Sleep and Exercise Help Mitigate Mistreatment at Work

A picture of a stressed businesswoman.

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The sad reality is that a lot of people work in environments that leave them feeling stressed out. Unfortunately, that stress can easily spill over into their home lives, making it difficult for the people who live with them. But there could be a relatively simple solution to this problem. It turns out that getting enough sleep and exercise “promotes healthy brain functions needed to properly regulate emotions and behavior.”

In a study, participants who burned an extra 587 calories in a day reduced the “harmful effects of mistreatment” and avoided “carrying [it] into the home.” When people are mistreated at work, they tend to carry that with them, which impacts how they interact with spouses, children, and other cohabitants.

However, getting enough sleep in the first place, and taking about 10,900 steps in a day, mitigates the danger of “passing along” that mistreatment. It allows one to better regulate one’s emotions and realize that trouble at work is not the fault of a spouse or child.

As the first study of its kind, it does pose some interesting questions that more research will be needed to explore. But it’s something that people in toxic work environments might consider. We all know that exercise and sleep are good for us, but this research gives us an extra goal for that exercise.

While what qualifies as “enough sleep” generally varies from person to person, a goal of 10,900 steps in a day is a little more concrete in terms of exercise. The CDC and American Heart Association have both been recommending between 8,000 and 10,000 steps anyway, so if one is already taking that advice, adding a few thousand more shouldn’t be that hard.

Of course, changing one’s life to adapt to a toxic workplace might not be the best advice, but some people can’t leave such work environments. Obviously bosses and coworkers shouldn’t mistreat people, but that is unlikely to change. In the meantime though, finding ways to mitigate the effects of toxic workplaces can go a long way.

It’s Not a Meltdown, You’re Just Passionate

Two men giving a presentation.

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Thanks to centuries of conditioning, we tend to see displays of emotion in the workplace as a sign of instability and/or weakness. So if your PowerPoint goes awry because there is a technological malfunction, reacting to that with distress can snowball and ruin everything. But when you truly stop to think about it, it sounds like a perfectly normal reaction considering you likely put a lot of time and effort into that presentation. But, as you know, we’re all expected to be unemotional robots.

Of course, that’s nonsense, which we’re all consciously aware of. But our subconscious may not be aware of it, which is where our decisions originate from. But a team of researchers from Cornell University has an interesting piece of advice: in the above scenario, if you reframe your reaction to be based on your passion for the project, you stand a much better chance of being taken seriously. Study respondents who viewed a coworker or applicant as “passionate” instead of “emotional” were more likely to want to work with that person in the future.

It adds to our understanding of “cognitive reappraisal” which refers to our ability to change how we think about a situation. Mentally reframing anxiety as excitement, for example, can make it easier to give a presentation in the first place. In fact, cognitive reappraisal is a tool that therapists use with clients all the time, often to good effect. So it stands to reason that it could work in the workplace as well.

Now we’re not talking about wishful thinking here. We’re talking about thoughts rooted in optimism that are backed up by rational thought. The anxiety to excitement example is a good one, as being nervous before a presentation is pretty common, and that presentation’s success could very well rest on how confident you are.

Workaholics Aren’t More Successful, New Study Finds

A photo of an exhausted woman hunched over her computer.

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The image of the employee who lives for work and lets it totally dominate their life is going out of style. There are definitely still employers who feel that people should be more concerned with their work, but just like workaholics, these employers are going out of style. The prevailing image has been that people who put their lives ahead of their jobs are less successful, but according to a new study by Swiss researchers, that simply isn’t true.

The study found that people who have “strong non-work orientations” (that is to say they take time for their families, hobbies, or other aspects of their personal life) do not have lower salaries or less success than workaholics. In fact, people with strong non-work orientations report higher satisfaction within their career and their life. More satisfied employees are less likely to quit, which is good for employers.

The study didn’t find any real significant differences between men and women with strong non-work orientations, other than the fact that women tend to plan their careers with things outside of work in mind from the start, which men are less likely to do. Workers with families tended to have greater levels of satisfaction, but that isn’t to say that those without families weren’t happy. Not everybody wants a traditional family, after all.

The key takeaway is that employers are better off letting workers have their own personal lives. That can mean a lot of things ranging from more vacation time to decreased work hours. With the rapid development of social media, it has become increasingly common for employers to look potential employees up on Facebook or Twitter and to keep an eye on them after they’re hired. But this latest study suggests that maybe potential job candidates and current employees shouldn’t be judged on the activities they engage in on their own personal time. Perhaps taking on a more human-approach to employment will make for a healthier, happier workplace for all involved.

How Banking Culture Has Changed since the 90’s

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“Culture, more than rule books, determines how an organization behaves,” said Warren Buffet.

Culture shapes the way people act (and don’t act) on a daily basis and it can be influenced by people inside and outside an organization.

A workplace environment shouldn’t be something that people dread every day; employees should look forward to going to their jobs. In fact, employees should have a hard time leaving because they enjoy their team, the challenges they’re faced with, and the atmosphere. Work may be difficult at times; however, the culture should not add to the stress of the work. Instead, company culture should alleviate the work related to stress.

Culture encourages employee enthusiasm. At Montgomery Securities, an investment bank founded by Thom Weisel, it is believed that companies should have an entrepreneurial culture that “encourages stars and yet still work as a team.”

Back in the 1990’s, banks were places of trust. Inside the big marble interiors and solid pillars sat tellers, loan officers, and other executives dressed in suits and ties. Sound was muted and people spoke in quiet voices. Money was serious business and it was a time when “protecting a bank’s reputation was like protecting a woman’s honor,” said a former senior banker at JP Morgan. They were a prestigious industry with good principles.

Retired bankers say that the ‘short-term’ mindset became evident due to the disappearance of teamwork and a sense of loyalty towards the profession. Organizational spirit was present in the old days where people had to collaborate with others in order to support a bank’s long-term reputation. If you joined a certain company, you were expected to stay there all your life. Now, people often hop around from bank to bank without question. Because loyalty was so important back then, many banks were reluctant to fire employees.

“How people are fired and how they are hired says so much about banking culture. People may be gone in five minutes not just because they were fired but because they were hired elsewhere,” says banking blogger Joris Luyendijk. Most people today switch jobs after being somewhere for between 18 months and three years.

So how can culture change?

Many banks are trying to clean up their image and win back public confidence by hiring new resources. Company culture doesn’t change overnight, as it will take time to adapt to new leadership and structure.

“Cultural change can come from multiple strategies – there’s no one way to catalyze change. But even having a space for people to talk is important – because talk can lead to action. If you are all having the same issues you may catalyze that into change. It’s important to have spaces that are created outside the formal structure,” says Melissa Fisher, author of Wall Street Women, a book that highlights the history of women in finance.

Job Seekers: Don’t Get Duped by Scam Companies

A photo of a keyboard with a warning sign ontop of it. The warning sign is yellow and reads, "Warning, scam alert."

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Being out of a job is one of the most stressful situations a person can be in. It can leave you feeling vulnerable, especially if you’re fresh out of college. But heed this warning now: where there are vulnerable people, there are predators just waiting to take advantage of them. So before you get too excited about a potential job prospect, take note of these warning signs.

Job Title Euphemisms

Scam companies are notorious for using fancy job titles to lure in unsuspecting victims. How will you know the difference between a scam and a legitimate job posting? The qualifications say it all.

Take, for example, the all-too-familiar “marketing” euphemism. “Marketing” is a term that scam companies often used as a code word for “sales.” Here’s the thing: if the company in question doesn’t at least require a four-year degree or a few years of experience for a marketing position, then it’s most likely a scam. What the company is really looking for is someone who will take a low-paying sales job. This leads nicely into the next point.

The Pay is High… Almost Too High

It’s like the old saying goes, “If it seems too good to be true, it usually is.” This is where you need to get real honest with yourself. If a job posting is advertised as paying $60k a year and you don’t have a degree or any relevant work experience, then it’s a scam. What will happen is that the company will invite you to come into an interview, only to reveal during the interview that the position is commission-based. Wyndham Worldwide is known for doing this. Their Seattle “Community Marketing Agent” position is advertised as paying between 50k-80k. In reality, the position only pays $12.50 an hour plus commission (for selling timeshares).

They Call You Back Almost Immediately

The hiring process is incredibly lengthy, both for employers and job seekers. It normally takes 1-2 weeks after the closing of a position for a recruiter to follow-up with an applicant. For larger companies, it can take even longer. That’s why you should always look at employers who call you back almost immediately with an eye of suspicion.

Speedy Advancement

Ah, the ever-so-common “entry-level management” position. The term itself is a paradox; legitimate companies don’t hire inexperienced people for management positions. And if the company is offering “training,” you should know that 6-12 months is not enough experience to be a manager.

Ideal Backgrounds for a Career in Private Equity

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There is no standard way of entering the private equity industry, but there are certain characteristics firms look for in an ideal candidate.

While private equity firms want people who are technically proficient, there are other important factors they consider as well. Success in private equity is related to having the ability to source deals, the ability to focus, industry knowledge, communication skills, and a strong work ethic.

Private equity continues to be an attractive career path for both recent graduates and experienced financial veterans. Firms are very selective about who and when they hire, typically taking on just a few new people each year.

If you’re determined to join the private equity industry, here’s what you need:

Educational background
The private equity industry is very selective when it comes to educational backgrounds and will typically target graduates from top universities. Private equity firms have many applicants to evaluate during the recruiting process, so educational background is an easy first screening technique. In addition, the networking aspect of the industry is very important, so your business relationships matter.

Although it’s not required that you’re a finance major, your college degree should demonstrate strong analytical skills.

Private equity firms are also very picky about MBA degrees. Many MBAs in the industry come from Harvard, Wharton, Insead, and Stanford. Alex Crisses, managing director at General Atlantic, is a prime example of this, as he holds a B.S. in economics from The Wharton School of Business and M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

Professional experience
When entering the private equity field, it’s typical for people to have two to five years of relevant work experience. This includes investment banking, strategic consulting, or corporate development.

It’s unusual for people to enter a private equity firm with just an undergraduate degree because most firms are small businesses that don’t have the time or resources to provide internal training. Although there are some notable exceptions at big equity firms, potential candidates with just an undergraduate degree should have completed several internships in strategy consulting, banking, or at other private equity firms.

The Hidden Costs of Self-Employment

A photo of a tax form that asks filers to state whether they are self-employed or not by checking either the "yes" or "no" box.

Self-employments brings forth images of autonomy and flexibility. However, perks like these come with plenty of downfalls. Image: Shutterstock

From the outside looking in, many people view self-employment as an ideal career. After all, self-employment means a person can be their own boss, work their own hours, and set their own goals. But for every pro there is an equal—and sometimes even greater—con. The following comprises a list of some of the hidden costs of self-employment along with a few solutions.


Transitioning from a social work environment to a solitary one can be quite the culture shock, particularly for extroverts. Being self-employed means being completely self-reliant, and the extreme amount of isolation can sometimes result in depression. However, on the flip side, maintaining and building client relationships is absolutely essential when it comes to being successfully self-employed. Phone calls and client meetings can provide a much-needed social reprieve from largely solitary work. For those who work from home, it’s essential to go on a couple of walks throughout the day. It’s easy to get cabin fever from eating, sleeping, and working under the same roof.


Everyone claims they’re self-motivated, but nothing will put that claim to the test more than self-employment. It’s easy to stay motivated when things are going great. It’s when the going gets rough that all the inspiration starts to fade. One solution is to create a “vision board.” Vision boards are visual representations of all the things that serve as internal motivators. For example, if John Doe’s primary motivation is to own a yacht someday, he would cut out an image of a yacht and post it onto a sheet of poster board. Vision boards are a great tool to refer back to when the enthusiasm just isn’t there.


Perhaps the most obvious con is the fact that self-employment is 100% commission based. On that note, it can take an incredibly long time for unpaid marketing efforts to show up in a paycheck. As previously mentioned, being self-employed means one must acquire a strong client base. A lot of work goes into building that client base, including maintaining a website, updating social media, attending networking events, and posting advertisements. It can take months, even years before a strong client base is established.

All of these things combined should be considered before deciding to go on a solo career venture. For introverted, optimistic, risk-taking personalities, it can certainly bring a lot of happiness and fulfillment. For others, it can bring on a lot of frustration and disappointment.

Find Your Passion, Find Your Business

Paper on desk that reads "find your passion"

In order to create a successful business, you need to find your passion.
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Starting and maintaining a business requires a lot of things, but one thing that can’t really be taught is passion. You have to love what you do if you want to turn it into a successful business. But if you lack the kind of passion for something that keeps you up at night, you may be wondering where that comes from. You may be tempted to wait for it, biding your time until something comes along that you’re passionate enough about that you can make it into your career and your life. What’s that they say about a watched pot never boiling?

You can’t sit around and wait for passion to suddenly appear. You have to go and find it.

People are generally passionate about things that they’re good at. So you should ask yourself: what am I good at? Think of some things that you enjoy doing, and get better at them. Learning is a lifelong process, and the more you know, the more experience you have to draw from when it comes to starting a profitable business.

Take your time and figure out what you’re good at, what you want to keep doing, and what you can turn into a business without running the risk of losing your love for that activity. Maybe you like painting. But are you willing to make yourself do that every day, whether you want to or not, in order to make it the cornerstone of your financial future? Are you willing to delve into the marketing and number-crunching that would also be required to make it a business instead of just a hobby?

You have to strike a balance. Everybody wants to be their own boss, and the entrepreneurial lifestyle has a certain romantic attraction. But it’s also possible to burn out and grow to hate the thing you once loved. Just give it some thought before you go off to start that business.

Broke? You Can Still Start a Business

Man behind counter of convenience store

Starting your own business without capital can be done.
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Starting a business can be difficult and, above all, expensive. For people who want to be entrepreneurs but lack startup capital, getting a business going can be daunting. But there are a lot of tricks that allow you to get a business underway without needing a significant next egg. Starting a business, whether you have capital or not, begins at the same place: finding something you can offer.

The easiest place to start is to think of a problem that you can help address. Whether that’s a serious issue like testing water for contaminants or a “first world problem” like finding somebody to walk your dog at the last minute, there are a myriad of issues out there that people need help with–and they’re willing to pay other people for that help. Once you know what problem you’re trying to address or what product you want to create, take a step back and think about ways that you can approach that problem using the skills and resources you have at hand.

Maybe you can start by walking dogs, using a website and flyers to generate business before you try to develop a mobile phone app. Maybe you’re a great editor who can freelance while you figure out how to turn that into a business. The key here is to use the tools you already have in order to get your business ideas rolling. As you work in whatever field you’ve chosen, you’ll be able to find out what niches there are within that field that you can try to fill with a subsequent business model or product.

It also gives you more experience in the field in question, which will be more impressive to potential investors. Whether you seek out crowdfunding or more traditional investments, people are going to want to know that you have a good idea of what you’re doing before they give you their money.

Personal Loans for Business Purposes?

Small business loan application form

There are some important things to keep in mind when applying for a business loan.
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Loans can be rough, which is why it’s important to think long and hard about how you’re going to pay them off before you take them out. It’s also important to make sure you shop around for the best options you can find. When you run a business, taking out a business loan is generally a safer bet than a personal loan because if things go poorly and you can’t pay it back, it can be easier to get out from under the former. Taking out a personal loan to fund your business is especially dangerous, since new businesses have a pretty high rate of failure.

Sometimes that’s the only option, though. Business lenders don’t want to take the risk of giving loans to unknown borrowers, so it can be hard to secure such a loan when you’re getting started. Personal loans might be the answer, but you need to make sure you can pay them back. Have a business plan you’re confident can make enough revenue to pay that loan off in time, or it could end up hurting you a lot. If you’re denied a business loan–or any kind of loan, for that matter–make sure you find out why you’re denied or why the interest is so high, so that you can adapt your business plan to accommodate for these issues.

Capital is necessary for starting a new business, with loans and investment being the primary source of starting capital. You might also want to think about crowdfunding through sites like Kickstarter in order to get together your initial capital. Such plans usually work better for creating specific products versus services. But it’s not out of the question that you could crowdfund a brick and mortar store, for example, so long as you can make that idea enticing to people who won’t necessarily be able to physically shop there.

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