My April weekends were full of bridal showers (my daughter is getting married soon and my niece three weeks after that), Easter and a second COVID-19 vaccine.
On the work front, here are the stories that stood out the most last month:
So often, I’ll read an article for work and will feel that I’ve only scratched the surface. I’ll mentally fantasize about going there to touch and feel the place and learn more about its history (like I did with the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum, which we covered in 2018). It’s not all that likely I’ll ever get to visit the National Negro Opera Company House, but I’ll be rooting for this historical landmark to be revived and for music to fill its walls again.
Top April Story: Consider these questions before reopening the office
Business Transformation SmartBrief
This article covered a lot of ground in several hundred words. It talked about how Warby Parker transitioned as the pandemic bore down, but it also discussed how the company has worked on being transparent about diversity. This is such a core piece of business (and life) advice, but I love the way they are applying it to being a more equitable organization: “Probably the biggest thing that we’ve learned in every aspect of our business is that you only manage what you measure.”
Top April story: Will a “no politics talk” policy help or hurt Basecamp?
International City/County Management Association
Affordable child care is the bane of so many parents’ existence. I remember feeling we had gotten a raise when we were able to drop child care out of the family budget (not that it didn’t get replaced right away with some other expense). I appreciate this article’s emphasis on the role of quality child care people can afford as a part of equity.
Top April story: 6 steps to take when you have burnout
YAY HOME TEAM! I am always happy when I see my alma mater, Florida State University, featured in SmartBrief. (And I promise I did not pick this one — our research team did with zero input from me.) That said, this particular project is especially significant to me because I know a few people at the Florida Center for Reading Research and I admire their work. In addition, this graphic novel seems like a fantastic idea to help people with dyslexia and other reading challenges feel a little less alone.
Top April story: 6 kinds of rest — other than sleeping
National Emergency Number Association
I have developed so much respect for dispatchers over the time I’ve been editing the Public Safety SmartBrief from NENA. It was nice to share four different articles celebrating their hard work during National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.
Top April story: 911 SAVES Act reintroduced, backed by 51 co-sponsors
Reserve Officers Association
I’m pretty skeptical of many of the popular thought systems about failure. I have enough life experience to know there’s lots to be learned from failure, that we have to try things outside of our comfort zone to grow, etc. This article rang true for me in a way many others haven’t. Lt. Col. Raven “Rost” LeClair helped develop a system that makes it possible to download data from an F-35 and then use that in conjunction with a tablet to communicate “surface-to-air threat information” more effectively. The work he did also helped develop an app that uses “advanced artificial intelligence (AI) to increase the F-35’s advantages against advanced surface-to-air threats.” It’s all pretty complicated — read the article to get the details. But the part that I liked was when he said, “In my mind, failures are always on the path to success.” That doesn’t differ all that much from the articles I’ve read that made me roll my eyes, but this one struck me as authentic.
Top April story: Courts weighing rights to paid military leave
Sigma Xi, the Scientific Honorary Society
While I enjoy sharing scientific breakthroughs via this newsletter, I really love having the occasional story that addresses policy issues within the research world. In this case, organizers of artificial intelligence conferences faced a quandary regarding assigning reviewers. The number of submitted papers was rapidly increasing, which made it harder to cover the reviews needed to select papers to be accepted by the conference. Software and algorithms helped the organizers use their time most efficiently while also refining the quality of the scores given. Favorite line: “We have no reason not to use our own tools.”
Top April story: Ingenuity image shows Perseverance on Mars surface
Like the NASW favorite I shared, this one is also sort of a “YAY HOME TEAM!” choice. I have been a Shot at Life advocate for around eight years, so my heart is with #WorldImmunizationWeek, which just wrapped up. The prevalence of COVID is causing declines in vaccination rates for other childhood diseases (such as polio), and I am committed to helping that not be the case. Learn more about Shot at Life here.
Top April story: WHO sounds alarm over variants, record infections
AGC SmartBrief (Associated General Contractors of America)
I had the opportunity to edit this newsletter twice last month, and I have a serious observation and a lighter one.
On the serious side, this article about how to truly make progress in the construction industry regarding diversity is worth a read.
On the lighter side, I just love the custom of naming the machines that bore tunnels. In two days, I read about Chris, “named after Christopher Allen, a DC Water official who oversaw the Clean Rivers Project prior to his death in 2017.” The next day, I was introduced to Mary, given the name “in honor of Mary Winston Jackson, a NASA scientist depicted in the 2016 film ‘Hidden Figures.’”
Here’s a time lapse video of “Chris” being lowered into the shaft:
Now that we’ve discussed all of these interesting stories, let’s address what happens when even the interesting things at work aren’t sparking our enthusiasm anymore. I’m referring to burnout. The pandemic has made conditions even more conducive to burnout as the lines between work and home grew less and less distinct.
On May 18, SmartBrief will present “Living at work: Tackling burnout and supporting employee mental wellness,” a free webinar focused on helping participants create work cultures that counteract burnout while also nurturing wellness. It will be at 2:00 p.m. EDT that day. Even if you can’t participate live, registering will give you access to the recording. Register here.
Until then, check out our primer on burnout and employee mental wellness.
About working at SmartBrief/Future
Each month, I share the open positions at SmartBrief and Future for anyone who is interested in being a part of finding and sharing stories through newsletters and Future’s other enterprises.
All open positions at SmartBrief and Future plc can be found at this link. Here are a few highlights (listed in order of least recent posting date (4/4/21) to most recent (5/1/21)):
If you are interested in applying and have questions, please email me so we can discuss further.
To subscribe to one (or more) SmartBrief newsletters, including the “end of the work day” While You Were Working, for which I am a contributing editor, click here. We’re also still producing a brief specific to COVID-19 on Tuesdays, and you can subscribe to it here.
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Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many. My pronouns are she/her/hers.