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ironiya • this career-oriented blog—published on biweekly Wednesdays—looks at the positive and sometimes ironic sides of a kaleidoscopic range of workplace and life issues, from education and employment to discipline and discord •

lost in technology: manual transmission

Births, weddings and funerals tend to be when the home phone rings most often, when the mailbox swells with congratulatory or sympathy cards. Yet when was the last time you received a phone call or handwritten card in the wake of a new job or promotion, a positive doctor’s report, the start of summer? These and dozens of other of life’s joys to be celebrated and shared may be acknowledged with a quick text or email, but the personal touch beyond the screen and processor appears to have become as rare as rush-hour patience on I-95. Read More 

putting your best foot forward: track & field

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You’ve got résumés out to 100 companies. How to make sense of it all? Categorize them by type, location, priority or preference. Follow up with each contact as if the only one. The personal touch can never be overestimated. Don’t send an email, but write (in longhand) and mail a card thanking for the opportunity. Use the post office’s breast-cancer stamps—not to impress anyone, but simply to do the right thing. And even though this is through and through a business relationship, don’t forego the personal touches, the fellowship of similar interests, the acknowledgement of mutual goals. Keep track of even small details, an effort that will distinguish you as a prime prospect. Read More 

key perspectives: fresh produce

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One’s mental and physical outlook has incalculable benefits upon productivity and key perspectives.

So that knowledge and $5 will get you a cup of Starbucks, right? But add somevanilla and cinnamon in the form of what you really believe in and watch the price come down while your cup runneth over. This isn’t some pithy statement borne of over-caffeinated wishful thinking, but a universal truism that remains surprisingly lacking across industries and businesses both large and small. Read More 

true passion: beyond the paycheck

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If your chosen career is motivated by true passion, is the commute really that long? Are the office politics really that onerous? Are the inevitable extra hours really that tiresome? Whether the economy is “firing on all cylinders,” as the analysts are fond of saying, or whether one in 10 Americans are without steady work, there are always options.

Do you love foreign cultures? Learn another language—not out of obligation to work for a multinational company, but from real desire. From embassy to agency, you’ll always have a place to make a professional contribution. Read More 

avoiding the ordinary: canned goods

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What do you bring to the table? Be it a job interview, a brainstorming session or
interaction with a loved one, are your responses built on expected words, conventional notions, ingrained thought processes?

Almost every sphere of human activity can benefit from original ideas, and they hardly need be limited to symphony or skyscraper, to palate or painting, to e-this or i-that. Cause a few sparks—by going above and beyond, by living without fear of others’ responses, by acting from true conviction. Read More 

the rules we live by: spare keys

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For myriad reasons both secular and spiritual, we strive to live by a set of rules, a group of key tenets, that will best serve the overall good.

But what of the less obvious of these behaviors? What of the aspects of daily life that are not generally seen, obviously recognized or otherwise reinforced? These can be equally if not more important for lives of integrity and productivity.

Do thoughts and self-regard remain humble in the wake of praise? Is gratitude present no matter how hard the work, how deserved the reward? Is conduct that recognizes and embraces others a natural part of every day, of each interaction? Read More 

confronting consequences: the glass sealing

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Perhaps the report doesn’t need those few extra pages, or the annual checkup can
wait a few more months, or you’re sure the car can go a few thousand more miles
before its oil change, or the complicated home project is almost good enough, or… or… or.

It’s not unusual to become tired in what can be a difficult economy or with the kaleidoscopic range of daily obligations, to feel that just making it through the most urgent priorities is enough, to leave uncompromising thoroughness for another, more doable day. Read More 

traditional gender roles: malebox

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Traditional gender roles are as outdated as last year’s calendar. Sure, men will always provide the seed, and women will always bear children, but beyond those natural facts, limitations simply don’t (or shouldn’t) exist.

Choose any profession, from prime minister and secretary of state to scientist and professor. From CEO and entrepreneur to concert pianist and composer. From… to…. From… to…. Women can be dominating and abrasive; men can be sensitive and nurturing. And mothers can be breadwinners while stay-at-home fathers can take care of home and hearth. Read about one country’s current struggles (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/27/opinion/turkeys-politics-of-fatigue.html) and how corrosive it can be to remain bogged down in suffocating norms. Read More 

doing well by doing good: value added

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You’ve worked hard. You’ve attained a level of career success that transcends the vagaries of the economy. You deeply value your significant other and nurture your children or other family members. There is no better time to become a mentor, to volunteer your time, to become a board member or to donate to a nonprofit organization for which you feel closely connected. Here’s how one couple has found much satisfaction giving back by working on community service projects (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/14/your-money/rotary-and-peace-corps-find-renewed-relevance-with-older-volunteers.html). Read More 

give or take: the conventional root

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You’ve decided. It’s perfect for you. It represents a direct way to self-fulfillment, and you have so much to offer. You’ve studied hard, worked hard. The way to make a real contribution has presented itself. What lies at the root of conventional responses, of a course of action widely followed by your competition? So then how to distinguish yourself? Read More