Science can be fun. Case in point: for a recent study, researchers from the Oregon Health and Science University and a number of other institutions gathered a group of prairie voles—small rodents found in central North America—and then, as if the scientists were frat brothers and the voles were humble pledges, proceeded to get them drunk. MoreStudy Claims People Who Frequently Use Twitter May Be More Likely to Cheat and Get DivorcedThe 6 Types of Apps That Are Making You a Worse PersonMen Charged With Toppling Ancient Rock Formation Avoid Jail Time Huffington PostHere's An Updated Tally Of All The People Who Have Ever Died From A Marijuana Overdose Huffington PostWATCH: Mario Batali Cooks for 'Fussy' Diners Kristen Wiig and Fred Armisen People
No, this study was not published in The Onion. (You may be thinking of the influential “New Study Finds College Binge Drinking to be a Blast.”) It was actually published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and the work actually offers valuable data about how alcohol use can impact how couples bond.
Here’s how: the researchers took a group of prairie voles and paired them off, male and female. Unlike many animals, prairie voles tend to mate for life, which makes them a useful model for studying social interactions. The male and female pairs were then given either water or a 10% alcohol solution, which is a little less than you might get in a normal glass of wine. (Another human-like trait of voles: they love to drink when they have the opportunity, preferring the alcohol to water, and in laboratory conditions they’ve even been shown to subtly encourage their partners to drink more.) The researchers then tested whether the voles would show a preference to spend time with their partners, or with a stranger vole.
The results will not be surprising to anyone who has been in a bar on a Saturday night. The male voles who had been given water always preferred their partner, but the ones who been given alcohol often wanted to spend time with strangers. For female voles, it was the opposite—consuming alcohol strengthened their desire to spend time with their partners, compared to when they were given only water. There were also contrasting changes in the neural systems that regulate social behavior. “It’s the first time we’ve shown that alcohol drinking can directly affect social bonding and that these effects are paralleled by changes in neuropeptides,” Andrey Ryabinin, a behavioral neuroscientist at Oregon Health and Science University and the lead researcher on the paper, told National Geographic.
What’s particularly interesting is that the alcohol had no effect on the amount of mating that went on between the voles—both the drunk ones and the sober ones—which means sex wasn’t playing a role in the differences in bonding behavior. Instead the difference between the genders seemed to come down to the effect that alcohol had on anxiety. In males, alcohol use seemed to decrease anxiety, whereas in females, alcohol seemed to increase anxiety. The relaxed males were less inclined to commit, while the stressed out females were more likely to seek out their bonded partners.
Voles aren’t people—we’re taller, for one thing—but the PNAS study bears out some of the effects that alcohol can have in human relationships, as seen experimentally and in, you know, experience. As the authors write:
The enhancement of attachment in female prairie voles parallels the prosocial effects of alcohol in humans. The inhibition of bond formation in males is reminiscent of the negative effects of alcohol on long-term attachments and marital happiness, which occur for both men and women.
That last bit is important—male or female, alcohol does not tend to be the strongest building block for couple partnering over the long term. (Citation: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) But you probably don’t need a peer-reviewed study to tell you that.
(WASHINGTON) — Senate Republicans have derailed an election-year Democratic bill curbing paycheck discrimination against women.
The bill’s rejection was widely expected, yet Democrats hope the effort will pay political dividends in this November’s congressional elections. They are trying to drive up turnout this fall by women, who historically lean more Democratic than men.
It was the third consecutive election year in which Senate Democrats have pushed the bill and Republicans have shot it down.
Wednesday’s vote was 53-44 for ending GOP blocking tactics against the bill — six short of the 60 votes needed.
The bill would make it harder for employers to pay women less than men in comparable jobs, and easier for aggrieved workers to sue.
Tulips are lovely from up close, but their real beauty emerges when you zoom out and view the stunning rainbow patchwork created by tulip fields across the Netherlands. Spring has finally sprung.
Lupita Nyong’o continues her streak of amazingness on the cover of the latest issue of Marie Claire, a major fashion coup for the Oscar winner — but certainly not her last. The Yale-educated star, 31, is one of five young stars included in the fashion magazine’s Fresh Faces issue. The pack includes up-and-comer Elizabeth Olsen, House of Cards’ Kate Mara, Maleficent’s Elle Fanning and Game of Thrones favorite Emilia Clarke.
Nyong’o also took to Instagram to post photos of her posing with Mara and Fanning at the cover release party in Los Angeles. Though the actress has yet to announce her next project, she’s realistic about the future, telling the magazine that she’s “not in the business of trying to top this year — that’s virtually impossible.” While that might be true, there’s little doubt the star will disappoint.
Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance Ai-jen Poo first found her calling toward social justice in the mid-1990s, when she was a student at Columbia University. As organizer of the Women Workers Project at CAAAV in New York City, she was incensed to see how domestic workers–often immigrants and women of color–toiled long hours for low pay as maids, nannies and elderly caregivers.
Over the next 17 years, her efforts to understand and organize domestic workers in New York helped earn her the trust of thousands of women who had been too often treated like they were expendable, even though they were responsible for raising children, caring for the ill and aged and charged with making the daily lives of millions of families easier.
The Domestic Workers United Poo co-founded in 2000 galvanized a city-wide, multiracial coalition of of workers and eventually led New York State to pass the nation’s first Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in 2010. That legislation extended basic labor protections to more than 200,000 domestic workers in the state and, as a consequence, helped prompt California, Hawaii and the U.S. Government to follow suit.
In 2012, TIME honored Ai-jen as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. Journalist and feminist icon Gloria Steinem praised her at the time as a “gifted” and “empathic” leader who was making history by “showing the humanity of a long devalued kind of work.”
A hackspace in the UK created a vending machine named Holly that tweets every single time someone gets a candy bar — and names the snacker (although not the snack of choice) by name. Computerphile/YouTube
Unsurprisingly, the hackers at Nottingham Hackspace have started to rebel.
“We have turned it off in recent weeks because people are arguing with it and getting quite angry that it was telling everybody that they were eating on a regular basis,” hacker James Fowkes told Computerphile in a video interview.
Of course, this isn’t Twitter and vending machine’s first marriage. A vending machine filled with stuffed panda bears in Canada would drop a toy whenever anyone tweeted #HomeTweetHome:
At SXSW, Oreo created a vending machine that customized Oreos based on what flavors were trending on Twitter:
Seeds of Change even created a Twitter-enabled vending machine (#PledgeToPlant) that expelled organic seeds to people who tweeted about where they wanted to help build a better, greener community:
Still, all of these high minded concepts are slightly different than a food shaming vending machine that can’t keep its mouth closed about your latest Twix bar.
Watch the video about the vending machine below:
A follow up on yesterday’s post on the Brilliant Blog about first generation college students: In newly-presented research, education professor Ronald Hallett shares what he discovered through designing and implementing a program intended to encourage high school students who would be the first in their families to attend university.
Hallett, of the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., designed the five-week summer program for underserved and underperforming Stockton students in partnership with local school district administrators. Speaking at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, said that one of the keys to the success of the program was empowering parents who hadn’t gone to college themselves to talk to their sons and daughters about the importance of higher education. As described on the website ScienceDaily:
“Students attended three-hour sessions three days a week, exploring college websites, visiting college campuses and learning about college entrance requirements. The program also included family information meetings and gave parents weekly themed activity packets to help them lead conversations about preparing for college. At the end of each conversation, parents and students together drafted specific goals. The goals were incorporated into a family action plan at the end of the program.”
Hallett used the program, called Creating Opportunities Via Education, as a laboratory for testing and refining approaches to empower parents to guide their kids on the path to college. Among the lessons learned:
• How to pay for college was the top concern for most parents.
• Parents were reluctant to encourage their children to pursue a goal that might be unattainable; they first needed assurance that college could be financially feasible.
• Large group presentations overwhelmed parents. Individualized attention and guidance better satisfied the complex information needs of low-income families.
•Parents preferred hard-copy written information to emails and blogs, and felt more empowered when information was delivered directly to them rather than sent home via students.
• Parents were more engaged when they helped their student write a college action plan versus reviewing one developed by the student.
•When given effective tools to help underserved and underperforming students prepare for college, parents use them.
“There is a common perception that low-income parents don’t care about college, but it’s not true,” says Hallett. “The parents we worked with really wanted to be engaged in their kids’ educational pursuits.”
Annie Murphy Paul is the author of the forthcoming book Brilliant: The Science of How We Get Smarter. Read more at her blog, where this post first appeared.
I first negotiated a salary after finding out what a male friend doing a similar job was making — and that it was thousands more (tens of thousands, actually). No, I didn’t get slipped an anonymous note — a la Lilly Ledbetter. I asked, and my colleague told me. When he realized how much less I made, he encouraged me to ask for more. MoreAi-jen Poo: Organizing for TransformationMan Fakes a Burglary Because He Just Really Didn’t Feel Like Going to WorkMen Charged With Toppling Ancient Rock Formation Avoid Jail Time Huffington PostHere's An Updated Tally Of All The People Who Have Ever Died From A Marijuana Overdose Huffington Post8-Year-Old Who Inspired College Basketball Star Adreian Payne Has Died People
I’d never asked for more money before. I’d hardly even thought about it. This was journalism, after all — I felt lucky to be employed. But a few weeks later, when I walked into my boss’s office to ask for a promotion, I had that piece of information as a grenade in my back pocket. I didn’t need to use it — but it made me feel more confident to know I could have. Popular Among Subscribers The Taliban’s New Campaign of Fear Subscribe The Mindful RevolutionThe Virtual Genius of Oculus Rift
On Tuesday, “Equal Pay Day,” President Obama signed an executive order that, in theory, would make my own outcome an easier reality for millions of women, who still make, on average, 77 cents to every male dollar. That number has been debated and shifts depending on how you account for hours worked, job choice, college major and so forth, but one thing is clear: women don’t negotiate for higher pay. They are one-quarter as likely as men to do so, according to statistics from Carnegie Mellon University.
The Obama directive bans employer retaliation against federal contractors’ employees who discuss their salaries openly. According to a 2011 survey from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, nearly half of all workers in the United States are either banned from talking about their salaries — by contract — or strongly discouraged from doing so by their employers. (I still don’t know if I was breaking a rule by talking to my colleague.)
When Obama signed the executive order Tuesday, he had Lilly Ledbetter — for whom the Equal Pay Act is named — by his side. Ledbetter was a 19-year Goodyear employee who discovered, via an anonymous note, that she was making many thousands less than her male counterparts. “I thought I was earning good pay, I thought they were treating me fairly, but to my shock later on, I found out they were not,” Ledbetter has said. This new presidential directive won’t help the stalled Paycheck Fairness Act, which would make it easier for all workers, not just federal contractors, to prove that their pay is unequal. The legislation unlikely to make it through Congress this week, but that’s all the more reason women should learn the art of asking for better pay.
Negotiating for money sucks. It’s hard, it’s awkward, and it puts everyone at risk for rejection. But Negotiating While Female is a near-impossible feat. No, women are not biologically ordained to be worse negotiators — a new study proves it. And yet women who negotiate are more likely to be disliked, and thus, less likely to be hired. They can’t use a competing outside offer as a tactic, because it’s likely to come off as aggressive. They may even risk — as was the case for one philosophy professor — having a job offer revoked. Even the best advice often requires women to conform to gender stereotypes to get what we want: we must use communal language (“we,” not “I”) and smile while using it (lest you be deemed “pushy” or “aggressive.”)
To top it off, most of us have had ingrained in us, from an early age, that talking about money is impolite. That it’s somehow not a ladylike thing to do. And the reality is that until we’ve achieved gender parity across the board — in hiring, leadership, and salary — it will be viewed that way. And it doesn’t just mean we don’t receive our fair share, sometimes it means the men beside us are actually taking our share: as one former bank executive recently explained, many managers have a limited pool of money to distribute for their department. If a guy asks for more off the bat, they’ll have to give the other person less, and that’s a whole lot easier if that other person doesn’t even ask for more.
“I see it in all my workshops,” says Annie Houle, the national director of the WAGE Project, which runs negotiation trainings on college campuses around the country. “Women are too timid to equate their worth in dollars.”
But simply talking about money with a colleague — or, who knows, maybe even a friendly supervisor — can yield results. It helps determine whether you’re being fairly compensated in the first place. Research from Linda Babcock, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University , along with Harvard negotiation expert Hanna Riley Bowles, has shown that gender differences in negotiation outcomes are more likely when there is ambiguity about the appropriate standards. “When I interview executives about their career negotiations, they typically describe conversations with multiple people that occurred over the course of weeks if not months,” says Bowles. “Women need to think strategically about laying the groundwork and planting seeds of support for their negotiation ambitions.
And, it’s worth bearing in mind that most employers don’t actually think – or want to think — they’re paying women at a firm less. That’s why the second part of Obama’s executive order matters too. In addition to allowing federal workers to talk about salaries, federal contractors will be required to hand over data on pay, broken down by race and gender, to the Labor Department. Consider that bit of bureaucracy a kind of public guilting, or at least forced awareness. Experts say that while the new requirements only apply to federal contractors, they might spur companies to look voluntarily at their own staffs.
“Secrecy feeds suspicions, rumors, half-truths,” says Evelyn Murphy, the author of “Why Women Make Less.” “There is no doubt in my mind that once employers enable workers to discuss their compensation among themselves and with those who make salary decisions, whatever inequities exist will likely be adjusted.”
I have one friend — a New York businesswoman — who walked into a salary negotiation and led with the following: “The research shows you’re going to like me less after I negotiate. So I just wanted to get that out of the way.” The tactic won’t work for everyone, but it’s one way of broaching the conversation. Talking about gender bias is key. Because the reality is you’re sure to get nothing if you don’t ever broach the subject at all.
Here’s a story you might want to share with people who love making puns about the new Noah film — such as a “flood of complaints,” in reference to the controversy surrounding the movie.
The Vue Cinema in the English city Exeter confirmed to the newspaper Exeter Express & Echo that its first showing of Noah on opening day April 4 had to be canceled because “there was flooding” due to “a fault with an ice machine.”
The staff did not need to find an ark for customers because the problem was reportedly discovered first thing in the morning, so the theater just didn’t open until mid-afternoon.
PETA has given up on its plans to turn serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s childhood home into a vegan restaurant.
The animal rights organization had proposed that the notorious murderer and cannibal’s home in Bath Township, Ohio could become a restaurant called Eat for Life: Home Cooking. But local authorities nixed the idea, PETA said in a statement.
“We regret that we won’t be able to move forward with this project, even though it was met with some enthusiasm as well as some derisive comments,” a PETA spokesperson Moira Colley said. “Although some people thought the home’s out-of-the-way location was a deal breaker, that was not our opinion. And we were delighted that the real-estate agent representing the home was as enthusiastic about the project as we were. However, getting zoning for a restaurant on this site is apparently impossible, in part because of issues with the plumbing and waste systems.”
The house was the site of the first of 17 murders committed by Dahmer. In 1978, he killed a 19-year-old hitchhiker before dismembering him and scattering his remains across the property. The three-bedroom home went on the market for $295,000 this week.
After being diagnosed with brain and lung cancer in 2011, Lynn Mitchell, 68, was averaging about an hour of solid sleep a night. Stressed about her treatments, she was paying for it in hours of lost sleep. MoreTo Sleep or to Sleep With? Study Shows Night-Owl Women Have More Sex, Fewer RelationshipsArianna Huffington on the Key to Finding Success (Without Burning Out)Men Charged With Toppling Ancient Rock Formation Avoid Jail Time Huffington PostHere's An Updated Tally Of All The People Who Have Ever Died From A Marijuana Overdose Huffington Post8-Year-Old Who Inspired College Basketball Star Adreian Payne Has Died People
The brain cancer was already affecting her mobility—Mitchell was often dizzy and would lose her balance—but the lack of sleep was exacerbating things. Even walking became increasingly difficult. Exhausted in the mornings, she was practically incoherent. When her doctors recommend she see a sleep therapist, Mitchell was relieved at how benign it sounded in comparison to the chemotherapy she had undergone and the gene therapy trial she was undergoing, which had side effects like nausea and fatigue. Popular Among Subscribers The Taliban’s New Campaign of Fear Subscribe The Mindful RevolutionThe Virtual Genius of Oculus Rift
For about nine weeks, Mitchell worked with the sleep therapist to adjust her sleep habits. She got under the covers only when she was extremely tired. She quit watching TV in bed. She stopped drinking caffeinated coffee in the evening. She also learned breathing exercises to relax and help her drift off. It was all quite simple and common sense, and, most importantly, noninvasive and didn’t require popping any pills.
“It’s common knowledge that sleep is needed for day to day function,” says Dr. David Rapoport, director of the Sleep Medicine Program at NYU School of Medicine. “What isn’t common knowledge is that it really matters—it’s not just cosmetic.” Rapoport has long seen people seek sleep therapy because they’re chronically tired or suffering from insomnia, but an increasing number of patients are being referred to his center for common diseases, disorders, and mental health.
Researchers have known for some time that sleep is critical for weight maintenance and hormone balance. And too little sleep is linked to everything from diabetes to heart disease to depression. Recently, the research on sleep has been overwhelming, with mounting evidence that it plays a role in nearly every aspect of health. Beyond chronic illnesses, a child’s behavioral problems at school could be rooted in mild sleep apnea. And studies have shown children with ADHD are more likely to get insufficient sleep. A recent study published in the journal SLEEP found a link between older men with poor sleep quality and cognitive decline. Another study out this week shows sleep is essential in early childhood for development, learning, and the formation and retention of memories. Dr. Allan Rechtschaffen, a pioneer of sleep research at the University of Chicago, once said, “If sleep does not serve an absolutely vital function, then it is the biggest mistake the evolutionary process ever made.”
But to many of us, sleep is easily sacrificed, especially since lack of it isn’t seen as life threatening. Over time, sleep deprivation can have serious consequences, but we mostly sacrifice a night of sleep here and there, and always say that we’ll “catch up.” Luckily, it is possible to make up for sleep debt (though it can take a very long time), but most Americans are still chronically sleep deprived.
While diet and exercise have been a part of public health messaging for decades, doctors and health advocates are now beginning to argue that getting quality sleep may be just as important for overall health. “Sleep is probably easier to change than diet or exercise,” says Dr. Michael Grandner, a sleep researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. “It may also give you more of an immediate reward if it helps you get through your day.” Sleep experts claim that it is one of the top three, and sometimes the most, important lifestyle adjustments one can make, in addition to diet and exercise. And while there’s more evidence linking diet and exercise as influential health factors, sleep is probably more important in terms of brain and hormonal function, Grandner says. “Among a small group of [sleep researchers], it’s always been said that [eating, exercise, and sleep] are the three pillars of health,” says Dr. Rapoport.
In our increasingly professional and digital lives, where there are now more things than ever competing for the hours in our day, carving out time for sleep is not only increasingly difficult, but also more necessary. Using technology before bed stimulates us and interferes with our sleep, yet 95% of Americans use some type of electronics like a computer, TV, or cell phone at least a few nights a week within the hour before we go to bed, according to a 2011 National Sleep Foundation survey. “Many doctors, lawyers, and executives stay up late and get up early and burn the candle at both ends,” says Dr. Richard Lang, chair of Preventative Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. “Making sure they pay attention to sleep in the same way they pay attention to diet and exercise is crucial.”
To some, sleep has become a powerful antidote to mental health. Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, advocates that sleep is the secret to success, happiness, and peak performance. After passing out a few years ago from exhaustion and cracking a cheekbone against her desk, Huffington has become something of a sleep evangelist. In a 2010 TEDWomen conference, Huffington said, “The way to a more productive, more inspired, more joyful life is getting enough sleep.” Research linking high-quality sleep with better mental health is growing; a 2013 study found that treating depressed patients for insomnia can double their likelihood of overcoming the disorder.
While 70% of physicians agree that inadequate sleep is a major health problem, only 43% counsel their patients on the benefits of adequate sleep. But there’s growing pressure on primary care physicians to address, and even prescribe, sleep during routine check-ups. In a recent study published in the journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, the researchers concluded that health professionals should prescribe sleep to prevent and treat metabolic disorders like obesity and diabetes. And overlooking sleep as a major health issue can also have deadly consequences. It was recently reported that the operator of the Metro-North train that derailed in New York last year, killing four people and injuring more than 70, had an undiagnosed case of sleep apnea.
Sleep therapies can range from simply learning new lifestyle behaviors to promote sleep, to figuring out how to position oneself in bed. More drastic measures involve surgery to open up an airway passage for people suffering from disorders like sleep apnea. Sleeping pills can be prescribed too, to get much needed rest, but sleep therapists tend to favor other approaches because of possible dependencies developing.
A large part of reaping the benefits of sleep is knowing when you’re not getting the right amount. According to a 2013 Gallup survey, 40% of Americans get less than the recommended seven to eight hours a night. While the typical person still logs about 6.8 hours of sleep per night, that’s a drop from the 7.9 Americans were getting in the 1940s.
When it comes to adequate sleep, it’s much more personalized than previously thought. Some people feel great on five hours of rest, while others need ten. The best way to determine if you’re getting the right amount, doctors say, is to find out how many hours of sleep you need to be able to wake up without an alarm and feel rested, refreshed, and energetic throughout the day.
Since reforming her sleep habits, Mitchell has been clocking up to seven hours of shuteye a night for the past two months. “I’m alert in the morning, my balance is better, and I feel peppier,” says Mitchell. Getting enough sleep has helped her better deal with her cancers, and its symptoms. The best news is that she recently found out that her brain tumor is shrinking, and there are fewer cancerous spots on her lungs.
Babies of New Zealand paid homage to their overlord when Prince George visited a playgroup during his first official public engagement Wednesday. Prince George of Cambridge during his first official engagement at Government House on April 9, 2014 in Wellington, New Zealand. Getty Images
The King of Babes shook hands with the commonfolk, and assured them that he would do everything in his power to maintain good relations between the babies of New Zealand and the babies of the U.K. The Prince greeted well-wishers Getty Images
In his speech, he said it was his duty to “look out for the little people” and promised “a bottle in every crib.” The Prince raised a hand first official visit in New Zealand Marty Melville—AFP/Getty Images
Some angry protesters were upset at the Prince’s remarks, but they were quickly escorted away. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George attend an event at Government House in Wellington, New Zealand, on the 9th April 2014. Pool—Getty Images
Others presented the visiting dignitary with precious gifts to maintain good relations between babies of the two nations. Eight month old Prince George at his first official engagement at Government House, Wellington,New Zealand. Alan Wolf—NZ Govt/Getty Images
The Prince plans to continue his official tour of Australia and New Zealand with his parents and nanny in the coming weeks.
We’re guessing Rascal Flatts wishes they could rewind their Sunday night performance of “Rewind” — the award-winning trio admitted to lip syncing at the Academy of Country Music Awards, which didn’t come as a surprise to fans.
The group posted a statement on Facebook and Twitter on Monday, saying:
“After having performed several shows earlier in the week, Gary lost his voice. So instead of canceling our commitment to do the show, we made a last minute decision to lip-sync. We’ve never done it before, and obviously we’re not very good at it. We look forward to singing live again in the very near future!”
For Queen and country, baby Prince George made the sacrifice of having fun.
The little prince’s first royal duty was a playdate with ten families selected to represent the diverse communities of New Zealand. Plunkett’s Parents Group, an organization that provides healthcare and support for new parents, arranged the Government House get-together. They chose George’s playmates from a variety of backgrounds including Maoris, Samoans and gay couples.
The 8-month-old prince is growing up fast. Not only has he begun to serve his patriotic duty, but Kate Middleton says that George has been sleeping through the night and eating solid foods. Later he will wear the crown, but for now, Prince George is content to simply play.
Designer Tom Ford is now sporting a gold wedding band, but somehow no one noticed until he nonchalantly showed it to the audience during an interview Monday at the London Apple Store.
“Richard, yes, 27 years, and we’re now married, which is nice,” Ford said.
He was referring to his long-term partner journalist Richard Buckley, with whom he shares a one-year-old son.
The couple met at a fashion show in the ’80s when Ford’s career was just beginning and Buckley was an editor at Vogue. The two have been together since.
The Encyclopedia of American Business History notes that Peter Drucker was not only “the most important managerial theorist of the 20thcentury” but also “a mentor to several generations” of executives. MoreWant to Succeed? You Should Seriously Consider Doing NothingHere Is Exactly Why You Wish You Were Self-EmployedMen Charged With Toppling Ancient Rock Formation Avoid Jail Time Huffington PostHere's An Updated Tally Of All The People Who Have Ever Died From A Marijuana Overdose Huffington PostDoris Day Makes Her First Public Appearance in More Than 2 Decades People
Next week, with the release of Bob Buford’s Drucker & Me, readers will be offered a window into perhaps the deepest of those relationships. From it, there is much to learn. Popular Among Subscribers The Taliban’s New Campaign of Fear Subscribe The Mindful RevolutionThe Virtual Genius of Oculus Rift
The book recalls the friendship forged between Drucker, known as the “man who invented management,” and Buford, a cable television pioneer from Tyler, Texas, who later dedicated his considerable intellect and energy to social entrepreneurship and the building of America’s megachurch movement. (Royalties are being donated to the Drucker Institute, which I run.)
Buford’s narrative begins at the end of Drucker’s life, shortly before he died in 2005, at age 95, when Buford realizes that he has come to visit his friend for the last time. From there, after a short introduction to the significance and impact of Drucker’s work, Buford retraces the extraordinary connection that they built over 23 years.
It started with a letter that Buford wrote to Drucker, seeking his counsel on how to improve the performance of a business that was already growing fast. The next thing Buford knew, he was on his way to Drucker’s modest ranch house in Claremont, Calif., for a one-on-one meeting. Things blossomed quickly from there.
“In terms of friendship, we were an unlikely pairing,” Buford writes. “A generation apart in age. One of us spoke English with a heavy Austrian accent. The other spoke Texan. I owned a cable television company. Peter didn’t even own a television. . . . I followed the Dallas Cowboys. He followed Japanese art.”
Yet for all of these differences, the two clicked. Their sensibilities and worldview were totally in sync. “In Peter,” Buford explains, “I found a soul mate.”
In addition to being a charming read, Drucker & Me conveys many management lessons—on relentlessly providing what the customer values, on engaging in “planned abandonment,” on aligning people’s strengths with the work that they’re asked to undertake. But above all, the book is a wonderful guide on how to be a mentor, filled with useful takeaways. Here are five:
First, a model mentor doesn’t just give answers. In Drucker’s case, he had Buford write him a long letter before each of their sessions, ensuring that Buford had carefully thought through the challenges with which he was grappling. When they finally sat down together, Drucker would pepper Buford with questions.
“He wanted Bob to think for himself,” Jim Collins, for whom Drucker was also a mentor, observes in the foreword to Drucker & Me. “The greatest teachers begin with humility, a belief that only by first learning from their students can they be of greatest service to them.”
Second, a model mentor is always fully present, recognizing the tremendous trust he or she has been handed. “Whenever I was with him,” Buford recalls of Drucker, “he was focused. If the minister of Japan called, the minister would have to wait until my meeting ended.”
Third, a model mentor doesn’t shy away when the professional blends with the personal, understanding that someone’s career and the rest of his or her life are often intimately linked. On this score, Drucker & Me contains several dramatic turning points, including the drowning death of Buford’s 24-year-old son, Ross.
As soon as Drucker heard the terrible news, he phoned. “For the next several minutes, we had a very affectionate, compassionate, intensely personal conversation, and his sadness for my losing Ross almost seemed to match my own,” Buford writes. “And then he said something that was remarkable in its candor even as it echoed my own thoughts. ‘Isn’t it a shame that it takes this kind of moment for you and me to have the kind of conversation we just had?’”
Fourth, by truly listening, a model mentor can help introduce a level of clarity that would likely be unattainable otherwise. “Your mission, Bob, is to transform the latent energy of American Christianity into active energy,” Drucker told Buford eight years into their relationship. Writes Buford: “Just like that, he nailed it. He took my meandering thoughts . . . and articulated exactly what I wanted to do.” Indeed, this single insight from Drucker was the spark that Buford needed to create Leadership Network, a highly effective nonprofit that teaches church pastors how to multiply their own impact in the community.
Finally, a model mentor gives permission, encouragement and applause—but also demands accountability. “After a while,” Buford says, that “long rambling letter” he sent before each consulting session with Drucker “became my performance report. I’m not sure he would have allowed me access, at least in the early going, if I had no results.”
In his 1990 book Managing the Nonprofit Organization, Drucker credits two of his first bosses—one at a financial firm, the other at a newspaper—with being ideal mentors in their own right. “They were totally un-permissive and demanding. And they did not hesitate to chastise me,” Drucker recounted. “But they were willing to listen to me. They were sparing with praise, but always willing to encourage.”
Obviously, he learned well, exhibiting these very same traits with Buford. But so, in turn, did Buford learn well.
I know this firsthand. Although we, too, are from different worlds—I’m a Jewish guy from Baltimore, a generation younger than Buford, and much more a basketball than a football fan—we share many core values. And while I would never claim to be as close to Buford as he was with Drucker, his guidance and friendship have been indispensable. He has urged me, along with my staff, to sharpen the Drucker Institute’s mission, leading us to where we are today: “strengthening organizations to strengthen society.” He has pushed us to think bigger and aim higher.
Inc. magazine once called Peter Drucker “the North Star of mentors.” Bob Buford, I can attest, shines awfully bright himself.