Workplace Wellness – find your friends

One of the biggest drivers of employee engagement is having someone who you consider a good friend (or sometimes best friend) at work.

Or at least that’s what I used to read about when I was an operational manager at Medtronic. I was a little skeptical. But I think I understand what all those employee engagement surveys are trying to say:

It is important to have colleagues that you trust at work, people who may, over time, become friends. I certainly felt like I had a lot of friends at Medtronic. It’s one reason why it was so hard for me to leave.

WORKPLace wellness on wednesdays

At the University, I am only 2.5 weeks in. I feel like I have a lot of “potential” friends, and people who share common interests. It takes time to form relationships. I am not expecting to adopt a bestie right away. It might take 6-12 months before I find out who my real friends are. People tend to be polite in Minnesota, and it’s not always easy to discern who is a true friend.

Also I sometimes encounter people who are excessively concerned with titles and prestige, so they are likely to wait it out a bit before being too warm and friendly. As a “newbie” in this organization, I don’t have networks yet. I am untested, though my boss told me that the people I had met so far gave her positive feedback about the impression they had from our first meetings. So I will count that as a win.

In any case, I think I am fairly good connecting people and ideas. But like anything, I am being patient with it, since I know that every work place culture is different. I am confident that all of this will shake out eventually.

Back to the mantra I used a couple of weeks ago: You have time. 🙂

Happy Wednesday, friends!

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Wellness Wednesday to evolve

Hi Friends,

I have been doing some thinking in the last couple of weeks to determine what will be the new rhythm of my blog as I begin a new job on June 10th – my birthday!

One of my popular columns & topic areas was the Wellness Wednesday post, which I did some time back. Since I am returning to the workplace, I am going to write a little bit less frequently. I want bring mindfulness to Workplace Wellness. And since I will receive my yoga teacher certification this fall, I really want to bring principles of wholeness and integration to my new workplace.

WORKPLace wellness on wednesdays

I will be a Research Program Manager for the Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute at the University of Minnesota. I am looking forward to it, and I still want to write a couple times a week. So my Sunday haiku will remain (it’s kind of a staple of my week). I still plan to do a Saturday share, maybe every other week, or whenever a particular blog inspires me. It’s good karma to promote others work as well!

And rather than the Tuesday/Thursday posts, I will begin a series on Workplace Wellness to be posted each Wednesday throughout the summer and maybe beyond. (WWW – so you won’t forget to check here!).

These posts will be reminders to myself for how to live well in a changing workplace, and I hope they might help others as well. I plan to integrate principles of yoga and other wisdom I may learn along the way of this new journey.

I thank you so much for your readership and support! Happy Wednesday!

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Mother Lake musings

This week I have the privilege of enjoying some time near Lake Superior. My friend is attending a conference and I will be caring for her two kitties (one of which is pictured below) while she is away.

Olive at e window
Olive at the window 

It was lovely to have some time to catch up with her for a day and a half or so before she leaves. It struck me how similar our career pivots have been in recent years. She is about 5 years ahead me. And while she left a tenured professor position at a University and I left a corporate position, I can tell we have some “threads” in common.

For one, we are finding that recruiters and hiring managers do not always “get” what to do with our experience. As knowledge workers, we often specialize in a particular area for a period of time, say 10-15 years. But then some of us get an “itch” to extend our skills, to stretch outside our comfort zones, or maybe to find work that speaks to our souls. Perhaps we found ourselves living someone else’s idea of success. At the time, it made sense to take that road, to fully immerse ourselves in an area of expertise. And then suddenly (or gradually) we grow out of it.

Many people think we are crazy. “Why the hell would you leave a secure job as a professor (or a clinical research operations manager, in my case)?”

Why indeed?

Deep blue Lake Superior
I just love the deep blue of Lake Superior. This photo was taken near Silver Creek Cliff, looking eastward. Copyright 2019 mexi-minnesotana

Futurists often tell us that the work place is changing. We should expect to make major career moves every 5-10 years. It keeps us nimble, fresh and innovative. But the reality is that structurally, recruitment and sourcing professionals are not hiring this way. It is still about “ticking the boxes” and following a formulaic approach to look for talent, sadly.

My own timeline is such that I will likely head back to full time work soon, probably within the next month or two. I was feeling sad about this a few weeks ago, wondering if I had failed at this attempt at self-employment because I had not planned well enough. I had not narrowed down my niche properly perhaps, or I may thrive under conditions where I have a bit more structure than this wide open landscape.

However it is not failure if we learn from our experiences. And this time I will go back to the drawing board understanding myself better. I know more about the support I need to be productive. I have piloted and tested some ideas and workshop offerings. I have enrolled in yoga teacher training. I am moving forward.

Even if I do need to regroup and re-capitalize a bit, the dream endures. This retreat is an opportunity to go inward to get clear about my deepest longings. I am so grateful for the time and space for this process.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

 

 

Getting it done

On Thursday I finished up a short contract for a writing client that had found me through Upwork. The topic had challenged me. I had needed to do a quick turnaround literature search, read and understand concepts in a field that was unfamiliar, and produce some writing that made sense of a general audience without a medical background.

About half way into the project, I had some doubts. The material was dense and technical, a reminder of my biochemistry days in college. I remembered that brain-twisting experience of reading through research papers that were way over my head, trying to interpret them. It felt like a foreign language in a way, trying to understand complex mechanisms or experimental methodology that was unfamiliar.

But I remembered that there comes a time when focusing deeply on a topic and taking time to break it down pays off. It can take some time, depending on the topic of course. But after some time, getting to know the lingo, looking up things I do not understand, and making my way through some research review articles, the major themes started to click into place.

My brain, which had felt like mush a couple days before, trying to grasp a field which was new to me, finally began to grasp what was most important. I began to think through how to write the review document in a way that someone outside the field might grasp. 

I have to tell you though, getting it done was a relief. Focusing for this short project was a bit of a test to myself. Can I do this work? Will the client like it? Can I really make money as a freelancer? It appears the client is happy, and I expect she will leave a good review. 

Getting it done can be the best feeling. What are you most satisfied with getting done?  Can you make time to celebrate it this weekend? 

Cheers,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Any Upwork gurus out there?

Hi Friends,

I am working on submitting freelance proposals on Upwork, and there is an “art” to it. So I spent more time than usual on the quest for paying work. Unfortunately I needed to curtail my internet reading for a bit to really focus on getting my offer refined.

Thus I am taking a holiday from the usual Saturday share post for the pure practicality of need to eventually drum up some freelance work. I am sharing instead my profile from Upwork for your perusal and critique. If you have any comments on how to make the blurb more attractive or appealing, I appreciate your marketing eye.

upwork snip.JPG

AND if you know of anyone looking for this kind of service, by all means, send them my way with this link!

Getting a few reviews of short projects will help me get some ratings and have a better short at longer-term projects. I am willing to negotiate some great deals for clients who are willing to provide reviews and feedback.

Much appreciated, friends. The holidays draw near and even though I shall explain to my family that their gifts will be quite inexpensive this year, I would like to travel again (someday) in 2019. So I am getting on the ball rolling on this “gig pilot” to see if I can make it work.

Cheers & happy weekend,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Junk science and nutraceuticals

Lately I have received two completely separate solicitations from a friend and a family member for “nutra-ceutical” products that make claims that are fairly dubious. I am curious about why the information was sent to me, and I am following up to understand this. However, I feel the need to debunk bad science before it harms or scams people.

Terms like epigenetics, biohacking, and reducing oxidative stress are used to draw people into the pseudo-scientific claims they are making. It really upsets me, because the research that they link to their articles does not back up the claims they make. They also prey upon the lack of clinical research knowledge of ordinary people in order to try to sell them supplemental nutrition that we should be getting from real food.

LittleYellowPill.JPG
Promotional blurb from the Facebook ad, trying to capitalize on trusted brands in order to market a product with dubious claims.

It makes me so angry that I am going to go on a bit of a rant here. Pardon me for that, but I do not like to see my friends and family duped into buying or selling expensive products that are totally unnecessary. Because this industry is NOT regulated and does not have to go through FDA or other approvals to be released, I have serious safety and efficacy concerns about these products.

I support medicines or supplements that have been shown to have clinical benefits, as long as the side effects are non-existent or minor. Obviously, as a clinical researcher in the medical device industry for over a decade, I have seen the difference that proper therapy and intervention can make for patients.

But I see also the shady under-belly of an industry that is preying upon the worries and fears of people. There is probably a strong placebo effect in terms of people’s belief that these products may work for them. However, I think consumers waste money unnecessarily on non-proven and potentially dangerous supplements that have not been adequately evaluated.

I have healthy skepticism for the medical establishment. I realize that recommendations are not always in the long-term best interest of the patient. Incentives can be contradictory. I realize that presents a problem. But approval for medicines, devices or supplements should be made based on rigorous study design and tested via randomized controlled trials.

Please be careful when you see claims made that seem too good to be true. When a pill claims to reduce symptoms for Fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s, and dementia, and MS and a host of other conditions, be suspicious. Typically these claims are overblown and would never pass muster in terms of their scientific validity.

End of rant. This has been your weekly PSA from a concerned clinical researcher.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com