Illustrated Blog



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 five minutes ago that they practically skipped into the cafe. Why the yawn? Is it possible that the love of your life is so dull that they are lulling themselves, and you, to sleep? Don’t panic. Scientists have a different explanation. Your spouse’s physiology is poised to feel your pain or, in this case, fatigue. They yawn because you yawn. Contagious yawning is a primal sign that your honey is designed to empathize with you. Flash forward five minutes. You

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 that the company will donate $10 to the food pantry every day the team has no safety violations. These charitable acts aren’t listed in their job descriptions. These workers are rebels. They are, however, happy and industrious rebels. Research conducted by Yale’s Amy Wrzesniewski and University of Michigan’s Jane Dutton finds that workers who shape their jobs to be more purposeful are more engaged than their docile colleagues. “It’s a way to ‘dig’ my job. People are so grateful…and it

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 a sociologist to determine that Jane is not alone. Following the US presidential election, much of the world is heartbroken and anxious. If you’re in this tribe of the walking wounded, or feel down for other reasons, I have a suggestion. Skip the pedicure. Instead, spend the pedicure time or money to support whatever societal issue concerns you. If you fear a rollback of hard-fought civil rights, for example, write a tweet encouraging tolerance, order a banner for your storefront

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 societal good, and others – like waiting tables – don’t and can’t. Modern society agrees with him. We treat most low-skilled jobs as if they were inherently and inevitably devoid of societal purpose. Trying to job purpose the waiter position, long labeled as nothing more than a way to pay bills, appears absurd. What’s truly absurd, however, is what Ron and many other managers do: continue to offer unalluring jobs that workers perform listlessly. With a little inventiveness, managers can

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 hypothesis, I decide the pain is likely a function of medication wearing off (although, apparently, not its hallucinogenic effects). I fumble around the night table for my work notebook and phone. Nothing on my to-do list seems vital and there are no urgent texts from my assistant. I, therefore, reach for the Percocet and swallow a pill. “Oh no! What have I done? Project CST can’t wait!” I’m suddenly upset that Project CST, which is not even on the to-do


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 director position. Why would the nonprofit version of the job pay substantially less than the for-profit version? This question has irked economists for decades. Economic theory states that the market equalizes pay across similar jobs. Yet, nonprofits staff up easily while for-profits have to pay significantly more to do the same. One study found that nonprofit jobs pay, on average, 37 percent less than comparable for-profit jobs. Why are nonprofits blithely exempt from market forces? The troubling reason some jobs pay well

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 life purpose. You see, I consider “What’s my life’s purpose?” the wrong question. It implies we should identify one life purpose. Yet, pursuing “the” purpose of one’s life is most often a painful odyssey that ends in failure. Aaron Hurst, author of The Purpose Economy, has helped thousands of professionals navigate their way towards purpose. What does he consider the greatest barrier to his clients finding a sense of purpose? Precisely this widely held belief that we each have one true calling.

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 supposed to get milk from snails? Have you thought this through? Comedian James Veitch, quoted above (in his book Dot Con), does what the rest of us assiduously avoid. He responds to spam email. Scammers must be a dour bunch because they don’t seem to pick up that James is humoring them. Indeed, they expend significant effort and time responding straightly to James’ cheeky emails. The scammer with the farming opportunity dutifully explained that the snails would not be milked.