Monday, Oct 18 2010 

There are two kinds of failures:
those who thought and never did,
and those who did and never thought.
– Laurence J. Peter


Quitting Time — How to Have a Happy Ending Friday, Oct 15 2010 

by Carole Jackson, Bottom Line Health

The pain of breaking up has been a staple of pop music for generations — and in truth, any kind of breakup, be it from a relationship, a job, even where you live, is hard to do! People stay in fractious marriages for decades… continue working at jobs that they can barely tolerate, sometimes in cities that they claim to loathe. What is it about calling something quits… finished… over… done with… that we find so incredibly difficult?

Actually, says Lauren Zander, life coach and regular Daily Health News contributor, it’s not the endings that we fear — it’s the shapeless, unknowable future that comes next. We want to know that all will be well, that we can have fairy-tale endings like the stories we listened to in childhood, in which people lived together “happily ever after.” People quite naturally fear the unknown — a situation or relationship may not be terribly fulfilling or even all that comfortable, but staying with the “devil you know” seems safer (and is more predictable) than wrestling with one you haven’t met. Also, ending what is requires a vision for what can be… it takes imagination, a tool that many adults aren’t used to using.

What’s to Fear?

In truth, endings are full of gifts — most especially the opportunity for a new beginning and potentially one that is far more gratifying. Also once you’ve accepted that you’re willing to end something — a job, a romance or even an unused gym membership or volunteer activity that you no longer enjoy — you often feel an immediate sense of new freedom and energy. You can choose to use this to face the problem and fix it… or forever let go.

The hardest part is deciding in the first place — to end or not. To make this decision, Zander says that you’ll have to ask yourself some hard questions. If you’re weighing whether to stay with or leave your partner, your career or even something more ephemeral, such as your faith in a particular religion, you must identify your real feelings. Does he, she or it make you happy and energized? Or do you feel, instead, endless and insurmountable frustration, disappointment, emptiness, boredom, resentment, anger or any of a host of other bad feelings? Obviously, if the feelings you’ve ticked off are mostly — or all — on the second list, an ending is likely to be the right decision.

When Feelings are Buried

Acknowledging unhappy feelings toward a long-standing relationship or association is not always easy to do. People often aren’t even aware that they harbor negative feelings — they’ve grown used to hiding them even from themselves, describing everything as “fine.” They see themselves as loyal and committed and say that they accept their situation and its imperfections, but meanwhile, deep inside, they are miserable and sometimes even desperate for change. Consider, for instance, the woman who feels captive in the very large house where her children were raised, burdened by its upkeep and bored with her life — who is unable to see how it might be possible to move to an easy-to-care-for condo that would open up many new possibilities.

Feelings don’t have to stay buried, says Zander — here’s a great way to unearth them: Pay attention to what you complain about the most. Listen to yourself for a few days and hear what you say… because your complaints will reveal what you need to address. “When people constantly complain about something, they are begging themselves to put an end to the problem,” says Zander. Mind you, these complaints may not even be spoken aloud — often they just fester in your mind, leaving you feeling angry at your spouse or frustrated by your boss.

Moving Forward or Idling?

Once you become attuned to what is making you unhappy, consider what would make you happy — again, a vision will motivate you. If you already know details about the kind of job you want, you may be able to get it by transferring within the same company… or if it’s more leisure and less work in the house and garden you crave, perhaps your solution is simply hiring some help.

It’s especially important to examine your closest relationships. Are you fulfilled, happy and growing — or are you merely tolerating where you are, suffering through life out of a sense of obligation? Zander points out that if the latter dominates in your thoughts, it’s quite likely that the other party feels the same. What improvements are possible? Or if improvements won’t be enough, it may mean that it’s time to flat out end things.

If it becomes clear that what you really want is an ending, don’t be afraid to make it happen… but do be ready to experience a range of feelings, from joy to sadness, terror to relief and, without a doubt, anxiety about what comes next. Before you make your final departure, write down your dream of the future in as much detail as possible so that you don’t feel as though you are walking into the abyss. This will be your road map. Expect that your vision may change along the way — that’s quite okay! It’s part of the process.

Leaping into the unknown after an ending requires faith and trust that while life unfolds in ways that you can’t control, somehow you still will be “all right.” And here’s something you can look forward to: Zander points out that endings often are followed by a period of intense excitement. She said that time and again, she has seen her clients realize “the most important times in their lives emerged from willingness to let go of what has been outworn and is no longer useful” and that then led to a new beginning. Yes, it takes courage — but your life will be vibrant and filled with adventures that never would have happened otherwise!

Lauren Zander, cofounder and chairman, The Handel Group, .

Do You Have the Qualities of a Leader Thursday, Oct 14 2010 

by the writers of Business Management Daily


You don’t need the word “chief” in your title to act as a leader to the troops. Show that you possess the qualities for promotion by exhibiting these leadership traits:

Initiative. Don’t simply do your job well as it’s defined. Seek ways to improve operations or coach another employee. Improve upon “the way we’ve always done things around here.”

Take the reins of a project or group when no leader is designated or the person who nominally holds the job can’t or isn’t making progress. Example: “I know you’ve been tied up with the ABC proposal. Would you like me to start the ball rolling on XYZ by making these assignments?”

Judgment. Show that you can weigh all the relative factors and act decisively. Sometimes, that requires defying earlier orders from the boss, so be prepared to explain why the situation demanded a change in direction.

To exercise good judgment, you’ll need broad knowledge of your organization, its challenges and what others do to ensure that you aren’t creating new problems when solving old ones. Example: “Joan and I can put this assignment on hold to pitch in with today’s problem in the sales department, but Marlon will need to continue working on the database entries that must be complete by tomorrow.”

Listening skills. Become the person other people bounce ideas off. By listening, asking informed questions and offering thoughtful replies, you’ll become a “center of influence.” When you talk, people will listen. And you’ll know well in advance of others what changes likely lie ahead.

Motivation. Great leaders are positive without being Pollyannas. Tackle work challenges with enthusiasm and passion, setting a visible example for other team members. Note what factors spur your colleagues to greater achievement, so you know how to appeal to each person individually.

Appearance. Without any other information, others will judge you by what they see: your posture, clothing, demeanor and speech. So stand tall, walk with purpose and speak well. Leaders don’t mumble.

Chances are, you strive for what you want in every part of your life – except one. And the truth is – and chances are you sense this – you’re tantalizingly close to going from a good job to a stellar career. From a decent income to a powerful compensation package. And from a nice life to an envied lifestyle. The difference? Leadership skills.

Leadership means standing out from the pack.

Source:  Business Management Daily

Is Butter Better? Thursday, Oct 14 2010 

by Carole Jackson, Bottom Line Health

For many years, butter was replaced by margarine on the menus of health-conscious consumers. But like many dietary taboos, that’s beginning to change. A little butter is better than the fake stuff, says Daily Health News contributing medical editor Andrew L. Rubman, ND. Butter is a natural food that supports good health, while margarine is a processed product chemically fashioned from refined polyunsaturated oils. Don’t take this as license to drench your vegetables in pools of butter or slather it on your toast with abandon — but unless you have health challenges such as a serious digestive or metabolic disorder, Dr. Rubman says to go ahead and use the real thing!

Butter with Benefits

Butter consists of butterfat and trace amounts of milk proteins and water. You may be surprised to hear that butterfat is butyric acid, which is basically the same substance that mothers produce to nourish their babies, Dr. Rubman explains.

Butter’s beneficial components include…

  • Antioxidants. Beta-carotene, selenium and other antioxidants shield the body from free-radical damage.
  • Butyric acid. This short-chain fatty acid supports colon health.
  • Conjugated linoleic acids. CLAs fight cancer, build muscle and boost immunity.
  • Iodine. Butter is rich in iodine, which is essential to thyroid health.
  • Lauric acid. A medium-chain fatty acid, lauric acid encourages the body’s immune system to fend off yeast and other infections.
  • Lecithin. This phospholipid protects cells from oxidation and may contribute to cholesterol metabolism.
  • Vitamin A. Butter contains the readily absorbable form of vitamin A, which is a must for eye and endocrine health.
  • Vitamin D. This vitamin helps your body absorb calcium to maintain strong bones and plays a role in reducing your risk for chronic diseases such as osteoporosis, heart disease, and colon and other cancers.
  • Vitamin E. Anti-inflammatory vitamin E speeds wound healing, promotes skin health, enhances immunity and may protect against a host of illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
  • Vitamin K. Proper blood clotting and bone health are among the benefits offered by fat-soluble vitamin K.

But What About the Fat?

The biggest rap against butter is its high fat content. Butter bashers argue that saturated fat and cholesterol in butter contribute to heart disease, but Dr. Rubman disagrees — and the research bears him out. In a study published in the May 2010 The Lancet, scientists point out that countries with the highest saturated fat consumption have lower cardiac mortality rates than countries that consume the least fat. For example, the French enjoy three times more saturated fat than the Azerbaijanis but have one-eighth the rate of heart disease deaths. The Finns eat half as much fat as the French, but the death rate from heart disease is three times greater in Finland. In research from the UK, 2,000 men with heart disease who cut back on saturated fat for two years had no fewer heart attacks than men who did not cut back.

Saturated fat and cholesterol have been falsely demonized by manufacturers of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, observes Dr. Rubman, noting that since butter is typically used in small amounts, this can be a good place to get the fat your body needs, not only for optimal health but for life itself. Every cell in your body contains saturated fat and cholesterol, which contribute to proper digestive function, growth and other essential processes. According to Dr. Rubman, for best health, most people should follow a diet that contains approximately 15% to 30% fat, including some saturated fats. How much saturated fat depends on factors such as caloric expenditure and digestive efficiency — the more calories you burn, the more saturated fat you can appropriately consume.

Go with Organic

You are best off with organic butter made from the milk of grass-fed cows, Dr. Rubman notes — since conventional butters often contain dangerous pesticides, antibiotics and added growth hormones. Indeed, the Pesticide Action Network North America ranked non-organic butter as one of the top 10 foods most contaminated with persistent organic pollutants (POPs), toxic chemicals linked with breast cancer, immune system suppression, nervous system disorders, reproductive damage, hormone disruption and more!

Besides containing toxins, non-organic butter also is less nutritious than organic butter… less creamy… and less tasty. Is there any reason to buy any butter that’s not organic? Well, organic butter is more expensive than conventional butter — but the difference in a household’s overall budget is truly small, especially now that national grocery chains, such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, are offering their own organic store brands.

Butter is a staple of the human diet that people have safely and happily consumed for thousands of years, and Dr. Rubman says we should no more ban it from our lives than we should ban mother’s milk. It should be enjoyed in moderation, a pat here and a pat there — but enjoyed it can be… and that’s more than can be said of margarine or other butter substitutes.


Andrew L. Rubman, ND, founder and director, Southbury Clinic for Traditional Medicines, Southbury, Connecticut. <> .


What Really Causes Dementia Thursday, Oct 14 2010 

by Carole Jackson, Bottom Line Health

What really causes dementia? What a relief it would be to know the answer, since practically everyone I know worries about whether the occasional “senior moment” or “brain fog” is a sign that something more serious is going on. With the incidence of dementia rising worldwide, scientists are studying this issue from every possible angle, trying to learn what illnesses, lifestyle habits and environmental factors are at play — but, to be honest, as yet no one knows for sure.

Making this particular challenge even more difficult (or rewarding, I suppose, depending on your perspective) is that dementia researchers seem to find new associations with every rock they turn over. Having a big head? Exposure to bright lights? Both may be protective. Living a sedentary lifestyle, smoking and having high cholesterol at midlife? Trouble lies ahead.

What We Do Know…

Let’s take a quick trip through some of the more recent research findings so that you can see what I mean:

Healthy habits that seem to protect against dementia…

Using your brain, living a full life. A study of 951 older, dementia-free patients found that those who reported having a purpose in life at the study’s start were half as likely to have Alzheimer’s disease seven years later… while numerous studies showed that engaging in mentally stimulating activities, such as doing crossword puzzles, playing cards and attending movies and plays, holds back development of dementia.

Good nutrition — including taking tea. A four-year study of 2,258 dementia-free New Yorkers found 40% lower risk for Alzheimer’s among those who followed the Mediterranean diet (lots of fruit, vegetables, fish, olive oil, legumes and cereals and moderate alcohol intake) than for those whose diets weren’t as healthy. Studies have also found that drinking tea regularly is protective — for instance, one 14-year study found that tea drinkers were 37% less likely to develop dementia than those who don’t drink tea.

Exercise. A vast body of research finds regular exercise is protective. For instance, one study found that those who engage in active exercise, such as doing yard work or biking, had a 29% lower risk for dementia than people who got little or no exercise.

Meanwhile, signs that point to increased risk for other health problems are also associated with a higher risk for dementia…

Vitamin D deficiency. An international group that assessed cognitive decline of 858 seniors over six years found that people deficient in vitamin D were more than 60% more likely to have experienced significant cognitive decline and 31% more likely to have problems with executive function (which includes thinking, learning and memory) than those with healthy levels of vitamin D.

Cardiovascular risk factors. One large study that followed almost 10,000 people over age 40 found that even marginally high cholesterol (200 mg/dL to 239 mg/dL) at middle age increased risk for late-life dementia by about 50%, while other studies have correlated high blood pressure with dementia.

First- and secondhand smoking. Beyond the countless studies linking smoking and cognitive impairment, a six-year study of almost 5,000 nonsmoking adults by researchers from the Universities of Cambridge and Michigan found that those who reported long-term exposure (30 years or more) to secondhand tobacco smoke were about 30% more likely to develop dementia than those who reported no regular exposure.

And if you already have certain diseases, odds are higher that you’ll get dementia, too…

Diabetes. Substantial research has found diabetes is a risk factor for dementia. For example, a new study by London’s Institute of Psychiatry found that participants with diabetes were nearly three times as likely as nondiabetics to develop dementia.

Depression. Several studies find depression increases dementia risk. Of nearly 1,000 elderly participants from the 62-year Framingham Heart Study, those who were depressed when first examined had almost double the risk for dementia 17 years later.

Is There a Theme Here?

I called Peter Rabins, MD, MPH, Richman Family Professor for Alzheimer’s and Related Diseases at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, to ask his opinion. He told me that it makes sense, in practical terms, to summarize risk factors for dementia as being pretty much inclusive of everything that we already know is bad for your heart. But when it comes to prevention, he added — frustratingly — the massive amount of research has so far produced “no strong evidence that we can ‘prevent’ dementia by doing anything in particular.”

A major problem is that most of the studies have some basic limitation or flaw in research design, Dr. Rabins told me. For instance, most of the existing research compares people who develop dementia with those who don’t… but new research indicates that dementia may be present decades before symptoms are noticeable enough to make a diagnosis, so it may be that some of those patients weren’t actually dementia-free. Another flaw: Healthier people tend to take better care of themselves, so it’s hard to tease out which factors or habits are responsible for cognitive health.

In the Meantime…

What scientific advice can we offer, based on what we know at this point? I asked Dr. Rabins this question. He pointed out that when it comes to preventing dementia, the odds clearly favor those who live a healthy lifestyle. For instance, since 10% to 20% of dementia in the US is known to have vascular causes, we can infer that eating a healthy diet, exercising and managing stress are beneficial. The fact that only 30% to 60% of dementia risk is thought to be genetic means that there is plenty of reason to do all you can to reduce environmental risk — another argument for health-promoting habits and choices.

The search for the cause or cure will certainly continue, but reviewing what we already do know says quite a lot. Living well and with joy seems to boost the odds that you will remain cognitively intact, whereas all those things that are bad for you… are bad for you.

Peter V. Rabins, MD, MPH, Richman Family Professor for Alzheimer’s and Related Diseases, vice-chair for academic affairs, department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, and coauthor of The 36 Hour Day (The Johns Hopkins University Press).

For Women, It Pays to Be Very Thin Thursday, Oct 14 2010 

By Sue Shellenbarger

We have posted before on how obese women have a far harder time climbing the career ladder than their slimmer female counterparts, while men actually improve their chances of reaching the corner office when they gain weight.

Now, a new study goes a step further by showing that employers seem to treat women exactly the way the fashion industry does – by rewarding very thin women with higher pay, while penalizing average-weight women with smaller paychecks. Very thin men, on the other hand, tend to get paid less than male workers of average weight. Men earn more as they pack on the pounds – all the way to the point where they become obese, when the pay trend reverses.

The study is the first look at the effects of being very thin on men vs. women. Separate studies of 11,253 Germans and 12,686 U.S. residents led by Timothy A. Judge of the University of Florida found very thin women, weighing 25 pounds less than the group norm, earned an average $15,572 a year more than women of normal weight. Women continued to experience a pay penalty as their weight increased above average levels, although a smaller one — presumably because they had already violated social norms for the ideal female appearance. A woman who gained 25 pounds above the average weight earned an average $13,847 less than an average-weight female.

Men were also penalized for violating stereotypes about ideal male appearance, but in a different way. Thin guys earned $8,437 less than average-weight men. But they were consistently rewarded for getting heavier, a trend that tapered off only when their weight hit the obese level. In one study, the highest pay point, on average, was reached for guys who weighed a strapping 207 pounds.

The study suggests employers should examine their assumptions about employees’ weight, because they may be rooted in prejudice. However, there also may be a logical explanation, the study points out: People who conform to others’ ideas about the ideal body image may actually perform better on the job, because they can wield more influence over other people and get more things accomplished.

Meanwhile, in separate research, economists at George Washington University tabulated the cost of obesity and found that it’s more expensive for a woman to be obese than for a man, according to the New York Times. (Their calculations included direct costs, like medical expenses, and indirect expenses, like lost wages and reduced work productivity.)  While a man racks up $2,646 annually in extra expenses if he is obese, a woman’s obesity costs her $4,879, almost twice as much, the Times reported.

Source: The Juggle, Wall Street Journal

Career Skills: How to Influence Your Colleagues Wednesday, Oct 13 2010 

– Phil Stott,

“The most important capacity you possess is the capacity to influence other people to change their behavior.”—Joseph Grenny, addressing the 2010 World Business Forum at Radio City Music Hall. According to Grenny, all leaders face two key problems:

  1. What should we do? (A problem of leadership or strategy)
  2. How do I get everyone to do it? (A problem of influence)

Making the point that most businesses tend to focus on the first point—the strategy—Grenny pointed out the need to spend more time on the second, and devoted the bulk of his address to it. He explained his rationale via a concept he calls Grenny’s Law of Leadership: “There is no strategy so brilliant that people can’t render it worthless.”

While it provided a lighthearted moment, the law also encapsulates a serious reality: that the real challenge for leaders is not in devising strategies, but in influencing people to execute on them. Grenny points out that most people faced with a challenge of influence believe that “one thing will propel change”—whether that’s an incentive, a persuasive argument or simply an order. Throughout his years studying influencers, however—during which he co-authored the book Influencer: The Power to Change Anything—Grenny has identified six sources of influence that are crucial for anyone considering that question of how they can influence others to change their behavior. And he stresses that the best influencers manage to tap all six sources at some level:

  1. Make the undesirable desirable
  2. Surpass your limits
  3. Harness peer pressure
  4. Find strength in numbers
  5. Design rewards and demand accountability
  6. Change the environment

Unfortunately, Grenny had rather a lot of information to squeeze into the time allotted him, and he was only able to fully expand on a couple of the points above. Most notably, he suggested that a solution to overcoming the first influence is to “connect people with the human or moral consequences of their actions”—and to do so by “storytelling.” As an example, he pointed to New York uber-restaurateur Danny Meyer, whose focus on customer service is fast becoming the stuff of legend. But Meyer didn’t get his thousands of employees to buy into the concept simply by decree, says Grenny. Rather, he tells stories at company meetings of how exceptional service profoundly impacted the experience of customers at his restaurants, and encourages other employees to make a similar difference.

Grenny also made an illuminating point about the power of social influence. Illustrating this, he discussed an experiment to get more people to pay their taxes in Minnesota. That experiment saw three different messages printed on the top of tax forms, encouraging people to pay—one threatening punishment for non-payment, one telling people where their tax dollars were being spent, and the other thanking people for joining the 80 percent of the population paying their taxes. The message that had the greatest effect? The one that placed a social pressure on people, by suggesting that if they didn’t pay, they’d be in the minority.

While he didn’t have time to focus on any of the other points he raised, Grenny did leave the audience with one striking stat: that those who use six sources of influence to change personal habits (to stop smoking, for example) are four times more likely to succeed. In a business setting—when using the tactics to effect changes at an organizational level—the level of success rises to ten times more likely.

Source: — Phil Stott,

Tuesday, Oct 12 2010 

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
– Mark Twain

Friday, Oct 8 2010 

It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.
– Dale Carnegie

Thursday, Oct 7 2010 

secret of getting ahead is getting started.  The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small, manageable tasks and then starting with the first one. – Mark Twain

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