What Do Employers Want? Hint—It’s Not What You Think!

by on August 26, 2014

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At a recent employer panel on the peninsula, I had the opportunity to ask four high level executives (VP and Director levels) from four large organizations what type of technical training we should be providing our job seekers.

Strangely there was an awkward silence following the question. Finally, the HR person from the large, well established tech firm spoke up. His answer, paraphrased here, was that by the time he saw a candidate that person had already established that he had the technical skills needed. What he needed was someone who had empathy. WHAT?!?!  EMPATHY? What the heck does empathy have to do with tech?

But even more strange was how the three other panelists simultaneously breathed a sigh and eagerly jumped on this bandwagon. Each panelist discussed the importance of “soft” skills going so far as to say that there were hard skills and then “harder” skills and these emotional intelligence skills are more difficult.

So why empathy? And is it that hard to come by? Turns out it is. Empathy, put simply, the ability to understand the needs, feelings and point of view of others, is needed for any job. In tech, you will be working on teams to fulfill the customer needs. Same for finance and healthcare. At Sutter Health, job candidates must take a test to prove their ability to empathize. In the nonprofit arena, ditto and you need to understand both the needs of the donors and the recipients of the service.

Not sure if you are good at empathy?
You can start improving it now. First, begin by just listening. A special kind of listening I call “being in neutral.” Meaning, suspend your own opinions and advice. In the words of Steven Covey, listen to understand. Release any desire to be right, prove a point, or win a discussion. After listening, summarize what you think you heard including best guesses at content, feelings, and needs. Ask the other person something to the effect of “is that about right?” You will be surprised at how well your interpersonal actions go from here.

I’d love to hear how it is working out for you.

Container Gardening

by on August 19, 2014

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There’s nothing quite like fresh produce harvested at its peak. Even if you live in a space with only a small patio or balcony, containers provide a wonderful way to enjoy your favorite foods year round.

Make The Most Of The Space You Have
Most plants require between 5 –7 hours of sunlight a day to thrive. Choose a location that receives adequate sunlight, is protected from too much wind and temperature extremes, and is in a convenient location for care and harvesting. One of the benefits of container gardening is mobility. Placing your containers on platforms with casters will allow you to move your crops to the best location throughout the day or season. Also, keep aesthetics in mind. Vegetables and herbs can be quite lovely. Think of your edible plants as design elements by placing them in locations where you can enjoy their beauty.

Get Creative
Clay or wooden pots are commonly used, but explore wine barrels, kiddie pools, dresser drawers, salvaged window boxes, old toy bins, and buckets. The only requirements are that containers are large enough to hold the full-grown plants and their mature root systems, and provide sufficient drainage and air circulation. Choose healthy soil, seeds, and seedlings Container plants require a good quality potting soil that provides both essential nutrients and adequate drainage. It’s also wise to replenish the soil each season.

Whether planting directly from seed or transplanting seedlings, it’s important to know your seed company or nursery. Research companies who offer open pollinated non-GMO selections that grow well in your area.

Many vegetables and herbs dislike having their roots disturbed and do best when planted directly from seed. These include arugula, beans, beets, carrots, cilantro, corn, kale, lettuce, mustard greens, radishes, and spinach.

Others crops do best when transplanted as seedlings. You can either grow the seedlings yourself on a warm windowsill or in a hothouse, or purchase them at your local nursery. Basil, brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower), chives, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, perennial herbs, squash, and tomatoes all do well when transplanted into gardens as seedlings.

Caring For Your Container Plants
Container plants require more attention than plants in the ground, so be sure to water your crops regularly. In the heat of summer, plants may need daily watering.

Feed your container plants with a liquid fertilizer solution, applying it to the soil about every three weeks. I recommend equal parts of diluted liquid fish emulsion and kelp.
Enjoy Most importantly, plant what you love to eat! An edible garden of any type should serve the primary purpose of providing you with fresh food to nourish you and your family.

Perfect Recipe For Summer Tomatoes

by on August 13, 2014

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Don’t know what to do with all of those delicious summer tomatoes? You probably have some day old bread around too. Try this delicious Panzanella Salad. It is the perfect dish for any summer meal!

Panzanella Salad

Serves 8 |  Hands-On Time: 25 m |  Total Time: 25 m

Ingredients
5 cups 1-inch bread cubes
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup minced parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 large ripe tomatoes cut into wedges
1 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup oil-cured olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup shaved Parmesan

Directions

Brush or toss bread cubes with some olive oil and garlic.  Dry the bread in a 350° F oven on a cookie sheet for 15 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally

In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, parsley, and salt. Fold in the bread, tomatoes, onion, olives, and basil. Toss with the Parmesan.

Enjoy!

Recipe by By Jane Kirby , June, 2001 for Real Simple

High Blood Pressure – The Hidden Killer

by on August 5, 2014

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On April 12, 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was sitting in his living room having his portrait painted by artist Elizabeth Shoumatoff, who later became most renowned for “Unfinished Portrait” of FDR. Also present was Lucy Mercer, Eleanor’s social secretary, but most notorious because of her affair with the president. His dog, Fala, and two cousins were in the room as well according to biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin. At 1:00 pm, FDR complained of “traffic pain at the back of my head,” and collapsed, unconscious. His cardiologist quickly arrived and recognized the signs of a cerebral hemorrhage, a type of stroke. One could argue that one of FDR’s visitors that day triggered his stroke, but it is much more likely that years of untreated high blood pressure led to FDR’s demise at the age of 63.

High blood pressure or hypertension still remains a hidden killer at large. It is estimated that high blood pressure kills approximately 1000 Americans each day due to its effects on Continue reading

Yearning For Peace

by on July 31, 2014

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Marla (left) and Stephanie.

I can’t read the news about Israel and Gaza. It is too violent. Too heartbreaking. Too familiar. And I also can’t stop reading the news about Israel and Gaza.

It is too important. Too urgent. Too familiar.

The situation is complex. There are no easy answers. There is no clear right or wrong anymore, except for this: too many people are dead. Too many people are being left to grieve and mourn those they love. Too many fathers are without their children, too many wives are without their spouses, and too many young people have lost their parents, friends, and siblings. Enough is enough. There has to be a better way.

Wednesday, July 31, 2002
The world woke up to news of a bombing at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. It was the first Continue reading

Looking for a Low-Impact Workout? Try Battle Rope Training

by on July 28, 2014

by Christopher Nash, PJCC Personal Trainer

Kevin, a fit software engineer, wanted to pursue cardio training. However, the 50-year old was concerned that running would be hard on his already-bad knees, the collateral damage of a 30-year love for soccer. He had also had a hip replaced the previous year. When Kevin asked me Continue reading

Don’t Let Go Of Hope

by on July 24, 2014

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As the violence in Israel and Gaza continues to escalate and claims more victims, the pain I feel is palpable.

My heart aches for the IDF soldiers killed in action, and for the Israeli civilians who suffer an endless torrent of rockets fired at their homes and their children. My heart aches as well for the innocent civilians of Gaza who are killed or wounded, caught as they are in a deepening web of warfare. My guess is that many of you feel this same way. My guess is, too, that the majority of Israelis and Palestinians share the common wish that their children grow up to thrive in the sunshine, without fear of rocket and mortar fire. At the very least, I need to believe that.

And yet, I and so many others are falling into a malaise of hopelessness. In the words of Israeli Continue reading

Summer Smoothie with a Vitamin Boost

by on July 15, 2014

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Strawberry Peach Refresher Smoothie
Serves 2

Are you ready for something cool, delicious, and good for you?

This smoothie uses the mild tasting green, bok choy, which is known as a cancer-fighting cabbage because of its good source of beta carotene.  In just one 9 calorie cup of bok choy, you receive 63% vitamin A, 52% vitamin C and 8% calcium of your daily recommended value.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups bok choy, fresh
  • 2 cups almond milk, unsweetened
  • 1 cup strawberries*
  • 2 cups peaches*

*Use at least one frozen fruit to make the smoothie cold.

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Blend bok choy and almond milk until smooth.
  • Next, add the remaining fruits and blend again.

Pour into glasses and enjoy!

 

 

Monkey See, Monkey Do — How Behavioral Modeling Influences Health

by on July 1, 2014

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My 2-year-old granddaughter seemed to welcome her newborn baby sister with bland indifference. I observed her as she played with her blocks and other toys and did not appear to be perturbed by the presence of a new member in her family. After she had dinner, I was surprised when she set out deliberately for the couch, wrapped her mother’s pillow around her lap, lifted her shirt, and clutched her bear to her chest. It was dinner time for her bear! While it was fun to watch her precise imitation of breast feeding, it made me stop and wonder how we as adults subconsciously follow patterns of behavior that may not reach our cognitive awareness. Continue reading