Three great websites if you’re over 40 (or will be someday)

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I wanted to highlight three websites that I keep going back to for information, advice, and wisdom. All bear some relationship to the world of work and careers, sometimes indirectly. More importantly, they give us ideas about how to live with more meaning and even happiness. They’re especially useful for folks in the second half of life who may find themselves more receptive these notions, but I’d recommend them to virtually any adult.

All of have excellent newsletters or e-mail bulletins that you can subscribe to for free.

Next Avenue

First up is Next Avenuea site hosted by public television staffers:

You’re aware that many years of life lie ahead of you and, very likely, you have a different set of expectations for these “bonus years” than you had for earlier adulthood. You sense that you can somehow apply your knowledge and experiences in a meaningful way. Yet you may not know exactly how to achieve this new vision or see all the many possibilities available to you as you navigate the physical, health, work, and financial shifts that inevitably accompany this phase.

Enter Next Avenue. We’re a group of public television people and journalists who, for the most part, are experiencing the very same things you are. Like you, we see both challenges and opportunities and we recognize that what we could all use right about now is an abundance of reliable information that can help us figure out what’s, well, next.

Beyond its home page, Next Avenue has major sections on  health & well-being, money & security, work & purpose, living & learning, and caregiving. For me it has become a “go-to” site.

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Greater Good

The second site is Greater Goodhosted by the Greater Good Science Center at University of California, Berkeley. The Center:

is unique in its commitment to both science and practice: not only do we sponsor groundbreaking scientific research into social and emotional well-being, we help people apply this research to their personal and professional lives. Since 2001, we have been at the fore of a new scientific movement to explore the roots of happy and compassionate individuals, strong social bonds, and altruistic behavior—the science of a meaningful life. And we have been without peer in our award-winning efforts to translate and disseminate this science to the public.

On this site you’ll find pages devoted to family & couples, education, work & career, mind & body, and Big Ideas. It’s a great example of how academic researchers can translate their findings and insights that inform all of us on how to live better lives.

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Brain Pickings

Finally, Brain Pickings is the devoted and intellectually eclectic work of Maria Popova, who describes the site this way:

Brain Pickings is my one-woman labor of love — a subjective lens on what matters in the world and why. Mostly, it’s a record of my own becoming as a person — intellectually, creatively, spiritually — and an inquiry into how to live and what it means to lead a good life.

…The core ethos behind Brain Pickings is that creativity is a combinatorial force: it’s our ability to tap into our mental pool of resources — knowledge, insight, information, inspiration, and all the fragments populating our minds — that we’ve accumulated over the years just by being present and alive and awake to the world, and to combine them in extraordinary new ways. In order for us to truly create and contribute to the world, we have to be able to connect countless dots, to cross-pollinate ideas from a wealth of disciplines, to combine and recombine these pieces and build new ideas.

The site is “full of pieces spanning art, science, psychology, design, philosophy, history, politics, anthropology, and more; pieces that enrich our mental pool of resources and empower combinatorial ideas that are stronger, smarter, richer, deeper and more impactful.”

Website of the Week: APA’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program

Especially given this week’s observance of Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week 2011 (October 16-22), it’s fitting to highlight the American Psychological Association’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program (PHWP).

The PHWP describes itself this way:

The Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program (PHWP) is a collaborative effort between the American Psychological Association and the APA Practice Organization, designed to educate the employer community about the link between employee health and well-being and organizational performance. ThePHWP includes APA’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards, a variety ofAPA Practice Organization resources, including PHWP Web content, e-newsletter, podcast and blog, and support of local programs….

The website contains a lot of useful, free content, and merits some time spent exploring. A few highlights:

Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards

Each year, the PHWP recognizes a small number of employers across the nation for creating psychologically healthy workplaces:

Nominees are selected from a pool of previous local winners and evaluated on their workplace practices in the areas of employee involvement, health and safety, employee growth and development, work-life balance and employee recognition.

You may go here for further descriptions of the 2011 Award winners:

  • Cross, Gunter, Witherspoon & Galchus (Arkansas)
  • eXude Benefits Group (Pennsylvania)
  • San Jorge Children’s Hospital (Puerto Rico)
  • First Horizon (Tennessee)
  • Northeast Delta Dental (New Hampshire)
  • Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, Northwest (Oregon)
  • The MITRE Corporation (Virginia)
  • City of Grand Prairie (Texas)

Current Good Company newsletter highlights workplace bullying

At the website, you also can sign up for a free subscription to the PHWP’s online newsletter, Good Company.

The lead article in the October 19 issue is Dr. Donna M.L. Heretick’s “Recognizing and Confronting Workplace Bullying,” which gives a solid overview of the topic and concludes with a suggested model for organizational responses:

A step-wise model of mandated responses might be:

  • “Informal intervention” for single incidents of unprofessional behavior;
  • Level 1, “awareness intervention” where a pattern of behavior is being identified;
  • Level 2, “authority intervention” where the pattern continues; and,
  • Level 3, “disciplinary intervention” where there appears to be no improvement after previous interventions or the first offense is notably egregious (Hickson, Pichert, Webb, & Gabbe, 2007).

Personal kudos

I’m a fan of the PHWP for personal reasons as well as professional ones.

One of my earliest blog posts mentioned the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards. However, rather than crediting the APA for creating an awards program using important, relevant factors, I criticized them — in a somewhat snarky tone — for what they didn’t measure, then proceeded to announce what criteria I thought were important.

Yup, I had used a cheap straw man tool to make a point. But instead of taking this law-professor-turned-organizational-psychology-commentator to task, Drs. David Ballard and Matthew Grawitch of the PHWP left a collegial, even-handed comment, thanking me for my post and explaining why the APA used certain criteria in making the awards.

As someone new to blogging, their response was a gracious lesson to me in healthy online dialogue. Since then, on several occasions Dave Ballard and the PHWP have featured posts from Minding the Workplace on their Facebook and Twitter pages and blog. In short, they walk the talk, and I am very appreciative.

Website of the Week: Working Families Win

For many years, I’ve been a big fan of Working Families Win (WFW), a grassroots community education and organizing project that:

works to change the economy in favor of working families, provides education about economic decisions made in Washington and the impacts within our local communities, and engages individuals through neighbor to neighbor communication to hold our elected officials accountable.

As an initiative of the progressive Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), WFW believes that:

New trade rules can distribute the benefits of a globalizing economy more equitably to workers here and abroad.  Health care for all Americans would address a major burden facing working families today.  A real “living wage,” investment in jobs, producing clean energy, and stronger rights for workers to join unions and bargain collectively would all help maintain and rebuild our nation’s middle class.

Working Families Win was created by the late Jim Jontz, a three-term Member of Congress from northern Indiana, who understood the need to educate and organize voters in hard-fought battleground and heartland states such as Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Ohio. Jim founded WFW after serving as President of ADA.

Check out the WFW website here.

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Disclosure note: I currently serve, on a pro bono basis, as Chair of ADA’s National Executive Committee.

Website of the Week: Truckers Against Trafficking practices on-the-road social responsibility

Within certain academic and professional circles I’ve traveled, examinations of social responsibility too often are reduced to dreary panel discussions and bouts of self-congratulatory back patting. But if you want a real, on-the-road example of social responsibility, take a look at a non-profit organization called Truckers Against Trafficking.

Truckers Against Trafficking describes its mission this way:

Human trafficking, a term for modern-day slavery, is a $32 billion worldwide industry with more than 27 million people enslaved. It has been reported in all 50 states and the number of victims in the U.S. is estimated in hundreds of thousands. This website has been created to enable members of the trucking/travel plaza industry and other travelers learn what you can do to help stop this atrocity.

…Truckers Against Trafficking recognizes that members of the trucking industry and individual truckers are invaluable in the fight against this heinous crime. This site has been created to inform truckers and other travelers of the basic issues involved in human trafficking and a summary of ways you can help. We invite you to travel through this website and learn how you can join this worthy cause and save lives.

TAT is about education and action. It uses wallet cards, educational posts and DVDs, and a trafficking hotline to reach out to truckers, truck stop and road plaza workers, and students at truck driving schools.

Take a look!

As a city dweller who doesn’t even own a car, long haul trucking is another world to me. But Facebook friend Allen Smith, a trucker himself, has posted regularly about the activities that many of these folks engage in to connect their vocation to issues of public concern.

TAT is a great example of that. Many of these drivers identify their political leanings as being moderate to conservative, but let me tell ya, organizations like TAT can teach some of the liberal do-gooder groups a thing or two about the power of plain talk, public education, and direct action.

Take a look at TAT’s website. You’ll find plenty of information, including several educational videos and links to articles and news updates.

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TAT’s website is here.

TAT’s Facebook page is here.

Website of the Week: TED

If you’re into talks by people at the top of their game, check out TED, “a small nonprofit devoted to ideas worth spreading.” On the TED website (link here), you’ll find hundreds of freely accessible videos featuring leaders and innovators in their respective fields:

On TED.com, we make the best talks and performances from TED and partners available to the world, for free. More than 700 TEDTalks are now available, with more added each week.

General topics include:

Technology

Entertainment

Design

Business

Science

Culture

Arts

Global issues

What more can I say to whet your appetite? It’s a treasure trove of learning, enlightenment, and inspiration — and absolutely free!

Website of the Week: Richard Bolles and “Parachute”

Richard Bolles and What Color Is Your Parachute? have been around so long that it’s easy to take them for granted.  But make no mistake: With every new edition, Bolles faithfully and thoroughly updates and revises this informative and humane guide for job hunters and career changers.

Bolles also maintains an excellent website (link here). Even for those who do not own a copy of the book, it is a valuable stand alone portal to articles and links on the job search, networking, resume preparation, career counseling, and researching employers. For those in search of more personalized counseling, it also provides information about the 5-day workshops that Bolles hosts in his home.

Bolles goes beyond the world of job hunting in his blog, Dick Bolles’ Enchanted World (link here). It’s further evidence that he is not just another do-it-by-the-numbers career counselor. He understands the relationships between work, life, and the society we live in, and he’s not afraid to make his opinions known.

Website of the Week: CiviliNation

Through Facebook I recently was introduced to CiviliNation, a non-profit education and research group dedicated to advancing civility in cyberspace. Founded in 2009, CiviliNation (website here) describes itself this way:

Our mission is to foster an online culture where every person can freely participate in a democratic, open, rational and truth-based exchange of ideas and information, without fear or threat of being the target of unwarranted abuse, harassment, or lies.

I believe this organization holds a lot of promise to raise awareness and influence our national discussion about online civility, harassment, and bullying. CiviliNation’s founder and president is Andrea Weckerle, a Washington D.C.-based attorney and communications consultant. She’s well connected; her board includes Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia. The seeds are there for important work to be done.

And we sure do need it. The Internet’s marvels are matched increasingly by its nastiness. Through some combination of education, consciousness raising, and regulation, we need to save ourselves from ruining cyberspace. Here’s hoping that organizations like CiviliNation can help to lead the way.

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