img_6897-1

IDÉLLO Interactive Platform With Mini Me. 

Mini me and I have been using IDELLO’s interactive platform from TFO Media Group for a while. It is an amazing interactive platform where mini me and learners can navigate safely to find entertainment and educational resources in French. Take a look at my first post here: https://janiceadore.com/2016/11/17/idello-the-new-digital-learning-platform/


Our learning sessions with IDÉLLO has been fabulous since my 5 years old is fully bilingual (French & English) super connected…a bit too savy with technology….he uses the iPad easily to find series like Benjamin or traditional songs. One of his favorite subjects is food, he discovered the series of videos Miam, a series that introduces children to cooking with a grand mother. There are many other series that we will use in our daily learning routine. 

IDÉLLO is extraordinary for parents, mini me love watching videos online and it is totally safe…without unwanted pop ups…yep IDÉLLO is amazing for that as everything on the site is approved by TFO Media Group. A site like IDÉLLO gives an helping hand to everyone from teachers, parents and children when looking for an educational resource on a specific subject or in a particular subject. For example, I can decide to see all the resources available for 5 years and under that relate to songs, writing or mathematics. The video series tackles basic schooling in elementary school in French, mathematics, science, technology and civics. PDF files to print are available when needed to accompany the learners, parents or teachers in learning the concept. 


I am completely sold by IDELLO and most of all mini me loves it as much as we do! Have you started using IDELLO ? If not, to get information on subscriptions and get 2 free months, click here: https://www.idello.org/fr/compte/promo/coupon/b2xvlaxdt6a9e?utm_source=francomaman&utm_medium=blogue&utm_campaign=promoparents 

I would like to hear from you. What are your favorite series? Send me a note or comments below. This article is presented in collaboration with Groupe Média TFO.

xxxx,

Janice

The Nuances of Vitamin D—and How to Get Enough of It.

56296e9b-a513-4f65-aa2d-7a4ead98b1c9-354-0000018fbf6fd5a0_tmp

We’ve been interested in the role vitamin D plays in our overall health for a while—particularly as it emerges that so many of us are quite deficient, particularly in the age of sitting inside all day and sunscreen. “Vitamin D” is sort of a misnomer because it doesn’t really behave like a vitamin; rather it functions more like a hormone. The form you typically consume (in food or supplements, or indirectly via the sun) is vitamin D3, but your body converts this into a steroid hormone, called calcitriol. Once vitamin D is turned into this active form, it travels throughout the body and plays a part in a number of diverse (and vital) functions: It builds bones and muscles; it also has anti-inflammatory effects, and helps to make enzymes and proteins that prevent diseases; it affects aging. High levels of vitamin D have been linked to stronger immune systems, while low levels are associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. The full extent of vitamin’s D impact has yet to be fully understood—nearly every cell and tissue in our body has vitamin D receptors (proteins that bind to vitamin D); and in its active form, vitamin D can interact with the vast majority of the body’s cells. Below, vitamin D expert, Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D., shares the latest research on vitamin D (including some of her own)—which touches on aging, mood, autoimmunity, and autism (to name a few)—and spells out how to be sure you’re getting enough.

A Q&A with Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D
Q

How many people globally are thought to be vitamin D deficient, and how does that compare to the U.S.?

A

First, we need to define “vitamin D deficiency.” The U.S. Endocrine Society, which uses a medical model that considers the broader set of vitamin D3 functions instead of just those related to bone, recommends that serum vitamin D levels above 30 ng/ml are adequate, levels between 29 ng/ml and 20 ng/ml are inadequate, and below 20 ng/ml are deficient. If we are to use this definition of adequate, much of the world falls in the category of either inadequate or deficient. According to meta-analyses of several studies that have assessed serum vitamin D3 levels worldwide, the global average vitamin D3 level is actually 20 ng/ml, which is pretty close to full-on deficient…and that’s the average. In the United States, approximately 70% of the population has vitamin D levels below 30 ng/ml.

Q

Is our modern lifestyle (more time at the computer, less outside) and increased sunscreen use the major cause of this widespread deficiency, or do other factors play into the epidemic?

A

Yes, it is generally thought that the main reasons why vitamin D3 levels have decreased over the last few decades is due to more sunscreen use and spending more time indoors on computers. Since UVB radiation from sunlight is required to produce vitamin D in the skin, anything that blocks UVB rays such as sunscreen will also prevent your skin from making vitamin D3.

Another possible contributing factor to low vitamin D3 is the increased obesity epidemic. Vitamin D3 is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it is stored in our fat. A higher body fat percentage can decrease the bioavailability of vitamin D3 by as much as 50% by soaking up the vitamin D and preventing it from making its way to our other tissues. This means that overweight and obese individuals may have less vitamin D that is available to be used by the body.

Other factors that regulate the ability of the skin to make vitamin D3 include age (a seventy-year-old makes about four times less vitamin D3 from the sun than a twenty-year old); melanin, which acts as a natural sunscreen; and latitude, which dictates whether UVB rays can reach the atmosphere.

Q

Beyond skin coloration and latitude, what else determines how much vitamin D a particular individual needs? Are there genetic differences?

A

Genetics also play an important role when it comes to vitamin D. Gene polymorphisms, normal variations in the sequence of DNA of a gene that can alter its function, exist in several different genes involved in the vitamin D pathway. One gene that is subject to these sort of variations that can either affect how good we are at converting the precursors of what we normally call “vitamin D,” 25-hydroxyvitamin D, is known as CYP2R1. If we have a polymorphism that makes this gene less efficient at doing its’ job, then we’ll see less 25-hydroxyvitamin D being converted in the kidneys, and this will show up on the blood test we can get at our doctor’s office. In the future, we may see this giving us valuable insights since it may mean that certain individuals would have to take more vitamin D in order to achieve “sufficiency.”

Q

What role does vitamin D play in aging?

A

Vitamin D3 is actually much more than a vitamin; it gets converted into a steroid hormone that has been shown to affect the activity (expression) of almost 1,000 different genes in the body, which is about 4.6% of the human protein-encoding genome! Let that sink in for a moment. I wouldn’t want 5% of the parts in my car engine to be working inappropriately if I wanted the car to have longevity!

But…returning to your question: Vitamin D does seem to affect the way we age. Mice that have been genetically engineered to not be able to respond to vitamin D (a vitamin D receptor “knockout”) manifest dramatic signs of aging in all the organs on a cellular level. You do not want to be these mice. There are multiple mechanisms by which vitamin D regulates the aging process, including telomeres. Every cell in your body contains DNA, which is present in your chromosomes, and the integrity of your DNA is crucial for your cells to function properly. Telomeres, which are caps at the end of chromosomes, help maintain that integrity. They protect our DNA from damage and deterioration. The length of our telomeres has been shown to correlate pretty well with our biological age. In this capacity, they serve as a marker for aging. If you have short telomeres, you’re biologically old. If you have long telomeres, you’re biologically younger. As in all things, there’s more nuance to it than that, but for our purposes, it’s useful to realize that we can be chronologically older, but have a biological age that is in line with those younger than us.

A couple of studies have shown that vitamin D can slow this telomere shortening that naturally happens with age. In one study involving 2,100 female twins, those with the lowest vitamin D levels had shorter telomeres that corresponded to five years of aging. Women that had serum levels between 40-60 ng/ml also had the longest telomeres compared to age-matched controls with lower vitamin D levels. Telomere shortening is accelerated by inflammation and DNA damage, as well as cell division. Every time a cell divides to give rise to daughter cells, the telomeres get shorter. We know that vitamin D activates DNA repair genes and anti-inflammatory genes to reduce damage at the telomere. This is a good thing for a whole host of reasons, but in the context of telomeres, it means extending their shelf life just a bit longer. Once the telomere runs out, the cells either die…or worse, they stick around in a “senescent” state, failing to do their normal function and instead becoming a source of damage to nearby cells by causing inflammation.

Q

How can vitamin D intake affect our behavior and mood? What are other effects, physical and mental, of low levels of vitamin D?

A

This question touches on my own research that I did during my postdoctoral training. Among the 1,000 genes that vitamin D controls is a gene in the brain called tryptophan hydroxylase 2 (TPH2), which encodes for the rate-limiting enzyme that converts tryptophan into serotonin in the brain. It was my work that identified that this gene, TPH2, has a sequence that indicates that it is activated by vitamin D, suggesting that vitamin D may be important to producing serotonin in the brain from tryptophan. That’s pretty important! Serotonin regulates a broad range of cognitive functions and behaviors. It regulates social behavior, impulse control, decision making, anxiety, memory, impulse aggression, so-called “sensory gating,” and more.

We know that serotonin does these things because dozens of studies have teased out what serotonin does by depleting normal people of their serotonin temporarily. The way this is done is actually pretty clever and a little more harmless than it sounds: Tryptophan, the amino acid serotonin is made from, has to be actively transported into the brain. Another group of amino acids, however, will be transported preferentially before tryptophan if there’s enough of it sitting around. So that means you can actually give people a shake of branched-chain amino acids, a common component of bodybuilding supplements, and, in about 7 hours, around 90% of the serotonin in the brain is depleted. What happens then? People become impulsive, their long-term thinking shuts down, they become irritable, anxious, depressed, and their sensory gating, the ability to block out extraneous stimuli in the environment, becomes impaired. Aside from mood, serotonin is also important for many other things. We’ll get back to that in a second, however.

Q

Can you explain how vitamin D is linked to our gut, inflammation, and autoimmunity?

A

This may surprise some people, but gut inflammation is also linked to serotonin: Not the serotonin in the brain, rather serotonin that is produced in the gut. Around 90% of the serotonin in the body is actually produced in the gut by a separate tryptophan hydroxylase gene called TPH1. This gene has a very important distinction from TPH2, the brain variety. Instead of being activated by vitamin D, TPH1 appears to have a sequence that is associated with repression. In other words, when vitamin D is around, it probably stops the conversion of tryptophan (in the dietary protein we eat) into serotonin in the gut. Don’t get too alarmed by that, however, serotonin made in the gut doesn’t have a lot to do with the amount of serotonin in the brain, since all of the serotonin in the brain is actually made in the brain by TPH2. In other words, serotonin does not cross the “blood-brain barrier.” We need just the right amount of serotonin in the gut because too much causes gut inflammation where serotonin serves to actually activate immune cells in the gut. In fact, it’s been shown that getting rid of serotonin in the gut in several different animal models of colitis and irritable bowl syndrome ameliorates the inflammatory symptoms associated with these inflammatory gut diseases. Since we now know that TPH1 is most likely repressed by vitamin D, this suggests that vitamin D deficiency may lead to excessive immune cell activation in the gut and, thus, inflammation.

My work also identified that vitamin D may be regulating autoimmunity through this same gut-serotonin pathway. Tryptophan, in addition to being converted into serotonin in the gut, can also be metabolized by another enzyme to generate a compound called kynurenine, which is essential for the production of regulatory T cells. Regulatory T cells are essential for telling the immune system, “Hey, this is my cell, it is not a foreign invader, do not attack this cell.” They play a very important role in dampening the immune response and preventing autoimmunity. Because tryptophan can be used in the pathway to make serotonin, through tryptophan hydroxylase 1 (TPH1), if that gene is hyperactive because there is low vitamin D, it may be sucking all the tryptophan into that pathway and producing a lot of serotonin in the gut, which then means less tryptophan is available to this other pathway that is essential to making regulatory T cells that keep autoimmunity at bay.

Q

Can you talk a bit about the potential link between low levels of vitamin D and autism?

A

Low levels of vitamin D had been linked to autism and low levels of serotonin in the brain had also been linked to autism, however, until my work linking vitamin D more directly to serotonin, nobody had put the two together. Serotonin is so much more than a neurotransmitter. During early brain development serotonin actually acts as a brain morphogen because it shapes the structure and wiring of the brain. Serotonin tells neurons where they should go and what type of specific neurons they should become. It is literally acting as a growth factor in that sense during early brain development. Several studies have shown in mice that inhibiting the production of serotonin in early brain development causes functional and structural abnormalities in the brain, some of which manifest later in behavior that is said to resemble some autistic-like behaviors, insofar as mice can mirror the complexity of human behavior. Since vitamin D is required to activate this gene that produces serotonin, and the developing fetus depends on the mother’s vitamin D levels, if the mother is low in vitamin D then there may not be enough for the developing brain to produce serotonin. This could lead to abnormal brain development and autism, particularly in combination with other gene polymorphisms that already increase autism risk.

The other way in which the vitamin D-serotonin pathway may influence autism is by keeping the autoimmune response during pregnancy at bay. What is interesting is that mothers with autistic children are three times more likely to have high levels of antibodies against fetal brain protein in their blood cells. Said another way, they are three times more likely to show signs that their immune system was actively engaged against the developing fetal brain. There is really no good explanation as to why, but it suggests that the developing fetus may be recognized as “foreign” in these women. This may cause the immune cells to actually make antibodies that attack proteins in the developing brain, which could alter the way the brain develops. In fact, this has been shown in pregnant monkeys.

Q

Is it possible to have too much vitamin D?

A

Yes, it is possible but not common. Data compiled from several different vitamin D supplementation studies reveal that vitamin D toxicity is obtained at doses higher than 10,000 IU. Toxic doses of vitamin D can result in exceedingly high serum levels of calcium, known as hypercalcemia and have been reported at doses higher than 50,000 IU.

Q

How can we be sure we’re getting enough vitamin D? What are the best sources?

A

The best way to know if you are getting enough vitamin D is to get a blood test that measures your vitamin D levels. Meta-analyses of studies done ranging from 1966-2013 have shown that people with serum levels between 40-60 ng/ml have the lowest all-cause mortality, meaning they die less of all non-accidental diseases.

Supplementation with vitamin D3 is a good way to ensure you get adequate vitamin D. 1,000 IU of vitamin D per day, in most people, will raise serum levels by about 5 ng/ml. A good vegetarian source of vitamin D3 is lichen. Some foods have been fortified with vitamin D, including milk (100 IU per 8 ounces) and orange juice (100 IU per 8 ounces), but if we’re trying to fix inadequacy, these numbers are really a drop in the bucket. They’re not very much at all. Furthermore, dairy products are a sub-optimal choice for fortification for the approximately 50 million Americans who are lactose intolerant. If, like me, you are someone who decides to supplement, the upper tolerable intake level set by the Institute of Medicine is 4,000 IU. One study showed that people that were considered to be vitamin D deficient were able to raise their serum levels to sufficient levels after supplementing with 4,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day. Via Goop.

xxxxxxx,

Janice

Next Level Hiring

e7f44f50-8145-4fe2-927b-93278451d9db-354-0000018cdc16eba0_tmp

It’s nerve-racking to interview for a job, but for most people, sitting on the other side of the table doesn’t come naturally either. Whether you’re hiring a summer intern for your company or an assistant for yourself, or you’re a CEO looking to expand your leadership team, the process can feel frustratingly mysterious. Adam Grant, professor of psychology and management at the Wharton School of business, and author of Originals and Give and Take, brings a nuanced, research-fortified perspective on hiring that will change the way you approach the process, and take a lot of the guesswork out of your hiring decisions. Below, Grant makes a persuasive case for overlooked traits you should be searching for in potential employees, the unconventional interview questions you should be asking—and the tired ones we should all stop asking. He explains why experience and mega-stars are overrated, how you can get references to speak candidly with you, how to spot an organization’s cultural holes, and the value in identifying the potential in under-performing employees—all brilliant, all relevant to just about anyone who works (or wants to). (Meanwhile, if you missed his first piece with us on raising original kids and the key to creative thinking, catch up here.)

A Q&A with Adam Grant
Q

How do you find good candidates? Where do you look?

A

We know a lot about what to do once you have candidates, how to interview applicants, and evaluate them accurately. But finding them is harder. A few things can help, though:

Lots of research shows that if you get referrals, particularly from the stars within your organization, those candidates tend to end up performing better and sticking around longer. It’s not surprising that a lot of companies offer referral bonuses to their employees to encourage them to think of potential candidates. So this is one place to look—toward the people in your organization.

Refining your job descriptions can also be helpful when you’re looking for candidates. Kieran Snyder, a linguist who co-founded a company called Textio, analyzes job descriptions, looking for words that discourage particular groups from applying. What she’s able to do is re-write your job postings so that you get more applicants and more diverse applicants. For example, women are less likely to apply for a job if the listing uses phrases like “rock star” or “ninja,” or a bunch of sport metaphors to describe the office culture. Instead, you might talk about how important it is to have a strong sense of community, and how much people value being on the team. With this edit, women will be much more likely to see your organization as a place they could envision themselves. Snyder has worked with many tech companies to try to bring in more women and minorities—I think her work is really clever and useful.

Q

What are the tricks to reading a resume?

A

When you’re trying to read personality from a resume, there are a handful of characteristics to consider, and ways to spot them. The two qualities that stand out for me are conscientiousness (or how gritty someone is), and creativity (or openness):

Conscientiousness/grit: Many employers are looking for at least a minimum level of conscientiousness: That someone is hard working, detail-oriented, organized. On the resume, you’re looking for proper formatting and lack of typos. But you can also create what’s called a behavioral accomplishment record by looking for standout achievements: Did the candidate accomplish something difficult? Get performance awards that recognized them for adding some distinctive value to the organizations they belonged to? The harder working, more motivated candidates tend to rack up more of those sorts of achievements.

If you want to hire someone with a lot of grit—someone who doesn’t just start things but sees projects through—look at the length of commitments to different activities. For example, how long were they members of their college clubs? Longer stays are an indicator of grit.

Creativity/openness: If you’re looking for someone who is going to be creative, you’re looking for a trait called openness to experience. How open are they to new ideas and new places? You can pick up small clues about this from resumes. Do they have interesting hobbies, have they traveled a lot, have they gone out of their way to explore things that might be unfamiliar to them?

Q

What about cover letters?

A

One of the things I care a lot about—and many employers do, too—is if a candidate is more of a giver or a taker. Is the cover letter all about me and why I’m awesome? Or is it about why I believe in the organization, and how I think I can contribute to the team’s success?

A variation: There’s some fun research on how humble-bragging doesn’t work—recruiters actually prefer candidates who are honest about their weaknesses. This is something that I’ve started to look at more with cover letters: Is the cover letter all positive? Or, when candidates mention drawbacks, are they compliments in disguise, a la Michael Scott’s line in The Office: My biggest drawback is that I work too hard and care too much?

I’ve seen some great cover letters. A favorite recent one was written by a woman who opened by explaining why she wasn’t qualified based on the job description: I don’t have these three skills, I don’t have this experience that you requested. And here’s why I think you should hire me anyway…

Q

What are three of your favorite interview questions?

A

One of my favorite interview questions gets at whether someone is a giver or a taker by asking them to predict how common a selfish behavior is. People who have selfish tendencies anticipate more selfish behaviors from others (it’s a way for them to rationalize their own behavior). A validated question focuses on stealing from companies—it could be cash, merchandise, intellectual property, etc. For example: What percentage of employees in the U.S. do you think steal at least $10 a month from their companies? The higher someone’s estimate that other people are thieves, the greater chances that he/she is a thief. The way many people answer is they ask themselves: What would I do? Or, what have I done? And then they project that onto other people. An extremely selfish taker would think, Last week I stole $72, it must be pretty common to take $10, so maybe 85 percent? At the other end of the spectrum, a giver might think, How many pens do you have to take home to get to $10? It must be pretty rare: 9%.

A second question I love is: Can you tell me about your proudest accomplishment? This is a great chance to see what people value most. Obviously, there are a lot of different ways to look at answers to this question depending on what you and your organization value.

A third great question is: How would you improve the interview/hiring process? Or, more broadly, you’ve gotten a chance to learn about the organization through this interview process—if you were in charge, what changes would you make? I want to know that candidates are willing to challenge the organization a little bit, that they can give constructive criticism, and that when they notice something isn’t perfect, instead of just accepting it, they can think creatively about how to improve it.

Q

What about interview questions that we should stop asking? Any in particular that make you cringe?

A

There are a lot! I think in general, people ask too many behavioral questions: Tell me about a time when… These result in apples-and-oranges comparisons: I might just happen to have experience that’s relevant to the question, whereas another applicant does not. It’s better to shift to situational questions instead: Give people scenarios that they might face in the job they are interviewing for, and ask them how they would handle those situations. That way, everyone has the same opportunity to succeed in answering the question.

Another cringe-worthy question for me is: Can you tell me about a failure? It’s much better to say: Tell me about how you dealt with a failure. Everyone has had failures—I don’t care about how you describe yours. I want to know whose fault you think it was, and how you responded to it.

Brain teasers are terrible! Tell me how many cars you think are in LA? Who cares! These questions are trying to see if people can do some kind of rough estimation under pressure. But it’s more important to find out if a candidate is a good problem solver, and brain teasers are not the best way to go about it. [More coming on this topic.]

Q

You warn against hiring for culture fit because it can lead to groupthink issues. Can you talk a bit about this?

A

Lauren Rivera’s work has looked at consulting firms and other kinds of professional service organizations, and found that hiring for cultural fit is basically used as a proxy for: Are you like me? And organizations just end up hiring a bunch of people who are similar. (Rivera had a great op-ed in the New York Times about this, called “Guess Who Doesn’t Fit In at Work.”) So, the worry is that hiring for culture fit leads to selecting a bunch of people who are clones of each other, and you lose diversity of thought, background, and experience.

Q

So, how do you resist selecting for cultural fit—what do you look for instead?

A

Hire for cultural contribution. The idea was introduced to me by Diego Rodriguez, a partner at IDEO, arguably the world’s most creative product design firm. (They created the mouse for Apple.) IDEO has had to be very diligent about bringing in diverse people who, instead of just replicating the culture at IDEO, enrich it by bringing something new to the company. IDEO asks: What are the holes in our culture? What is absent? What do we need more of? And they place a premium on those things in the hiring process.

An example: IDEO became known for design thinking. They had lots of designers—people with similar backgrounds. They loved this, it was their bread and butter. But they realized that they needed to make sure they weren’t all thinking the same way, because that limited the variety of ways that they could solve problems. IDEO started to think about what other skills they needed, and one thing they do when re-designing a product or a process is to learn the way an unfamiliar world works. They might go into a hospital if they are trying to change the way a hospital department operates. Or, into a supermarket to redesign a shopping cart. IDEO asked themselves, how can we get better at problem solving? They realized that this is what anthropologists do: They go to new places, explore unfamiliar cultures, and try to figure them out. So, IDEO hired some anthropologists.

They then looked at the company’s culture again, to see what was missing now. And they decided that they need storytelling skills to envision and communicate new products. So, they hired screenwriters and filmmakers.

Every time that IDEO finds a background that enriches the culture, the temptation is to keep hiring more of the same type of person. But the moment you get to that point is when you need to start looking for what else you’re missing.

Q

Beside cultural fit, are there candidate traits that we commonly put too much stock into?

A

Experience tends to be overrated. Yes, sometimes experience can signal that someone can do a certain skill. But with experience also comes baggage and blinders. There is a lot of research suggesting that people overlearn their early experiences and it gets in the way of them coming up with creative solutions to problems. Instead of requiring at least six years of X, what you really want to know is if a candidate can do X, or if can they learn to do X. And experience is not a good indicator of that.

Q

What part of the interview process might we be overlooking?

A

I’m always disappointed when interviewers don’t create work samples, which are real examples of candidates doing tasks applicable to the job. To give you an example, when we hire professors at Wharton, we read all their research papers, and we get all their teaching evaluations—we’re able to actually see the results of their work. To get even more information, we have them do mini seminars for our faculty, which allows us to see their teaching styles and also how they deal with tough questions about their research. It’s much more informative than interviewing the candidates about what they study.

Here’s one good example from the corporate world: GE has an aircraft engine plant in Durham, North Carolina. After a number of years of hiring technically skilled mechanics who happened not to play well with others, they wanted to know: How do we hire people who are not only good at their jobs, but who are also good team players? So, GE created this simulation: They dumped a bunch of Legos on the table and they challenged the applicants to work together to build a helicopter. At first, everyone kind of thought it was a joke. But from this simulation, GE was able to see which candidates had a hard time collaborating and sharing—those behaviors came out during the Lego challenge. Other candidates really distinguished themselves in the process by being the ones who stepped up and enabled everyone to work together effectively.

Here’s another example—imagine that you’re hiring people to write textbook manuals (like the kind you read after you buy a TV and you can’t figure out how to set it up): The hiring managers brought applicants in and said, Here’s a lawn mower. Can you write a manual for how to put it together after it’s been purchased? The hiring managers observed the applicants as they worked on this task, and they could tell within the first five minutes who was going to be good at writing textbook manuals—they all did the same thing first: They took the lawn mower apart, so that they could have the customer’s experience of putting it together, and then wrote the manual from the customer’s point of view. If the candidates didn’t have the instinct to put themselves in the customer’s shoes, the company didn’t want them writing their manuals, regardless of how smart and knowledgeable they were.

Q

How do we evaluate red flags in the hiring process before it’s too late?

A

The negative impact of a bad hire is often double or triple the positive impact of a good hire. The mistake a lot of people make is hiring good individual performers who end up making everyone else’s work worse. One way to evaluate red flags that suggest this could be an issue—as well as evaluate other concerns you might have—is through reference checks.

Reference checks are notoriously biased—everybody has glowing references. You have to find a way to get references to be honest. Ask questions like: “Look, every candidate has weaknesses—nobody is perfect. What do you think are this person’s three biggest weaknesses?”

I like to go further. Let’s say I’ve hired a bunch of people in the past who are constantly dominating the conversation and who never let anybody else contribute, and it’s become really bad for decision making and learning. I’ll ask their references: “Okay, look, what do you think is more likely for this candidate—to be too assertive or not assertive enough?” The references don’t know what the right answer is so they’ll answer it honestly. But I know in this case that I’m more worried about the candidate who is too assertive—that’s my red flag.

Q

When multiple people are involved in a hiring decision, how should the team go about assessing the candidate?

A

Start off with a standardized set of questions that you are going to ask all the applicants in a structured interview so you can compare the candidates’ responses. Before you do this, though, go to the star performers among your current employees, and ask them to answer those questions as if they were interviewing. Do the same with people who are average or poor performers at your organization. And use your employees’ answers to come up with a scoring rubric to help you evaluate what’s a great answer.

Google has found that you rarely need more than four interviewers. (The data from Google on this is really strong.) It’s best for each of the interviewers to own a subset of the questions—so if my company is interviewing ten candidates, I ask all ten candidates the same four or five questions, and a colleague of mine asks each of the ten candidates a different subset of four questions. We all do our individual scoring of the candidates’ answers. Then, we come together to discuss and make a group decision.

Q

When you find a good candidate, how far should you go in order to hire him/her?

A

I think this is much more art than science. A lot of it depends on how much you need this person, how indispensable he or she is. But in my experience—and based on the data we have—people tend to overvalue superstars, especially if they’re hired from the outside. It’s not necessarily clear if their skills are transportable or not, and these outside stars haven’t yet learned what they need to do to be successful in your organization. (Boris Groysberg at Harvard Business School talks about the research behind this in an article called, “The Risky Business of Hiring Stars.” And Matthew Bidwell does interesting research on how organizations pay more for external hires but get less.)

There’s also some really cool work by James Baron showing that if you take your B players—a lot of leaders will talk about employees as A, B, and C players—and give them some extra rewards, you can often eliminate the difference between them and your A players. This works because the former B players end up feeling uniquely valued and they become extra loyal—and you get more of their ideas and their engagement than you would with outside stars, who feel they can leave at any time.

So, any time you’re chasing a star and thinking, I have to have this person—it’s worth asking yourself: Who are my fastest learners, who could I coach and mentor and develop to become a star like this? And how do I make sure that they get the attention and appreciation that they deserve?

Q

There’s a lot of media attention around hiring millennials. Should the interview process be any different for millennials?

A

No, absolutely not. I think discussions about millennials are so overblown from a work perspective, and especially when it comes to hiring.

Research shows that millennials have the same work values as Gen Xers and Baby Boomers—they even rank their top five values in the same basic order. Everybody wants a job that is interesting and challenging and allows them to learn. Everybody wants a job that can support their lifestyle outside of work, and help them gain status and compensation. Everybody wants a job that helps other people, that allows them to make friends, that has decent work-life balance. Generational differences in work values are tiny to the point of being trivial.

And when you look at work habits and styles—yes, on average, sometimes millennials are a little bit more entitled, and maybe a little bit more impatient (as in expecting to get promoted sooner). But generation is not a strong predictor of how entitled or impatient someone is. The distribution of people in each generation overlap a ton. Just because I was born in the same twenty-year span as someone else, doesn’t mean we have anything in common personality-wise.

I think the reason people believe millennials are more different from other generations than they actually are is because millennials tend to care more about self-expression than social approval. So the millennials who are really entitled, they’re much more up front about it—they admit it and will tell you, Yeah, I think I deserve the following things… Whereas maybe a Baby Boomer might think those things but didn’t say them out loud to avoid rocking the boat. It seems like there are more extreme and idiosyncratic behaviors and preferences among millennials because they’ve grown up in a world where everyone is expected to express themselves, and they want you to do that, too. It’s not that the psychology is very different internally among the generations—you just see more of the strong negatives, but also the strong positives, with millennials. Via Goop.

xxxxxxx,

Janice

Scrub A Dub Delight

A little Thieves Cleaner + a little baking soda = scrub a dub delight. We love this #YLTip and 📷 from @petal_and_pod for a fresh and easy cleaning paste for your “sinks, tubs, glass stove tops, and anywhere that needs a little scrubby love”.

444c1550-2701-4792-870f-1ed520aa5f4f-354-00000182f967866b_tmp

Via #YLCanada. DM me for more info.

xxxxxx,

Janice