amount they want for your products or services. Sounds like a recipe for getting fleeced into bankruptcy, right? Yet, data from companies that use such Pay What You Want (PWYW) pricing suggests that, typically, people are not greedy jerks. Most of the time, most

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Model Barbara Valente wows in Dior’s ravishing work-at-home business attire. [Image is of a woman wearing a trim blazer and puffy pajama bottoms with fluffy slippers.]

Reimagine the holiday gift basket

Last week, people globally Googled “holiday basket” 154% more times than the prior week. It’s a sign we’re approaching that seasonal ritual that, despite its beautiful intentions, often feels stale and meaningless: Holiday gift-giving between business relations. Good news! Like all business functions, gift buying can be ignited with purpose,

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"Time will justify me." Manuela Saenz

Will time justify your actions?

Women who’ve recently marched for a cause are in debt to a Latin American who helped normalize female activism 200 years ago, Manuela Saenz. She was a lauded member of Peru’s independence movement against the tyranny of Spain. Among other acts of courage, Manuela took midnight rides to erase graffiti

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Drawing by Bea Boccalandro of a girl cowering, hugging her knees.

How business can help Afghan girls and women

Like many of you, I’m heartsick for the people of Afghanistan–especially the girls and women left vulnerable to the Taliban squashing their rights and lives. It’s easy to feel helpless and hopeless. Let’s not forget, though, of a formidable force that we can nudge toward aiding Afghans (and other victims

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Living another’s legacy is a beautiful way to contribute. Launch a namesake award that honors their super lovable trait. End every meeting with a kind word, as they did. Pick up the reins of the Black employee resource group they founded to ensure it doesn’t die with them. Do the good they would have done.

Purposeful Palm series: Live their legacy

A few days ago, I looked to the towering palm outside my window for inspiration as I often do. It was gone. Its owner cut it down that morning. Yet, for me, the Purposeful Palm is not gone. It’s as present as ever, only in an inverse form. My mind invented a

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Give your employees free housecleaning. All employees will love it and those who are mothers might kiss you.

Purposeful Palm series: A wonderful perk for working mothers

In the United States, women are five times more likely to do the majority of household cleaning and laundry (not to mention seven times more likely to do the majority of childcare), according to Gallup. The tech company Akraya already follows the Purposeful Palm‘s tip. They offer employees free housekeeping twice

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For Goodness Sake, Be Repetitive Whatever you did to merit that heartfelt “thank you!” in your inbox, do it again! This time for someone else.

Purposeful Palm series: For goodness sake, be repetitive

We are living in complex times. It’s fine to repeat proven ways to do good at work. Not everything worthwhile is an innovation. PS: If you’re just learning of the Purposeful Palm, it’s the tree outside my office window that my gaze lands on when I’m stuck, looking for ideas or trying

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Ask yourself every work morning, “Who will I pleasantly surprise today?” The Purposeful Palm thanks Dr. Angela Demaree for this job-purposing practice.

Purposeful Palm series: Take a surprising turn

The above Purposeful Palm tip was shared by Dr. Angela Demaree when she interviewed me (Bea Boccalandro) on her Beyond the Stethoscope podcast. If you doubt that your surprises will make a difference, know that the book Compassionomics by Anthony Mazzarelli and Stephen Trzeciak found that a 40-second caring interaction improves the wellbeing of

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Be patient when a coworker who had been progressing, regresses. Set backs are part of every growth journey.

Purposeful Palm series: A lesson from the Chinese Ox

To welcome the year of the Ox this Chinese New Year, the Purposeful Palm is sharing what it learned from studying the 10 Ox Herding pictures, a series of drawings and short poems that describe the stages of progress toward Zen enlightenment.

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This holiday season... Show everyone the same tenderness you would a loved one experiencing divorce.

Purposeful Palm series: Be very tender-hearted this holiday season

Yes, the Purposeful Palm is right: A report published by the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen suggests that the 2020 global decline in happiness is as sharp as if all eight billion of us were divorcing. The study also found that for every 100 new COVID-19 cases another 7,200 people, on average, become anxious.

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Talk Your Way Into a Greater Ingroup. Mention to your work connections what you have in common with them (use list from last week’s tip). “You and I have new supervisors we have not met in person. How’s that going for you?” for example. Now BOTH of you are more likely to benefit from a bigger ingroup.

Purposeful Palm series: Talk your way into a greater ingroup

The above tip from the Purposeful Palm outside my office window builds on last week’s tip. Last week it suggested we reflect on the similarities we have with those we work with. As you see, this week it suggests we go one step further. If you haven’t already, please review last week’s post to

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Think Your Way to a Greater Ingroup. When you plan your workday, list the individuals with whom you will meet and one thing you have in common with each-college kids at home, a recent promotion or a love for surfing, for example.

Purposeful Palm series: Think your way to a greater ingroup

The Purposeful Palm’s advice might seem frivolous, but repositioning how we think of others could very well improve our relationships. It can bring people who aren’t in our ingroup, which consists of those who give us a sense of belonging and we are inclined to support, into it. Research has discovered, for example, that after fans

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#6: Work less for democracy. Whatever work you plan to do over the next month, do less of it and do more for democracy. Why not take vacation on November 3 to staff a poll site or spend Fridays on phone banks instead of sales calls? The saddest words in every language are “If only I had…” Let’s ensure we aren’t saying this to each other in 2O21 or to our children in 2O31.

Purposeful Palm series: Work less for democracy

When I gazed at the palm outside my office window searching for inspiration, it offered the above advice. Together we can ensure that all Americans with the right to vote have a safe opportunity to do so. Here are several organizations that offer volunteer opportunities to support a fair and

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Purposeful Palm image 5

Purposeful Palm series: Buy good

As you might remember, last week’s tip for a meaningful workweek from the Purposeful Palm was to forgo meat. My favorite reader response was from Ernesto: “No way, Bea. I love parrilla [bar-b-q]! Try to get your little plant to give me some other advice.” After the Palm stopped chuckling,

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Purposeful Palm image 3

Purposeful Palm series: Shine the limelight on others

When I stared at the Purposeful Palm outside my office window this week, it suggested we help with the other pandemic afflicting us: social isolation. In our work-at-home reality, many of our colleagues feel as though they have faded into the background, neither heard nor seen. The resulting loneliness can

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Drawing of a palm tree with this message: Look through your work contacts/emails for someone who has been supportive, upbeat, hardworking or otherwise great. Write them a 1-3 sentence thank-you email. Set a reminder to repeat this exercise in 2 days. On the second round, thank someone who has a different racial background from yours. Finally, reflect on and relish your acts of social purpose!

Purposeful Palm series: Gain meaning through gratitude

I spend a lot of time gazing out my office window at a palm tree wondering how to ignite a sense of purpose in whatever work team I’m trying to help. It turns out the tall palm often has surprisingly helpful, simple and broadly applicable ideas. Above is one. The

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Bored worker cartoon

How to turn our idle team into a post-pandemic powerhouse

Is there a productive assignment we can give our work-at-home team members who don’t have enough to do? I believe there is. And it happens to also serve the world. For many managers, COVID-19 is an opportunity to invite idle or semi-idle employees to develop social-purpose skills (defined as their

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Flowers in hand cartoon

Something in our midst is more contagious than COVID-19

To help people turn COVID-19 “sadness into song,” as his website put it, a music composer gave away $20 downloads in March. This action inspired a musician in Massachusetts who benefitted from a $20 freebie to establish a collaborative music website “to promote peace, understanding, healing and happiness.” This, in turn, nudged a

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Lyft driver cartoon

From small talk to significant talk

I climb into Kevin’s Lyft vehicle. It has holes in the seat and reeks of day-old tuna fish. “How is it possible that he has a perfect five-star rating?” I wonder. After a few minutes of chit chat, Kevin asks if I know anybody with Down’s Syndrome. When I tell

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Three Profs cartoon

Top CSR academic study of 2019

What happens when your company shares information on its corporate social responsibility (CSR) with potential hires? I’m glad you asked! Daniel Hedblom and John List from the University of Chicago and Brent Hickman from Washington University in St. Louis have a stunning evidence-based answer. In fact, their research is my

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Alan Rozanski cartoon

How to de-stress in five friendly minutes

I’m on stage in Atlanta facing 350 awards-banquet attendees. I start my keynote by asking participants to assess how anxious they are on a scale of one to ten, with one being “not at all” and ten being “extremely.” Then I ask them to do a work-related charitable act that

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Gwen Migita cartoon

Job purposing makes you a better leader

I spent nine hours crafting a metrics plan for a job-purposing project. The client responded that it was so “random and disjointed” that it gave her a headache. I typically think, if not say, something like “the heck with you” to criticism like this. (Were I capable of profanity, my

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Studs Terkel cartoon

So sorry for your inversion

I arrived home from college one summer to find newspaper strewn between my parents’ teak furniture.  Atop each sheet was a different hunk of greasy machinery. My sixteen-year-old brother, Alfredo, had bought and disassembled a derelict Volkswagen beetle with the intent of transforming it into a functioning vehicle. As the

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Alice Waters cartoon larger

Should you follow your passion?

Chopping chives, frying fish, beating batter, or otherwise preparing food makes me borderline homicidal. I dislike the feeling of sticky hands, of splattering oil, of puffs of flour, and of seemingly every culinary sensation. What if my kitchen duties were part of a job that was “purposed,” meaning it made a

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Brene Brown cartoon

The underbelly of job purposing

I have a confession. I’ve written and spoken, some might say ad nauseam, about the evidence-based benefits of job purposing. I’ve shared that job purposing, defined as helping others or a charitable cause through work, improves your job satisfaction, work performance, and mental health. It even makes you wealthier! Yet, job purposing is

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Conan Doyle cartoon

Is your team sick of purpose?

Audience members sometimes ask to hire me to deliver the “the exact” speech they heard me give. I typically agree. Then I fail. I add a story, fold in new data, twist the ending or otherwise change the presentation I’m supposed to leave untouched. When reviewing my slides ahead of

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Archie Green cartoon

It’s not just work

University of Illinois professor, Archie Green, spent a lifetime studying the modern folklore of work. He listened to the songs, recited the poems and read the novels that related to labor. What did he conclude is our fundamental belief about work? “I work, therefore I am.”[1] It sounds ludicrous, as

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Frans de Waal cartoon

Are your coworkers mostly good or mostly evil?

Inner Giver vs Inner Egotist Except for extreme sociopaths, we’re all born with an inclination to contribute to the welfare of others without expectation of a reward (see evidence in prior posts). We have what I call an Inner Giver. And, yes, this includes your coworkers. Unless you recently ingested

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Charles Antis Quote job purposing cartoon by Bea Boccalandro

The nasty thing that undermines your management

Imagine that a vicious competitor secretly installed an evil device in your company’s lobby. Without workers knowing, the contraption zaps away half their motivation and productivity. Perky people approach the building, but wilted workers arrive at your meeting. Guess what? If your company is like most, that nasty demotivating device

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Pema Chodron cartoon portrait

Is this why you’re acting selfishly?

A group of students is asked to walk to another building to deliver a speech. They encounter a man slumped in a doorway, coughing and groaning. Unbeknownst to the students, the man is a hired actor. This Princeton University experiment found that students who possessed one particular thing were six

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Small self job purposing cartoon by Bea Boccalandro

One AWEsome step towards purposeful work

  We modern people aren’t quite right Are you willing to mess with your job to make a meaningful difference, or to job purpose, as this practice is called? Are you clueless as to how? If you answered yes twice, this post is for you. Before I share an awesome

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Tree Hugger Cartoon by Bea Boccalandro

Whatever your cause, keep talking

I’m finally under the covers, as inert as an overcooked vegetable, in my hotel bed. My mind relaxes into the sleep I’ve pined for all day. Ahhh. Then I hear it. I’m startled awake. Irate. “Ugh. I last slept 3000 air miles and 18 hours ago! I’m too tired to

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Sign prohibiting emotions at work job purposing cartoon by Bea Boccalandro

At work, should you keep emotions in check?

As soon as I conclude my presentation, the grey-bearded foreman in the first row sprints to the podium. “You were a perfect 10” he tells me. “Until 5 minutes ago. Then you blew it.” He holds his session evaluation up to my face. Under “overall assessment,” the rating on which

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Cliff edge cartoon by Bea Boccalandro

DARE to bring purpose to your workday

My sister, Iginia, and I are on a mountain ledge peering down a steep slope. We’re gawking instead of skiing this run because of its thick layer of ice. It will rebuff any ski edge and, thus, send us careening down several hundred feet. Backtracking is not an option. I

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Job purposing cartoon by Bea Boccalandro

Woman in gorilla suit reveals why you can’t job purpose

Job purposing is simple: Do small acts through work to help others or a charitable cause. The garbage worker in Turkey salvages books in good condition for low-income families. The California hairdresser becomes trained in domestic-violence services to aid clients she suspects are victims. The marketing associate in Wisconsin gives

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Monkey job purposing cartoon by Bea Boccalandro

Is the season’s spirit of giving a natural thing?

[tm_pb_section admin_label=”section”][tm_pb_row admin_label=”row”][tm_pb_column type=”4_4″][tm_pb_text admin_label=”Text” text_orientation=”left” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”] Peony, being elderly and arthritic, moves with difficulty. Fortunately, members of her community fetch what she needs and steady her as she hobbles to social gatherings. Why do these individuals, most of whom are unrelated to Peony, help her without any

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Existential crisis pie cartoon by Bea Boccalandro

If your job is just “OK,” you might not be

Most of us will take half our waking breaths at work. As if this hefty contribution of time weren’t enough, we also invest emotionally. We agonize over a conflict with a colleague, obsess over a forthcoming presentation, rejoice in attaining a quarterly goal and otherwise live the ups and downs

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Sleep deprived @ work cartoon by Bea Boccalandro

What’s worse than working while sleep deprived?

We’ve all suffered through it. Whether it’s because of a sick child, late-night concert or, in my case, ridiculous vampire novel, we’ve showed up to work sleep deprived. We try to excel but can’t drum up motivation. Caring about the quality of our product or attentively listening to a coworker

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Inner Giver job purposing cartoon by Bea Boccalandro

Your most undervalued trait

Raul is why I changed college majors, attended graduate school, started my business, donated to charity last week and wrote this post. I came across Raul in Caracas, Venezuela, when I was nine years old. I was staring out the passenger-side window of the family air-conditioned sedan trying to tune

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White supremacy: What’s a CEO to do?

If you’re an American business leader, this week likely threw you into a professional conundrum: Should you take a public stand against white supremacy knowing you’ll jump into treacherous political waters? Brands have traditionally been mute on political issues and active only in apolitical societal causes — reading to children,

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You won’t believe what increases income

Are you motivated to strengthen your community, clean up our environment or otherwise make a positive impact on others or society? If so, don’t squelch this desire to contribute for fear that you’ll neglect your own financial wellbeing. Research by Anthony Burrow from Cornell University (my alma mater!) and three other

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What gets the Yankees playing their best?

During one particular week in each of the last nine seasons, the New York Yankees have won 72% of games. This not only beats their regular record, which is 56% wins, it also beats the best team in baseball on almost any day (for example, the Houston Astros lead the

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Adam Smith, founder of CSR

Last week a Fortune 500 executive told me he was “personally interested in [company name] making a positive social impact.” After a pause he added “But, obviously, economists would caution that corporate social responsibility is financially imprudent.” Like this gentleman, many of us assume the great economic thinkers disapproved of

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Cavemen cartoon-by-Bea-Boccalandro

Want to dig your job? Work like a caveman (or cavewoman)

Think your fancy modern job is better than the primitive jobs of our ancestors? Maybe not. It’s unlikely cave dwellers grumbled about the day they endured to put dinner on their stone tables. Anthropologists believe pre-historic humans legitimately enjoyed working. The legacy of these happy laborers appears to survive in

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ModicumOfMeaning cartoon-by-Bea-Boccalandro

Six small acts that ignite purpose at work

Does your job feel bland and purposeless? Do you like your work but still yearn for a more meaningful existence? I suggest messing with your job — just a tad — to ignite it with purpose. You can help homeless families, protect the natural environment, support customers battling illness or

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Why making others yawn is a good thing

You’re with your spouse at your favorite restaurant after an arduous workday that started pre-sunrise. Understandably, you yawn while your honey shares an eye-opening LinkedIn post. Before you blurt out an apology, something odd happens. Your spouse yawns! They slept in, had a leisurely afternoon and had so much energy

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Stretchy job description cartoon-by-Bea-Boccalandro

A rebel’s path to fulfilling work

It’s probable that right this moment… A valet parking attendant is inspecting tires and, if any are bald, will alert the car’s owner. A fitness-loving construction inspector is writing an internal blog to help her colleagues adopt healthy behaviors. A safety officer at a chemical manufacturing plant is telling workers

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Pedicure cartoon-by-Bea-Boccalandro

A surprising prescription for your broken heart

My client, Jane, said “This election has turned me into a pathetic soft sack of emotion. I’m so saddened that I can barely function.” The next day I asked if she felt any better. “Not really. I left work early to get a pedicure. It didn’t help.” It doesn’t take

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Yvon Chouinard cartoon-by-Bea-Boccalandro

Can menial be meaningful?

“You can’t help me. I manage mostly wait staff who only work for the paycheck.” Ron, the owner of several restaurants, tells me this upon hearing that I help companies expand the societal impact of jobs, a practice called job purposing. Ron believes some jobs – like nursing – promote

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Snoozing employee cartoon-by-Bea-Boccalandro

Does your to-do list put you to sleep?

“Ouch, my knee!” I whine into the, mercifully, empty bedroom. Two days post-surgery, I’ve awoken from drug-induced slumber to the sight of my bandaged leg atop several pillows. I wonder if the eight screws the surgeon inserted into my shinbone are tap dancing. As fond as I am of this

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Is bribery the best you got?

“I was offered a wonderful job promoting ocean restoration!” my beaming Georgetown student, Lisa, tells me. Before I shriek my congratulations, she deflates. “It would be a 30 percent pay cut, so I doubt I can take it.” Lisa was considering a move from a corporate to a nonprofit marketing

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Cavemen by water Job_purposing_cartoon-by-Bea-Boccalandro

Stop searching for your life’s purpose

“I don’t know what my purpose is,” my friend, Rachel, confesses. She’s uncomfortable admitting this to the person who regularly gives impassioned presentations on workplace purpose. She shouldn’t be. I, a certifiable purpose zealot, don’t know what my life’s purpose is either. And you know what? I’m happy lacking a

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James Veitch cartoon-by-Bea-Boccalandro

Man laughs his way to a purposed job

Scammer email: I need an investor to invest 300000$ in farming that will yield profit of 6000000$ in eight months [sic] James’ response: What sort of farming are we talking about? Will I need to milk a cow? Scammer: No cow business but snail farm only  James: How are we

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Are you overlooking this cause of disengagement?

“Will this ever end?” Brom’s question, murmured only to himself and maybe the gods, refers to his stonemasonry shift. He studies this cluster of cut stones. It looks meager in the shadow of Dain’s towering pile. This adds to Brom’s frustration from failing the certification test that Dain passed. Dain catches Brom admiring his work, winks

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Pyramid of purpose cartoon-by-Bea-Boccalandro

The most annoyingly happy workers on earth

Imagine tomorrow you walk into your office and your furniture has been replaced with frumpy hand-me-downs and your computer with a slower older model. When your system finally springs to life, an email from your direct superior awaits. It says your compensation has been cut 10 percent. Naturally, this downgraded work situation would dampen your

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