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Saturday, May 26, 2018

AI / PERSONAL SPECIAL... 10 Ways To Use AI To Make Everyday Tasks A Little Easier

10 Ways To Use AI To Make Everyday Tasks A Little Easier
A spate of new tools use machine intelligence to help users manage their time, calendar, and personal life.

What’s the likelihood that your email will receive a reply? This add-on will tell you, based on subject header, reading level, and length. It also helps schedule follow-up reminders.
Bonus features: Fifteen dollars a month adds further analysis, such as evaluating an email’s politeness and positivity before you hit send.

This desktop and mobile music app creates ambient sound to help users concentrate on a task, meditate, or sleep. modulates the rhythm and frequency of the AI-generated music based on cognitive research. Five free sessions.
Bonus features: Unlock unlimited and offline use for $6.95 a month or $49.99 a year.

Users can overcome PowerPoint anxiety–and avoid slide-deck hell–with this free app, which offers more than 50 templates, including comparison charts. It also observes the rules of good design and adjusts slides as you add content.
Bonus features: Beautiful.AI offers a stock-image gallery that isn’t embarrassing.

It’s hard to bill hours manually and gauge how long it takes to complete a project. Timely follows the docs and apps you or your team work on and then presents its assessments for approval.
Bonus features: A solo account starts at $8 a month, for tracking three projects; a company-wide account is $250 annually.

Which picture of your avocado toast will get the most Instagram likes and attract more followers? Lisa chooses the best photo among ones you select to determine which will fare better.
Bonus features: After scrutinizing an image, Lisa generates hashtags that can be added to a post to further boost its potential to be seen.

Include “Clara,” a virtual executive administrator, on email correspondence when trying to set up a meeting and this AI-as-a-service (which starts at $99 a month) works with all parties to book it.
Bonus features: Clara’s dashboard lets users preset preferred meeting times, who calls whom, when to send a confirmation, and more.

Gloat looks at a user’s résumé or LinkedIn profile and offers tips for increasing job matches. Its machine-learning capability also suggests openings and adapts to feedback, narrowing results.
Bonus features: By accessing your contacts, Gloat can look for connections to employment opps. Users can also search anonymously.

Add this Google Chrome browser extension and CivikOwl will scan news you’ve chosen to read, assessing the relative quality and political bias of articles and offering additional perspectives.
Bonus features: A CivikOwl icon will pop up on Facebook articles people share in your feed (from certain sources). CivikOwl for Twitter is due soon.

FitGenie lets users set health goals–such as weight loss or building lean muscle–and recommends meals (and how to make them), adjusting its suggestions to customers’ tastes.
Bonus features: You can try the food log, which reveals your fat, carb, and protein intake, before signing up for a $10-a-month subscription.

This site uses machine learning to analyze historical data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection to predict how long it’ll take to get through customs at more than 40 U.S. airports.
Bonus features: Users can specify exact terminals, arrival date and time, and resident status to get a more accurate assessment.


ECO SPECIAL.... Imagine a city lit by glowing trees instead of streetlights

Imagine a city lit by glowing trees instead of streetlights

Could genetically engineered trees that have been crossed with bioluminescent algae be the emissions-free lighting source of the future?

If you happened to be in San Diego last week and stood on the beach at night, you might have seen the ocean glowing an electric shade of blue as bioluminescent algae bloomed, a relatively rare natural phenomenon. In a lab in Denmark, researchers are trying to isolate the genes that makes the microalgae glow for another purpose: potential natural streetlights.
If the genes could be tweaked and added to trees, they say, it could be possible for trees to stand in for standard street lighting. “We could try to change some of that lighting from conventional, electricity-consuming lights to a more natural way of creating light,” says Kristian Ejlsted, CEO of Allumen, a new startup based near Copenhagen.
Ejlsted began researching bioluminescent algae as a student at the Technical University of Denmark, and his startup now sells kits with the algae that teachers can use to help visually explain photosynthesis, respiration, and other natural processes in science classes. Another product, for home use, will be a little like a lava lamp, with algae living in a saltwater-nutrient mixture, taking up sunshine during the day, and glowing at night. But Ejlsted is most interested in the larger potential for the genes that make the algae glow.
The tens of thousands of streetlights in large cities can make up, in some cases, the largest piece of city’s energy bills. Over the last decade, cities have increasingly switched from older technology to LED lights; in Los Angeles, for example, where the city began switching its 200,000-plus streetlight to LEDs in 2013, it cut energy use for the lights by more than 63%, saving nearly $10 million a year on energy and maintenance bills. But the lights are still a major source of emissions.
“In Denmark, almost all streetlights are now being replaced by LED lights,” Ejlsted says. “That’s a huge deal right now, and it’s going to save a lot of energy. But the fact is that they’re still using electricity–they’re using a little bit less, but it’s still electricity, and it still comes from burning fossil fuels. The real advantage of changing to a biological system is that the algae, for example, or the plant, they only need CO2 and sunlight and some water.”
The company is not the first to explore the idea of glowing plants and trees. One Kickstarter project, the Glowing Plant, raised nearly half a million dollars, but later told backers they’d failed in their quest to genetically engineer small plants that could glow. A team of researchers at MIT embedded nanoparticles with an enzyme from fireflies into plants, creating a faint glow. In France, biologist Pierre Calleja is experimenting with prototypes of lamps filled with glowing microalgae.
Any project like this presents ethical challenges, says Dimitri Deheyn, a researcher at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. “The problem remains the same on the ethics of using genetically engineered trees,” he says. “What happens to the animals and plants that surround them, cross-fertilize with them, or feed on them?”
The projects are also far from reality. Eljsted, who continues to work with researchers at the university, believes that the relevant genes in the microalgae he’s studying can be found relatively quickly. “I think we’re very close to getting it,” he says. But several more complicated steps would also have to happen to make that gene perform as needed in a tree. The blue light may also not be bright enough, without more tweaking, to stand in for LEDs.
Denmark is aiming for all-renewable electricity by 2035, and it’s possible it will be close to that goal by the time a theoretical bioluminescent light becomes a reality. But if the lights are ever made, they could potentially have some advantages over lights powered by renewable electricity. Even if every streetlight ran on renewables, that energy source (and the streetlights themselves) would still take resources to build and operate. Gene-edited glowing trees, if they can be grown, could theoretically eliminate the need to manufacture that equipment, would require little cost, and zero electricity. They also would be efficient. “Algae and plants have evolved through billions of years to very efficiently capture sunlight,” says Eljsted. “We can’t really recreate that yet in solar panels.”


MANAGEMENT/ LEADERSHIP SPECIAL...... Unlocking leadership potential in turbulent times

Unlocking leadership potential in turbulent times

In turbulent times like these, developing leaders truly matters – yet more than half of executives we talk to say their leadership development initiatives fail. What does it take to unlock an organization’s leadership potential?
The four core beliefs associated with improving leadership across an organization include focusing on the shifts that matter, linked to value; engaging a critical mass of pivotal influencers across the organization; architecting programs to maximize behavioral change; and embedding and measuring the change.
The next question: How do you make this happen in practice?
The approach we favor is based on more than 100 leadership development interventions annually as well as the latest research. It centers on the key outputs typical for each of four phases – and (you should know) the first three typically take 2-3 years to reach the entire organization.
1. Diagnose: Determine the gap to where you want to go. 
A leadership model tightly linked to the strategy and context. Prioritize 3-5 “from-to” shifts (behaviors, skills, mindsets) that the leadership program will trigger. Quantify the leadership chasm at each level of the organization and assess current leadership development initiatives.
2. Design and develop: Decide what you need to get there.
 This phase involves designing the interventions required for all target groups. From there, create the leadership development journey by group. This encompasses all content, defines target participants (who, how much, when), and selects the initial ones. It also includes developing reinforcing mechanisms (change story, symbolic actions, system changes) as well as the signed-off business case (including target impact, work plan, budget and organizational requirements to deliver the program).
3. Deliver: Moving to action. 
this stage, organizations deliver the leadership development intervention and embed it in the broader organizational system. Specifically, they deliver the program across all cohorts, employ modern adult learning principles (field, forum and coaching), apply system embedment (communication, role modeling, and reinforcing mechanisms, including inserting the leadership model into all talent processes), and establish governance and measurement at multiple levels of the program.
4. Develop: Keeping momentum going.
 Organizations must endeavor to continue evolving the program as the organization changes its strategy and context. Among other things, they can achieve this by continuously tracking its impact, reinforcing critical behavioral changes, developing and applying a clear plan for program graduates (yearly refresh, retention policies, etc.), and regularly reassessing the organizational leadership requirements given the context.
An emerging market conglomerate recently created a new leadership model to support its ongoing transformation. It brought the leadership model to life through a series of leadership journeys, culture change initiatives and performance management integration. The result? More than 6,000 employees were reached, which contributed to an 8 percentage point increase in overall organizational health.
Leadership development significantly enables organizational performance. But our research indicates that organizations should avoid following a generic approach that most favor. Too often, it proves to be piecemeal, narrow, short-lived, and misses objectives and performance goals. Instead, organizations should embrace a more tailored and comprehensive approach that develops leadership effectiveness at scale. It requires effort – but the payback is great.

– by Claudio Feser and Nicolai Nielsen

JOB SPECIAL...... How To Figure Out If You’re In The Wrong Job

How To Figure Out If You’re In The Wrong Job

There are five common motives that impact the type of job you should have.

Ever have to psych yourself up to go to work? If that’s the case more often than not, your job might not align with your personal motives, says Carter Cast, author of The Right (and Wrong) Stuff: How Brilliant Careers are Made and Unmade.
Strengths are your natural skillsets, and motives are the place from which you draw energy, says Cast. They differ from values, which are what’s important to you. “If you ask someone what their values are, they can rattle them off quickly,” he says. “Motives are much harder to identify because we’re often not conscious of them. They’re the river that flows under us.”
A mismatch in job and motives will wear you down and eventually cause you to fail to live up to your potential, says Cast. “Currently, the assumption is that if you took this job, it’s the right job for you,” says Cast. “But people who are smart, don’t have a skill gap, and are good interpersonally will underperform if they don’t have energy for position.”
While employers often assess and measure for competency and strengths, they most likely don’t assess how energized you are by the job. Understanding your motives falls on employees, who need to determine if the job fits, says Cast. Based on the work of Hay Group and Harvard psychologist David McClelland, he identified five common motives, and how they impact the type of job you should seek:

Achievement is the need to constantly improve your performance and accomplish goals that are meaningful to you. If you’re highly motivated by achievement, you prefer working in environments with clear performance indicators and tangible progress that can be seen on an ongoing basis, says Cast. You seek feedback in order to improve and advance, and set clear goals, organizing your work effort and measuring your progress.

Affiliation is a need for maintaining close, friendly relationships with others, such as in team situations. If you’re highly motivated by affiliation, you’re a team player who is a good listener and sensitive to perspectives of others. You enjoy building team spirit to accomplish goals. Your boss often considers you to be a good barometer for the cultural climate of the team or department and utilizes your inclusive nature to further develop the team’s sense of fellowship.

Power involves the need to have influence over others. It can be expressed personally or institutionally. People oriented toward personal power generally seek status and recognition and try to control others, while those with an institutional power drive try to organize the efforts of a team to further the company’s goals. At your best, the power motive pushes you to empower others and move toward accomplishing group goals.

Autonomy is the need to control your own work and determine its direction. You prefer having discretion over the task you do, the time you do it, the methods you use, and the team with which you work. Having a motive of autonomy doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll do everything yourself; it can simply mean that you can are able to structure your work.

Purpose is the need to do work that is tied to a higher cause. You choose organizations and assignments that connect your work to social good that aligns with an important personal value. You are drawn to a place where the purpose is bigger than the product, a place that uses its resources and profits to offer assistance to those in need.

To find a good match, list a job’s activities. Give each a green, yellow, or red light–green meaning you enjoy doing it, red meaning you don’t, and yellow meaning you’re ambivalent. Be deliberate and reflective. If you give 70% a green light, 20% a yellow, and 10% a red, the job is a match to your motives, says Cast. Your job should be aligned with your motive structure.
You will likely have more than one motive. Successful management consultants, for example, are typically high in the achievement and power motives and lower in the affiliation motive. Entrepreneurial founders usually have a high achievement motive, and are often motivated by a sense of purpose, as well, says Cast.
Cast suffered his own personal mismatch when he was tapped to be the CEO of “My interest has always been being a good marketer, and I love to be close to the product,” he says. “The job was offered to me because my boss thought I had leadership qualities. My motives, however, are high on achievement and high on autonomy.”
An important component to being a CEO is having a high power motive, and Cast says that’s a motive where he’s low. “You have to be able to influence other people and wield that power to cajole people into doing what you needed then to do,” he says.
While Cast performed his duties, he was exhausted all of the time. “In hindsight I realized that just because you can do a job doesn’t mean you should do a job,” he says. “I bought into the progression of my career; it seemed like the next logical step to grab the brass ring.”
By better understanding your drives and motives, you can work your way into positions that match your inherent needs, says Cast. “When you find those positions, the chances are good that you’ll perform well,” he says


COMMUNICATIONS/MEETINGS SPECIAL ......How to Craft Meetings People Love (Really)

How to Craft Meetings People Love (Really) 
We open today on a familiar scene: After a long day of back-to-back meetings, Bob arrives home to find his wife, Jane, who also has just returned from work, starting to prepare dinner. As Bob rolls up his sleeves to begin chopping carrots, they talk about their day.
Bob: I am just exhausted.
Jane: What did you do today?
Bob: I was in meetings all day.
Jane: Yes, but what did you do?
Bob (exasperated): I just told you, I was in meetings all day!
Jane: And I asked you: What did you do?!
This actual conversation is one that a colleague shared with me. It took him a moment to realize what his wife was getting at, but her point was this: He was tired and frustrated from hours of meetings because he didn’t perceive that he’d actually “done” anything. For him, work was what happened between meetings.
At their worst, meetings are like short prison sentences that have you counting the minutes until your release. Yet there are meetings that are useful and productive, and even invigorating and enjoyable.
In my work, I have found three types of meetings that exemplify variations on best practices and are worth emulating:
The breakfast club. I once worked for someone who gathered her direct reports each Friday for breakfast at a local greasy spoon. We were eager to come in early and pay for our meals ourselves because this was our chance to get her download on the senior management meeting with her boss that was held each Thursday.

My boss was a savvy operator, which was essential at this particular organization: She understood that her influence and success were directly tied to the ability of her team to navigate the political shoals around us. We needed to know who was allied with whom and what larger plans were afoot in order to do our jobs well. We met off-site so we could ask tough questions and offer unvarnished reactions. The meeting also added a bit of a clandestine air to our jobs that made the information seem even more valuable: We were getting the “inside scoop.”
It is essential for your people to know that you have their backs — remembering, of course, that there is some information that you may not be able to share. The breakfast club made it clear that our boss had our interests in mind and also emphasized that she was not playing favorites with information distribution. We also built enduring camaraderie that persisted even after she left the organization.
The editorial scrum. The Economist recently published an account of its Monday morning editorial meetings in which stories are pitched, the cover is planned, and the weekly magazine’s position on global events are debated. It’s the kind of meeting that will get your blood running at the start of the week. I have never attended this particular meeting (I’d jump at the chance), though I have attended other editorial gatherings. The best of them are freewheeling affairs with honest and intense debate.
What makes the Economist’s meeting so productive is its egalitarian nature. Rank is put aside and everyone is encouraged to contribute: “The whole paper meets, and anyone from the newest intern to the most senior editor can put forward and write a leader [article]. What matters is not a contributor’s seniority, but the strength and quality of his or her arguments,” Amanda Coletta wrote.
Imagine if other organizations — perhaps yours — followed that practice. Engagement would rise among meeting attendees because they would invest in the discussion. Biases could be mitigated and differing opinions offered and challenged. People would hone their critical thinking and constructive argument skills. Decision quality would improve.
The focus session. Every morning since September 12, 2001, a wide array of stakeholders in safety and security at Boston Logan International Airport meet to share information about the day’s likely events. Rocked by the 9/11 attacks, officials decided that optimizing collaboration and coordination among the various agencies and companies at the airport would be critical to improving security. Unlike most such noble initiatives, this one has persisted — seven days a week for sixteen years and counting. The day I attended as a guest, about 70 people were there. This is not a compulsory meeting for most. They continue to come because they find it valuable.

The meeting centers on whatever is likely to have an impact on the airport that day or in the immediate future: the return home of a championship sports team, an impending storm, construction, or an intelligence alert. The meeting is a crisp, no-nonsense round robin of reports. Anything relevant to the group is welcome. “Nothing today” is also an acceptable contribution, minimizing the temptation to fill airtime with pro forma statements. The meeting lasts not one minute less or more than necessary. It can be as short as 10 minutes or as long as an hour.
It is a highly efficient way to connect, share, receive information, and ask questions. The meeting has also been a key component of building an enduring culture where collaboration and coordination across organizational boundaries is the norm, eliminating back-channel networking that can lead to information gaps and misunderstandings. Many organizations could benefit from such a vehicle.
Although these three meeting types are all very different, at their core, they share some essential concepts.
• Get the basics right. 
Invite the right people — and only the right people. Be clear about the purpose, format, necessary decisions to be made, and desired outcome. Craft social norms that align with those parameters. Start on time and keep on track.

• Take a systems view. 
Relevant information needs to flow to the right people at the right time if smart decisions are to be made. Worthwhile gatherings facilitate that flow, minimize filters and speculation, and enhance group cohesion. At the Logan Airport meeting, that involves pushing information out efficiently across the enterprise; at the Economist, it is about drawing great ideas in.

• Make sure it’s the best vehicle. 
If it is important for people to get the information at the same time or if you want some back-and-forth dialog, a meeting is the right call. Don't put a dozen (or 70) people in a room if they could more easily digest the information reading asynchronously. At the breakfast club meeting, reactions and discussion were as important as the senior management intel itself.

• Know the ROI. 
Even on-site meetings have costs (and I’m not talking about the bagels). Calculate the rough salary equivalent for the hours that people are there and estimate the return on that investment — for each participant, not just the convener. What is each person contributing and what is he or she getting in return? What is the payback to the organization? One way to find out if people feel a meeting is worthwhile is to make it optional — and see who shows up.
Meetings punctuate the rhythm of our organizational lives; in some cases, they seem to be an end in themselves. But the meetings described above are a worthwhile investment of time, talent, and energy. Attendees both got and gave value. That's how you craft meetings people love.
Eric J. McNulty



With malls offering more in terms of entertainment and unforgettable experiences besides shopping, the neighbourhood stands to gain in terms of real estate value and social infrastructure

How often have you longed to luxuriate over a Michelin star chef curated banquet or a Sufi soiree after a long day of shopping, without having to go far from home? Or perhaps, had the kids wishing to play with their favourite toon characters while you shopped? Today, with more shopping malls having dedicated play zones, contests and creative workshops for children coupled with music shows, flash mobs, brand launches and expos, the focus is not only on increasing footfall, but also on creating memories with family and friends. No wonder then that even special occasions including birthdays and college parties are celebrated at a neighbourhood multiplex.
Malls are rewriting the retail story in extreme ‘shoppertainment’. This is why, a mall in these times, can singularly attract home-buyers to the neighbourhood of its location, adding that extra value to the locality’s social infrastructure and the wholesome family entertainment quotient.

India will see close to 34 new malls by 2020 in the top eight Indian cities of Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune, with Hyderabad leading the tally at 11. Totalling approximately 13.6 million square feet (msf), the new supply will add approximately 20 per cent to the total available mall inventory in these cities. The retail sector has been encouraged by an upward trend in mall space leasing, which was up by 55 per cent in the period January-September 2017, recorded at 2.3 msf.
Source: Cushman & Wakefield India
“Malls have evolved from shopping venues to social places where people relax and unwind. A location that has reasonably good infrastructure and sustained job growth has a higher real estate value. Till 2000, Malad (Mumbai) was a sparsely populated locality, but it witnessed the emergence of large office spaces and the area’s first shopping mall only a couple of years ago.
Today, the Malad Link Road is seeing the launch of huge residential projects and more malls have entered the location because there is clearly a demand for it.”
Rajneesh Mahajan, CEO, Inorbit Malls
Multiple channels are fighting for consumer visibility and attention. When shoppers visit a mall, they expect to be more involved in creating delightful experiences including offering things that will retain a customer; hence, a healthy mix of retailing and entertainment helps. Adding leisure options completes the experience, thus giving them more reasons to spend an entire day at the mall. It fulfils a social need rather than a mere transactional one. When people give their share of watch, a share of their wallet follows. After all, it is not only about retailing, but also about retaining.”
Kumar Rajagopalan,
CEO, Retailers Association of India
“ Today, a shopping mall is not just about the shopping - it’s an integrated lifestyle destination. Historically, whenever there is any real estate development, like the opening of a mall, there is increased business and employment in the area. It makes the locality more desirable, thus increasing the property value. People do not need to go to other localities for their shopping. Proximity to a good shopping mall does improve the locality’s appeal.”
Jermina Menon, vice-president, marketing, VR Bengaluru