How To: Introduce Emotion Into the Workplace


So often, inciting change can be really hard, and knowing where to start is frequently the hardest part of it all. That’s why we’re in love with Liz Fosslien’s How To. In it, she teaches us how to be the first one to introduce emotion in the workplace. As if we needed another reason to love Liz and Mollie’s work in their upcoming book No Hard Feelings, we have one. Read on to learn from author and illustrator Liz about how to start the change you want to see in your workplace.

I’ll do two general tips, and two if you’re a manager.


1.     When you’re faced with a decision, figure out which emotions are relevant to the situation  and which are not. If you think about not putting your name in for a promotion and you’re filled with regret, you should probably put your name in. Regret is an important signal that you’re missing out on something that could be great. If the idea of putting your name in fills you with excitement, that’s also an important signal. If the idea fills you with dread, or makes you nervous, it might be a sign that you should wait a bit.

Something that’s not going to be relevant is if you’re in a really bad mood. That’s not relevant, but it will color how you make decisions. When we’re mad or stressed, we rely more on stereotypes about people and act out of a place or irrationality.

2.     We catch other people’s emotions through a process called emotional contagion. If someone near you is in a bad mood, it’s important to protect yourself from also becoming grumpy. A really good way to do that is when someone comes to you venting about something for the fifth time,  say, “What could you have done differently? Or what could we do to improve the situation?” That prompts them to stop complaining and think about a solution. It’s a nice way of shutting down the negativity.

For managers:             

1.     They do this at IDEO (where Mollie works). It’s called an “Enterview,” the combination of “Enter” and “Interview.” You get a job offer, and you’re euphoric, but as your start date approaches, you get more and more anxious: “Why did they hire me? Can I even do this job?” By the time you start, you’re stressed out. I remember at one job, my email hadn’t been set up on my first day, so I had nothing to do and they gave me a binder to pick my 401k and health insurance. I’m not an expert at any of that, so I felt incompetent on my first day.

An Enterview is meant to flip that. You have everyone who interviewed the new hire write one thing that was really impressive during the interview, one thing they’re excited to learn about you, and a skill you have that they’re really excited for you to bring to the team. So, on your first day there’s a bunch of nice notes about you on your desk. At Google, there’s research that shows that if an employee receives a warm welcome from their manager on the first day, it has significant effects on how long they stay and how productive they are.

2.     If you’re a manager, set the tone for equitable discussion. Send out an agenda for the meeting and add in a prompt, and then ask everyone to prepare a minute or thirty-second answer. Then, start the meeting by having everyone go around the table and give their answer.

There’s research that shows that if you say something early on in the meeting, you’re much more comfortable speaking up for the rest. So, you’ve created an environment in which not one person dominates the conversation, and that will encourage equitable participation throughout the entire meeting. It can be a goofy prompt or something work related. You should match it to the tone of the team and company.

Great advice, Liz! Thank you so much for sharing your findings with us, we’ve loved learning more about all of it. Readers, come back next week to learn more about what it’s like to be a full-time candy maker.

How To: Balance Passion Projects & Full-Time Jobs


Often during our interviews, the person we're speaking to has a hidden talent, or favorite hobby outside of work. Asiya Yakhina, digital product designer from last week's interview, is no exception. While her workdays are spent improving the experience of NYT subscribers, when she isn't at work she's drawing. It can be tricky to stay focused on her illustration projects outside of the office, so below see her top 4 tips on balancing work and outside passions. 

"Finding time, energy and motivation are the most important things to solve for in that situation, so here are my tips:" 

1. Have a goal in mind.
"Having an articulated goal, no matter how ambitious or humble it is, gives you a point to move towards. You are a dot and your goal is a dot. The line in-between is your journey. Thinking about how to proceed in this journey is the first thing that will make the journey possible. The goal might change for a million of reasons, but as long as it’s there, you can keep moving."

2. Break down your big goal into many mini-goals until they sound like concrete and achievable tasks.
"It’s easy to get intimidated by a larger problem full of unknowns. But as soon as you recognize that you have an unknown, that very fact becomes known. And from then on, you can either learn enough information to eliminate the unknown or consider it a necessary constraint and work with what you have. Either way, you’ve turned a scary unknown thing into a series of steps that you’ll take to address it."

3. Tell your friends about it.
"Friends are generally nice people who like to hear about their friends’ side projects and get genuinely excited when they do. They can be a source of encouragement when you’re stuck, and, who knows, maybe your passion project can become their passion project too."

4. Be patient with yourself.
"It’s tricky to have enough creative energy after a full day of work. Some days will be worse than others and on those days you’ll just have to give yourself time to rest. Getting things done is important but taking a break when you need one will actually make it possible."

Thank you so much for this helpful advice, Asiya! Readers, after you re-start that side project that's been forgotten about for months, come back next week to learn about the day-to-day life of a candy maker and cookbook author. (Artwork by Asiya Yakhina). 


How To: Become A Personal Trainer

Amina Teaching.jpg

Amina Daniels from last week’s interview is an exercise powerhouse and a never ending fountain of good advice. Because she owns her own boutique fitness studio, we decided to ask about breaking into the industry. Below she tells us the steps to become a personal trainer, and why it matters what your motivation is.

1. Start Online. You can sign up to start training from your couch, right now! The two main starting points are “ACE or NASM, that’s how you get certified”. You have to be at least 18 years old, and their programs last around 10-12 weeks. 

2. Attend Fitness Expos. After she became certified, Amina started attending different demos and expos to learn about new exercise methods. “That’s how I fell in love with TRX, a functional piece of equipment that helps you move better.” You can search for expos near you here and here.

3. Expand Your Offerings. “The more skills you have, the more desirable you are and the better you are. I’m always trying to get more personal trainers to diversify their offerings and get functional training, course educations, get kettle bell training. You’ll be a more well rounded individual and also have more avenues to make money."

4. Find Your Motivation. Amina’s biggest reason for running this studio is encouraging people to exercise to gain strength and flexibility rather than to be obsessed with their body for superficial reasons. She is “trying to change the narrative on fitness. You don’t have to be confined to a wheelchair if you decide that you are going to work on the body that you have for your whole life.” So in all of her classes, she is "trying to help people be better humans.”

Thank you so much, Amina! Detroit is lucky to have you encouraging so many people to use exercise as a tool to better themselves and their lives. Readers, after you’ve renewed your gym membership (and actually decided to go today!), come back next week to hear from a designer who works at one of the world’s most influential newspapers. (Photo provided by Amina Daniels)