Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Entrepreneuship & Innovation: the language used to describe male and female is different

Professors of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Luleå University of Technology and Hanken School of Economics in Sweden recorded venture capitalists (VC's) conversations and analyzed how differently they talk about female entrepreneurs when evaluating investment proposals.

The language they use to describe the entrepreneurs plays an important but often hidden role in shaping who is awarded funding and why. 

From the experiment, one major thing stuck out: the language used to describe male and female entrepreneurs was radically different. And these differences have very real consequences for those seeking funding — and for society in general.

More broadly, this research (find more on HBR May 2017 issue)suggests that stereotyping through language underpins the image of a man as a true entrepreneur while undermining the image of a woman as the same. Such stereotyping will inevitably influence the distribution of financing, but could also have other major consequences.

Because the purpose of government VC's is to use tax money to stimulate growth and value creation for society as a whole, gender bias presents the risk that the money isn’t being invested in businesses that have the highest potential. This isn’t only damaging for women entrepreneurs; it’s potentially damaging for society as a whole.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Alpha Leader or Bonobo? When drive, competitiveness and commitment are too much..

Given the high organisational costs to companies, has the aggressive, "alpha male style of leadership" had its day? Should companies be looking for alternative models of leadership?
As pressures increases, the "alpha’s leadership style" can move from constructive and challenging to one of intimidation and even abuse. In many instances, people working for alpha male leaders suffer from low morale, high absenteeism, high levels of stress and burnout and, not surprisingly, given their dysfunctional behaviour, companies run by destructive alphas can easily go down the drain.

Manfred de Vries, INSEAD Distinguished Professor interestingly writes about this and how the closest relative of Homo Sapiens is not the gorilla (known for its alpha male behaviour) but the bonobo, alias the pygmy chimpanzee, which is part of a matriarchal society. 

Humans share 98.7 percent of DNA with the bonobos which create, maintain, and use social networks to manage stressful conditions, in contrast to the alpha “fight-or-flight” behavior. There is a place for alpha-behavior in organisations which need the drive, competitiveness and commitment of leadership - however this must be balanced with models of leadership that connect, build and nurture. Once this balance is achieved, organisations like Amazon (named as one of the most stressful companies to work for) will discover that employees who work without fear can be driven to new heights.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Addicted to your phone? Get into action!

Technology addiction expert, Dr. David Greenfield refers to smartphones as “the world’s smallest slot machine", explaining that just as alike these small machines operate on a variable reinforcement schedule highly addictive and neurobiological explaineded.

Addiction is a condition that results from ingestion of a substance (ex: alcohol, cocaine, nicotine, cafeine, ...) or from engaging in an activity (ex:, gambling, sex, shopping,..) that can be pleasurable but the continuation of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary responsibilities and concerns, such as work, relationships, or health. People who developed an addiction may not be aware that their behavior is out of control and causing problems for themselves and others. 

With the internet, twitter, facebook and many more, it is easy to get almost instant gratification for the desire to seek. 
Want to talk to someone right away? Send a text and they respond in a few seconds. Want to look up some information? Just type your request into google… 

It’s SO easy to get in a dopamine induced loop. 
Dopamine starts you seeking, then you get rewarded for the seeking which makes you seek more, becoming harder and harder to stop looking at email, stop texting, or stop checking your cell phone to see if you have a message or a new text.

So, what to do? Here is a good reading and tips on how to outsmart your smartphone by using technology to limit your technology use. You might also consider the very basics such as getting your phone out of the bedroom and putting yourself on a digital diet.  

Not enough? Then take a more extreme course of action and consider Daniel Sieberg's strategy; get drastic with a digital detox - check it out and decide on a few steps you can NOW and get started.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Being in it together

I will repeat: running it's tough and it hurts. And yet I keep doing it and this is the day I've completed my 2nd half-marathon. Now, not only is running tough on the body, it is also tough on the mind - and by tough the mind, in the case of today's run - Meia Maratona de Cascais - means .. yeah, positively tough!!

It seems that our will to run is innate and humans evolved as we did because of our ability to run (as Christopher McDougall's defends in his bestselling book "Born to Run" a theory devised by Harvard scientists). Beyond the physical aspects, plenty has also been said and written about running being a sort of road to self-awareness and reliance, allowing a person to push itself to extremes and learn about its own physical and mental limitations. This is also a part of our evolution as we learn more on what are, how to accept and put in perspective limitations. 

When you are cognizant of your limitations you can use them to move forward in life - this means the more conscious we become of what limits us, the more limitless becomes our life.

Now, me and my good friends Rita, Sara and Paula have taken a compromise and made a pledge together on something that, even being a limitation for all (except for Sara that meanwhile has run a Marathon!!)  would allow us to share a breakthrough experience; to run an half-marathon together.  And yes, TODAY three of us crossed the end line together, new road that reinforces our bonding. This has got me thinking about the commitments we make, and how we keep or break them. 

When we promise something only to ourselves, it's easy to back out.
But when we make a commitment to other persons (and specially when those persons mean a lot to us) that is something that raises the stakes! We become invested in accomplishing the promise made together,  supporting each other in whatever struggles each one experiences to keep the promise, creating bonds, caring and and encouraging who ever is involved in reaching the common goal. 

So, now running is more; is about surpassing challenges that are creating a sense of connectedness, a sense of being in it together. Is about feeding a "place in my mind" of deeper level of self-awareness that supplies ways to work with limitations and even so, allowing freedom of mind that serves as key to self-motivation. 

Thank you Rita and Sara! 
Paula; we'll see you on March!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

What is happiness anyway?

As humans, we typically strive for happiness, most of the times a condition that we perceive to be the opposite of suffering - meaning, if suffering is, by definition, the state of undergoing pain, distress or hardship then you do not want to be in that state but instead want be to in the state of being happy.

One may tend to discussed then if these can be experienced as two as separate states of being - meaning, are we really only able to feel happy when we do not suffer? and conversely, when one is suffering is it then not possible to feel or be happy?

From my own experience, happiness isn’t a thing  - instead, happiness is the result of the combination of feelings of the things we live and experience. You are not happy - you feel (or not) happy.

For the ones that may agree with this perspective, this means that the pursuit of meaning, purpose and fulfillment in life as a long lasting challenge may not make that much sense... Sustaining this perspective is the body of 
research that suggests that happiness is a combination of how satisfied you are with your life (for example, finding meaning in your work) and how good you feel on a day-to-day basis.

Seems also that our general happiness is more genetically determined than anything else  but the good news is that with consistent effort this can be offset. So, while it could take years of persistence to deeply transform life (if even possible), there are some scientifically-tested strategies that have been shown to provide an immediate happiness boost. And even if such activities provide a modest increase in happiness, when practiced consistently they become happiness habits, energizing people to live their dreams and passions. 

In summary, do try to remember that under normal conditions, daily life is filled with simple things (and miracles); from the wonderful people that surrounds us to computer games or a peaceful walk in the park. Somehow we tend to take all for granted after a while, putting in front of us the challenge of thinking about a better way to appreciate and savor the good things of life. If that is the case, try this framework at Happify were you can practice, right now, and get a shot of healthy psychological nutrients.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Extended travel affects personality; becoming a different person when hitting the road

In some ways we are all the same - we all have the same human nature and we all share a common humanity. We all have human bodies and human minds; we all have human thoughts and human feelings. What makes us different seems to be the characteristics we think of as personality, many of the times sufficient enough to describe differences between people. 

PEDES is a research project launched by the Department of Personality Psychology and Psychological Assessment at the Friedrich Schiller University aimed at contributing to a better understanding of personality development in general. One of the fields of study has been the interplay between personality and international mobility experiences in young adulthood. 

The research focus has been on the basic personality traits (referred to as the Big Five traits) which include a broad variety of characteristics people use to describe themselves and others:

- Openness (characteristics such as openness to ideas, to actions, and to values)
- Conscientiousness (dutifulness, self-discipline, achievement striving)
- Extraversion (gregariousness, warmth, assertiveness),
- Agreeableness (altruism, trust, compliance),
- Neuroticism (anxiety, hostility, vulnerability to stress)

Authors argue that international mobility is a relevant life event for the personality development of young adults. Extended foreign travel takes people outside of their comfort zone, since travelers have to adapt to new people and new cultural practices and
also implies to gain perspective on life, which made them less emotionally reactive to day-to-day changes. Overall, studies have confirmed the fundamental importance of personality characteristics with regard to mobility decisions.  

Monday, November 28, 2016

Girls; we can have it all! (want we can not is to do all ...)

More gender equality within the business sector and a reduction of the gender pay gap can only be sustainably realised if companies follow a comprehensive approach including corporate strategy, management, operational implementation by business units and HR work organisation and monitoring, said António Ramalho, CEO of Novo Banco last Thursday November 24, at Universidade Católica.

Key-note speaker at the conference "Liderança Feminina" (with an agenda aimed at inspiring the next generation of executives with experiences&advices from professionals with solid careers and leadership), António Ramalho made a review of the last 30 years, underlining that in Portugal, women represent more than half of the total population, graduate high school at a higher rate than men and hold domain in all areas of study except engineering and industry ... still, despite that, the country ranks poorly when it comes to corporate sector, as very few women hold top management positions in companies.

Diversity continues to be a much debated topic and, regarding gender, while there's a growing consensus that it is an imperative, the progress is painfully slow. Understanding and identifying how men’s involvement in gender equality issues, both in private and public spheres, is still a key question in the Portuguese contemporary society - and, as António Ramalho said, any father will be truly interested in this discussion as many changes are still required specially in traditional male domains. Amongst those many, responsability of corporations on talent retention and future thinking business strategies.

The conference was then followed by panels and by an interesting number of role-model testemonies from women in different sectors, with quite different and interesting experiences. If there is a summary for the common realms that were discussed, I would point to the inescapable fact that change only happens when one starts demanding that it does. This means that it, when it comes to gender diversity, change also depends on "each woman (own) decision".

And with that, if I may say (and share), we women (and mothers and fathers) need to accept that each of us is part of this! So, let's tell ourselfs and our daughter:

Yes, we can have it all. (what we can not is to do all.. and that's OK).