Science Says: Read More Books

I hated reading when I was small. I even distinctly remember the reading contest we had at school and my plan was to game the system by reading very short books that were, on second thought, probably board books from my babyhood.

Yeah … I didn’t get away with that. My parents forced me to start reading actual books and while I grumbled at the time, I grew to love reading very quickly. I would read all day long if I could. Summer afternoon on the beach? I’m going to have at least one book with me. (My e-book reader has made my packing much lighter over the years.)

If you’re a reader, you probably share the sentiment. Be warned – you might want to sit down for this part: More than a quarter of American adults freely admit to not having read even part of a book within the past year, according to stats from the Pew Research Center.

I don’t understand how there are that many adults who don’t read or enjoy reading, but I get that every person is different and has various interests and there are plenty of things these days to keep us occupied (thanks, internet streaming and social media).

However, science bears out that reading is good for your creativity, lifespan, career and more. Inc. has more:

Reading fiction can help you be more open-minded and creative

According to research conducted at the University of Toronto, study participants who read short-story fiction experienced far less need for “cognitive closure” compared with counterparts who read nonfiction essays. Essentially, they tested as more open-minded, compared with the readers of essays. “Although nonfiction reading allows students to learn the subject matter, it may not always help them in thinking about it,” the authors write. “A physician may have an encyclopedic knowledge of his or her subject, but this may not prevent the physician from seizing and freezing on a diagnosis, when additional symptoms point to a different malady.”

People who read books live longer

That’s according to Yale researchers who studied 3,635 people older than 50 and found that those who read books for 30 minutes daily lived an average of 23 months longer than nonreaders or magazine readers. Apparently, the practice of reading books creates cognitive engagement that improves lots of things, including vocabulary, thinking skills, and concentration. It also can affect empathy, social perception, and emotional intelligence, the sum of which helps people stay on the planet longer.

Reading 50 books a year is something you can actually accomplish

While about a book a week might sound daunting, it’s probably doable by even the busiest of people. Writer Stephanie Huston says her thinking that she didn’t have enough time turned out to be a lame excuse. Now that she has made a goal to read 50 books in a year, she says that she has traded wasted time on her phone for flipping pages in bed, on trains, during meal breaks, and while waiting in line. Two months into her challenge, she reports having more peace and satisfaction and improved sleep, while learning more than she thought possible.

Successful people are readers

It’s because high achievers are keen on self-improvement. Hundreds of successful executives have shared with me the books that have helped them get where they are today. Need ideas on where to start? Titles that have repeatedly made their lists include: The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz; Shoe Dog by Phil Knight; Good to Great by Jim Collins; and Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson.

So, what are you reading right now?

Going for the Balanced Approach

Work-life balance is realized by some after years of effort, while the concept remains elusive to others. But what about recent college graduates?

Here is some guidance from Purdue University’s Ellen Ernst Kossek, the Basil S. Turner Professor of Management in the Krannert School of Management and research director at the Butler Center of Leadership Excellence.

Schedule fun (and healthy) ways to unwind: “Take time to reflect on ways you can unwind and identify your passions to continue as you enter the world of full-time work. Is it tennis, a book club, running, Comic-Con, gaming, lunch with friends, working out at the gym, walking in nature with a pet? Whatever makes you feel good and your heart sing, try to organize your calendar to block out time daily or weekly as you plan your work week. It is easy for work to creep in and take over your leisure time.”

Avoid long commutes: “Assess your commuting time as you search for apartments and pick one with a commute of 30 minutes or less that is close to safe public transportation. Living in the hot spot of night life may be fun, but if the commutes are long, you should consider living closer to work. You can always take a Lyft on the weekends and make your weekdays less hectic.”

Get plenty of sleep: “Regular sleep is very important to plan in your daily routine, and most of us need seven to eight hours at a minimum. During the work week, you should go to bed at a decent hour on a regular schedule. Being a night-owl and writing term papers may work in college, but it’s not a good idea for your health or well-being at work.”

Abstain from social media at work: “Learn your boundary management style and avoid checking personal communication at work. This helps you focus and get done early. I have found that many young people integrate their work and personal lives. While it’s fun to check Instagram during the day, you can lose concentration and mental flow. This can result in your having to stay later at work due to increased process losses from increased switching costs and greater transitions between your job and your personal life.”

Unplug at home: “Manage your smartphone wisely to unplug from work at night and on the weekends. It is easy to become addicted to work and engage in overwork as you are trying to build your career. Don’t get in the habit of checking work emails or texts on the weekends unless something is critically important. Let your boss and colleagues know how to reach you for important matters, but also let them know when you are offline, too, so you don’t become burnt out.” 

Fast Food Freaky Friday

What is going on in the world of fast casual dining? Earlier this week, IHOP (the chain breakfast eatery), announced a new marketing campaign, teasing the week before by announcing it was temporarily changing its name to IHOB.

The big reveal was that the “B” stands for … burgers.

Well, that’s not where I thought it was going (bacon, breakfast, blueberries; there are lots of other “b” words that go along with breakfast foods). Of course, that’s not the point. The company is trying to branch out into its other non-breakfast fare, hence the burgers.

Who knows? Maybe they’ll be really good at burgers (or maybe they already are? I just usually get the pancakes, so I don’t know about the other menu items).

What this has led to, at the very least, is an amazing combination of fast food marketing and hilarious social media teams.

Take, for instance, Burger King. Or should we say, Pancake King.

The burger and fries joint – I’m not forgetting about the chicken sandwiches – responded by taking advantage of the hullabaloo and changed its name on Twitter to Pancake King to remind the world that it offers pancakes for breakfast.

Pancakes for burgers, burgers for pancakes. It’s a fast food Freaky Friday!

Burger Pancake King was not the only brand to respond with some savagery on Twitter (As a public service announcement, check out Wendy’s social media work. It’s impressive).

Whatever happens, the temporary name change for IHOP definitely put its name out there and got people talking. Whether or not the burgers are any good, it seems like the restaurant probably met its visibility goals.

Meanwhile, I’ll just stick to the chocolate pancakes. You let me know if you try the burgers.

Social Media to Keep You In the Loop

Did you see our live-stream Facebook video during the recent Best Places to Work in Indiana celebration in early May?

It was the first time we’ve broadcast live from that event – meaning you could be part of the action, even if you were watching from home!

If you follow us on Twitter, you’re the first to see our posts and news regarding legislative priorities and policy matters important to the Indiana business community.

Earlier this year, for example, you might have been following along as Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar tweeted from one of Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma’s “Tweet Seats” during the Governor’s annual State of the State address.

On Instagram, you’ll get a glimpse of life behind the scenes here at the Indiana Chamber, from learning more about our new employees to how we celebrate the holidays, give back to the community and relax together as a company.

LinkedIn is a great way to learn about our many conferences and seminars, awards and updates and so much more.

You can also find us on YouTube with a variety of videos. Overall, social media is a great way to keep in touch with the Indiana Chamber and to receive breaking updates about the state’s business landscape.

Member news: If you’re looking for broader visibility for your company news and updates, submit your press releases through our Member Press Release submission form. Not only are those archived on our web site, but we regularly highlight this news and information to our 18,400+ Twitter followers and over 2,400 Facebook fans.Our presence on social media is also one of the benefits of membership with the Indiana Chamber. Here are some of the various member-related features you can find across our feeds:

  • Member Spotlight: We also shine the light on Indiana Chamber member companies through their own narrative with the Member Spotlight feature.
  • And we’re regularly interacting with Indiana Chamber member company accounts on social media, with this blog and the EchoChamber podcast, sharing conversations, posts and updates about what’s new in a number of companies and industries around the state.

But the best way for you to find out what we have to offer via social media is for you to follow, like or subscribe (if you don’t already) to our accounts.

You can also contact Communications and PR Manager Charlee Beasor at (317) 264-7543 if you have any questions or need more information about our social media presence and how your company can follow along or join in the conversation.

Tech Talk: Making Their Mark Among the ‘Best’

We shared in late February the growing number of tech and innovation organizations being named among the Best Places to Work in Indiana. While 26 of the 125 winners for 2018 self-identified as being in the tech industry, a true sign of the times is the fact that many others are consultants or service providers in the tech/innovation areas.

At the awards celebration and unveiling of the rankings earlier this month, it was good to hear the names of so many familiar companies (Sharpen and Formstack each placed second in their respective size categories, to name just two; check out the full lists to see many more), as well as quite a few newcomers. The names are familiar due to their business growth and achievements; the Best Places honor signifies strong internal cultures that match and propel the external success.

You can check out the full coverage of all the companies in the current BizVoice® magazine. Some key stories we would suggest:

  • Social media: Discover how four Best Places companies effectively utilize online communications strategies
  • Welcome aboard: A key factor in building a strong workplace culture is doing everything possible to get new team members off to a fast start
  • Getting to Know: Bastian Solutions and Perficient
  • 2018 Newcomer: Kronos
  • Informative infographics: Program results on work-life balance, family-friendly benefits and survey benchmarks

In today’s battle for talent, Best Places to Work recognition can be a differentiator. Can you afford to stay on the sidelines any longer? Learn more about the 2019 program at www.bestplacestoworkIN.com.

Share Your ‘Best Places’ Story

If you’ve ever been stuck in a terrible working environment, you know a good one when you find it. The difference could not be more obvious – not only how the employer treats employees, but how happy co-workers are to be working together to accomplish a singular mission.

Since the Indiana Chamber of Commerce hosts the Best Places to Work in Indiana program, we are obviously not putting ourselves in the race to be named one of the top workplaces in the state. We love shining the light on the companies that are true difference-makers in their industries; those that are innovating and making Indiana a better place for not only the products or services they provide, but for their employees to live, work and play.

Each year we highlight many of the companies on the Best Places list in BizVoice magazine. Through interviews and interactions with employers and employees, one of the themes that is evident is the personal connections happening at these companies. Employees are more than just a number. More than just a workforce.

To shine the spotlight even brighter, we’re going to be sharing some of our personal stories with you over the next three weeks as we gear up for the Best Places to Work in Indiana celebration on the evening of May 3. (You can go ahead and reserve tables or tickets here.)

And we want you to share your stories with us and with our followers on social media. If you’re interested in sharing why your workplace is special to you, please take a short video of yourself, tag us @IndianaChamber and use the hashtag #BPTWIN in your posts. We’ll retweet and share those so others can see what makes your company a great place to work.

As an example, here’s my story about why I’ve been proud to work at the Indiana Chamber for the last seven years.

Keep an eye out for more and we can’t wait to hear from you!

Don’t forget to register for the Best Places to Work in Indiana event on May 3. Find more information at www.indianachamber.com/specialevents

Social Connection at What Cost?

It’s been fun, guys.

Digging our heads into the sand and enjoying our social media. Happily sharing gifs, memes, videos, photos with one another, connecting with friends (or frenemies) from high school and posting political opinions that will change exactly no one’s mind.

On some level, we probably all knew that Facebook was tracking our every “like” and “share” online. And yet, the reality of that fact has come crashing down on us over the past few weeks as privacy scandals at Facebook are making headlines.

Understandably, there’s a #DeleteFacebook campaign ongoing. And yet, I haven’t deleted my Facebook account, with no plans to do so. What about you?

While I’m not planning to leave Facebook, I have identified recently with a scene from NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” where privacy-conscious Ron Swanson is alerted that web site cookies exist and that Google Maps has a photo of his house:

(He’s throwing his computer in the dumpster, FYI.)

But that’s not a solution. Maybe for some it is, but not for me and probably many others working in today’s world, who need to utilize and understand technology and social connection.

However, we can – and should – all do a better job of understanding just what we’re agreeing to when downloading new apps and sharing on social media. Instead of an “ignorance is bliss” outlook, take a thorough look through your privacy settings and advertising settings and be very specific about what information you want to share with each platform or app.

If you are interested in downloading the full archive of what data Facebook contains about you, this article from Inc. includes an easy five-step process:

How to Get Your Data

In typical Facebook fashion, it’s easy to get this data, but only if you know exactly where to look. That’s what I’m here for.

  1. Click this link. You’re looking for facebook.com/settings. If for some strange reason that doesn’t work, on desktop, you want to click the little upside-down triangle in the upper right-hand corner, then drop down and click “Settings.”
  2. Click where it says “Download Archive.” You will likely have to reenter your password. Facebook will need about 10 or 15 minutes to compile your data and will send you a link via email to get your information.
  3. Check your email spam folder; the message Facebook sent me wasn’t readily visible in my inbox. The subject should read “Your Facebook download is ready.” Click the link in your email and you’ll be sent back to Facebook again–and probably have to enter your password once more. (This is a good thing; there’s a lot of personal information in the files they’re sending you.)
  4. Click the “Download Archive” button on this second screen, and you’ll download a .zip file that should be called: “facebook-YOURUSERNAME.zip.” Extract the files by clicking on the .zip file in most cases, and you’ll wind up with a series of folders. There should be a file called simply “index.html.”
  5. Click on that, and the archive should open in your browser.

I’m going to download my Facebook data – mainly to see what it contains and how accurate some of it is. I joined Facebook when I was a sophomore in college, back in 2005. So, I’ll have 13 years of data to comb through and I’m assuming it’s going to be as embarrassing as when I read back through my diary from junior high.

Emojis Here, Emojis There, Emojis Everywhere … Even in Business?

I was recently working from home when my six-year-old wandered over to the computer to see what I was doing (and to see if she could worm her way into the chair to play games).

“Are you writing an email?” she asked me.

I told her I was posting to our company Facebook page. She doesn’t understand what that means yet, but I knew what her next question would be (and I was right): “Are you going to put an emoji on it?”

I tried to explain what “professional setting” meant. She got bored and walked away.

She knows little of the internet and social media, but she knows email and she knows emojis. And who can blame her? Emojis are fun to use in text messages and emails to your family and friends.

Ironically, a few hours later this article from Forbes caught my eye, “How Emojis Have Made Their Way Into Business :-)”.

Read the full article for a bit of emoji history, but this section was what stuck with me:

Ad technology companies like Emogi and Snaps are at the forefront of using emoji marketing to prove measurable ROI. When IKEA wanted to be top of mind as people discussed shopping for college, they worked with Emogi to create and send custom IKEA stickers to consumers who expressed interest for the brand, talked about going back to school, or used positive emojis.

The campaign was a success: People actively engaged with IKEA’s custom stickers more than 25,000 times and included the custom stickers in college conversations more often than traditional school-related emojis.

Messaging marketing platform Snaps also helps brands manage and measure their emoji and sticker ad campaigns by tracking how emoji usage increases campaign shares and views. “We can show it drives scale and real ROI and that the media buy has been effective,” Christian Brucculeri, CEO of Snaps told Digiday, “A low six-figure investment can deliver millions in media value.”

Emoji ROI? I wouldn’t personally put a lot of stock in using emojis in your everyday business correspondence, but as a social media manager I have indeed used emojis on sporadic, appropriate occasions (mostly on Instagram). I’ll have to keep an eye out for emoji ROI in the future.

(Insert winky face here.)

Winky face emoji businessman

EchoChamber: Behind the Scenes for 20 Years of Award Dinners

EchoChamber

The Indiana Chamber’s 28th Annual Awards Dinner takes place this evening. The EchoChamber team has been around for 20 of the outstanding events – helping tell the stories of award winners through video and print, as well as interacting with a tremendous lineup of keynote presenters. This is your opportunity to hear some thus-far untold anecdotes. Listen now.

EchoChamber is the Indiana Chamber podcast featuring conversations with business, education, political and technology leaders. It’s your opportunity to listen in on your terms.

Visit www.indianachamber.com/echochamber or subscribe at iTunes, GooglePlay or wherever you get your podcasts. Please rate and review us on Apple podcast. Don’t forget to subscribe so you will always be informed about the latest conversation.

And keep an eye on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts for updates from the 28th Annual Awards Dinner tonight.

Survey: Social Media Screening on the Rise

Before posting pictures of your late-night revelry or complaints about your job on social media, think again – 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates before hiring, up significantly from 60% last year and 11% in 2006.

The national survey was conducted online on behalf of CareerBuilder by Harris Poll. It included a representative sample of more than 2,300 hiring managers and human resource professionals across industries and company sizes in the private sector.

Social recruiting is becoming a key part of HR departments – three in 10 employers have someone dedicated to the task. When researching candidates for a job, employers who use social networking sites are looking for information that supports their qualifications for the job (61%), if the candidate has a professional online persona (50%), what other people are posting about the candidates (37%) and for a reason not to hire a candidate (24%).

Employers aren’t just looking at social media – 69% are using online search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing to research candidates as well.

Of those who decided not to hire a candidate based on their social media profiles, the reasons included:

  • Candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos or information: 39%
  • Candidate posted information about them drinking or using drugs: 38%
  • Candidate had discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion: 32%
  • Candidate bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employee: 30%
  • Candidate lied about qualifications: 27%
  • Candidate had poor communication skills: 27%
  • Candidate was linked to criminal behavior: 26%

Your online persona doesn’t just have the potential to get you in trouble. Cultivating your presence online can also lead to reward. More than four in 10 employers have found content on a social networking site that caused them to hire the candidate. Among the primary reasons employers hired a candidate based on their social networking site were candidate’s background information supported their professional qualifications (38%), great communication skills (37%), a professional image (36%) and creativity (35%).

Debating removing your social media profiles while job searching? Think twice before you hit delete. Fifty-seven percent of employers are less likely to call someone in for an interview if they can’t find a job candidate online. Of that group, 36% like to gather more information before calling in a candidate for an interview and 25% expect candidates to have an online presence.

Just because you got the job doesn’t mean you can disregard what you post online. More than half of employers use social networking sites to research current employees. Thirty-four percent of employers have found content online that caused them to reprimand or fire an employee.